Health & Beauty

Minimising my health and beauty products was one of the easiest things to do. I didn’t have a huge amount of make-up and toiletries so there was hardly anything to clear out!

So my main focus has been on cutting back on waste and moving over to natural products… and that’s a bit more complicated.

A lot of eczema sufferers (including me) need to use soap substitutes, body washes, emollients and moisurisers which come in plastic packaging. If I find make-up or a skincare product that works for me then I stick with it and get really annoyed if it’s discontinued!

Making changes to what products I use is a slow process. I need to change one thing at a time because that makes it easier to work out the cause if I have an eczema flare-up. So I’m currently getting frustrated with the amount of plastic waste I’m creating but trying to remain patient and change one thing at a time.

Here are the first few things I’ve made changes with:

Shampoo

I switched to using solid shampoo bars about six years ago but that was mostly because I found they suit my hair better – being plastic free was just a bonus! Lush recently stopped making my favourite (Copper Head) so I’m on the look out for a new favourite if you have any tips?

Cleanser

I thought this would be a really difficult thing to change because my skin is so sensitive on my face but I’m loving the Tea Totaler naked cleansing bar from Lush. It’s really gentle, lovely and plastic free. Fyi – this blog isn’t sponsored by Lush… I just love their stuff!

Deodorant

This is still work in progress! Whenever I’ve tried to switch deodorant in the past I’ve developed a rash and/or eczema so it’s taking me some time to find something I don’t react to… that also works!

My first attempt was a solid stick from the local vegan shop which came in a cardboard tube. It made my armpits a bit sore, but I was trying to stick with it. I was just starting to get used to the interesting ‘earthy smell’ when it dried up. I think the cardboard tube soaked up moisture so it went all crumbly and impossible to apply.

My second attempt was a Lush solid deoderant. It had very mixed reviews but as it was packaging free I figured it wouldn’t be the end of the world if it didn’t work out for me. It was easy to apply and keeping it in a glass jar stopped it from drying out. But I only used it for a few days! I personally thought I smelt like a field in a not so good way. It felt too heavy – like a waxy coating and although I’m not a particularly smelly person… I felt smelly by lunchtime. Some of the reviews were great so this was maybe just not for me.

I’m currently on my third trial – which is handmade deodorant! I’ve been using it for a few weeks and it’s a bit weird but really easy to make and seems to be working to keep away body odour… which is ultimately the goal! I based mine on this recipe but only used 10 drops of essential oil.

Sanitary Products

If you don’t want to read about periods and sanitary products then please pop off now and I’ll see you next week!

I read somewhere that one sanitary towel is the equivalent of two and a half plastic carrier bags… I can’t remember/find where I read that so I might have made it up! But still… the amount of plastic waste form tampons and sanitary towels is pretty shocking and I know a lot of people are changing what they use.

I personally switched to period pants and a Mooncup about two years ago. I use the Thinx period pants and they’re great but they are pretty expensive – when I bought them there weren’t many options but I think there are more brands/choices now – so please share in the comments if you love a certain brand!

If you use tampons and don’t want to change to a cup/period pants then it’s still worth shopping around. It looks like a lot of new brands have popped up who are focusing on natural products, less waste and working to battle period poverty. Ohne looks good to me, but again – if you have any favourite brands do share!

If you have any questions about sanitary products/period pants but don’t want to chat on here/social media then please feel free to message me.

Minimalism 2020!

This is the final blog in my minimalism 2019 series – I hope you’ve enjoyed them? It’s been lovely hearing from some of you about what you’re up to!

Keeping things simple, reducing waste, reducing environmental impact and shopping thoughtfully are all ongoing things. But one more thing that I want to have a serious look at is digital minimalism.

I know that I could tidy up my digital world and reduce the amount of time I spend on my phone – so that will be something to get stuck into next year. For now I just want to enjoy the extra time and space that I’ve gained from simplifying!

Food

Continuing my series of blogs about minimalism and sustainability

Minimalism may not have had the same direct impact on my food choices as it has had on fashion/clothing, but the back-to-basics ethos of simplifying life has definitely inspired me to change my diet and food shopping habits in the interest of eating more healthily and reducing my impact on the environment.

