Monday, 30 July 2018

This, Not That

a little stroll through Lancaster
This month has been incredibly refreshing, as well as letting go of lots of physical clutter I've let go of a few mental things too. Dan and I love nothing more than a good old chat to reflect on the month just gone, something we did on our way to the football yesterday - yes, football is back already!

It stemmed from a trip to Lancaster on Saturday, we went to a vegan fair and bought a few edible things, and while some of them were great (Bakewell Tart) Dan said on a couple of occasions that I could have made things better. Then I had a conversation with a lady at the city centre market, she was telling me about her wedding and how unimpressed she was with the food and how she wished she'd had time to prepare it herself. I feel like that a lot. 

So what did we learn? We both were really disappointed with a meal we had at a pub, the food was great, but it was so expensive for what it was, it cost 5% of our holiday budget but was nowhere near 5% enjoyment.

I'm not that bothered about sweet potatoes.

I have always struggled with sleep so I follow all the rules for a clean sleeping routine with varying degrees of success. Recently I have broken my number one rule - no reading in bed and it has been fantastic, very relaxing and just what I need. Plus it carves out an extra hour or so to read every evening which has been great for both of us. I still keep the fail safe sea sounds app available, nothing makes me fall asleep more quickly.

A lot of "eco" products are not for me. I already knew that homemade products weren't for me - they cost a fortune. But with some cleaning products I just feel I'd be better off with a bit of soap and water. While I'm at it, I really like Dan's cheap and cheerful supermarket brand shampoo, so I'm just going to use it, it's not green but I know I'll use it which is better than trying a product that costs a fortune and doesn't really help me. 

My favourite place is being at home. 

Snoozing or unfollowing certain accounts on social media, or avoiding certain blogs was so relaxing. I follow people like Pamela Anderson and organisations like Sea Shepherd, they share important stuff, but wow some of it is distressing. I also snoozed some actual friends who can be a little on the negative side. I hadn't thought about it, but the snooze period ended this weekend and everything reappeared - I was not ready for it, but it goes to show how things I take for granted can be draining. I also avoided a number of blogs for the same reason. That's not to say I lived in a bubble, I listen to BBC World Service every day so I still had my fair share of depressing news.

I much prefer tea to coffee, it has been said before by someone that I have an uncultured palate because I don't like olives! Maybe I do, I don't care, most coffee tastes the same to me so I'll have a cup of tea instead and have the freedom to make it as I like it. 

I'm not very good at relaxing. 

I've been failing to develop an exercise routine because what I like to do has changed. I used to love training with weights and doing circuit type training. I've been trying to force myself to start it up again (for about 5 years) but it never sticks, in part because it's harder to start something again than start for the first time. But I have discovered I like my exercise bike and also anything to do with dance style movements, so that's what I do now, half an hour of wiggling around, it's amazing. I like to think my moves were impressive at the gig we went to on Friday!

I wore about 5 outfits the whole time. I had bought a really pretty embroidered Monsoon dress from the charity shop in case we had hot weather, three weeks of hot weather, didn't wear it once. I wore my new orange skirt and a t-shirt, my black jumpsuit, maxi dress, Marimekko dress and the Frida-inspired skirt and a black top. That was it, for a fortnight, plus two dresses I just wear for flopping around the house. I had never really paid attention to how frequently I reach for the same clothes before. 

So, it looks like now I know what I don't like to do, it's a good time to bring in those things that add value. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Shiny Things

I decided to have a poke through my bedside cabinet and small cupboard thing that I have instead of a dressing table, I do not take enough time getting ready to have a dressing table! 

First I went through my accessories and things and found 8 bits of jewellery and things to donate. I also let go of a broken brooch that I miss so much, but every time I see the broken piece I feel really sad so it has gone away. Also a couple of empty boxes, papers, old cosmetics - I almost never wear make make up so there's no need to hang on to much. Some shoelaces, old loyalty cards and other assorted things. 

When I was 40 I was given a flat herringbone necklace that belonged to my Grandmother, the first time I took it out of the box it snapped. I now never wear necklaces when I'm with my parents just so they don't ask me why I don't wear it. I have no idea if this type of thing can be repaired or if I need to maybe I could just buy a new one. It's another minor stressy thing!

I had a quick look in my chest of drawers, this was pruned not too long ago but there was still a pair of cycling shorts (too small), a nail colour, and a wooden roll thing that came as part of a gift set of toiletries.

I knew another nail colour was lurking somewhere, I bought it a few months ago to wear during sandal weather, tried it once then decided I'd rather just have my toe nails as they are. I found it in the sideboard along with some other things.

Mainly loyalty cards and vouchers, lots of cards and tings, plus a pencil case someone gave to me, and the nail colour. Phew.

