1 Year on: Hunter Wellies

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This one’s going to be short and sweet, but it’s been a year so I thought I’d share my opinion of my Hunter wellington boots 🙂

Price:

RRP is £80 but I shopped around in the sales and got mine for approximately £60. I think this is definitely at the higher end of the price range for wellies, but the return you get in terms of quality, comfort and looks pays off, honestly.

Durability:

In the year I’ve had my boots, I’ve been to a handful of muddy sports fields on weekends, on a camping trip in Devon for a week (it rained a decent amount, and even when it was dry I wore them basically the whole time!) and on walks around London in the rain. They are just as comfortable as the day I got them, there are no signs of wear apart from some faint mud marks that won’t wash off. I think the boots have dulled a little in colour due to being covered in mud so often, but that’s to be expected- that’s what I got them for! These boots feel like they’ll last and last.

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Verdict:

Before I invested in a rain coat and wellies, rain was an inconvenience to say the least. I didn’t enjoy it, and I certainly didn’t go out in it unless I had to. But now I actually love having the chance to put on my gear and head out into a shower! It’s a good investment if you live in a place as rainy as the UK… And spending more time in the outdoors is always something I’ll welcome. I’m satisfied in all areas basically: quality, comfort, looks. Nothing more to say.

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No Spend January | My ‘I do not need’ list.

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As it’s the last day of my No Spend January, I thought I’d do a little exercise to help me keep on top of my spending in the future. A little while ago, I listened to Tara from Buy Me Once speaking on this podcast. It is really inspiring to hear how she turned her back on a stable ‘high-flying’ job in advertising and the more, more, more way of life, and turned towards helping people to live more ethically and simply.

The Buy Me Once site is a really great resource for finding products that are designed to last a lifetime and often have lifetime warranties. Whenever I’m in need of something, I always check if BMO has any brand recommendations because they’ve done the research! Personally, buying less but better quality products has taught me to value what I do own, and I’m trying to buy in the knowledge (or at least hope) that it will serve me my whole life.

One of the main tips Tara has for kicking the compulsive buying habit, is to make an ‘I Don’t Need List’. You guessed it, it’s just a list of things (be as specific as you like) that you don’t need any more of; a promise to yourself not to fall for it again. We all have our weaknesses when shopping, and this is just a way of remaining accountable.

I thought I’d have a go at writing mine below… I stole quite a few off Tara’s list that were relevant to me, and then added any more I could think of. I also wrote it up nicely and keep it on my wall for future reference 🙂

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MY ‘I DON’T NEED’ LIST!

Clothes/Accessories/Beauty:

I do not need more than a capsule wardrobe

I do not need more than 1 coat

I do not need more than 1 hat, scarf and gloves set.

I do not need more than 5 bags (tote, handbag, rucksack, sports bag, carry on holdall)

I do not need jewellry (excluding earrings and nose rings)

I do not need more than 5 pairs of earrings

I do not need more than 5 nose rings

I do not need more than 1 pair of sunglasses

I do not need more than eight pairs of shoes (wellies, heels, boots, shoes, pumps, trainers, flip flops, sandals)

I do not need more every day makeup than these 5 items: lip balm/stain, mascara, eyeliner pencil, solid perfume, eyebrow powder

I do not need any toiletries that come in plastic

I do not need to partake in beauty trends that require new gadgets and tools

Technology:

I do not need a tablet (there’s nothing it can do that a phone + laptop can’t)

I do not need to upgrade my phone if it’s not broken

I do not need DVDs

I do not need a fitness watch

Leisure/Furniture:

I do not need decorative nick nacks

I do not need any freebies that I don’t find useful or add to my home in a valuable way

I do not need to pick up ANY pens from ANYWHERE

I do not need any more fabric (unless I need something specific for a project I’ve ALREADY planned. Basically don’t buy it just cos it would be nice to use one day)

I do not need to buy greetings cards

I do not need any more jars or tins (only buy if you don’t have any at home already that fit the purpose. Not allowed to buy just because they’re cute or pretty!)