I’m not going to focus too much on changes I’ve made diet-wise because I think that’s such a personal thing and what works for me might not work for you! I know that a lot of people (myself and Beardie included) have gone veggie over the last few years and I’m loving the fact that there are more veggie and vegan choices when eating out.

I was never a big meat eater, but I did used to consume a lot of dairy. There aren’t enough words to describe a diet that sits in between vegetarianism and veganism so I’ve drawn a scale to show you where I’m at (apologies for the incorrect spelling of vegetarian)…

Vegan-ish? Flexigan? Suggestions in the comments please! I want to keep shifting towards the left on this scale, but I’m pretty happy with my current diet so I might just stay there for 2020.

Over the last couple of years a lot of us have made changes to reduce plastic waste. For us – food packaging creates the majority of our plastic waste. With a lot of this waste I’ve felt like I don’t have other options… unless I grow it in the garden then it’s likely to come in packaging that’s difficult to recycle!

So we started to make eco-bricks as a way to make something useful from the not easily recyclable plastic. That lasted about two weeks! For one thing – we didn’t have anything to build with the finished bricks and hadn’t found anywhere local to donate them, but also – it was such a faff! Each bit of packaging needed to be cleaned and thoroughly dried before going in the eco-brick – so we had drying plastic everywhere. If you have more space and time than us then eco-bricks might be worth looking into as they might be a good option for you.

Although we didn’t stick with the eco-brick making, it showed us just how much non-recyclable packaging was going in the bin… and it was shocking. For those two weeks we hardly put anything in our general waste bin and that was the motivation we needed to change our shopping habits.

The main culprits were dried food such as pasta, rice, seeds and nuts which generally come in plastic packaging. We’d started making an action plan for how we could shop differently… and then the wonderful new shop Waste Nott opened literally round the corner and made it so much easier!

We’re definitely sacrificing some convenience in order to reduce packaging waste as we’ve replaced our one weekly ‘big shop’ with smaller shops at the supermarket and three local shops: Thompson Bros Greengrocers, Waste Nott and The V Spot. But it’s great! We’ve massively reduced our packaging waste and haven’t increased our carbon footprint because we do the local shopping on foot.

Shopping in local independents is always much more enjoyable than going to the supermarket and it’s fantastic to see these shops busy. I hope you’re lucky enough to have some good independents near you?

On the subject of waste… I’ve also been focusing on reducing food waste. We don’t really have cooked food waste that needs to go in the general waste, but as a keen gardener, I always hated putting fruit and veg waste into the bin that could be going back in to the garden. But at the same time I was aware that compost heaps attract rodents and so I wasn’t keen on having one near the house.

So when I found this compost tumbler I thought it was the perfect solution! It was compact, off the ground, contained (so it shouldn’t attract rats) and a lovely shade of green. But it was also super expensive and very flimsy!

We got one tumbler’s worth of compost from it before the base started coming out. After less than two years the whole thing had collapsed.

We’re now on our second attempt at small household composting – we bought a Mini Hotbin at the end of the summer after seeing one in action during Sherwood Open Gardens. I’m having problems getting it up to temperature – but it’s breaking down and full of worms so I think it’s okay for now and hopefully it’ll warm up in the spring.

In theory – once it’s above 40 degrees, you can put cooked food waste in as well. If this doesn’t work out I think I’ll get a wormery instead!

Do you have any tips for reducing food and food packaging waste?

Minimalism 2019

It’s been almost three years since I was inspired to make some life changes after watching the Minimalism documentary!

I always knew that de-cluttering our home would be the first step I needed to take before making other changes… I just wasn’t 100% sure when I started the process what those other changes would be.

I’m happy to say that as of last weekend – we have finished minimising our home! It’s still an ongoing process and we’ll continue to let go of things that are no longer needed or loved and to think carefully about anything new coming into the home.

I’ve done big Marie Kondo style clear-outs in the past, but inevitably things crept back in or items ended up out of sight because it was too difficult to make a decision then and there.

This time things are different. Doing the clear-out process slowly and thoroughly over a few years means that we have looked at every single item in the house and made a considered decision. We know that everything that has stayed is either used, needed and/or loved. That’s a nice feeling!