Later I found a mug we never use.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018


A couple of people mentioned they'd like to see the bits and bobs we picked up on holiday so here they are. Apologies for the dark pictures, we've had rain every day since the end of last week, and again I apologise to Melanie for bragging about that!

Starting with the clothes. We were in the town on the first day of the holiday, and nipped into a charity shop I don't usually visit, I bought the first two items I saw on the rails, £3.29 each.

I also treated myself to something new. I bought this beautiful skirt from Kemi Telford, a brand I found via Instagram, great service and the most positive comments to accompany their pictures, feel good times. 

I know everyone is over gallery walls in their homes, but I'm not so we bought a few prints. 

4 Fresh Trippers by Peter Brook, we had seen an exhibition of these paintings at Redbrick Mill earlier in the year, so when we saw prints at a gallery in Skipton we chose one. We went for this one as it reminded us of a day we spent in Berwick a few years ago. 

The next pair we bought from Heart Gallery in Hebden Bridge, both by Ruth Thorp. Dan liked the red one, I liked the other one as it reminded me of Moominvalley in November. The owner of the gallery is exceptionally nice and there's also a gorgeous wee dog. 

Next is a photo of 10 Regent Avenue, Lytham St Anne's, the home of architect Keith Ingham. Sadly no longer there, but it was gorgeous. 

Finally, my favourite, and the first thing we bought, a print by Kendal-based artist Jamie Barnes. We bought this from Bumblebee Gallery in Kendal (on Blackhall Yard, right next to the shopping centre) beautiful shop, very friendly owner, and things of all prices, from a couple of quid upwards, they stock Kushboo soaps too which are my absolute favourite at the moment.

Things for the house were starting to look a bit monochrome so we chose something a little brighter for the bathroom. We chose this steam bent wood mirror by Beatrix Baker from Snug Gallery in Hebden bridge. 

I've been following the Just A Card campaign and it has made me think again about how and where I spend my money, this month I've had excellent experiences and I've loved learning about the makers as well as the sellers. 

Monday, 23 July 2018

Haven't I Thrown You Away Before?

Dan started the slightly dull yet necessary job of filling and sanding the bathroom this weekend. To make it look like I wasn't just flopping around eating Divine dark chocolate with hazelnuts and watching Sky Sports News I decided to find things to throw away. 

The inspiration for this was how long it took us to move everything out of the (small) bathroom in order for decorating to begin - towels, cleaning products, cleaning cloths, bin, recycling bin, spare products, products we actually use. I thought I'd really slimmed down the bathroom stuff, apparently not. So I went through it, but all I found to remove from the house were a virtually empty tube of lip balm, last used about two years ago to fix the boiler, a nearly empty bottle of body moisturiser (does that have a proper name?) body balm, body cream..? and a bottle of conditioner, something I never use due to having really fine hair, I don't know why I owned it. 

Then I went into the pantry, always a good place to clean out. I do this fairly recently so there's never really food to chuck out, I did get rid of a bottle of chilli oil that we've been using but wasn't all that chilli-y and there were two teaspoons of custard powder in the bottom of a tin that was best before early 2017. I am happy to report we are now down to four tins of carlin peas after I used a tin in some dhal last week, it was delicious, so I am now a friend of carlin peas again. The tin of fava beans is another matter. 

There's far less in it than in previous years and I like that very much. Dan's breadmaking stuff lives right at the bottom of the pantry.

and on the floor, along with pet and bird food live some veg and essential drinks

This morning I'd been watching something on YouTube and just let the next video play, it was all about the 30 Day Minimalism Game, I'm not a massive fan of The Minimalists myself but there you go. I decided to hunt out some books to take to a charity shop. I found a few, but I also noticed a couple that I know I'd set aside before but had found their way back onto a shelf. Not idea why, but they're on their way out again. I also found a couple of craft magazines that I'm not going to use again. 

As ever, if anyone wants any of these before I take them to a charity shop please let me know, the back cover of the festive Homemaker magazine has been chewed but is otherwise intact. I do also have issue 13 of Breathe magazine, I think it's from last month. Being honest, I felt a bit stressed out after reading some of the articles, leaving the past behind and all that stuff, guess it's not a magazine for me! I'm just not jaunty enough for that kind of thing. 

Not sure what's next on the declutter list, I might go through the sideboards again, I'm sure there will be something unnecessary lurking. 

Thursday, 19 July 2018

New Flip Flops

I need new flip flops!

Something I must have said thirty times since the weather warmed up, specifically every time I needed to go out to water the more needy plants in the garden. Instead I've been teetering around on cobbles with bare feet, holding the watering can. Then each time we've been near a shop I've declared that flip flops are a waste of money as I would only use them in the garden. Typical me. 

