Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Side Street Style

A family travel and lifestyle blog


6 tips for a Minimalist Inspired Christmas

Artisan Coffee

Over the past year I have done a massive de-clutting when it comes to our Christmas decorations, like most I love Christmas but what I don't like is the all the excess which seems to follow through into every part of the festive season. My main goal this year is to create a homely, warm and festive feel but with small simple touches, loved and hand picked decorations I plan to keep for years not ones that are disposable and will land up in the land full at the end of the year. So I thought I would share a few minimalist inspired tips that embraces getting the home ready but focuses on less is more and quality over quantity

1. Decorating the Tree

I have minimised our tree decorations down by about 80 percent although each year I pick up one or two special glass babbles to add to the collection. Each decoration has been hand picked and I have to say I love each and every one which in comparison to the mountain of plastic ones we had years before is a welcomed change. It's a real event for us to decorate the tree and these simple decorations along with some fairy lights instantly makes the house feel more festive.

Glass bauble

2. Make your own bio-degradable decorations

Each year we make orange pomanders for the mantle piece with their lovely spiced scent as well as orange sliced bauble decorations which is the perfect craft for young children. All you need to do is take a large orange, slice it thinly, place on a tea towel to dry, blot them every now and then with kitchen roll to soak up excess moisture and pop them into the oven on the lowest temperature for about four hours. Once dried thread with some fabric and there you go a simple eco friendly decoration. You can see this full instructions for this and two other natural crafts here

homemade decorations

3. Opt for a simple tree alternative

In the right setting hanging trees can be very stylish and appealing as either a wall decoration or an alternative to a normal tree. The are both visually appealing, practical and easy to decorate and can be something kids can get involved in as well. Cox and Cox have some beautiful ones in stock this year, check them out for some cool scandi inspiration.

Hanging tree

4. Incorporate elements of nature and the outdoors

Holly and Pinecones are free and work perfectly as sustainable Christmas decorations and are easy to work with. You could have a go at making your own simple wreath or string up some pinecones to make pinecone bunting which is very pretty and a nice alternative to tinsel. Small pinecones can also be placed with gift tags on presents for an extra special touch.

kids in nature

5. Focus on family time

The Scandinavians are really good at doing this so why not try and embrace your own Hygge time by making sure you have some screen-free simple family evenings in the run up to Christmas, light some candles, have the fairy lights on the tree and just enjoy the moment without any focus on "stuff". You could also use this time to write Christmas cards, drink some hot chocolate and tell some Christmas stories, together. Why not also embrace some walks outside on the weekends while the shops are packed with feverish shoppers why not enjoy crunching in some leaves and slow down during what can become a very stressful time.

kids in nature

6. Give less, get less

Make your friends and family aware that you are trying to minimise the excess, when it comes to presents go for things that are simple and thoughtful, invest in one quality item that you know is going to be used and last a long time over lots of plastic tat. In a gentle way try and get this message across to your children as well, we do this throughout the year as it's important for kids to have some understanding of sustainable giving.

Christmas is really about slowing down, connecting with friends and family and embracing the moment, yes presents is one of the best part but wether its with decorating, entertaining and giving you really don't need to go over the top to create a lovely festival environment.

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Win a pair of Emma Bridgewater DAB Radios

Emma Bridgewater Radio

I don't know about you but I love when form and functionality come together so well especially when it involves music. My VQ, a Independent British audio brand does this perfectly with sound and style being forefront to their brand ethos and they have created some very unique and stylish retro inspired digital radios, collaborating with designers such as Emma Bridgewater and Lulu Guinness to create something that is classic but modern in equal measures.

Both John and I collect vinyl and music is something that is very important to us, especially as my eldest is starting to develop his own likes and dislikes when it comes to musical choice (my youngest just dances to everything right now) and we want to continue to encourage his interest in it. I still remember the first time I got my own radio, I was very excited and it was my pride possession for years. We feel our 7yr is at the age he can have his own radio and this Men at Work print is so much fun and perfect a cool kids room.

What I love about these radios is they may be fun but they don't comprise on quality with premium functionality with not only DAB Digital and FM radio but also Bluetooth so you can stream your favourite playlists from Spotify or bedtime stories from Audible which is a far better way to create some calm downtime before bedtime than watching TV. These radios also come with built in alarm clock and sleep timer and is just a great way to introduce children to a love of music in a way that is stylish and child friendly.

