Goodbye, 2018

Wow, 2018, just wow. You’ve been and gone and raged like a tornado through my life. As with every year there’s been heady highs and scary lows, but I really feel like 2018 as a year, has changed me so much more than any other year I can remember.

I found Kinning Park Complex

Well “found” is probably the wrong word, since I had actually been walking past it almost daily for 3 years, no I suppose it’s more accurate to say I “ventured in” to Kinning Park Complex. It’s actually impossible to overstate how much impact KPC and the people there have had on Kenny and I – it’s changed everything from our career paths to how we spend our free time, not to mention we’ve met some truly amazing people and eaten (a lot) of really good food.

I began my transition to veganism

If I’m being honest, my omnivore lifestyle hadn’t sat well with me for quite some time, but I buried my head in the sand, because, hey – cheese is tasty. Like, really tasty. 2018 saw me finally face up to things and begin the move towards veganism. Some parts have been easy, some bits I have failed at, miserably, but I’m excited to finally be on the path that feels right for me – and I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot more about it as we head into 2019.

I made the leap to being self employed

After years of my mental health issues making me miserable when trying to hold down a typical job, 2018 was the year that, with encouragement from Kenny and my family, I finally said, “enough”, and decided I’d figure out another way to do this. Unlike a lot of people I didn’t have savings to fall back on or, you know, a plan, just sheer determination to stand on my own two feet and to prove that my anxiety and depression wouldn’t hold me back from being successful in life, even if they did in a “normal” job.

I could go on, and on, and on – rapidly realising that starting this post may have been a mistake. I could talk about how my family rallied around each other – as we always do. I could talk about how proud I am of Kenny for surviving University and landing an amazing job. I could share stories of barbecues and cutting a fringe in my hair (bad move btw),  of finally finding our local pub, learning Sorani and completely failing at a capsule wardrobe system – yeah, 2018 was a lot. Big mood.

Ultimately though, I’m all about looking forward, not back. So thank you 2018, for the lessons and the snow, for the scares and the seitan, the hugs and the hellos and here’s to 2019! Wishing you all a Happy New Year for when the time comes – I hope 2019 is good to you.

What was 2018 about for you? Let me know your highlights down below in the comments!

 

The Best Non-Fiction Books I read in 2018

I’ve always been a total bookworm – a lot of my childhood memories centre around a leg going completely to sleep after I’ve been sitting in an odd position, reading for too long. Ah, the good ol’ days. I’ve always read primarily fiction, I love getting lost in new world and falling in love with people who don’t exist (Aragorn for life <3). In 2018 though I’ve read far, far more non-fiction than I ever have before and I’ve been absolutely loving the conversations its encouraged me to have with other folks and the ideas it’s caused me to churn over in my little noggin. I thought I’d share my absolute favourites with you here, in case you’re looking for some inspiration.

Stuffocation non fiction books favourites reading

I’ve linked to the books on Amazon in case you’re looking for more info/reviews/to purchase (they are affiliate links), but remember you can check with your local library before purchasing, I was pleasantly surprised by how many were available through Glasgow Libraries.

2018 was the year I found Caitlin. For those of you who don’t know, Caitlin runs a YouTube Channel called Ask a Mortician, and throughout the year she has become my favourite content creator. Her ability to talk about some of the topics considered most taboo in Western culture, and to do it with humor, sensitivity and transparency is truly incredible.

A lot of her work is centred around creating Death Positivity; encouraging people to have conversations about death and what we want to happen to our bodies. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is Caitlin’s memoir about her time working at a crematorium – it covers everything from little things you might always have wondered about (“what exactly IS embalming anyway?”) to discussions of much deeper topics that maybe we don’t often wonder about.

While the book is certainly emotional in places, it also made me laugh out loud and yeah, start having some conversations with family members about death. If you’d asked me at the start of the year if I thought I needed or wanted to read a book about working in the death industry I’d have firmly said “no”, but as it turns out, of all the books I’ve read this year, this has been the most valuable and thought-provoking.

