🎄 Have yourself a GREEN Christmas!

It’s the season of excess and it’s easy to get lost in the glam of it all. Let’s admit it. During this period, more than in any time of the year, we tend to overindulge and overspend (sometimes without even meaning to, or so we tell ourselves). Albeit this year, we might have already taken a step back as for most of us, 2020 has not been so kind to our pockets.

One thing is for certain though. Every choice and purchase that we make has an impact on our environment. If we had to make small adjustments to our spending habits, we would diminish our carbon footprint in the long run. Being responsible for our natural resources will also help ensure a better life for our future generations. So, why not avoid leaving your resolutions to the new year and make it a holiday resolution instead?

As soon as Halloween is done and dusted, we roll up our sleeves and get working on the Christmas gift list. Getting started early eases the way towards better and wiser spending decisions. It allows you enough time to also think about the environment. I’m pretty positive that if you’re rushing through the gift list, the environment would be the last thing on your mind.

Also, have you ever noticed how just one shopping spree can fill half of your recycling bag with the extra, double packaging alone? The alternative is too much of a hassle, you might think. Zero waste? How is that even possible? It’s true that the consumerist environment we have been immersed into doesn’t help on this account. But, at the very least, start small. Start by going for something light in packaging or sustainable in itself ↡ ↡ ↡

I realise that most of the times, it’s more convenient to just go with whatever.  The “U iva, issa mhux għar-recycling” mentality usually kicks in. What you might not realise is how in the EU member states, 40% of plastic production is for packaging and only 30% of plastic gets recycled. The rest is either incinerated, ends up in landfills or litters the sea. So, whilst recycling may be one of the solutions to tackling plastic litter, in reality, according to the EU Parliament, only less than a third of plastic waste in Europe is recycled.

Try thinking about this whilst your eyes are scanning the shelves or online stores for stocking fillers and Secret Santa gifts. Say your eyes rest on scented candles. Choose the one with less packaging. Avoid purchasing the one moulded in a plastic container, nestled in a cardboard box wrapped in more plastic. Or better yet, choose natural, reusable gifts or ones that are made from recycled sources.

Another idea is to look for locally made or grown gifts. Ordering something from halfway around the world comes with an added cost. Transportation contributes to greenhouse emissions and keeping it local is much greener. This way, you’d also be eliminating single-use outer packaging.

Not all gifts have to necessarily be store-bought. Gift giving is a gesture of thoughtfulness. I’m sure your loved ones will appreciate the time and effort you put in making something yourself. Having something homemade is considered a luxury these days.

Sustainable gift giving is not only about making better gift choices per se, but rather, transforming the whole experience surrounding it. There are several ways to cut down ways and have a greener Christmas without being a Scrooge. All you need is a little imagination and think things through.

By now, I’m also sure you are aware that wrapping paper is not eco-friendly. Most of the wrapping paper we buy contains glitter and synthetic inks which are not recyclable. Opt for other alternatives like brown paper, paper tape and twine. Try using newspapers, old posters or scarves (double the gift) to artfully wrap your gifts.

Think a little more about the environment while crossing out gifts on your Christmas list. The best gift you can give the environment (and ultimately, yourself), is to have a more sustainable Christmas this year. With a little effort and a touch of creativity, you can be kinder to our planet this holiday season. Let’s not forget what really matters!

Happy holidays and stay safe!

Amanda x

What’s NEW? MADUMA products & a mini-interview.

I have been following @madumamalta right from its birth. I even (and unashamedly) entered a giveaway and actually won. I was stunned; the last time I had won anything was in primary school (back then, I won a plant against a 25c fee. It died a while later).

If you follow MADUMA on Instagram, you know they’ve been hinting at launching new products TODAY. Well, guess what? I’m sharing the news IN THIS POST 😍 Here’s a sneak peak.

But first, let me introduce you to the person behind this much-loved local brand who is super nice and, let me tell you, down to earth. Kimberly takes the time to check in and see whether everything is OK whenever I publish a story featuring the MADUMA products. The last time she did, I asked her for an interview and she said YES 🙌

Photo by Naomi Gradel

We decided to keep it virtual for the sake of everyone’s safety.

I would love to know more about MADUMA. How did it all start?

The idea of MADUMA began when I was studying for my Bachelor’s degree at MCAST. I decided to focus my thesis on the demise of local trades, especially the historically rich floor tiles that you used to find all over Malta. I wanted to create awareness about this beautiful trade and do
my part to preserve Maltese culture. This sparked the idea of combining my two biggest passions, design and fashion, that led to me creating my own fashion label, focusing on the beauty of the Maltese floor tile.

So, tell me, Kimberly. What inspires you?