That’s about it for me at the moment! I live with my parents at the moment, so the kitchen bit isn’t really applicable. I think I’ll take a leaf out of Tara’s book and update my list this time next year, adding and amending as appropriate- it’ll be interesting!

No Spend January | Week 4 round up.

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Yeah! We’re almost there!

At this point, I’m resigned to the fact that I can’t buy anything on the whole. I honestly couldn’t be more content with my wardrobe, I don’t want any more clothes. And as for stuff, I’m making better distinctions between what I need and want. There are a handful of things I’ve had on a list for weeks, which I’m probably gonna buy in the first few days of Feb, but I’m feeling confident that I’m not going to go on a crazy freedom spree.

Isn’t it mad that I’m unemployed (and therefore have soo little money) and yet it was still so hard to stop spending! Anyway, this challenge was well-timed in that sense: good for my long-term well-being and wallet 😛

Going forward, I still want to operate a low-spend lifestyle when it comes to possessions, focusing more on experiences. Thanks for coming on this journey with me, let me know your thoughts and experiences with spending less!

 

No Spend January | Things to do.

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I’m getting so into this photography lark. So proud of this picture 🙂

So, I think we can all agree I’ve now become an expert in not spending money and I’m perfect… I wish!

But I have been thinking- as much for my own sanity as for this blog post- about things you can do with no money. Even when this challenge is over, I don’t think it would hurt me financially or emotionally to spend more time doing things that don’t cost money!

So here’s a list I compiled of things I could think of. It is a bit London specific in places, because that’s where I live, but it might prompt ideas of places near you too (if you’re not London based).

  1. Visit a museum – all the museums and a great deal of galleries in London are free to enter, it’s pretty cool actually. I just finished a Christmas temp job at the Natural History Museum which was the first time I’d been to a museum in years (boo!). It reminded me how great they are, and I realised I’ve been missing out! I paid a visit to the Science Museum this week too, that’s always a fun one.
  2. Go for a walk – I know, anyone could’ve thought of this one! But you know, it’s an easily forgotten activity (at least for me). Some days I do plenty of walking from a to b, but it’s a completely different feeling walking just for the sake of it. Some of my happiest and most mindful times have been walking in the rain, kitted out in my raincoat and wellies, sometimes with an audiobook in my ears, or just listening to the sounds around me. And you don’t even have to be in nice surroundings for it to have a significant effect on your wellbeing. Trust me, I’ve been through some grotty, concrete covered places on walks! Or you could go to a park if concrete’s not your thing 😉
  3. Take pictures – Whether it be a flower in the park, your wellies next to the door, or your friends laughing on a day out. Whipping out your phone or camera is a really nice pastime. I had no idea I would get so into it, but I now spend hours every week taking + editing my pictures for this blog, as well as for personal enjoyment. I can thank my sister for teaching me to appreciate the process- thanks Naomi!
  4. Make something – Be it sewing, drawing, colouring in, crafting is really good for getting you really immersed in what you’re doing. It’s a personal goal of mine to have at least one craft always on the go, it’s so good for my mental health. If you get creative with things you have around the house, you won’t have to spend a dime!
  5. See the sights – It’s easy to live and work in London and become desensitised to the view. It’s not all pretty, like I said, but when you pause for a second you can find beauty. I often like to walk along the Southbank next to the river Thames. There’s such a variety of magnificent buildings. You can go the 10th floor of the Tate Modern and look out over the whole city, or cross over the river to St. Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey. My favourite is standing on Waterloo or London Bridge at night, looking over the river with all the lights shining 🙂
  6. Write a letter – I suppose this doesn’t count as strictly free, if you consider stamps. But paper and pens can definitely be scavenged from around the house. I wanna make more time to write letters and make my own birthday cards, I think people appreciate the effort.
  7. Declutter – If you haven’t tried it, I swear once you get into it it’s the most therapeutic, addictive thing! Taking an afternoon/day to get a room in order can make a huge difference to how you feel, plus you’ll be one step closer to a simpler, more eco-friendly life.
  8. Exercise – Go for a run! Do some press-ups! Follow a Youtube workout! Yoga! I have a very love/hate relationship with the gym, I’m about to cancel my membership for the second time in 6 months. There’s something about being in a stuffy building with other people working out that makes me hate it in the end! Then I get all guilty that I’m paying money and not using it.. I much prefer being out in the open, or at home. But whatever your thing is, do it.
  9. Journal – When you challenge yourself not to spend money, you find you’re freeing up a whole load of time. If you’ve ever wanted to start or keep up a diary, spending less money is a good way to do it! Sometimes these days, I find myself with so many thoughts and feelings in my head that I can’t not write in my diary- it’s the dream! I really want to start a bullet journal too. Just need to find the right notebook (Google it, they’re super cool!)
  10. Cook – Cooking seems to be one of the first things to suffer when we get busier. But if you’re not spending money on much else other than food, why not learn to enjoy it? Look up some new, exciting recipes on the internet, and try them out! There is nothing more satisfying than making an awesome meal from scratch (especially when you present it really nicely too).

