My 5 Favourite Podcasts to Help me Switch Off

I wrote a posta couple of weeks ago all about the podcasts I love to listen to, to help me as a creative entrepreneur, but, as much as I love podcasts to get me fired up for a day at work, I also listen to podcasts a lot to relax. When I was a kid I used to listen to stories on cassette tapes every night to help me fall asleep, and I guess in a lot of ways, I’ve just moved from Fantastic Mr Fox to a slightly more adult kind of content – but it’s the same thing for me, really. Some of these are soothing and fictional, others are brilliantly educational – but they’re all shows I never miss an episode of!

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The one for true crime storytime: Casefile

I do listen to and watch quite a lot of True Crime content, and I actually could easily have made this entire list up of True Crime shows – but don’t worry, I haven’t! Casefile is the first True Crime podcast I started listening to and it’s still my most listened to. Each episode is researched so well, is usually a good length – around the hour mark – and the production quality and mixing is excellent, so it makes for a consistently enjoyable listen, and I appreciate not having to adjust the volume constantly! Some cases covered are well known, some are a lot more obscure but I feel like they’re all handled respectfully and that’s something I always need from a True Crime podcast.

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The one that’s delightfully deadly: This Podcast Will Kill You

When I was a kid I was very into history, but, well, it was never really the the kind of stuff we studied about in school that got my attention. I was obsessed with The Black Death, in particular. I kind of always hid away my love for learning about diseases and the like, assuming that this was probably not something that would be well received in polite conversation – that is, until I found This Podcast Will Kill You and the Erins – the hosts of the show, two women who are epidemiologists and are also slightly obsessed with plague. This Podcast Will Kill You is all about epidemiology – which essentially means it’s a show that discusses diseases, how they work, where they came from, how we handle them, and how much of a threat they are to us going forward. Each episode focuses on a specific illness and Erin and Erin are so amazingly passionate at describing everything they know about it. It sounds like a pretty dark topic for a podcast, but honestly it’s a very funny, educational listen.

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The one that’s fascinatingly morbid: Death in the Afternoon

This is a podcast by Caitlin Doughty, who you might know as Ask a Mortician on Youtube (and if you don’t, seriously, check her out). Caitlin is a mortician who is very passionate about changing the way the western world thinks about death and what we do with dead bodies. Death in the Afternoon is a brilliant listen that deals with topics surrounding death in an approachable, humorous way, that is also respectful and factual. I get that listening to a podcast about death might not sound like a nice way to chill out in the bath after a long week at work, but honestly, if you’ve never read any of Caitlin’s books or watched her on YouTube, definitely check her out before ruling Death in the Afternoon out.

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The one for Halloween-feels, all year round: Lore

I have to start this off by saying that I’m really someone who believes in ghosts, or the paranormal  but – I absoluely love Lore. Lore is like part ghost story, part study into the origins of urban legends and folklore – all set to beautiful, soothing piano music. Lore is what I listen to most nights to send me to sleep and it works wonders! Some of the stories covered are things I’ve heard of before, some are completely new to me, but most interesting of all, I think, are the episodes that feature a bit of both, and draw connections between legends and tales from around the world. While I definitely fall into the category of being a skeptic as far as things like ghosts, yetis and the Loch Ness Monster are concerned, I’m also really fascinated with why these stories come into existence, I mean, they had to come from somewhere.

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The one my 8-year old self wished for: Stuff You Missed in History Class

Like I said above, I’ve always been really into history – less the whole, memorising which battle was when, and much more into the gory, and the personal side of it all. And, luckily for me, this is exactly what Stuff You Missed in History Class is like – it tells the stories we don’t usually get to hear, in a more colloquial and conversational manner than a lot of the other history podcasts out there. I have to admit that sometimes the episode title doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, but I always listen, and am almost always entertained and educated throughout – definitely one to check out for any fellow history fans out there!

So there you have it, 5 of my favourite podcasts for listening to while I’m chilling – this actually could easily have been a list of 10, but I wasn’t sure if that was maybe a bit much! If you’d like me to do a second post like this, let me know in the comments below, and please also share your favourite podcasts too – I am always looking for more gems!