Whenever I walk into an old house or shop with traditional Maltese floor tiles. But not just that. My inspiration for new colours and ideas derives from exploring new places; especially when I’m on holiday and more relaxed.

I know for a fact that there are many creative people out there with great ideas who are afraid to take the leap. What advice would you give them?

Listen to your gut and just do it, even if people around you don’t believe in you or your idea. Do not let people discourage you from following your dreams, even if these people are the closest to you. If you believe in your idea, that’s all you need.

I have to ask this. What is your favourite MADUMA product (and why)?

It’s hard to pick, I love them all! I think it’s like asking a mother, who is your favourite child? This might be an unfair question, but I think if I really had to pick, it would be the organic cotton t-shirts because they were the first products that started my brand.

You, in three words.

Ambitious, brave, detail-oriented

Something on your bucket list:

To see MADUMA products being sold in brick-mortar shops around our beautiful island.

I’m sure it won’t be too long before you tick that one off your bucket list!

Now, for the good news! MADUMA launches these Maltese-tile inspired and potential stocking fillers today!

☆ Pocket mirrors ☆
★ Magnets ★
☆ Pack of 4 Magnets ☆ (so you can get all patterns if undecided)

Maybe we’ll be seeing other products in these new colours as well? 🤔💙

I’m always looking forward to see what Kimberly comes up with!

Show your support & go follow!

Amanda x

#inthespotlight @Malcolm Gauci

Fashion is not my cup of tea. Those who know me best, know this only too well. Still, that doesn’t mean that I don’t follow at all. I do have a couple of friends who are stylists; one of whom has been trying to take me on a shopping spree for months now (you know who you are).

I got in touch with someone whose social media accounts are consistently active and who does not shy away from the camera.

My second guest interview this year is with the greatly talented @Malcolm Gauci.

  • Award-winning fashion stylist
  • Style Influencer

 

While scrolling through his Instagram feed I couldn’t help but wonder how he manages to do what he does. I have known Malcolm for a while now; so we met over a coffee to talk about his world (pre-COVID-19).

Care to tell me more about what you do and how it all started?

I started out as a freelance photo model. There, I learned more about styling and met up with people from the fashion industry. I’ve always been passionate about styling; I guess you can say it comes naturally to me. Still, it’s not something that happened overnight. It takes a lot of hard work. Plus, a lot of people believed in me – and that gives you quite the boost.

At first, I wanted to have a space where I could interact with people and show my work. It’s how I started out on Instagram. Over time, I wanted to show more than just my styling work; I wanted to show them who I am, what I personally wear and connect with my followers even more.

Favourite social media platform?

Instagram. It connects you to a whole world of other people. You can easily find your niche there and can interact very easily.

I personally think that being online all the time can be a bit exhausting. Do you ever feel the need for a digital detox?

Having a full-time job that is completely different from styling and the social media world – that alone is detox enough.  Truth be told, I am sucked into the digital world. Apart from sharing relevant content with my followers, I also love documenting random things.

What does the future of influencer marketing look like in your eyes?

I think that over time, brands will reach out to the less- famous. This is already a thing; they’re called micro-influencers. And, I think having the everyday person as an “ambassador” will be the way forward.

Quick advice you would give someone just starting out? 

Stay true to yourself. If you’re not comfortable doing something that you do not believe in, then don’t do it.

Ok, super quick questions that have nothing to do with anything above. Just for the fun of it. 

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee

Favourite film?

I would have a favourite if I actually made it through the whole film

Would you rather read minds or the future?

The future

One thing you would like to cross off your bucket list?

Be part of Gucci’s creative team

Who or what inspires you?

There isn’t just one thing. I get inspired by random things I come across along the way

Go follow!

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#inthespotlight @themamamanual

#inthespotlight - amandalia.com

There are so many talented people out there. So, this year, I figured, why not get to know some of them a little bit better?

My 2018 #inthespotlight monthly interview series will kick off with none other than  the inspiring Nakita Attard Vassallo at @themamamanual.

I’ve been following @themamamanual on Instagram for quite a while now and I have to say, I’m impressed. She even has a debut book coming out this Summer!

 Nakita, I would love to know more about @themamamanual. How did all this start?

It all started with a book! I’ve been dreaming of writing my own ever since I was a wee girl with a sizeable home library of my own.  It’s not the first time I’ve picked up a pen or a laptop and poured my heart out, but I never really put my finger on what I wanted to write.

One night two years back I could not sleep with excitement.  It had finally hit me!  My book would be about time management for busy mamas, and how to create time for the things you love, but most importantly, for yourself.