 

I’m sure you guys have some much better ideas- if so, share them in the comments, I’d love to hear them 🙂

No Spend January | Week 3 round up.

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I made this! And it’s wearable!

Would you believe it’s week 3 already?! I probably said that last week about week 2, but this time it’s even more insane! It’s always nice to know you’re over halfway 🙂

Anyway without further ado, this past week hasn’t been too bad. I still get the odd itch to buy things (trust me, the urge hasn’t gone away) and my mind has been bargaining with itself as to whether one sensible purchase would ‘count on my record’ or not when it gets really bad! But thus far I have resisted. It was very painful yesterday when I passed my favourite charity shop and they had posters up saying it was 50% off everything! I couldn’t believe my bad luck! I always find good things in there… But you know, I did this for a reason, and besides, it’s a charity shop. The stuff is always cheap.

I’ve been able to make much more time this week for reading and listening to audiobooks. I also did some sewing and even found a half-finished DIY I’d forgotten about that I’m going to get stuck into next week. Honestly, this is the stuff that gets me really excited. This is the stuff that brings me deeper happiness. I have to remember that when this challenge is over.

1 Year On: North Face Duffel Bag

So I received this bag as a birthday present from my boyfriend last year. I researched a whole heap of brands and bags and decided that this one really suited my needs. I had travelled with only carry-on a few times up until this point, using a large rucksack which stuck out so far on my back I would accidentally take people out in stations and on the street (woops!) so it was about time I invested in something a little better. Other than that I wanted something waterproof and durable, and what I ended up with seems to be doing a good job!

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Price:

RRP is £95 but I shopped around in the January sales and got mine for approximately £60 which I think is fair for such a good quality bag. It is definitely possible to get a 50 litre bag or suitcase for cheaper, but like I said, I think it pays to spend a little more.

Durability:

A year on, and I must have used this bag at least once a month on average. It honestly looks identical to the day I got it (minus a few dirt marks). The material is so sturdy and strong that It could hold some seriously heavy weight and not struggle. Every part is working perfectly, reinforced, and made from indestructible stuff. Even down to the mesh pocket on the inside of the flap; I’ve ripped a few of those in my time, but this one’s going nowhere!

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Verdict:

Due to the tubular shape of this bag, I no longer turn around and nearly kill someone! I much prefer travelling with this bag to my previous turtle-like existence.. The padded backpack straps are comfortable and there are so many other little handles on it, for lifting it up and moving it around. It almost seems excessive, but they’re very useful! From reading reviews of previous versions of the base camp duffel bag, it sounds like they’ve listened to feedback and thought of everything. It’s a simple, practical design, but done well. I’m very glad I invested in this bag 🙂

No Spend January | Week 2 round up.

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So this week 2 has been a considerably more pleasant experience! I mean it can only go up from forgetting that you’re actually doing a no spend challenge! Anyway, I’m letting go (if I say it that makes it true, right?!)