 

 

My Summer Style Wishlist

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Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash

Summer is by far the season that I get the least excited about – at least, in terms of putting outfits together. What can I say, in Scotland, Summer can be a fickle, fleeting phenomenon – and I don’t mean to sound negative about it, because honestly it’s fine, I love where I live, but it does make all the ads full of women with bare legs in March hold a lot less interest for me. On the flipside, Scotland actually had an incredible Summer last year *gives standing ovation* and I was woefully without appropriate warm weather clothes to wear. This year, normal service seems to have resumed – it’s 8c and raining as I write this – but I’m really not interested in adding much to my wardrobe just for the sake of ‘Summer vibes’, nope, I’m basically working off a lot of what I wore last year in the heat… just layered with tights and jackets!

There are a few things I’m on the hunt for – regular readers will know that I shop almost entirely second hand, and so it can really take a while, and a fair amount of rummaging, to find exactly what I’m looking for – so I keep a running list. Also, because of the second hand thing, I can’t link to exact styles, but I’ve made some little Pinterest boards to show the kind of styles I’m inspired by!

1. Belts

I used to belt basically every outfit that I wore. When I was about 17-19 no look was complete without a waist belt – boho dress, oversized shirt… tee and jeans…. yup. I definitely got more than a little carried away and after that I sort of put myself off the look altogether, BUT, I’m coming back around to it.

I’m definitely wearing more simple, flowing pieces these days and it’s nice to have the option to pull them in at the waist – at least on days where I’m not eating more pizza than any one human being should.

I’m also a lot more into wearing belts with my jeans – whether or not they actually need one – because I feel like it can really help a simple look feel a bit more polished and intentional. I bought a sort of western style one from ASOS (before I gave up fast-fashion) a couple of years ago, and I really love it, but it might be nice to have a little variety – maybe a brown one, maybe a more ornate one – just a few different options to play with.

Luckily, I feel like belts are fairly easy to come across in charity shops… although I do feel like Kenny may be spending a chunk of his Summer punching holes in them for me!

 

2. Long flowing cardigans or outerwear

Okay, so, I’m petite – I’m 5’2″ – and I’m also built fairly slim, so I’ve always had it in my head that I want to wear more fitted, neat pieces to draw attention to my little frame, and to try to not completely swamp myself in fabric. There probably is some logic to this, erm, I mean, maybe, but I’ve also become aware more recently that I carry most of the little height I have in my legs, and my torso is really quite compact. Add to that the fact that I have a big bust, and favor high-waisted jeans and there’s kind of a lot going on in my lil torso space – in particular, I sometimes feel when I wear my tight, leather jacket that it just adds so much, not even bulk, but “clutter”, to my top half.

Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be turning my back on my leather jackets or blazers any time soon, but I would definitely like to explore some sort of longer outerwear options, too. I have a couple of long wool coats, but even in Scotland those aren’t ideal Summer clothing, and so I’d like maybe a couple of lighter options – or maybe one really long cardigan and one long duster-jacket or similar.

Length-wise, I feel like sort of the longer the better really! Somewhere between my knee and my ankle would be ideal, and in terms of style, well, I’m just gonna see what I can find – if I find an amazing statement piece, I’ll work with that, if I find a stunning simple cut, I’ll work with that too.

 

3. Long dresses and skirts

This sort of ties in with the point above re: squished little torso,  but it’s also because over the past, I dunno, year or so, I’ve gotten rid of all my little skater style skirts and dresses – I wore them a LOT so it’s sort of left a gap in my wardrobe. Why did I get rid of them? I just wasn’t reaching for them anymore. While I firmly believe that people don’t have to dress a certain way based on their age, I just know that I, personally, started to feel a bit uncomfortable in those short, flippy skirts.

In terms of styles of what I’m looking for, I’d say that really I’m open to trying most things – different materials, lengths and cuts – but the one thing I would really like is for them to be versatile. It would be nice to be able to wear them with bare legs in the warmer months, but also, to be able to put a long sleeve top underneath and wear it with some tights and boots during the other 10 months of the year. I can’t really bear the thought of finding this perfect dress and then only being able to wear it on a rare, sunny day.

So ta-dah, that’s my fairly short Summer style wish-list for this year. I’m actually quite proud of myself with this one – I feel like the three items I’m looking for all sort of make sense together, and I can see why they would fit well into my wardrobe longer term, and not just because they’re “on trend” this season. I would love to hear what you’re looking for this Summer? Or have you already found any warm-weather gems! Let me know down in the comments below!

 

 

The 5 Wardrobe Essentials I Don’t Own

I’m recently back from my first vacation in 5 years, and on that trip, amongst all the pancakes and alligators (it was Florida, clearly), I also got to experience the sheer joy that is dressing out of a suitcase. Two whole weeks of not having to try and hunt for that one teeny-tiny black sock that I so badly need and so badly can’t find. Two weeks of only having a few outfits to choose from, and knowing that they all fit and, wait for it, that I like them all.

