Sunday, 21 September 2014

Why is giving up shopping so hard

I desparately want to start saving money and buying only a few high quality items. Prefereably these items will be packaging less classics that I will use for at least a couple of years (clothing) or longer in the case of homeware. We already made this choice by investing in our beautiful Denby Halo dinner set that we can add to as we go rather than buying a cheaper set then upgrading in a few years time.
In some ways now is a time when we are allowed to buy things, we are setting up our life together and there are plenty of things we dont have (neither of us owned a veg peeler previously!) There are also choices to be made - do we want something functional that we can afford now or can we wait a few months and buy the version that we really want? Do we really need that item at all (we have decided only to buy a Yorkshire pudding rack and use that to bake all smaller treats). There is an element of space efficiency in this too - the storage space in our flat is minimal so we are big fans of clever storage solutions like the lakeland plate shelf and a bakeware rack.

I have dramatically reduced my clothing expenditure by planning a capsule wardrobe and sticking to it fairly religiously. This means I only buy pieces which make me look amazing (note not pieces that look amazing on me), and are in my current colour scheme and style. This means that all of my clothes get some love in their season. Once I have this set up it will be relatively self sustainable unless I decide I want a dramatically different colour option. However clever marketing and the habits of a lifetime make me want to shop and spend money. As I have this under control in my clothes choices it has leaked over to makeup. I am a sucker for a new lipstick. Thus I have an incredible lipstick collection of which about 1/3 really suit me (there are of course more which look OK. I plan on giving away the 2/3 to friends (although not that many of my friends are too into lippies). Then I can reclaim my muji storage and use it to house my sewing supplies.

Spesking of crafts- I like to think of myself as a crafty person and it is very easy to accumulate craft supplies with no project in mind just because they are pretty. No more, I will only be buying stuff once i have a set project in mind and only enough for one project at a time. My next big thing is to learn to make clothes, hopefully finding a more sustainable way of clothing myself and also increasing my control over what I wear (no more will I be unable to find what I want in the shops).

I think the key is removing yourself from temptation. Not browsing the shops at lunch or online, not reading a multitude of beauty blogs all advertising the latest high end lipstick. Instead I plan on retunring to an individual sense of what I need and how much I can afford to spend. I think sadly of all the items that I have in a pile to send to friends, used once or twice at most. Hopefully this will be enough motivation to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Reducing food packaging waste

The most obvious first step for me in reducing waste is eliminating food packaging from our weekly shop. We currently live in Acton and are fairly close to both a Saturday farmer's market (at Notting Hill Gate) and also two bulk grocery stores (one in Maida Vale and the other on High Street Kensington). 

This weekend I went to the farmer's market to see what was available there and was pleasantly surprised. There was plentiful veg, bread and meat (sadly all the meat was pre packaged) and also a stall selling mushrooms and one selling bacon and egg sandwiches.  I picked up some mushrooms and a handful of tomatoes to try and will take Stuart back next weekend to do it properly. We definitely would need to take some smaller fabric bags to put the veg in to avoid the plastic ones on offer at every stall.

I then made the trip north to Maida Vale to investigate the Dry Goods Store, only to discover that it was closed until the 2nd September while the owner recovers from a broken foot. However from what I could see through the window it looks pretty good- rows of dispensers. After a little search on the Internet it turns out they do a good coffee as well! Here is the (pretty rubbish) photo I took while I was there.

I am so excited to go back and do a proper scout out of the shop.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Going Zero Waste

I recently acquired the book Zero Waste Home. It is a how to manual for reducing the amount of waste that you produce- both that for landfill and for recycling. Since I live in a one bed flat in relatively central London some of the suggestions seemed pretty unachievable at first glance - one of the main methods that is advocated is composting! We have since worked out some plans around this that I am very excited to share.

What we plan to do:

-shop in locations where you can take your own jars to  avoid packaging (luckily for us someone else has done the research for our part of London- see the app Bulk)

-plan meals; be conscientious about how much food we buy and how quickly it will go off, to reduce food waste, use tops of vegetables to make soups and juices

-install a small indoor composting system for items that we cannot use in another way, which we will use the products from to supply our large number of house plants

-buy secondhand where possible

-I will maintain my capsule wardrobe; making considered choices which are trend free and therefore longer lasting 

-I aim to move to a capsule makeup collection however it will take a while to implement this as I attempt to use up all of the products I currently own


The important question is why move to a zero waste aim at all. I studied Ecology at university and have a good understanding of our overuse of the natural resources available to us and also the horrors of landfill. If we can only send 1-5 litres to landfill every year we will be making some significant change. I also hope to inspire some thoughtfulness in my similarly minded friends as to changes they could implement to reduce waste.

We will share our trials and let you know our success and things that don't work for us.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


Moving flats is hard (albeit probably not as hard as moving houses) and part of the reason for that is the temptation to underestimate it- oh I'm only moving flat how hard can it be.

I have just moved from East to West London. I moved in one weekend and I moved by tube (London Underground). 

My boyfriend helped me out and between us we did 4 trips on the underground. In the first I actually forgot the keys to the new flat and ended up sat on a tube platform for an hour while my man went to fetch them! 