Book flip through

I know, two books by the same author – but I honestly couldn’t pick just one! From Here to Eternity follows Caitlin on a journey around the world to find out how death is treated in all different cultures. She visits places where death is treated with the utmost clinical attitude, to places where people are a lot more comfortable with death and corpses. Again the book is wonderfully written in Caitlin’s voice, with her humor and absolute passion for the subject shining through. Such an eye-opening read!

While I do have a huge amount of interest in the concepts of mental wellness, self-improvement and living your best life, I also generally have quite a lot of skepticism about books or programs that promise “miracles” or such in those fields, especially those, like this book, that talk about them happening pre 8am! I am not a pre 8am person!

Had I just picked this book up in a store, or seen the title as I was scrolling through Amazon I’m honestly not 100% sure I would have picked it up, however, I saw the lovely Kay from Living the Life You Love talking about it, and the way she described it actually made a lot of sense to me.

What I like about this book, as opposed to some other books I’ve come across in this genre, is that yes, it promises big results, but it also gives you very tangible, logical steps to get there. This is not some airy fairy wishy washy thing, but rather an actual concrete program of simple things you can do in your own living room without buying anything. The Miracle Morning involves you completing six steps – you can do it in 5 minutes, or 2 hours or anything in between. You embrace silence, you vocalise affirmations, you visualise, you exercise (don’t panic, yoga is fine), you read and you write.

Each of the steps is enjoyable and I do genuinely find them to be enhancing. Have I started getting up at 5am? Uh, no. But as someone who used to start work 5 minutes after I got out of bed and was a ball of stress by mid-morning, this book hs given me a lot to think about in terms of establishing a strong mental foundation for the day.

Tesco refreshing mint dark chocolate

James Wallman is a trend forecaster who has worked with massive organisations like The New York Times, The Financial Times and GQ to analyse and predict upcoming trends. In Stuffocation, he looks at our current consumerist lifestyle and why it’s bad for the planet, the economy and why it’s leaving us all feeling Stuffocated.

I really enjoyed this book (though I’ll admit I lost interest a bit towards the end), as Wallman seems to be coming at things from a very objective point of view. He’s not a card-carrying minimalist or a die-hard consumer, he’s simply applying his huge amount of expertise in trends and forecasting to our current consumer climate and talking about how and why we got to this point and what on Earth the solutions could be.

Fun fact, I am incredibly squeamish. I grew up with a mother (and many of her friends) who worked in operating theatres, ICU’s, Accident and Emergency – all the gory places. If I’ve heard one intense description on what can happen in a motorbike crash, I’ve heard a thousand. If I’ve eaten one plate of pasta while listening to a step by step walk-through of a tricky surgery… well I think you get the point.

But, despite having so much medical chat in my life, I still grew up with the inability to handle the sight of my own blood. Or any medical procedures. So it’s safe to say that I wasn’t drawn to this book for the potentially intense medical details – it honestly isn’t very gory at all – but rather to hear the account of a junior doctor, having read so much about their plight in recent years.

It definitely was interesting to hear about how Junior Doctors are treated, really it was, but I got so much more from this book. I burst into fits of the giggles, I got the sensation of my stomach plummeting, and I cried very genuine tears. To use a cliché, this book is an emotional rollercoaster; a very personal account from someone who felt very passionately about the work they did.

It is on one hand so very human and relatable, and at the same time, so alien to think of the pressure that doctors – who’re just humans like you and me – have to work with.

Candle and Stuffocation book

This is the first book from The Minimalists that I’ve read, though I’ve been a long time follower of their podcast and blog. I really enjoyed this book, after years of hearing The Minimlaists discussing various issues, it was interesting to actually hear, not just their thoughts on something else, but their own stories of how and why they came to minimalism.

I feel like this book came at a good time for me, as while I could remember the “whats” of minimalism, I was losing touch with the “whys”, and with minimalism, it’s not really about the “what” of, have less stuff, it’s about “why” you would do that and “why” it matters.

The book was an easy read, it flowed like a conversation, and every so often I would read a paragraph or a sentence that resonated with something deep inside me, and it was like hearing a little bell chiming and feeling like, “oh yeah, I remember this feeling”. For all it felt like quite a casual read, it definitely had a lasting impact on me and left me feeling a lot more centred than I had been in a long time.

