Hundreds of listings. Dozens of visits. Trying to stand out of amidst the 20 other couples that look just like you (and probably failing). Checking real estate apps 5 times a day. Rushing to be the first to react (and always failing). Bidding. Hoping. Moving on. Thinking that winning lottery ticket would come in pretty handy right about now. Realizing you don’t play the lottery. Getting to the point where you’re almost willing to compromise. Almost. Checking those darned apps again.
Anyone house hunting in and around Ghent (and so many other cities..) will probably relate. It’s one hell of a ride. And not the fun kind. But somehow, karma got on our side. A house a bike ride away from the center of my favorite city. With a wonderful patch of green right outside our door. Neighbors who actually greet one another. And a friendly baker around the corner. Gosh it sounds suburban. But sue me, we love it. I’ll wear that desperate housewife badge with pride.
We’ve got the keys one month ago now, and we still can’t believe our luck. Don’t get me wrong: there’s a TON of work ahead of us (because no, that winning lottery ticket still didn’t come around, so: Hello renovation!), but we’re excitedly making plans (and Pinterest boards :) ) and designing our forever home. As far as the post-moving situation goes: we’re still settling in a bit. But we’re feeling more at home every day, and visitors keep remarking how homey the house already looks. I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s not us, it’s the plants ;)
Hands up if your mood is highly affected by the vibes of your surroundings! I’m waving them like I just don’t care over here. So you’re probably not surprised I am a tad obsessed with the decoration of my home office space. It’s where the brain magic happens, right? A place that’s all you, where you think, work, create.
As my home office space had served as the room to store unpacked boxes for a while after I moved in, its deco had been a bit functional the first few months. A make-over was definitely called for. And it wouldn’t be my home office, without some jungle vibes, now would it. Hello greenterior decoration! I would have a before and after shot for you if it hadn’t been for a case of overzealous hard drive clean-up, but let me assure you: the after is much nicer ;)
Looking to create some positive/creative/productive/… vibes in your own home office? Here are my 3 golden tips!
LIGHT: Light is a crucial factor for your energy level and therefore a crucial element in any office space. As with most things in life, the real, natural deal is the best way to go. So don’t choose a dark nook for your office spot, search the light.
ORGANIZATION: Outer order instills inner peace. (At least it does for me. If you are a chaotic soul that needs some mess to think, by all means! ) Give all your office supplies (<3 <3 office supplies) their specific place, and make sure you foresee plenty of storage space. Yes: this is a perfectly valid excuse to go for a pretty-boxes shopping spree.
GREEN: I bet you saw that one coming. Some pretty plants on and around your desk will not only create inspiring jungle vibes, but also generate an extra dose of oxygen. Little plantlady anecdote: I had chosen some cuttings and smaller plants for my desk and ever since they have been thriving! Apparently, they are loving the South-East sun. So I’ve baptized my office “plant retreat”, where any of my struggling babies can move to recover.
Applying these three rules created the perfect home office environment for me. Will be a little sad to leave it behind when we move in a few weeks. But then again, I get to decorate all over again, and we all know how much I love that… Hope you’re inspired for a little greenterior office make-over of your own!
You guessed it: I lost a part of my heart in magnificent Malaysia! Our first big trip together (spoiler: we survived!). My first trip to Southeast Asia (verdict: I want to go back!). The first time I trekked in a jungle (no-brainer: I loved it). The first time I slept in a cave (prognosis: probably the last time..)
Our Malaysia in a few words? Warm, welcoming, colorful, multicultural, surprising, green, tropical, accessible, authentic. Basically a great destination for anyone craving a taste of Asia, without the need to be a seasoned traveler/backpacker. People are super friendly and everything is smoothly organized (easy to get from A to B), but still you don’t have the feeling to be part of a herd of tourists. A perfect balance.
We stayed for three weeks and wanting to experience as much as possible from what this beautiful country has to offer, we did seven stops. Quite a busy schedule, but if you would ask me in hindsight I could not for the life of me sacrifice one of our stops and the things we discovered there.
Things to do:
- Batu Caves: this Hindu temple is built in a cave within a giant rock formation. Even though the temple itself is probably not the most impressive one around, the experience of climbing the stairs leading up to it, starting from the foot of a massive golden statue, (say hi to the monkeys along the way) plus the mystic surroundings of the cave, make it worth a visit.
- Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple is the oldest temple Hindu in Kuala Lumpur. It sports beautiful examples of the fairylike decorations that are so specific to Hindu places of worship, which always trigger my imagination.
- China Town & Little India: one of the things I loved about Malaysia is how several different cultural groups live side by side in (apparent) harmony. You can cross the street an go from shop windows filled with traditional sarongs to ones filled with Chinese street food carts.
(Note: we only stayed in KL for one day. There is probably a lot more to see and do, but these were our highlights).
Spots to eat:
- The Rabitt hole Kuala Lumpur: I really liked the grungy cosy interior. Yes the menu has pictures (which is usually against my food rules), but as this seemed to be quite common, we let that one slide. Ignore the tourist staples on the menu and go for a typical Malay dish served on a banana leaf.
- Jalan Alor street: street food galore! It’s very touristy but just a fun experience. If you are wary of eating street food (weak ass tourists that we are..), it’s just a fun atmosphere to walk through as well!
Place to stay:
Trust me: find a hotel with a rooftop pool. It doesn’t need to be crazy expensive. After a loooong flight, it is just the right dash of decadence.
Place to stay/eat/LIVE:
The Sticks: As far as I know Fraser’s hill is not a tourist staple, but I discovered an amazing looking eco-glamping spot through Instagram, and we just HAD to go there. We were definitely not disappointed! It’s the perfect breath of air after the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur. A stay close to nature and our very first Malaysian Jungle trek ❤
The tea plant-covered hills of Cameron Highlands are so particular and picturesque that they’ve earned a spot on our travel log. The towns as such are not that nice so hanging around for one day to see the sights is plenty.
Things to do:
- Walk in the Mossy Forest: it’s a totally different greenery than the jungle, very mysterious and fairytale-like.
- Strawberry farm: the freshest strawberry milkshakes E.V.E.R
- Visit a tea plantation: we went to visit the BOH plantation, and I had the best iced tea of my life there
- There are a bunch of guided tours which take you to each of these stops within one day. In terms of time-efficiency, definitely a good idea! We did our tour with Eco Cameron Tours and had a great experience.
Taman Negara National Park
The world’s oldest tropical rainforest! Need I say more?
Things to do:
- Catch the boat in: Taman Negara is reachable by bus or taxi, but trust me: the best way to start your jungle stay in beauty is by arriving by river boat. You can catch a riverboat at Kuala Tembeling Jetty to Kuala Tahan, the village at the entrance of the Taman Negara park. The boat trip takes a few hours but with those views, you won’t be bored for a second!
- Jungle trekking: You are in the oldest rainforest in the world! Put on your hiking boots and get walking! (Don’t go alone though, be smart and get a guide).
- Overnight trekking with HAN travel: I was crazy enough to let my boyfriend talk me into a 2 day trek with an overnight stay in a cave. You know those out-of-your-comfort-zone experiences you are SO glad you did but will NEVER repeat. Yep, this was one of those. But a longer trek is definitely something to consider, as you will be heading deeper into the heart of the jungle. The sounds, smells and atmosphere are truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. (Be still, my plant lady heart).
- Lubuk Simpon: not up for a long trek or a guide? Walk on the wooden boardwalk towards Lubuk Simpon and have a swim in the river. If you’re lucky enough to be alone, be very quiet and wait for the birds and fishes to come say hi.
- Canopy walk: a Taman Negara icon, this 40 m high suspension walkway gives you the opportunity to stroll among the jungle treetops. Unfortunately the canopy walk was closed for maintenance when we were in there, so I will be green with envy if you get to do this one!
Place to eat:
- Floating restaurants: across the river from the entrance of the park, in Kuala Tahan, there are is a bunch of “floating” restaurants offering yummy, budget-friendly food in a cosy environment on the river.
Place to stay:
Mutiara Taman Negara Resort: when you spend all day in the jungle, you deserve a nice place to stay! We splurged a little on this one, but it was so worth it. Only accommodation right at the entrance of the park with cosy huts and good food. I can tell you: the night after our cave sleepover those big soft beds felt like H.E.A.V.E.N.
The East coast of Malaysia is tropical beach central! We stayed on the “Kecil Island”, which is the smaller of the 2 main islands. Not much to do if you needs shops, restaurants or partying to be entertained, but the perfect relaxing beach getaway.
- Snorkelling trip: there are plenty of beautiful corals around the island, making it a paradise for snorkelling. Just step into the water and snorkel away or join a tour which will take you from one hotspot to the next.