I have no idea how much ‘stuff’ we’ve cleared out, but I would estimate that I’ve thrown out/donated/sold/gifted about 75% of my belongings over the last few years. I feel a lot lighter!

The house overall doesn’t feel that different… we’re not living in empty rooms. But it’s a bit more spacious as we’ve given away a few bits of furniture – mostly shelves that were no longer needed and it generally feels tidier and less cluttered. I won’t share pictures… because (now that we’ve finished minimising) we’re giving the house some love and re-decorating a few rooms. That means we currently have worktops and a sink on the floor in the living room and it’s not very photogenic!

So… what’s changed?

Embracing minimalism and working through all my ‘stuff’ has made me painfully aware of the lack of consideration I have given in the past to where I spend my time and money and the impact those choices have on people and our planet.

We live in a consumerist society where we’re constantly encouraged to want more, but minimalisim has made me a lot more considered in my choices.

Over the last few years I have made some positive changes to my lifestyle in the interest of reducing waste and lowering my impact on the environment. There’s still a lot I want to learn and do, but I wanted to share some of the changes I’ve already made with you!

It’s too much for one blog so I’m going to divide it up and share my ponderings throughout November on: Fashion/Clothes, Food and Health & Beauty.

I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts and tips as well!

 

 

Mini Digital Detox

If you’re reading this on Sunday – I’m not contactable because I’m on a mini digital detox!

Snuggle Socks from Cute Comfort Knits by Jem Weston

Over the last year I’ve got into some really good habits with my phone usage. Spending less time browsing social media and switching off my phone before (or sometimes just after) my evening meal and not switching it on again until the following morning.

However… habits slip. When I’m really busy I find it particularly difficult to stick to my new habits – partly because I feel guilty for not being contactable or not replying to emails straight away, but also because I just want to browse Pinterest! But busy times are when I’m most in need of the evening switch off.

My morning habits have also slipped a bit. I try to start each day with a walk, but recently I’ve been switching my phone on as soon as I get up… then I get distracted, waste time and often end up skipping my walk. Not good!

I’m amazed by the technology we have these days and certainly wouldn’t want to be without it, but I’m also very aware of the negative impact it has on mental health, self-esteem and sleep if we don’t use it sensibly.

So this weekends detox is about pressing the re-set button. Reminding myself that nothing terrible happens if I’m off the radar for a couple of days. Breaking the bad phone habits that are creeping up on me and making the time to knit, walk, garden and cuddle the cats – all activities which are far more beneficial to my mental and physical health than passively scrolling through my phone!

Why not join me? Maybe leave your phone at home while you go for a walk, switch it to flight mode for an afternoon… or go full detox and switch it off for the day!

Work in Progress Chest

I have a lovely large wooden chest in my living room (which has become known as “The chest of shame”) where I keep all of my unfinished projects.

It became so stuffed with half-finished  projects that I’d started storing the things I was actually working on in a pile on top of the chest!

It’s been on my Minimise list for quite a while, and spurred on by Marie Kondo I got cracking and sorted through it.

After finishing off a couple of things that literally just needed a little repair, throwing out a few things that I knew I wouldn’t finish and finding a large variety of knitting needles that I thought had been lost forever… I’m left with a not too shameful chest which I’m re-naming my “WIP Chest”!

The first project I dug out is a little bit shameful to be honest… two socks that I started early last year. I intended to knit one sock per month throughout the year – thus ending the year with six new pairs of socks. I have more than enough yarn and bought a couple of sets of fancy new sock needles… but time ran away from me and this is the somewhat disappointing result.

I started hand sewing this patchwork cushion cover years ago! I finished a triangle version in the same fabrics but this one got put into hibernation. I still love it and will definitely finish it at some point!I’ve been using crocheted flannels/face cloths for a while now and recently crocheted some dishcloths in oddments of Cotton Glace to replace our plastic based sponges. I’m planning to make more and it’s a brilliant easy project to fit in my handbag.

I’ve been pretty good recently at only having one garment on the needles at a time – and this Esme cardigan by Kim Hargreaves is the one! I’ve finished the back and it’s now hibernating until I’m less busy with work knitting.

And the final project in the WIP chest is actually Beardie’s knitting! He found he quite enjoyed finishing off some socks that I’d been knitting over Christmas 2017 so I bought him some yarn to make himself a pair.