One day last week I was watching the blackbirds eat the last of the raspberries and I thought that maybe I could just empty the holly leaves out of the pair of pumps I'd left in the garden and use them for gardening purposes instead. That's what lead to them being left on the patio in the first place. After a couple of months left out in the elements they didn't look great, but after a turn in the washing machine and some new insoles (I already had some) they are ideal. 

This small act has saved me a couple of quid, but I'm not pretending the holiday was low spend, I bought three skirts - one new, two from a charity shop, a necklace, all the food and drinks in the world, I think 5 prints, at least four at any rate, and a mirror. The day the bathroom cabinet was fitted I said to Dan that one of us would end up chipping the sink when we took something out of there. It happened last week, so the 5 month old cabinet has gone away and a probably-slightly-too-small-but-who-cares-it's-orange mirror is in place. I hear a rumour that decorating will take place soon, we shall see. 

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Clean Slate

I think I said I'd been reading Better Than Before, and I have a whole new set of thoughts about it this time around. Whenever I start to have a good idea about something, I always venture into the kitchen to clean the cupboards, it's a bit like the Flylady shiny sink. 

Today I asked for Dan's help, we work in very different ways so sometimes we clash about the best way to do things, other times we can really help each other by coming at a problem in a different way. Today he helped me to declutter some kitchen items that held sentimental attachment, along with some things that didn't and we just needed to make a decision. When everything fits neatly into a cupboard it can be harderfor me to justify getting rid of them as they aren't creating a mess, but they can still be clutter, and far better off going to someone who wants or needs them. 

We had rain yesterday, but this morning the sun is back, so apologies for the shadows on the pictures! 

This is the first sweep, some baking things, a bowl we bought from the charity shop when we made soap, two things to hold garlic (I rarely to never buy fresh garlic), two jugs, two huge beer glasses (a gift) and other bits and bobs.

Afterwards we found the lid to the red garlic pot, I knew it was somewhere and we were very pleased to find it before we took things to the charity shop. 

I used to use this pan all the time, but can't remember the last time. 

Then we had another look round and selected a couple of other items. Again these were things we liked, but didn't need or use. Two cute trays.

And some assorted utensils. I bought the jar opener from the charity shop fairly recently, but it just doesn't quite work for me. We have two pizza cutters so one can go, loads of bottle openers so the Guinness one is in the bag along with the corkscrew, we don't drink wine and I can't remember the last time we had guests who needed to use this one.

Feels very good to get this type of job out of the way before 9.30.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Better Than Before

I'm on holiday! 

Today marks the start of the second week. Week one was all about not worrying about anything, eating and drinking all the things, and using the weather as an excuse to avoid exercise. This week is all about making some changes to my daily routine, to give me a kick start I re-read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, and chose a few things to get me going. 

Anyone spending more than a couple of minutes with me would come to the conclusion that I'm a rebel so it can be hard to get me to do something and then to keep me doing it. However, it turns out I am exceptionally vain so appearing to be the type of person I believe myself to be is very important. So if a person like me would do x I'm more inclined to do it, more than it being something I want to do, should be doing, or would be to my benefit. It's very annoying, but I'm not going to change. And there's nothing like being on holiday for having the time to think about what your best self looks like. 

More than anything else, my best self eats fruit. My actual self eats very little.

So this holiday period (I still have two weeks off work) is all about setting things up so the choice I want to make is also the easiest choice. So I'm combining the strategies of abstaining and convenience. I find it so much easier to go without something altogether than to attempt to moderate my consumption - it means I've made a decision once and I don't have to make it again. I've also made the healthier food choice the easiest to grab. Thankfully it hasn't all involved chopping. 

The fruit bowl has moved, it used to live at the far end of the worktop where it was out of the way and as such was mainly used for storing manky bananas, keys and supermarket vouchers. I've moved it to the near end of the worktop, a place I walk past countless times per day, so it's easy to grab some fruit. It really does seem to be that simple to trick myself into doing something, amazing. 

A bonus of this move is that there's no room to put stuff on the worktop so that's more likely to end up where it's supposed to go, which is almost certainly the strategy of pairing - putting two good things together to strengthen the habit. 

I'm using the same kind of process to get more reading done. Because we're watching so much football at the moment I've made a deal with myself to not watch tv the rest of the time, other than the last few episodes of The Bridge. So when the football isn't on, there's plenty of time to read. It's working well. The weather has helped too, we have been out and about but not for long so we can make sure the buns aren't overheating, we're back by 3pm any day we go out so there's a lovely long late afternoon and evening to laze and flip through the pages. It's all been pretty relaxing, other than the penalties!