5 Things this Monday.

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As it’s Minimalist February on my blog, why not have a themed 5 Things this Monday! Here are 5 things I’ve read recently on the topic of having less…

  1. I myself have an attachment to books. But I recently had a purge of my personal collection, only keeping a select few, as well as ones I haven’t read yet (which is waaay too many!) I love this post though, because it explains so simply and perfectly, that the joy of books isn’t in their ownership. Give it a read, I know you want to!
  2. The Ethical Unicorn’s first post on materialism and her discovery of the impact of having so much stuff. It’s so refreshing and relateable to hear someone who’s just unpacking the ‘unwritten rules’ that life throws at us.
  3. The writer of Near-O Waste shares the ways her life has been simplified since minimalism. Yeah it means that she makes little changes that move her away from the zero waste ideal, but it’s all about having perspective, and not beating yourself up. Striving for zero waste can be a faff, and stressful. But if you can minimise that with a compromise, then that’s great.
  4. Next up, is a Youtube channel I discovered recently. Ashlynne Eaton has a really sweet personality and I love her humble style. The focus of her channel is minimalism and intentional living, which is a nice term that encompasses all sorts of causes such as environmentalism and ethical shopping. Her videos are not too heavy, but still inspiring and entertaining- I’m obsessed 🙂
  5. Finally, why not another Youtube channel! The Minimalist Ninja is quite a different channel. She has been a minimalist for 4+ years, and so she has an awful lot of experience and advice. She breaks things down into bitesize topics and is very sincere and considered when it comes to why she decides to do things which I like.

Hopefully that’ll keep you going until my next post 😉 See you soon!

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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.

Small efforts.

Writing posts seems to be beyond me recently, my head space is not really ideal. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped trying. Here are some little ways in which I’ve been trying to be healthier, happier and better to the planet in the last week or so…

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Not zero waste (weetabix came in cardboard and paper, raspberries in a plastic punnet) but I’ve been feeling pretty down this week and eating well has helped no end. I made this insanely yummy stew the other day that had 7 vegetables, 2 types of lentils and filled me up like you’d never believe! At least my body can be happy and I don’t have the added burden of feeling so sluggish.

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My student loan came and I invested in some good tech that should last longer than the rubbish cables you get with your phone which are designed to last approximately 5 minutes. These House of Marley earphones are made from FSC certified wood, have fabric covered cords for durability I love them.

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In my quest to lead a slower, more conscious life, books are making a comeback. Reading calms me down in a way a million Netflix shows couldn’t come close to doing. And the same goes for knitting (another hobby I’m pouring time into at the moment). There’s something about committing yourself to the process and being completely absorbed which I’m only really learning the true value of now.

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A selfie?! On my blog?! I know, I know- but how else do I talk about my crazy hair! Chopping it all off was the best decision I ever made for its health, but the growing out process has been long. A year and a half in, and I can put it up in a ponytail, but I mainly just leave it to do its thing (above). I like the way it does whatever it likes, and watching how my natural, untamed hair in its full glory.

 

Thanks for reading, friends 🙂

Reflections on my no-spend October.

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Apologies for the delay folks! The last few weeks have been pretty crazy round here. I just wanted to do a quick round up of my no-spend October, the ups the downs and what I’ve learned.

Successes:

I managed to go without buying any new items for myself for the entirety of October. It was hard. But I proved to myself it was possible. I was aided by the fact that I have next to no money at the moment anyway, but still, I know I would’ve found some to spend if I hadn’t been doing this challenge. It is empowering to know that if you set your mind to something you can achieve it.

Downfalls:

In a way, this challenge has only been a plaster on a bigger wound. My problem with buying unnecessary things has by no means gone away. At the end of the day, I knew that if I wanted to buy something, I only needed to wait until October was over to do so (and I have since made a few purchases). Now that I’m through the other side, I have learned that this is an ongoing challenge that I have to commit and recommit to.

Take-away points:

I already own a lot of things to enjoy – for instance, there are books I heard about in October that I felt desperate to buy. I was impatient to get started on them right away, but instead I picked up a book that I bought almost a year ago that I never got round to starting and I’ve enjoyed it so much! I’ve also spent more time doing other things that I know I enjoy such as drawing and DIY, which I made time for by not researching things to buy all the time.