The yarn is from Gamer Crafting and the colours are based on Luke’s light-saber. I hope one day he’ll finish them… or maybe he could just make the cuff into a sweatband? The yarn is knitting up beautifully.

My new self-imposed rule is that I can’t add anything new to the WIP chest until I finish a project from the WIP chest! I can’t wait until I have time to finish my Esme cardigan… and maybe some socks!

Minimalism at Christmas

Christmas is the season of excess and when I first discovered minimalism I thought that it would be a nightmare! But in many ways it has made the festive season easier.

Here are a few of my ponderings on being a minimalist at Christmas!


Gifts

The challenges with both giving and receiving gifts, but being a minimalist makes decisions easier!

I now never panic buy a gift just because I feel I “should” give a gift. If there isn’t a specific thing I want to buy someone then I go for vouchers or consumables rather than buying them something they may not need or want. I feel like there has been a shift in the last few years – with people buying fewer gifts, but focusing on quality rather than quantity and  supporting independent shops and designers. That makes me very happy!

The other thing to consider of course is handmade gifts. Something handmade is the ultimate thoughtful gift! But the run up to Christmas can get a bit hectic and I’m really good at being hugely unrealistic about what I can achieve… I know I’m not the only one who has gifted an unfinished Christmas present! So this year I decided not to make gifts, but to give myself the gift of time… Instead panic knitting on Christmas eve this year – I’ll be doing some relaxed selfish knitting.

I very rarely receive a gift that I don’t like or won’t use – but when I do, I find it easier to let it go. I used to hold onto things because I felt guilty that someone had spent time and money choosing and buying the gift, but now I re-gift or donate as soon as possible.

Sometimes people miss the mark and buy something you don’t like or won’t use, but the old saying “it’s the thought that counts” really is true. Re-gifting something doesn’t change the fact that the giver thought of you or that it was given and received with love. The person who gave you the gift wouldn’t want it to clutter up your house or give you feelings of guilt! So just let it go… let someone else enjoy it.


Decorations

Christmas decorations aren’t very minimal! We collect them over the years and store them away for the majority of the year. However, they are definitely “just for when” items rather than dreaded “just in case” items so I think that makes them okay?

I condensed my Christmas decorations right down last year, but a few new ones have crept in – including a beautiful beaded bobbin made by my friend Steph as a wedding gift. It has our initials and wedding date beaded around the sides and I absolutely love it!

Christmas is a time where we can be unashamedly sentimental and nostalgic. I think this is reflected in a lot of peoples decorations. So I’m just going to try my best to keep my collection to it’s two small boxes!


Wardrobe

This is where I start to struggle! I’ve barely bought any new clothes for the last two years and most of the time I’m happy with that. I have plans for handmade additions to my capsule wardrobe and having less clothes makes life so much easier! But every December all I want to do is buy cosy jumpers and sparkly dresses.

Even if I’m not actively going shopping – it’s impossible to avoid the adverts and I really do love sequined dresses!

This year I’m working very hard to resist temptation, but next year I want to make either a cosy festive jumper or a new sparkly dress, top or skirt. Maybe I can pick up some sequined fabric in the January sales…

As I said in last weeks Festive Jumpers blog – I want to have something I can wear every year and for more than just Christmas day.


Food & Drink

The Excess doesn’t end with clothes and “stuff”. In our house there is a huge excess of food & drink and it can be difficult to avoid waste. I get serious food fomo and always eat far too much at Christmas!

We generally don’t keep much sweet stuff in the house because we both have a sweet tooth and just don’t know when to stop. If there is chocolate and cake around then I can’t resist and when I mix that with a few glasses of bubbly… I always end up going to bed feeling sick on Christmas day.

This might not sound like a minimalist issue but I definitely think this is something I should approach with a minimalist outlook! I think limiting myself to one desert per meal would be reasonable? It’s very difficult to avoid excess food at Christmas, but if I can avoid eating so much I feel ill then I’ll be happy!

Have a very Merry Christmas everyone!

Minimalism: The Highs and Lows

I was wondering recently how long it’s been since we discovered minimalism and was surprised to find that my first blog on the subject was 26th March 2017! I can’t believe it’s been over a year!