So that’s it then, the best non-fiction books I read in 2018! What about you? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What did you think? Or, since I now well and truly have the non-fiction reading bug, do you have any suggestions for me?!

What’s on your reading list for 2019?

Best Non Fiction Books 2018 flatlay

 

 

The Best Sustainable Changes I Made in 2018

2018 has been an incredible year for me. I’ve made a lot of changes in my life and while I’m not going to lie – they’ve certainly not all been easy and they’ve not all stuck 100% – I’m really happy with the direction I’m moving in. Some of my favourite changes from this past year have been in regards to me living a more sustainable lifestyle, and I wanted to share them here with you today, in case you were looking for inspiration to make some sustainable changes yourself.

Eco cleaning products reusing old bottles vinegar spray

1. Cleaning my house almost exclusively with white vinegar and water

I say “almost” because I do still have some nasty chemical cleaner that I keep on hand for, you know, cat vomit. But other than that we basically wipe everything down with diluted white vinegar and reusable cloths. We’re also technically re-using an empty bottle of Astonish cleaner to house the new vinegar spray in. We buy our vinegar in huge bottles from Amazon – and while yes, obviously they’re still plastic, we’re doing a lot better than we were at this time last year when we bought about a dozen different, but equally toxic cleaners… which were also all in plastic.

I actually now can’t imagine why I ever wanted to have a whole bunch of different cleaners, I’m lazy with housework as it is and so the idea of having to change cloths and product every time I move from glass to wood to flooring is just super unappealing.

Eco period reusable sanitary towels sustainable period

2. Using Reusable Sanitary Pads

This is a newer change, and I’m still in the process of building up a big enough collection that I can use only these, but already I’m LOVING when I get to use these instead disposable ones. They’re so much more comfy, they’re breathable, they’re more flexible, there’s not random plastic wings to work their way loose and chafe mercilessly at your inner thigh for hours… and mine have sharks on them. Oh yeah.

I feel like we hear a lot about re-usable menstrual cups, and a lot less about pads. I think the cups sound great, but due to previous health complications I can’t use tampons or menstrual cups, which is a bit gutting really, but at least there is an eco alternative out there for pad users too.

I bought my first lot of pads from a seller on Etsy, but honestly didn’t have the best experience with service or product quality and so I’m on the hunt for some other ones. There are loads of people selling them on Etsy in all different materials, sizes and patterns – it’s actually amazingly fun choosing sanitary pads… which is a sentence I never thought I would write.

eco makeup removal sustainable living

3. Swapping to reusable cotton pads

Much like with the sanitary pads, I made the switch to using homemade, reusable cotton pads for environmental reasons, but now that I have and have realised how much softer and better they are for taking off my makeup,  I can’t imagine ever wanting to use disposable again!

I know you can buy these kinds of things online, again, in all sorts of different patterns, materials and sizes, but erm, I’ve just been sewing my own together from old pyjama bottoms? They may not look super sexy, but they get the job done, and I do love a little sewing project.

Sustainable living eco hair care

4. Giving up my Head and Shoulders Conditioner

I have huge, thick, curly hair and over the years I’ve tried what feels like hundreds of different conditioners, from budget high street to fancy salon stuff and everything in between – finding conditioner to give my hair just the right amount of moisture is tricky. A few years ago I started using, of all things, one of the conditioners from Head and Shoulders, and it’s literally the best thing for my hair. But let’s face it…they’re not exactly a brand I’m proud to support.

In 2018 I finished my last bottle of Head and Shoulders and starting making a move to find a more sustainable and ethical alternative. I haven’t found my holy grail yet – I do like this one from Faith in Nature though – but hey, it gives me something to research and at least now I don’t feel guilty every time I wash my hair. Please leave any and all suggestions for good conditioners below in the comments folks – my frizz halo and I thank you!

Sustainable living aluminium water bottle

5. Buying my Sigg Bottle

I had tried a number of times over the years to start carrying a reusable water bottle around with me, and I always failed miserably. Now, I think I know why – I was always using a plastic bottle – and I think drinking water out of a plastic bottle (especially if it’s been in my bag for a few hours) tastes absolutely revolting. But honestly, I just didn’t really know there was another way!

