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!

 

 

Me Made May 2019 – debrief!

Me Made May is over for another year!

I felt like I was cheating a little bit because I decided to plan outfits and take pictures in advance… but it worked out really well. Having a phone full of images of outfit options made deciding what to wear easy because I could just scroll through and choose an outfit – knowing it included something me-made.

Taking the time to do this beforehand meant that I found some new outfit combinations that I might not have thought of if I was rushing a quick mirror selfie each day.

And of course – it was a relief not having to take daily selfies… particularly when wearing my “home office pj’s”.

My aims for Me Made May 2019 were:

To rediscover things I’ve not been wearing much.

I have definitely rediscovered my Trapeze dresses! I’d been feeling like they were a bit too tent-like – mostly because I made them in quilting cotton and I think a finer fabric would be better suited. I was planning to take them in a bit, but I actually really enjoyed wearing them and they’re super comfy – so I’ll just be wearing them more often!

To find motivation to sew up my wedding cardigan.

Done! Just need to find the perfect buttons…

To make alterations to a couple of things that aren’t quite right.

This for me has been the best thing about this years challenge. Although I’ve not actually had time to do all the alterations – I have made decisions about a few things that have been sitting unworn for a while because they either don’t fit me or the shape isn’t flattering.

I have a few garments that are difficult to part with because I love the fabric! So I’m going to dissect them and make new skirts and tops. And I started with my favourite Cath Kidson dress which was literally bursting at the seams!

I hope you all had a lovely Me Made May x

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!

Festive Jumpers

I saw a post from Fahion Revolution on Instagram this week stating that “A jumper is for life, not just for Christmas”. With Christmas Jumper Day looming – they were encouraging people to shop at charity shops instead of buying new. Christmas Jumper Day is aimed at raising money for charity so this is a brilliant way to give twice and reduce waste!

The post was then re-shared by Karie Westerman – encouraging us to knit a “festive” jumper rather than a novelty one. A jumper that can be worn for the whole festive period and will last for years to come. This would definitely make sense with my capsule wardrobe.

I’ve picked my three favourite festive jumpers and hopefully by this time next year I will be wearing one of these!

Having mentioned Karie above – I will start with the wonderful woman herself. Karie recently launched Vinterskov which is a beautifully subtle Christmas jumper. I really wish I could wear mustard! I adore the hair/jumper colour combination – Karie looks fabulous.

I love the snowflake neckline of Etherow by Sarah Hatton. It’s quite an old pattern and the Alpaca Merino DK is now discontinued… but this would be lovely in Felted Tweed!

And finaly we have Stasis from Brooklyn Tweed. I’m trying to add more red, orange and coral into my wardrobe and I love this colour combination. In fact I love everything about this jumper!

Send me your festive jumper pattern suggestions please!

Me-made Wardrobe Planning

Last week Eleanor from Knit Nottingham posted an Instagram picture of her fantastically minimal, mostly handmade and beautifully colourful wardrobe… I feel inspired! (fyi – she does have some stuff in drawers as well).

I’ve been feeling in a bit of a wardrobe rut and the ‘I have nothing to wear’ feelings have been creeping back in. Since I started living with a capsule wardrobe, this has happened whenever the seasons and/or weather changes. It makes me want to shop!

So instead of shopping I did some planning.

I think the main thing that’s making me feel stuck in a rut is the lack of variation of colour in my wardrobe. You can probably guess which colour is dominant?! I adore teal and am happy to wear teal everyday… but I don’t want to wear head to toe blue and teal everyday and Eleanor’s wardrobe made me crave more colour!

In the past I have bought clothes in lots of different colours because of being limited by the choice in the shops. I might find the perfect shape dress in a colour I wouldn’t normally choose – but if it only comes in that colour and it suits me then I’ll step out of my comfort zone.

I saw that lack of choice as a limitation, when in fact it was encouraging me to experiment with colour. When sewing or knitting a garment there are so many patterns, fabrics and yarns to choose from that the automatic choice is to go for my favourite – ie, teal.