My first blog was about starting the clear-out process with something simple. And we chose mugs.

At the time we cut down our mug collection from 28 to 15 and I clearly remember finding it really difficult and finding justifications to keep more than we’d originally planned!

Beardie and I now only own six mugs. We have two each and then two spares in the cupboard for guests/builders. This is perfect for us, but wouldn’t be ideal for someone who has a lot of friends over for tea and cake!

Approximately one year after starting our Minimalism journey – I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the highs and lows.


Highlights

It doesn’t take as long to clean

The rooms that we have tackled already have a lot less clutter so it’s easier to keep them tidy and to clean.

I’ve saved money

Particularly on clothes. I wasn’t an extravagant spender anyway and I haven’t given myself a spending ban at any point – but I’ve been making more sensible purchases and I’m finding it easier to let things go if they’re not right.

I’m creating more

Saving some time and money means I have more time to spend on creating. I’m growing more fruit and veg in the garden and I’m finding more time and money to spend on sewing and knitting garments for myself.

I’m looking after myself

Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of stuff! It’s about simplifying your life and living more mindfully.

I’ve always been a big advocate of self care and this was largely the motivation behind the Moody Blanket. I believe that looking after our minds is as important as looking after our bodies but it’s something many of us feel we don’t have time for.

I started a habit tracker this year to encourage me to meditate daily, eat healthily and get more sleep. I really feel the benefits when I stick to my daily habits and I notice the negative impact when I let things slip for a few days.

Habit Tracker by Clementine Creative

The Lows…

‘Stuff’ stresses me out

I’m quite an impatient person and if I decide to do something I generally just want to get it done! However – I knew that rushing through the initial ‘getting rid of stuff’ part of minimalism wouldn’t work for me. I’ve had big clear-outs before and I inevitably put things out of sight to sort out later. This time I want to do it thoroughly and make a lasting change!

People deal with the process differently. Ryan of The Minimalists had a packing party – putting all his belongings in boxes/covering furniture and then only keeping what he had used within a certain amount of days (extreme!). Whereas Josh (also of The Minimalists) gradually got rid of the majority of his belongings in the space of a year.

Beardie and I kick-started things in June by playing The Minimalism Game. When we came to a standstill we followed this up with a mini packing party for our kitchen crockery at the end of last year. Other than that we’ve just been gradually working through things… and it’s a slow process.

We’ve probably tackled more than half the house which is great – but because we haven’t completed the process of minimising every room, I always feel like I should be doing ‘stuff’ and ‘stuff’ becomes stressful!

I feel guilty

I guess it’s natural when taking good care of oneself to feel a bit selfish!

I find meditation particularly difficult because my mind bounces around and I feel like I ‘should’ be doing something else.

But taking time out can often make you more focused, more productive, calmer and generally a nicer person to be around. So ultimately self care is caring for everyone… my brains just not calibrated that yet!


As you can see – the highs outweigh the lows for me! I would love to hear from you if you’re working on simplifying your life too… particularly if you’re a fellow crafter surrounded by ‘artistic clutter’!

Capsule Wardrobe – Take 3

I started working towards a capsule wardrobe back in October last year with my Project 340 where I wore just 40 items for three months. It’s meant to be 33 items (Project 333)…but it was a practice run!

I tweaked things and restricted it down to 33 items for January and February (Project 233)…and now I feel ready to start building a slightly larger, ongoing capsule wardrobe.

Restricting what I wear has been great. I suppose it’s similar to having overindulged on cake for years, then cutting down on it or cutting it out completely for a while makes you really appreciate it… and maybe realise that you don’t need as much!

I’m looking forward to finishing the wardrobe diet and getting to the point where I can just maintain what I’ve achieved… but I’m not there just yet.

As I’m always making things it means I’m having to tweak things regularly. This is making me more mindful of what I’m making. I want my wardrobe to have a higher proportion of handmade items – so if I knit a new jumper then it has to do the job of another jumper and be a replacement rather than an addition to my wardrobe. So I started a plan for handmade replacements…

This is based on rules I created for an ongoing capsule wardrobe that I think will work for me – with the main wardrobe consisting of 30 Winter items and 30 Summer items which can be mixed and matched for the in-between seasons.

after living with such a restricted wardrobe for five months… having this many options is a bit overwhelming! So I might streamline it further – but it’s a good starting point that means less stuff stored under the bed and more choice in my wardrobe.