Saying that, it was my birthday on Wednesday (23, would you believe!) Obviously that meant a few presents. I got such practical but still fun gifts, thanks family! Sewing supplies from my siblings, a couple of basic tops from White T-shirt Co. from my parents, to replace the bobbly, rubbish ones from H&M I’ve had for years 🙂

Other than that, I’ve noticed myself feeling the urge to shop when feeling down. I’ll add that to the list of situations which seem to trigger my spending, like boredom, and being paid haha! Also, I think a social media + email purge is in order. Even just a few emails or Instagram adverts about January sales are enough to make me feel like I’m missing out on some mysterious bargain!

In more positive news, I’m feeling super satisfied with my wardrobe. I’ve pared it down to the perfect size and I love all my items. It’s taken me a good couple of years since I started this journey and without the temptation to buy anymore clothes, I’m getting the chance to really appreciate them! Nothing can seep into my consciousness if I can’t even see it 😉

Just a short post this week, but I’m feeling optimistic about the remainder of  January 🙂 Stay tuned for another post in the week!

No Spend January | Most treasured items.

I read this article from the Guardian that articulated something I hadn’t really thought about before. Materialism and Consumerism are so often used interchangeably but they are quite different. These days our society is dubbed more materialistic than ever, when actually the bigger issue is the excessive consumerism.

Materialism= preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations (link)

Consumerism= the fact or practice of an increasing consumption of goods (link)

Like the article says (better than me by the way) is that they are both linked and both relevant to the Western lifestyle, however consumerism has gotten to such a level that for most people the owning of an item almost means nothing after the novelty of the purchasing it has worn off. The fact that you can buy another [insert product here] means that the one you have always pales in comparison to the shiny advertised one.

Richard Denniss argues that we could do with a bit more materialism to be honest! (Or at least value of our belongings) That way we would seek to repair, maintain and use our things until the end of their lives before replacing them.

In light of this reading, I got to thinking about how my mindset is slowly shifting (although that damned consumerism still eats at my brain far too often). I wanted to share a handful of items with you all that I treasure dearly and intend to keep for as long as I can…

DSC01971.jpg1. Wool cardi– I bought this hand-knitted wool cardigan from one of my favourite vintage shops little over a year ago, and to be honest, I didn’t really realise how much I was going to love it. When I tried it on I loved how classic it looked and thought it would go with my wardrobe (all true) but the reasons I love it now, go so much beyond… It doesn’t have a label in it, so I’m inclined to think that someone hand-knitted it, which is a lovely thought. It is hands down THE WARMEST THING EVER and puts every other cardi I’ve ever owned to shame *AND* the buttons are made of wood which is both adorable and means that the whole thing is biodegradable. Need I go on?! (I’ll spare you)

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2. Fountain pen– I’d known of the brand, and whilst I’m not immune to branding, I had no real desire to own a Parker pen. I chanced upon a market stall one day selling new and used fountain pens, and explained to the man that I wanted one you could refill with ink from a bottle. He showed me a range, from about £20 to the one I eventually bought for £140. I sooo wasn’t planning on spending that kind of money on a pen (I have since had many a horrified look from friends and family upon hearing this) but I’m glad I invested in a good quality, good-looking and not plastic pen. I look forward to writing now and take more care when I do it, which for me has been a unforeseen bonus!

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3. Duffel bag– travel has been a regular and important occurrence for me for the last five years, and knowing your bag will stand the test of time makes me grateful. Mine is waterproof, worn like a backpack, the largest size you can take as your carry on with every airline and is made of sturdy stuff. It serves me well on any trip of any length for any purpose meaning it’s the only travel bag I need and there’s nothing I love more than simplicity 🙂

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4. Bike– as I type this, it’s been just over a week since I got hit by a car, meaning my bike has prematurely reached the end of its life.. I’m very sad, because my plan was to repair and replace parts as needed and not have to buy another one for a long time. This was my first adult bike, and I’ve ridden it practically every day for about 3 years. It represented my freedom and I loved it. It was secondhand when I bought it, so I expect it’s had a good run at least. Looks like I will have to replace it, but the point still stands that a bicycle is something I can’t see myself being able to live without, so it definitely deserves a special mention on this list.