Digital Radio

Among a variety of Emma Bridgewater designs the Men at Work and Dancing Mice are both beautiful choices for children and these radios retail at £89.99 but if take advantage of the Black Friday Deals on the 24th November it will be £69.99.

Best of all is I have a fantastic giveaway for a reader to win not one but two radios so you can have one to keep and one to give to a friend because music should be shared. It's really easy to enter via rafflecopter below and the competition ends on the 20th November 2017

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Emma Bridgewater radio


6 ways to master beach photography

each cocktail

It's been a while since I graduated from Uni, having studied photography it's something that has certainly helped with the work I do now. I was fortunate enough to still learn traditional methods such as processing my own film, black and white hand printing and shooting on medium and large format, something not so relevant to todays digital world but still really fun to do. I hard ever write about my experience but thought I would put together a little easy to use guide to great beach photography. 

Mediterranean, far flung and exotic beach holidays are always popular but if your photos from this year’s vacation haven’t turned out quite as impressive as you had hoped, perhaps it’s time to review your skills to make sure you get the best out of your trip next time.

Luckily, the beach can be the most stunning backdrop to get creative with a camera, so getting great images shouldn’t be all that hard. All you need is the perfect location for your shoot, such as SFHV’s handpicked collection of beachside villas in the South of France, and these 6 tips to hone your beach photography techniques ready for your next seaside break. 
Get familiar with the local surroundings

As with any holiday if your going to be staying at the same place for a few days first get familiar with your surroundings, work what time of the day has the best light and look for unique and unusual sights that would make for an eye catching image. If your apartment or villa’s has a view looking out to sea, take a good look around to get to know the physical surroundings on and around the beach and beyond. Sweep the panorama to see if anything catches your eye. Are there any traditional fishing boats near the water’s edge nearby? What about fishing nets and other paraphernalia, or a lighthouse in the distance? Interesting cloud formations? Quirky objects on the beach such as driftwood, seashells, seaweed or anything unusual that might make a compelling picture?

Isles of Scilly

Choose the best time of day

The best time of day to take photos on the beach are mornings and evenings. Not only will there be fewer people around to get in the way of a potentially great shot, the sun won’t be high in the sky causing strong contrasts in your image. In terms of the light, if the sun comes in at an angle this creates more interesting effects with shadows and colours that you can play with. Evenings are the perfect time if you want that golden glow.

By contrast, you may as well put your camera down during the middle part of the day. The sun will be at its highest point roughly between the hours of 10am and 4pm. Not only does this mean wearing high factor sun protection or covering up, it will also give a light that’s far too harsh to produce good photographic images unless you are in a shaded area.  

Nice, France

Keep moving around

If something doesn't work the first time try something new, vary your position and move around as you keep snapping away to increase your chances of getting the perfect image. Don't just shoot from straight on but try from above, below, off to the side, you may just surprise yourself and don't be afford to break the rules a bit.

There’s no such thing as taking too many pictures these days as memory cards nowadays have so much space. When it comes to editing, it’s always better to have too many to choose from and delete the duff ones, than wishing you’d taken a few more after the event. 

Watch your composition

Wide open spaces, or long unbroken horizons can be tricky to get right on camera if you don't know much about F stops and depth of field as well as in terms of composition if you move even slightly off centre and suddenly your horizon starts to slope! The rule of thirds is probably the best known rule of photographic composition to achieve well balanced and interesting looking shots.

Look through the lens and imagine breaking the view down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so you end up with 9 parts. Now try to position the horizon along one of the horizontal lines – problem solved. 

Isles of Scilly

Look after your equipment

Camera and photography equipment can be expensive and taking it on holiday, especially to the beach can be risky unless you take precautions from damage caused by sand or water, and from theft. It’s worth investing in a waterproof zip bag to keep your camera safe from the elements if you plan to  get on the water and do a harbour tour or speed boating ride, you could also opt for a GoPro in a waterproof casing for this kind of thing. It also goes without saying to not leave any equipment unattended while away and whatever you do don't put your camera down on the sand, sand can get into the lens and can be a real pain to get out. 

Photography tips

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