Take time to consider – on the one hand, there are items I wanted when I started my no spend month that I still wanted just as much by the end. However, more often than those cases were the ones where I thought I needed something only to realise later that I could do without (either for the time being, or forever). Now, I know it’s important where possible to have a consideration period before I make purchases.

Shopping makes me feel good – if I really want to make progress, I’m going to have to be honest about my relationship with shopping. It makes me feel good. It temporarily takes away my negative feelings and fills whatever void I’m trying to distract myself from. This month may have dulled that urge, but it’s still very much there. I have a long road ahead of me that is going to require forgiving myself for falling short of where I want to be, as well as pushing myself to explore and overcome this addiction.

So, in short, I did it. I learned about myself and I took a step in the right direction of rejecting pointless consumerism. That’s all I can ask of myself at the moment I think!

Make do and mend.

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You might remember I picked up this book on one of my charity shop hunts this summer. It is a reprint of an original book published during World War II advising people on how to make their clothes last longer and repair them during the austerity of war-time, when clothes were very hard to come by. I sort of picked it up for an interesting read, rather than to actually learn about clothes maintenance haha, but I didn’t get far in before my first burst of inspiration hit!

There are chapters on clothes maintenance and washing etc., but the one that made the most impact on me was the one on darning. Even typing the word now conjures up the image of something out of a period drama, but it’s actually not as complicated and more effective than I thought it would be.

One afternoon I stuck a series on Netflix and dug out two items in need of a good darn, and in a matter of hours it was all done! The book outlines darning techniques for a heap of different types of material, but I just used the standard one (see this post by Béa Johnson, it’s basically the same technique) for my first item.

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Before (right) and after (left)

This is a bandeau-type bra that I stupidly stuck a safety pin into to hold a top up once (hence the annoying holes!) Up close it looks sort of messy, but a few weeks on I can safely say that the sewing holds up when stretched and I matched the colour of the thread really well too which helped to make it look more professional.

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Before (top) and after (bottom)

Next up is that dress that I oh-so-gracefully managed to rip at the armpit and not notice for ages until I was taking it off one day! Good times. ‘Make Do and Mend’ recommended that I do a blanket stitch around the raw edges of the hole and then sew the seams together which ended up looking like this. The dress is quite dark in reality so the black thread barely shows, and it sits under my armpit anyway. I could’ve done this more neatly in hindsight but it definitely does the job, and I wasn’t ready to let this dress go!

So there we have it, 2 articles of clothing diverted from the scrap heap with a little bit of thread and a needle! If you’re not confident sewing, it’s worth asking around your friends and family for help. I hope this inspires you to see if you can salvage anything you would’ve otherwise chucked 🙂

Charity shop finds #1

I have a lot of love for charity shops. You can get terrible ones, admittedly, but generally even the ones that don’t look too promising you can find one gem. Shopping second-hand is exciting because it’s like a quest; you have no idea what you’re going to find, and no two are the same.

Over the last few months I have been keeping my eyes peeled everywhere I go for charity shops, and popping in with a mental list of items I need. On my way home from the train station this week I managed to tick 3 off my list from just one shop (Barnardo’s on Brixton Road if you’re curious)!

Firstly, kitchen investments. I’ve been wanting to invest in a Pyrex jug for the longest time, and the only ones I’ve seen have been like 200ml, but this one goes up to 1L so I’m a happy bunny. RRP £5.00 bought for £3.99 so not a major saving, but a saving nonetheless, AND I saved the energy and resources used to make a new jug for me so I think I win! Then there’s the sieve, which I so often wished I had mid baking-session or to steam my vegetables with (I’ll be living the life now!) RRP £6.00 bought for £2.99, see, I’m getting better at this saving lark!

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Books! When charity shop shopping for books it is even more of a lucky dip scenario than homeware or clothes. Which is why I was absolutely over the moon to find 2 copies of Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman on the shelf! I was gonna try and Ebay it to be honest, but this way I managed to avoid acquiring another parcel to reuse. RRP £7.99 bought for £1.99, YESSS. This Make Do and Mend book is from The Imperial War Museum, and is a reprint of an original book released during WWII by the government to help people make their clothes last longer. This was a spontaneous purchase, but considering it combines my love of sewing, WWII history, and the environment, I’m pretty confident I made a good choice. RRP £4.00 bought for £1.99.