No Spend January | Week 1 round up.

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So it’s been a week of not spending money on stuff + clothes. These diary entries kind of sum up what it’s been like so far…

03/01/2018, 11:00

So far it hasn’t been too hard. I’ve been busy with work all day, and I have also had some bits arriving in the post from purchases I made in late December (all sensible purchases, but exciting nonetheless).

I have felt the urge to browse internet shops a few times when bored in the evening- that’s my weak time- so I am going to try and introduce more activities into my evening so I have other ideas to turn to.

03/01/2018, 18:13

Damn it, I just failed and I didn’t even realise! A raincoat (I don’t really need it, just prefer it to the one I have) that I was watching on Ebay was ending today, and I got an email saying that bidding was over in a few minutes. The price was good and no one had bid yet, so I immediately went on and won it. It took me a further ten minutes to remember that I am not supposed to be buying stuff this month. Forget what I wrote this morning about it being easy, I obviously have a problem.

 

…So, yeah. It would seem that buying things and browsing shops online mindlessly is something that I do. This is gonna take some real effort to stop. In December when I decided to do this challenge I did not realise how far gone I was! I don’t think it sunk in until that second diary entry that things have regressed for me. Hopefully that slip up will be enough to make me remember that I’m actually doing this challenge! *facepalms*

I was that close to saying, ‘maybe January isn’t a good time to be doing this’. My birthday is coming up (which’ll mean more things) plus I’ve messed up already. But you know, if it was easy I wouldn’t need to do it. Even with my birthday and my accidental ebay purchase, I’m I’ll still find it hard enough!

Basically, I’m hanging in there. Stay tuned for updates 🙂

1 Year On: Klean Kanteen

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Happy New Year friends! Thought I’d go old school and do a ‘1 Year On’ review :)It’s actually been over 2 years that I’ve owned my Klean Kanteens, but for the sake of this series we’ll say it’s been a year 😉 These were some of very first purchases on my zero waste journey, and were somewhat of an impulse buy. I don’t recommend impulse buying, but occasionally it works out! Klean Kanteen bottles are quite popular in the zero waste community, because the classic style is made without a single piece of plastic in it (just a ring of silicone on in the lid as a seal). Most metal bottles will still have plastic somewhere on them…

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Price:

I went for one traditional wood-topped bottle and a sports cap bottle for versatility. They both cost about £20 each, which is as cheap as this brand gets, but is probably at the more expensive end of reusable bottles. However, you do get what you pay for, so I feel it was a good investment.

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Durability:

As I said, I think you really get what you pay for in terms of the quality of these bottles. I’ve had other stainless steel/aluminium bottles in the past that haven’t lasted too well, or leaked/broke. Two odd years since I bought mine, they still perform just as well as they initially did. I’ve even accidentally dropped them both on various occasions- full of water, which has broken many a bottle of mine- and they are a little dented on the bottom, but I’ve concluded that they’re virtually bulletproof now that they’ve passed the Lydia test! You’re welcome 😉

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Verdict:

One thing I would say is that I prefer the narrow necked ones to the sports tops, because it’s easier to drink quickly without spilling water all down yourself (by yourself I mean myself. Most people probably just drink sensibly). Also, you need to make sure the sports top is screwed on straight otherwise it’ll leak. So that’s not great. In terms of cleaning, I tend to only drink water from mine, and they’re constantly in use, so I don’t really wash them that often. But it is easier to wash the sports bottle because the opening is wider. Generally I use the sports one when I’m exercising, camping and potentially dirty places (?) then use the wood topped one around the house, in my bag and everywhere else.

I have no need or want to replace them; they last, they look good (especially the wooden lid, so elegant!) and water tastes so much better out of them than plastic, not to mention healthier!