Unsurprisingly, after even a little research I came to realise that both glass and aluminium are much, much better alternatives to plastic bottles. Glass was right out for me as broken glass is one of my major anxiety triggers – so that was just an accident waiting to happen – and so aluminium it was to be. I really wanted to buy a quality bottle that I liked the look of and could use for a long time – imagine my joy then when I found my Sigg bottle on clearance at TK Maxx for £6.00. *Hallilujiah Chorus plays*

Like a lot of the other changes on here, now that I’ve gotten used to having my Sigg bottle, I can’t imagine not carrying it with me. Like what did I do before if I was out shopping and needed a drink? I probably just dehydrated to avoid having to pay for and generate the waste from a bottle of soda. Looking back that’s a fairly moronic life plan, so I’m glad I’ve finally gotten on board with the alternative – and what’s even better, Kenny and my mum are on the aluminium bottle train too, yay!

6. Swapping to using handkerchiefs

Okay, yeah, I can get that this isn’t the sexiest of sustainable changes. I can get that, and I can see why for some people it might just be a hard no, but for me, swapping from disposable tissues to reusable handkerchiefs has been brilliant.

I get hayfever throughout the Spring and Summer (…and Autumn fml) and so I have a runny nose a lot. It’s not infectious or anything, it’s just, you know, snot. When I was using disposable tissues I would go through a pocket pack a day, easily. If you add that up over time it’s a) really wasteful and b) frigging expensive.

Now obviously if you’re someone who uses a tissue like once a week, then this may not be a high priority for you, and that makes sense, but I have to say, even if I stopped needing handkerchiefs for err.. “volume” reasons, I would still keep using them because I think they’re a lot softer and more pleasant to wipe my nose with! Who knew?!?

I knew nothing about handkerchiefs when I went to buy them (in fact, it’s only now as I sit down to write this post I realise I’ve been spelling the word wrong my whole life), but I’ve been using these ones and they seem pleasantly soft and a good size and stuff (not really sure what the official criteria for measuring the quality of handkerchiefs are tbh).

Vegan junk food Oreo cookies

7. Transitioning to Veganism

This is definitely in the “work in progress” category for me, but I’ve come on leaps and bounds compared to where I was last year and I’m really proud of myself. Moving towards being a vegan has been really rewarding, both in terms of helping me feel like I’m really making a difference in supporting the environmental causes I believe in and also, nutritionally. Although I admit, I’d be doing a lot better on the latter point if Oreos weren’t vegan. Dammit Oreos.

I’m sure I’ll write plenty of content in the future about my journey to veganism, the struggles and the successes, so I don’t want to rabbit on here too much, but I had to include it in this list as it’s one of the biggest life changes I’ve made this year, and it was defintiely to do with sustainability.

So that’s it then, the best sustainable changes I made in 2018. It’s funny, because writing it all down like this, it seems like a lot (or at least, it does to me), but actually, it hasn’t felt like a lot because honestly most of these changes have been so easy to make, and in the long run are actually less hassle than their non-environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Have you made any moves towards a more sustainable lifestyle in 2018? What changes have you made?

Do you have any changes you’d like to make going forward into 2019?

 

 

 

 

5 Easy Ways I’m Reducing My Food Waste

The amount of food I waste has always been something that has made me feel uncomfortable. Not that I  throw out bags full of food or anything, but most of it just seems such needless, avoidable waste. I used to feel like I was trapped in a sort of cycle where at the end of each week I’d discard leftover food and think; “okay, right, bit of a fail this week, I’ll definitely get a handle on it next week though”, and I’d feel guilty, I’d spend ages checking my shopping list to make sure it was adequate and well thought out… and then life would get in the way again and I’d end up forgetting about that bag of lettuce, or reaching for my avocado only to realise it was a big ol’ squishy mess. From rotas changing days after they were “finalised”, to last-minute plans with friends, I think we’ve all encountered a bunch of reasons why Taco-Tuesday might get disrupted. And obviously, I’m human, I still make mistakes, but this year I’ve been making a concerted effort to cut down on the amount of food I waste, and I thought I’d share some of the things that are helping me do that:

baking supplies, bananas and eggs

1. Baking with fruit that is “past it”

While this has definitely been causing me to eat more cake – I’m a huge fan of baking with over-ripe fruit. I’m still only making a couple of different things – but already I’ve noticed that it has basically eliminated the fruits in question from ever being wasted again! The first recipe, and my favourite thing that I bake, is the Banana Butterscotch Muffin recipe from Nigella Lawson. I tweak this a bit because I can never find the butterscotch morsels, and so I just use chocolate (white, milk and dark are all great in there), I also never fancy the faff of all the little muffin cases, so I just make one giant muffin loaf in a tin – works perfectly!
The other thing I’m prone to baking is a good old simple crumble (which I don’t have a recipe for); apples or berries that are going past it can easily be baked into a delicious after-dinner pudding.
The best thing about both of these recipes, is that the other baking supplies needed are things I keep on hand anyway – so it’s not a case of “oh, I have some bananas I need to bake with… better head out to 3 supermarkets and see if I can find these 12 ingredients I’ve never heard of”.

how I'm reducing food waste

 

2. Preparing my fruit and vegetables when they arrive

I know you’ll probably have heard this one before, but I’d heard it at least 100 times before I took the advice – so I’m saying it anyway in case you’re like me!
While I don’t peel/wash/prepare every single plant-based product as soon as it crosses my kitchen threshold (well, actually, our kitchen is so small we have to store most of our food – including our fridge – in the living room, but that would have been a less clear statement), I do find for a lot of things it really is the best option. Broccoli is chopped, red onions are diced, and berries are washed and put into glass dishes.  It really does encourage me to reach for things – I will 100% always chose strawberries as a snack if I don’t have to faff about with a knife and a chopping board every time, and I will always add red onion and bell peppers to my eggs if I can just tip them out of a dish and into the pan.

3. Going vegetarian

This method works two fold for me. Firstly, I was always a bit stressy about cooking with meat: wiping surfaces and dishes like mad, trying to be completely confident a chicken is cooked through and wondering if I really could eat those sausages in the fridge that I cooked two days ago. Removing meat from my diet means I no longer throw out salmon that “maybe smells a bit too fishy”, or pork chops one day past there expiration date, because it’s not worth the risk. The other benefit of a vegetarian diet, for me, has been that I’ve relaxed the structure of my meals a lot. What I mean by that, is that when I was eating meat I was cooking very distinct, complete meals – bolgnase one night, chicken curry the next – and so it was less appealing to eat the mish-mash of leftovers a couple of nights later. Now that my diet is largely plant-based, it’s so much easier to recombine some roasted veggies from last night with a bit of couscouse to make a new, tasty dish.

red onions in a bowl of fruit and vegetable

 

4. Eating several meals a week at Kinning Park Complex who use “surplus food” to prepare their meals

I initially wasn’t going to include this point in here, because I thought it was too specific and nobody else would have access to a place like this. While, unfortunately, not enough places like this *do* exist, one of the charities that Kinning Park Complex work with is Fare Share – and they are a national charity here in the UK helping get surplus food to more than 1,000 locations around the country, so it’s definitely worth looking into. For me, eating my meals at Kinning Park Complex not only gives me the ability to support a cause that I believe in, in helping reduce food waste, but it’s also allowed me to try so many different types of food, and to enjoy them in the company of amazing people from all over the world.

5. Making pizzas from scratch

Those who know me will probably know that pizza is my favourite food. Hands down. No Contest. Fortunately, not only have I been able to continue eating pizza now that I’ve transitioned to being a vegetarian – if anything, it’s actually *better* now that I have a fridge extra-full with veggies. Got two leftover mushrooms at the end of the week? A handful of sweetcorn? A morsel of feta? Chuck them all on a pizza. I’ve been enjoying making dough and sauce from scratch – to get things *exactly* the way I want them – but of course, you can also use a cheese and tomato store bought pizza and just top it yourself if that’s easier. This option might not sound like much, but as I said at the start of the post – food waste isn’t always about whole bags of this or tubs of that – it’s about all the little bits we just never get round to finishing, and honestly, most things can be put on a pizza!