- Turtle point: A must on any snorkelling tour! If you get lucky, you will spot the graceful underwater wonder that is a sea turtle. Make sure to admire it from afar though, as you don’t want to stress them out.
- Romantic beach: You know that picture perfect beach image: turquoise water, pearly white sand, rainbow colored fish… you have in your head? This beach is all that and more!
Place to stay/eat/ENJOY:
Crocodile rock villas: The best surprise of our trip and one of those places you wish you could stay just a little longer… Erica & Atord, the couple who runs this glamping gem, are wonderful people and have created a beautiful piece of paradise by the sea… Warm boho vibe, great conversation, impromptu jam sessions and honestly the best food we had in Malaysia. Can you tell we LOVED it there?
Georgetown, our favourite Malay city! A buzzing artsy oriental vibe, with remnants of it colonial past; a multicultural melting pot, with a dash of hipster, a ton of beautiful street art and that special quality of a city by the sea.
Things to do:
- Street art walks: Georgetown is a street art walhalla! We found this super useful map by the occasional traveller, and it became our guide through the city, from one mural to the next.
- Kek Lok Si temple, the largest buddhist temple in Malaysia. Crazy impressive and so colourful! Inspires silence and exuberance all at the same time. We bought some wish ribbons to support the temple and I tell you, some of our wishes already came through, so who knows ?
- Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple: If you want to limit you temple-dwelling: visit Kek Lok Si and this one. Another beautiful example of why Hindu temples are the dreamiest.
- Drive around in a ricksha. Granted: you’ll feel a little spoiled-little-rich-boy. But it’s the perfect pace to look around and take it all in, without wearing your feet out. Plus our driver had such nice stories and a lot of great spots to show us!
- The clan jetties: these waterfront settlements, built on poles submerged in the sea, house some of the old Chinese clans. Walking onto the boardwalk feels like walking into a separate little universe. Tip: try to also visit some of the more quiet areas, not buzzing with tourist shops, you’ll get a true feel of how people live. Make sure to respect the inhabitants privacy though, some parts are not accessible for tourists.
- Penang botanical garden. Not the most impressive botanical garden I’ve visited when travelling (a tiny bit worn-out to be honest), but the vintage greenhouses do create a dreamy old-time atmosphere, which any plant lady will want to check it out. What can I say. We never met a botanical garden we didn’t like.
Places to eat/drink:
- Tek Sen: if you can only go to one restaurant in Georgetown, go to this one! It’s crowded, it’s buzzing, it’s local, it’s authentic. We had the best Chinese food there and really felt like we hit the local experience jackpot.
- Junk: this tiny eclectic bar serves the best burgers with sweet potato fries! Not very local, but let’s be honest: if you spend a few weeks eating Asian food, sometimes you secretly crave a little Western comfort…
- Chulia street or Muntri street are loaded with hipster coffee bars to have breakfast or lunch. Shoutout to the Mugshot, where we had the best coffee in days.
- Love Lane: we discovered this one during our ricksha ride. While the name alone could catch your eye, the row of cute cozy bars does the trick as well. Stop & have a drink!
- Street food! So.much.street.food.
The original Malay paradise destination! After quite a busy travel schedule, a few days of shameless beach chilling was the perfect stop before heading home.
Things to do:
- Island hopping: rent a boat with a group or just the two of you. The coastline is magnificent, and the marble rock formations are super impressive.
- Rent a bike: it’s the perfect way to get around the island, get kinda lost and see the sights! Plus if you run out of gas a friendly local will get you some in a water bottle. True story.
- Get up early and watch the sunrise. I know. We’re such cheeseballs.
- Read a book. I’m serious. Whether it’s with your ass in the sand, your back on a lounge chair or your feet in the sea. Read a book.
Place to stay:
- Wild Pasir Panjang. A short boatride away from the main Island, we discovered this hidden piece of paradise. It has only a few accommodations, and for the largest part of our stay we were completely alone. Desert beach experience: check! For anyone who’s not afraid to go back to basic in exchange for waking up on the beach, delicious (Thai) food by the in-house chef, a huge stretch of private beach and palm trees for days: this is your island life!
Can I go back now? ^^
Happy travels! Love, C.
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
- 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.
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…
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.
Hope you’ll have fun creating your bathroom jungle! :)
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!
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.
- 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!
- 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
- 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
- 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 ;)
And how about you? Tempted to try this at home? ;)