So I’ve decided that rather than just choosing my favourite – I want to plan a palette for my wardrobe so that there are at least a few bits in there to complement the teal!

I started my palette by searching Pinterest for ‘what colours to wear’. I found this pin really helpful and quickly narrowed myself down to an ‘Autumn’ palette based on my hair colour, skin tone and eye colour. I’m not 100% sure whether I’m a ‘Deep Autumn’ or a ‘Warm Autumn’… but hey – they’re similar and it’s just a starting point!

I then searched Pinterest for ‘Deep Autumn colour palettes’ and discovered that my best colours are deep, rich and warm and I should avoid pastels! Luckily this sort of matches my current wardrobe content and I’ve learnt the hard way that pastels aren’t for me. So I just need to make sure I’m adding in some more of the accent colours as I’m making things.

I might not stick to this palette perfectly, but it will be great to have it as a reference to keep me focused when fabric/yarn shopping. It’s also helpful to know that the internet thinks my best neutral shades are mocha type colours rather than greys. After holding lots of little colour swatches against my face I can confirm this is correct!

I have a little notebook which I used to take to sewing class to jot down reminders about techniques or changes I’d made to patterns. It has now become my mini me-made wardrobe scrapbook! So my colour palette is inside the front cover and the notebook is packed with ideas and notes about patterns. It’s only A6 – so perfect for carrying around in case I happen upon a fabric shop.

For patterns I’ve already made there are some notes on sizing etc, and I’ve also jotted down fabric quantities needed for these and patterns I’ve not made yet.

I normally end up in a fabric shop googling the pattern and guessing which size I would make, then converting the yardage to meterage… having everything in one place will hopefully make fabric shopping less faffy!

Making these notes made me dread making the Peony dress! It’s a beginners pattern, but when I was looking at the sizing/fabric quantity I realised that I range from a size 2 on the bust to a size 10 on the hips (American sizes). That’s going to be a challenging pattern to adjust!

I’m currently knitting a blue/teal jumper and have a stash of blue and teal yarn and fabric… it might be a while before different colours find their way into my capsule wardrobe but it’s good to have a plan and I’m loving my mini scrapbook!

Knit Break

I’ve had a bit of an enforced break from knitting this week. Partly because I had a lot of late night beading sessions working on my wedding top… but mostly because of wrist pain!

I don’t know if I twinged it, slept on it awkwardly or if I’ve just knitted through repetitive strain injury for too long… but it’s feeling much better after not knitting and wearing a wrist support for most of the week. I got a lot of sewing done and I’ve managed to do a few rows over the last couple of days.

Whenever I can’t knit – all I can think about is knitting! I’ve got lot’s of new designs planned that I want to start swatching and while taking part in Me Made May I realised that I’m really short on summer tops.

The new Kim Hargreaves book launched this week and it’s gorgeous! I want to knit all the things! But I’m staying focused on knitting the yarn I have and making garments that fit into my capsule wardrobe.

So I’m mostly dreaming about knitting all of these…

Burnt by Kim Hargreaves from Indigo.

I love the keyhole detail at the back and just happen to have exactly the right amount of Cotton Glace in a beautiful green! This will be the perfect little summer top with skirts.

Beaches by Kim Hargreaves from Echoes.

I’ve had a pack of the now discontinued Siena 4ply in black kicking around for a while and I think this would make a really useful and flattering top.

Sarah Hatton summer top from Simply Knitting magazine.

I adore this top and I’m hoping to have enough Summerlite 4ply left over from my wedding cardigan to knit it!

Tally from Sway by Kim Hargreaves.

Not a summer top as such… but I’m really excited about knitting a coral cardigan to replace my tatty old shop bought coral/orange cardigan!

With all the wedding makes I need finish and work knitting I have to do – it’ll be a miracle if I finish knitting any of these before the end of the year… but I can dream!