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Photo by Jose Soriano on Unsplash

Since coming back to Scotland and facing my floordrobe, I’ve had renewed energy to streamline my clothing choices and to find that one bloody, tiny, perfect black sock. As a result of all this, I’ve been reading and watching a lot of content called things like, “10 must have wardrobe staples”, and “the 5 items you NEED in your closet” – and while, don’t get me wrong, it is helping me, I have also noticed that there are at least 5 items that consistently pop up in these lists that I just don’t own, and yet somehow, I’ve survived until the age of 28. I thought today I would share the 5 wardrobe essentials that I don’t own, and I’d love to hear your opinion – is it just me, or are these items not as ubiquitous in closets as YouTube creators would have me believe?

1. A white button-down shirt

Arguably the most chic and versatile wardrobe option for many women, I haven’t owned one since I had to as part of my school uniform. And yes, that is in fact WHY I’ve never owned one since. Without embarking on a dark path for a style post, suffice to say I HATED school – it was where my severe anxiety attacks started, and it was a total struggle for me to get through the days there. For me, putting on and buttoning up a plain white – or black – blouse just takes me right back to struggling to do so in my childhood because my hands were shaking with all the adrenaline in my system. I wear other, more casual button ups and it’s fine – but I think, at least for the time being, I’m going to have to skip out on the classic white option.

2. Ballet flats

I love ballet flats and I’m frequently drawn to looking at them in stores and online, but as far as actually owning or wearing them? Uh, no. I have very small, narrow feet – for reference I’m a UK 2, and most UK women’s shoes start in a 3. So, for a long time I just could not get nice, sleek ballet flats in my size so it wasn’t an option, now of course, there are a lot better options out there for us tiny-footed gals but, having spent my life up until this point walking around in mostly Converse or chunky boots, my feet object rather strongly to the thin, flat soles of ballet flats. I’m always on the lookout though so if anyone knows of a super-comfy pair that come in tiny sizes – let me know!

3. A trench coat

I actually did own a trench coat, once. It was in that classic beige colour, which washed me out completely, and it was always creased because I would never steam it and it would live in a scrumpled heap in my wardrobe. I’m sorry trench coats, it’s not you, it’s me. Being a little more colour-savvy and a little more familiar with my steamer these days I’m definitely open to trying a trench coat again at some point, but, given that I need to avoid the “typical” trench coat colour, and beware of the ones with giant buttons and lapels that will draw way too much attention to my large chest and short torso… yeah, suffice to say I’m definitely not yet sold on this being a “must have” piece.

 

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Photo by Jaclyn Moy on Unsplash

4. A white t-shirt

I am forever hearing people talk about how brilliant a white t-shirt can be; just throw it on with jeans and a blazer – use trainers to dress it down or pointed toe shoes to dress it up – and they’re right, it IS a great look, just not one for me. Generally, in fact, barring some fairly mad circumstances, I don’t shop fast-fashion, I buy basically everything second hand – and let me tell you, white t-shirts are not easy to come by in charity shops! Well, at least not in any sort of condition I’d like to wear – hello, yellow armpit stains. I guess the obvious other option would be to buy a great white tee from an ethical and sustainable brand, but, given the alarming frequency with which I drop pizza sauce down myself, I don’t think that would necessarily be a wise financial investment.

5. Heels

Growing up, I had the same struggles with heels as I had with ballet flats – trying to grip onto a pair of size 3’s with my tiny size 2 feet. But, I did own some, and when I was younger I did wear them to parties or whatever. As I got older though, I just enjoyed it less and less – I remember my Degree art show at Uni and wearing these lovely, knee-high suede boots with an amazing heel – looked great in the photos, but I spent most of the night hoping nobody would ask me to move. Now, I know that there are comfier heels than others, and I know some women seem to amazingly be able to get used to the sensation, but yeah, I guess I’m not one of those women. I kept some more classic pairs and moved them with me to Glasgow four years ago, then, recently, after finding them covered in dust in the back of the wardrobe, never having once been worn since we moved here, I cleaned them all up and sent them off to the charity shop.

So those are 5 wardrobe “essentials” that I don’t have in my closet! Like I said, I’d love to hear your opinion on whether these items are indeed “classics”? Or, what are the items that you, personally, couldn’t be without?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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