When the book’s initial draft was ready, I felt I had so much more valuable information to share, and I had to take it a step further.  I was very keen to connect with and help like-minded mamas manage their time better and prioritise self-care, and a blog would be the perfect way to do it.  The name ‘the Mama Manual’ was born after long hours brainstorming.  I wanted something catchy and original – and it felt right!

Care to tell us more about the woman behind @themamamanual?

I am a multifaceted woman 🙂  I’m a mama, wife and a homemaker around the clock.  My two adorable kids, Yanik –  12, and Nina – 3, keep me happily busy.  I’m married to the love of my life and best friend, Neil.  I’m also a working mum, and I’ve worked hard to build a career for myself.

By night, I am a writer and a blogger, and I run ‘the Mama Manual’ brand with a passion. Time management and organisation skills are my forte; I could spend hours happily decluttering and organising a space, or planning busy days to perfection! Food (not only eating it – but also cooking it!), travel, reading, and slow days at home or in beautiful surroundings with my family and friends are things I enjoy doing and make time for on a regular basis.

From where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration is all around me!  I never in a million years expected such a phenomenal response from ‘the Mama Manual’ social media pages.  The amazing women I connect with everyday are my sole inspiration and basis for doing what I do.

Being both an entrepreneur and a mother doesn’t come without its challenges. How do you manage everything?

You know how they say ‘do what you love and you will never work another day in your life? That is exactly how I feel about the work I do with ‘the Mama Manual’ brand.  I literally crave working on the book, the blog, and social media every evening – so it’s easy to get started – but challenging to stop might I add!

Of course, effective time management is the secret to being able to make time for my work.  Planning, being organized and pre-empting are essential tools to have.  I am a perfectionist when it comes to having our meals all planned out for the week, as well as cooking wholesome but very quick meals so as not waste precious time.

 

themamamanual-byamandalia
I know there are many women out there who would love to take the leap. What advice would you give someone just starting out?

If you have not yet had the courage to do so, do not feel like you have to go all in or nothing.  You can very well start off slow.  If you are a working mum, keep your job and side hustle.  A mere hour a day is better than no time at all! You can always decide to dedicate more time as things pick up, or go full-time when you feel confident that what you are doing is what you want to do and is paying the bills.

Whatever you do – be patient!  It’s easy to look at successful people and think that everything ‘just happened’ for them.  Being successful takes a lot of work, dedication, time and perseverance.

Where can we get your debut book? I know I want to read it and I’m definitely not the only one.

the Mama Manual – How busy mums get organised will be available for sale on my website: 🌐  www.themamamanual.com, as of the end of the month!

Should you wish to receive an email notifying you that the book is for sale, please let me know on nakita@themamamanual.com.

Go follow!

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#meetingswithyourself

byamandalia

Every day is scheduled, planned, structured. I actually write a to do list first thing when I wake up; even before I take the first sip of tea. A daily to do list, a weekly to do list, a monthly to do list. You get the idea. My calendar is brimful of deadlines and meetings. And time seems to simply fly by. It’s Tuesday. I blink and it’s Friday again. I blink and it’s July already.

Yesterday, I decided to set a meeting with myself. It felt weird to say the least. I spend so much time with other people, that being alone in a public space felt off. At first.

But now, I am happily sipping my coconut cappuccino while doing my favourite thing – writing. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I do write. It’s very much like:

amandalia

I know for a fact that later is synonymous with never. I’ve been there a couple of times. And all the planning and scheduling go against and sometimes take over my spontaneous side. So, without giving in completely to my organised self, I decided to spend time with myself.

No matter what it is that you do in life; student, full-time employed, mumpreneur, freelancer, stay-at-home parent, you should seriously start thinking about doing this. Spending more time alone can be beneficial. It actually helps with refocusing, improving your concentration and even getting to know yourself better. So be it at home, in a cafeteria, out for a walk or at the beach, it’s good to find the time to disconnect and think.

Is this something you already do? I would love to hear your thoughts 💙

Amanda x

 

#goingfreelance #1yearlater

@byamandalia

It has been a year. The 16th of December marks the day I left my 9 to 5 job (it was more like 10am to 6pm) to start afresh. How time flies! And honestly, looking back, I wonder why I didn’t take the leap before that.

It was a year of firsts. The first time I had my own clients, the first time I gave out training sessions on digital marketing, the first time I truly challenged myself to reach new heights. Forget about the New Year‘s resolution. If you want a change in your life, do it. Don’t wait around for another year to start; that’s a waste of time. And time is something you will not get back because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

So, here’s a little insight. Working as a freelancer is not all glitter and might I add, is not for everyone. It’s not a shortcut like some people seem to think. It’s more of a long and bumpy ride. After all, you’re starting from scratch. And, on your own. The first month being the toughest because your income will suffer. But, and that is a big BUT, I have to say that if you put your mind to it, it will get better.