There we go, that’s five of the steps I’ve taken recently to try and reduce the amount of food I’m wasting. Some are more elaborate than others, and some are healthier than others *cough* I have a banana muffin loaf in the oven as I’m typing this *cough*, but I hope that you found this post useful all the same. If you have any tips or tricks for reducing food waste, please do share them down in the comments below – I’d love to hear them!

baking supplies with white chocolate chips

 

4 Amazing Ways Doing Yoga Everyday has Changed Me

I’ll admit that I’m not normally someone who buys into the “New Year New Me” vibe in a big way – years of living with anxiety and depression has taught me that setting really high stakes for myself and forcing sudden, sharp changes in routine is more likely to lead to a feeling of overwhelment or failure, than to trigger real, lasting changes. However, in 2018 (I think mostly because January 1st was a Monday and that just really made me feel great), I decided to really try and take back control of my life. This manifested in many different ways, which I’ll write about in the future, but today I want to talk about one of my favourite and most beneficial changes that I’ve made: I started an (almost) daily at-home yoga practise! I’m not going to lie, I’ve missed days here and there, but for the first 110 days I showed up for myself every, single day, and I want to talk about how that’s made me feel and the difference its made for me.

close up of someone in a yoga pose

1. I feel like a part of something – I feel connected.

I joined Adriene from Yoga With Adriene on her 30 day “True” series which ran from January 2nd – January 31st (but you can start any time!), showing up on my mat every day and knowing that people all around the world were doing the same, gave me a feeling of connection and strength that I didn’t expect. Following along with other people’s journeys in the comments – knowing if I was struggling, I wasn’t struggling alone, and knowing that if I became emotional, I wasn’t crying alone. I honestly never expected to feel a sense of community as I sat doing downward-dog in my pyjamas on a rainy January morning, but thanks to Adriene’s kindness and inclusiveness, I really did. Even after True ended, the feeling continued, which was a beautiful surprise I couldn’t have seen coming.

2. It helps me leave the house

A large part of my anxiety has, for a long time, hinged on a fear of leaving the house and as a result I have gone weeks at a time without doing so (thank heavens for online grocery shopping)! Fortunately, this symptom seems to be easing and I have no doubt that it is in part due to doing yoga in the mornings. Starting each day slowly, but intentionally, focusing on my breathing and how I’m feeling allows me to really check-in with myself. It gives me time to focus on what I want to achieve in a day, and to feel motivated by that, rather than engulfed in the fear and the “what-ifs”. By the time I’ve finished my practice I feel centred and focused – and don’t get me wrong, some days the anxiety still wins – but much, much more often I have this little fire lit within me of determination and drive and it spurs me on to achieving more in a day than at times I’ve been able to do in a month.

 

3. It helps me stay in a good routine with eating and drinking

Similarly to how taking time on my mat each morning gives me focus for work and for leaving the house, it also starts the ball rolling with good eating and hydration habits. I exercise, so I’m hungry and thirsty, but because I’m also in tune with myself I’m much more likely to take the time to make something properly and eat it, rather than ignoring the feeling of hunger until I’m “starving” and eating three Pop Tarts. Ditto with hydration, I’m listening to my body and hearing that I’m thirsty and so I drink – simple, no? But I find that once I start a day eating and drinking “properly” like this then I am much more likely to keep it going as the day goes on: because let’s face it, if your day starts with 3 Pop Tarts and chocolate milk, it’s much easier to just call the whole thing a write off!

extended child's pose

 

4. I no longer feel like my back is being subjected to some sort of medieval torture device on a 24 hour basis

Perhaps least shocking of the things listed here, it has never the less been revolutionary for me! Thanks to almost lifelong anxiety, I definitely have some issues with muscle tension and sure, asking Kenny for a quick neck rub alleviates the symptoms temporarily… but within a couple of hours I can feel the pain and tension returning because I’m not taking the time to *properly* relax and stretch my muscles.
Doing yoga each day can sometimes be tough mentally. Some days I’m frustrated with myself, or tired, or worried about things off the mat and yes, in an ideal world I’d always be able to shut those things out and commit 100% to my practice, but I’m human, you know? So sometimes showing up for myself means a deep, meditative practice, sometimes it’s a time for emotional release and other times, it’s just a good stretch and all of that is OK.
At first I watched a video of Adriene’s every day, learning so much from each different routine, but, as time went on I came to learn my “favourite” poses, the ones that really work for me, and now I love being able to freestyle and create routines that really pay attention to the areas I need to work on, – hello cat-cow.