The rules:

  • Shoes x 10 pairs (not including walking boots, wellies & gardening shoes).
  • Bags & belts x10
  • Necklaces x 10
  • Earrings x10
  • Bracelets x10
  • Rings x5 (not including engagement ring).
  • Sunglasses x1
  • Gardening, DIY & sportswear must fit in one drawer.
  • Underwear must fit in one drawer.
  • Nightwear must fit in box.
  • Summer items x 30
  • Winter items x 30

I’ve also put all the hangers in my wardrobe backwards – when I wear something I will hang it back the right way so that I can see what I’m actually wearing the next time I re-asses.

I still have some clothes in ‘storage’ under the bed, but this is decreasing every time I create a new capsule. I think once I achieve my final capsule wardrobe and am just maintaining it (ie – one in, one out) then I’ll be okay with having a few things stored under the bed… but if I’ve not included them in my wardrobe for a year than they definitely need to go!

I’m really looking forward to going back to a 33 piece wardrobe in May for a Me-Made-May/ Project 333 mash-up!

Capsule Wardrobe – take 2

The new year marked the end of my first attempt at a capsule wardrobe and the start of my second attempt!

Project 340 was always intended to be a practice run at Project 333 where you dress with just 33 items for 3 months. I struggled initially to narrow my wardrobe down to 33 items so my practice challenge became 40 items for 3 months. Find out more about the rules and what I included here.

I learnt a lot from restricting my wardrobe for three months. And after finishing I managed to clear out another bag full of clothes from those I have “stored” under the bed.

Lesson 1: I enjoyed it!

I actually like having a limited wardrobe! It’s not about deprivation – it’s actually the opposite.

Having a capsule wardrobe means I have more time because I’m not wasting as much time thinking about what to wear.

It also means I have more money! I didn’t do my usual thing of thinking I must buy something new for Christmas parties or to wear on Christmas day. I made do with what I had and I now don’t have another dress I never wear sitting in the wardrobe. Win-win!

I knew that streamlining my wardrobe would be great long-term, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it straight away.

Lesson 2: I got the balance of going out clothes to casual clothes completely wrong!

When planning my project 340 I made a list of everything I do – such as work meetings, working at home, meals out with friends, walking, nipping to the post office etc etc.

That helped me to see that most of my activities require casual and comfy outfits. So that’s what I focused on…with a few outfits for work meetings and going out.

What I didn’t think about was…where do I want more choice?

When I’m working at home or going for walks or lunch locally – it really doesn’t matter if I wear the same thing all the time! Obviously I need enough choice so that I don’t need to do the washing every day – but wearing the same few outfits every week is fine by me.

But only giving myself the choice of a few outfits for going out leads me onto my next lesson…

Lesson 3: I get bored after 2 months!

After a while I really missed having more options. Although when I thought about what I would wear if all my “storage” clothes were still in the wardrobe…I still drew a blank.

This for me has reinforced that restricting my wardrobe is the right thing to do. When I have these moments of “I have nothing to wear!” I’m going to write down what I would want to wear in an ideal world – if I could just click my fingers and be wearing anything I wanted. And those are the garments I need to make!

In the meantime – to avoid getting bored I’m going to tweak my capsule wardrobe again in two months.

My new capsule wardrobe for January and February is 33 items (project 233!). I have included:

3 x skirts

Jeans

Jeggings

4 x tops

2 x cardigans

4 x jumpers

4 x dresses

Brogues

Ankle boots

Knee high boots

Wrap/scarf

Hat

Mitts

2 x necklaces

Handbag

Belt

2 x coats

2 x pairs of earrings

The majority of my wardrobe has stayed the same – but I have taken some bits out and tried to include more nice tops to wear when I go out which would also work with lounge pants when working at home!

I’ve also not included leggings in my count this time. I only really wear leggings with skirts/dresses that are a bit short for tights so I decided to class them as underwear.

Has anyone else tried Project 333? I’d love to hear how you got on!