It’s challenging because every day is just not the same. I see this as a plus. However, some people are scared by this; about not having a Monday to Friday routine. But that’s just it. There is no Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 routine. Because this way, you can meet up for a coffee on a Monday morning after working on a Sunday afternoon.  It’s more about learning to find your pace. And, more importantly, managing your time wisely.

Until next year!

Amanda x

 

 

#wallart #creativewednesdays

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You know how you tend to take care of everyone else’s needs and always postpone your own? Yes, well, this week, I made it a point to do at least this one thing.

A couple of months ago we got this Scratch Map® from Luckies of London which I went crazy about (and then felt bad after scratching off so little.) We came up with this idea of hanging the map on the bedroom wall with our travel pictures surrounding it. And for once, we decided to be in the pictures because usually we just print the beautiful scenery, maps, quotes – and that’s practically it.

Photo displays are super easy and fun to do if you don’t have a gazillion photos to choose from.  The only thing I dreaded in fact, was the idea of having to sit down and go through all our travel pictures and choose only one from each travel adventure (Stefan, my husband, never seems to let go of his camera whenever we’re abroad).

travelphotodisplay #byamandaliaI usually start by sketching the layout first after taking the wall measurements. And in the meantime, select my favourite pictures so I can design according to their orientation (portrait/landscape).

Ideally, the centre of the display should be at eye level. But to be honest, there are no rules! That’s the beauty of it! You can go frame-less, vary the frame sizes and material, have them in the same colour, different colours, display the pictures on shelves instead of walls…You’re telling a story with your photos, so there is ample room for creativity!

I love creating and designing photo wall arts. For the most part, I do it for others.  But, after I got the one on the stairwell done (proof below), I was constantly being reminded (or rather, nagged) that we had to do this other travel photo display. Now all I need to do is frame and hang them (hopefully this month!)

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Amanda x

#howtobecreative

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There is a perfectly good reason for delaying this blog post by 2 days.  In reality, there are 30 reasons!

Yesterday was my husband/best friend/partner in crime’s birthday – the big 3 – 0 and I wanted to do something he wouldn’t easily forget. When it comes to gifting, I tend to take it super seriously. And I always want to make it personal rather than just buying something off the shelf. For me, purchasing one gift is a safe bet but rather ordinary. Coming up with 30 gifts is crazy. So I decided to roll with the latter.

My organised self couldn’t resist not creating a list. So, I started jotting down his favourite things, foods, places, personas, films, books and even things I heard him yammering about needing for weeks on end. Once I had that covered, it was all about putting the plan into action. Design, print, purchase, wrap and HIDE! That’s the most difficult part, I guess, when you live together with your partner. And hiding 30 gifts is no joke. I had to mark one of the rooms off-limits for a couple of weeks!

Once the plot was revealed, I posted the image below and a lot of people were curious as to what I got him – 30 gifts, after all, is kind of a lot. To be honest, it was never about the actual amount! You have to understand that purchasing 30 gifts was a little well over my budget.

 

I asked myself, how can I be more creative? For instance, at the time, I did not afford to buy a ticket for a football match abroad. So, I took a step back and thought about it. Football was never my thing and I’m a real pain whenever there’s a match on; I’m fully aware of that. So, I tried looking at the football-related gift from another perspective. I can’t buy him a ticket but I can not complain during a match, right? It may sound silly and it did actually make him laugh! So I got to creating funny and cheesy “gift vouchers”. I also found our very first photo together taken in 2007 and had it printed and even spent hours logging 10 years of footage to create a 1 minute short trailer commemorating our years together!

So, it’s not about the amount of gifts but the fact that you cared enough for that significant someone to create something fun, memorable, personalised and meaningful.

The final gift; gift number 30, was a surprise party. I knew that he never had one thrown and that he secretly craved it (no one is old enough to want a surprise party it seems). And so I invited close family and friends for a personal get together. Given that I love baking (runs in the family), my lovely mum and I, spent the whole afternoon preparing finger food and mini desserts. This was yesterday and I’m happy to say that it turned out pretty great!

My point in sharing this with you: do not think that you are not creative. You are when putting your mind to it. And if you need a little nudge, just google your initial idea or go on Pinterest for help and you will be blown away with tried and tested ideas! S/he will definitely love every one of your gifts because ultimately, you put your heart in creating something memorable!

I’m sharing one of the coupons I designed with you. You can download and print for yourselves if you wish! Now get your creative juices going and enjoy every second of it!

Amanda x