I feel like I could have written something more formal or cohesive than this, but honestly, I can’t really help gushing about my yoga experience – it has changed so much for me, and not only that, but it’s helped me things I never thought it could! I did yoga on happy days like my birthday, and on sad days like the day we thought we were going to have to put our cat to sleep. Every day was different, but every experience left me stronger at the end. I can’t imagine not doing yoga now, and honestly, if you’ve ever been curious, I really recommend giving it a go – Adriene’s channel is a fantastic way to start, I’ll see you there!

Trying Out a Seasonal Makeup Capsule

Starting to use a Capsule Wardrobe system has already helped me out so much – I won’t bang on about it here, but check out this post if you’re looking to find out more about how I’m finding things so far. A Capsule Wardrobe has helped me to really appreciate what I already own and see that I don’t *need* new clothes the way all the adverts try and convince me that I do. Surely, then, for someone like me who has definitely had a problem with over-shopping for makeup in the past, a Seasonal Makeup Capsule may also work?

For one reason or another, I’ve definitely been feeling the itch to shop for new makeup recently whilst simultaneously wearing it less than I have in years (?!?! I know, right). In an effort to make use of all that I really own and to convince myself I don’t need any more, I’ve been trying to grab for different makeup products from my stash, but, much the same as trying to do this in a stuffed-full closet, it’s definitely leading to my makeup experience being more chaotic and time consuming, than fun and adventurous.

So I thought, hey, let’s try out a Seasonal Makeup Capsule! So far it’s been great fun taking a step back and putting together the capsule – choosing out all my most Summer-ish shades of pink lipstick and putting them aside to be included: to make sure I’m actually aware of them and using them at the time of year that makes sense (for me). It’s also been good for me to see how only being “allowed” to use a few different options of certain items, can *still* feel like plenty of choice.

For me, I don’t have a big makeup bag or spare space to store my Seasonal Makeup Capsule separately, so what I’ve been doing is just opening up the image at the top of this post each morning to remind me what’s included. Initially I thought this was probably *not* a good way of doing things, but, you know, needs must – but actually, I feel really inspired looking at them presented on the screen like that, probably more so than I would do if I was rummaging about in a makeup bag. So that’s something worth keeping in mind if you’re thinking of doing this yourself.

I’m excited to see how this continues for me throughout the rest of Summer, but at the moment I can definitely see myself continuing this system into Autumn and beyond. I’ll definitely write a post near the end of August (I switch over to Autumn in September) to round-up on how I found the overall experience – let me know down below if you have any other content you’d like to see from me on this subject!

Do you mix up your makeup for a new season? Do you have any tips for me, or anyone else who’s new to it out there?

 

Starting from Scratch: Learning to Sew

I worked in a craft studio for seven years and completed an honours degree in art, so, while I’m certainly not claiming to be any sort of expert – I think it’s fair to say that I’ve always been a relatively arts and crafty person, obtaining a relative level of proficiency in working with various media from acrylic paint to clay and silk to glass… but put me near anything “string-ish” and I’m hopeless. This includes sewing, embroidery, crochet, knitting and yes, even pom-pom making was beyond me. I’m not sure why, but I can cause a sewing machine to malfunction from 100 yards away. My mum is a fantastic knitter (is that the technical term?) and my maw-in-law (who was also the owner of the craft studio where I worked) is a dab hand at most things, but especially good at sewing (and baking, but that doesn’t seem relevant here), anyway, my point being that both of these skilled women invested significant time over the years trying to teach me “the way of the thread”… and they both gave up, and remain a little traumatised from the experiences.

close up shot of the foot of my sewing machine, with fabric in the background.