My tips:

Pack in advance so you have a good idea of how many things you own - and be ruthless about throwing things away or donating them

Rope in your friends- one more person would have made it all much easier

Be aware of when you need to rest and do so- you won't make much progress if you start snapping at each other

Pizza is a great dinner solution- clich├ęd but true

Don't overload suitcases and boxes- if you can't carry it up a set of stairs you need to repack! - especially important if moving by public transport

And - most importantly - enjoy your new flat!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Sustaining a long distance relationship

Sustaining a long distance relationship is something I thought I would never be able to do for a really long time. However the boy and I have been dating for just over a year now with nine months of that long distance (Newcastle-Cambridge, Cambridge-Leeds, Cambridge-London). When this first started I actually said to him that I wasn't sure I could handle long distance and the only reason I was willing to try it was because it was with him. The secret to our success- GiffGaff. Well GiffGaff can't take all the credit, we do like each other a lot, but part of the reason we are still together and as close as we are is because we both have GiffGaff and therefore our calls to each other are free. Hence we speak at least once a day, often twice. Many networks have free intra-network calls, GiffGaff just has particularly cheap pay as you go options (although the signal does just go down suddenly every so often).

If you're about to go down the route of a long distance relationship get on a network with free calls and call them when you want to talk to them. Personally I like to make calls as I walk hence why I call people rather than skyping them, but if you love Skype use it (I always end up staring at myself and then feel vaguely guilty). 

I'm sure when we move in together (August!) I'll be sharing hints and tips for how not to spend all your time together but at the moment the time we have together is quite precious and our daily calls brighten my day.

Renting a different flat

I currently live in rented accommodation in a shared flat (with housemates I didn't know before I moved in- not ideal). I had to move to London in a hurry to start work and didn't really vet the house/ landlord enough before moving in- and as it turns out he's not great. I've been here for coming up to 6 months now and the reason I am moving is because my man is moving to London to start his job and we've decided to move in together. We've been dating for just over a year- the majority of which has been conducted via long distance. I currently live in East London and his job is in South West London so it was pretty logical for us to move in together in West London (we would only end up splitting our time between two flats otherwise).

Because I found my current flat through a friend who was already living in the building I knew nothing about finding somewhere to rent in London until 3 weeks ago. The tool we used- 'Rightmove' and 'Zoopla' although my personal preference is Rightmove. We went to a total of 2 viewings before finding a flat we really liked- we put down a deposit and started the security checks until it transpired that the landlord was unsure about us (as we are young) and wanted 6 months rent in advance with 3 months worth to be paid before the contracts were signed. At this point the estate agent handling us said don't go any further he's being ridiculous. We made the decision to pull out (retaining our full holding deposit because it was the landlord kicking up a fuss).

The day that this happened was hard. I was at work and handling phone conversations in gaps (luckily my employer was very understanding). The estate agent asked if we wanted to see a different flat that evening that had just come up - her colleague was taking the pictures of it that evening. I went and it was great- new, clean, reasonably sized for a one bedroom, and in our price range. We are currently going through the reference checks for this flat and hoping to move in next weekend.

Things I have learnt:

  • Do not assume the deal is done until you have a contract signed and a moving in date
  • Get your reference information all lined up before you might want to take something (previous landlord reference, employer letter, character reference)
  • If you are moving to start your job make sure your bank statements for the previous 3 months are clean and do not go overdrawn if possible (you will need these to prove financial stability)
  • Flat hunting is rather like job hunting- you have to get involved to even stand a chance of getting anywhere but until you have an offer/contract sitting in front of you waiting for your signature there's no guarantee
  • Make friends with your estate agent- they have first access to all the new properties in the area you want after all
I will do another post in a few days about ways to make the actual search easier- if all goes to plan myself and the boy only actually had to look at 3 properties to find 2 we could happily have lived in.

Saturday, 17 May 2014


Travel miniatures always seem very exciting. Especially when super drug/ boots put them on 3 for 2. The trouble I have is that you can never get the entire contents out of the bottle. That's where these squeezy bottles come in:
These were about £1.50 each from super drug. An initial outlay yes but what this means is that holiday toiletries will just come out of my normal budget- no special little bottles required!
I have my skin care favourites- tried and tested products that give my skin a finish that I like but if you weren't as loyal to your skin care regime then these little sets that come with magazines every so often are wonderful. This one came with Marie Clare this month (avoid if you hate the smell of roses). 
I will be decanting moisturiser, hair product (the amazing Percy and Reed's Wonderbalm that I picked up free with Elle last month), and maybe even a couple of pumps of each of my foundations into this stacking tower allowing me to take five products in the space of my foundation bottle alone- just make sure you know which is which!

I find this very useful when I go see the boy for a weekend, I really don't want to take everything but if I commute back to work(London) from Cambridge  on a Monday morning I need enough stuff to look polished and wide awake. I would love to hear how you sort out your products for the holidays!

Friday, 16 May 2014

My situation

Two months into working I realised that I needed to budget or I was going to get into debt. After 3 years of being a student and 7 months of being a job seeker (it really is a full time job if you take it seriously) having money again was amazing and the last thing on my mind was savings or even planning to make it through the month without having a week of living on spaghetti. This came to a very pointed head when I realised paying off my credit card from the previous month was limiting my spending the next month and making me continue to reach for my credit card.

Part of my decision to become more responsible is due to the boy, he's incredibly sensible with his money and I want him to feel comfortable to move in with me (in August!) without worrying that I will overspend and be unable to pay my half of the bills.

Another reason I have just started is because there is a Future learn course that has just started called managing your money which is starting to give me the tools to make this change. Please do join this if you've ever felt uncertain about finances- it's a fantastic free resource. 

I wanted to blog about this because I think it is not spoken about enough and is a very hard change to make. I hope you will share my successes and my failures and take something away that you can use in your own life. 

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