There are a lot of things in life that I’ve realised I’m not good at and have happily walked away from (mum told me I would regret giving up the violin when I was 10… STILL WAITING MUM), but sewing is not one of those things. Not only does it open up so many cool doors for me, a mixed media artist, but when you start tying it in with an interest in sustainable living – the idea of being able to repair and alter my clothes seems too good an opportunity to just give up on.

Fortunately for me, and somewhat by random chance, I found myself at the Kinning Park Complex (my local community centre) a few weeks ago, taking part in a patch-making workshop as part of Fashion Revolution Week – it was a spur of the moment decision and I’m so glad I jumped at the opportunity. I met the lovely ladies from Kinning Park Couture, who make amazing up-cycled jewellery from waste plastic materials, and also have incredible patience and enthusiasm for helping newbies like me get comfortable with a sewing machine. At the end of a couple of hours not only had I not somehow managed to burn the place down or kill someone just by my being in proximity to a sewing machine, but I had also made my very own activism patch, and learnt to thread a sewing machine, and to not scream audibly every time I put my foot on the pedal.

Well, after that I was hooked, I was back at Kinning Park Complex a few days later for Social Sunday, and Kinning Park Couture helped my fix up a pair of Kenny’s Levis jeans which he had managed to somehow entirely rip the crotch out of (?????). The satisfaction I got bringing those jeans home to him and knowing that I had salvaged them and saved all that fabric from being wasted, was so immense, so much greater than if I had gone into a store and just picked him up a new pair of jeans. And not only is it so “worth it”, I also find sewing incredibly therapeutic: time somehow flies by and I just sit absorbed, stitching away (then unpicking, then stitching again… I’m enthusiastic, not skilled).

close up of all the bits and pieces in my sewing box at the moment
Ah, a box of sewing bits and pieces that was passed on to me – let’s just pretend I know how to use any of the things in this box…

I totally lucked out as well, because, after telling my mum about my sewing (and reassuring her no lives were lost in the process), she suddenly realised she still had her old sewing machine buried in a cupboard somewhere (hurrah for my mum never having read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up that I gave her 18 months ago), and so she fished it out and brought it to me and now, sitting proudly on my dining table is my very own sewing machine. Old, strangely creaky, but working perfectly fine – and I couldn’t be more excited!

Currently, I’ve gotten as far as making reusable cotton pads to take my eye makeup off each day, using scrap fabric from a pair of Alice in Wonderland pyjama bottoms that I had somehow managed to completely rip the crotch out of (????? seriously, why does this keep happening to our trousers?!). While not exactly a technically ambitious project, it’s a good example of how learning a skill like sewing to even the most basic level can make allow for the making of something that is actually useful in every day life. No more wasting of cotton pads and the plastic bags they come in for me, no sirree (and yes, my sewn ones have survived the washing machine, trust me, I was just as surprised my stitching held up as you probably are after reading this post).

overall shot showing my sewing box, machine and fabric.

While it’s obviously still early days for me, I do have my sights set on making a sort of “zero waster companion pouch thing” (erm, still working on the name there). Basically I want to make a type of roll, like a jewellery roll, but something that will have a section for me to store a reusable straw or two, some metal cutlery, and also a couple of cloth napkins – all things I’m trying to get in the habit of carrying, but am not quite sure how to safely/cleanly transport them in my hand bags. If you can sew and have any tips or ideas on how I might go about making this please (no seriously, please) share them in the comments below, or, even if you’re not a sew-er (again, is that the right term?), let me know if you have any ideas of other sections I might want in the pouch – I have the overwhelming feeling that I’m forgetting something obvious that “zero wasters” might carry for eating…

So anyway, I hope maybe this post gave you a chuckle at my hopeless sewing skills, but I also hope that maybe you take away from it that if something is important to you, don’t give up, you can find a way. No, I’m probably never going to work as a seamstress (oh, it’s seamstress, not sew-er isn’t it?) for a major European couture fashion house, but that’s OK. With a bit of hard work and yes, 17,000 mistakes along the way, it’s entirely possible that I can become competent with sewing, and like I said, sometimes that’s all it takes with a skill to be able to create something that can improve your, or someone else’s, quality of life.