20.10.17

50. Happy Friday Links


Back on track with my blogging and thrilled to bring you some delightful links. 


It feels great to post here again. From today I'm on holiday for ten days for my half-term break so I'll be squeezing a little blogging back into my routine. Sorry I went AWOL after my last post - after an extended summer holiday I've been working hard at supply teaching. It's going well and the great thing is I have no school work to do in the holidays anymore! 
Enjoy the links xo


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18.9.17

Minimalist Monday: Crete Wardrobe

These are the items I'm taking for a week in Crete in late September. My holiday wardrobe contains: 3 pairs of shorts; 1 pair of leggings; 1 pair of khaki trousers; 1 maxi dress; 1 tunic dress; 2 cardigans (1 warm for the plane and 1 a light linen mix); 5 tops; 1 bikini; 1 swimsuit; 2 scarves; 3 items of footwear; and 2 bags.

Other items I've packed but not photographed are: 1 pac a mac; 1 pair of sunglasses; 1 hat; a small selection of jewellery; and 1 belt.

For the plane journeys I'll wear the green trousers, grey t-shirt, grey cashmere cardigan, blue converse pumps and jade scarf. These layers should give me enough warmth but can also be used again for the holiday. All the items have been chosen to mix and match and most are quite loose fitting.

This weighs in at less than 10 kg which is a lot lighter than what I've previously packed for a holiday in the sun. It's not as minimal as some travel wardrobes but it's definitely progress for me. I've tried to limit my holiday clothing whilst also allowing for some dressing up fun (hello silver sandals). Also, I'm hoping to learn from this packing experience and I'll report back on what I wore the most.

Have a great week - I'll be back to update you soon.


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15.9.17

49. Happy Friday Links

Hello! I'm so pleased to be able to bring you this week's links. Relax and enjoy.
  • On Discipline from Minimalist Meditations (a new blog started in January 2017). Written by Jessica Dang, whose other blog Minimal Student really inspired me to downsize, this is a wonderful essay to motivate you when the minimalist path gets tough.
  • A critical look at moderation, Reconsidering Moderation, from Minimal Wellness.
  • Mum happened to catch Songs of Praise from Tenby, which featured a trip to Caldey island and an interview with one of the Cistercian monks. It felt like I was back there...
  • This post from Sarah of My New Roots is much more than a recipe post and is well worth a read if you're a vegetarian and/or interested in nutrition and well-being.
  • How I love the Indie Projects and now they've introduced us to Florence and the Morgans, see more on this video from Explorer Buddies. Great outdoor adventures and small space living from the UK. 
  • I love this Vancouver house from Small House Bliss, in particular the use of wood. I smiled when I saw the location of the washing machine and drier and knew Kirstie would approve.
Keeping the links down to six this week as I'm in the process of helping our youngest son pack for uni (he's off on Saturday). He's so calm and being very moderate in the amount of possessions he's taking, which is helping. 
Have a great weekend xo
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11.9.17

Minimalist Monday: A New Start


So, I resigned from my full-time permanent teaching job. It was easier to do a second time around but still a very difficult process (I last resigned from a part-time permanent teaching post in October 2013). After having worked part-time for five years, full-time teaching has felt hard and has taken its toll on many areas of my life (although, I've had the opportunity to work in a very supportive school and gain new experience, for which I'm grateful). 

I vowed when I left my last job to never stay in an unhappy work situation again, and I feel proud of myself for recognising that being in a permanent teaching post was not for me and that teaching is exhausting especially for an inherent introvert like me. 

Luckily, having downsized and developed a more minimalistic lifestyle since 2012, I know my supply teaching income will be enough to supplement our income. 

So, it's time to start looking forward and finding balance in my life and to not feel guilty when not working or when turning down work. Supply teaching will be my main income and will give me a lot of flexibility and freedom. I'm open to finding other ways of making a living and using my time as I settle into this new lifestyle.

Minimalism was new, fresh and exciting when I first embarked on decluttering and downsizing and it feels just as exciting now. 

A simpler more minimalistic life is one that I want to continue to build. I don't ever want to feel as time-poor as I have during the last nineteen months. Through full-time teaching I have developed self-discipline, resilience and determination - all of which I can apply to living more simply. 

The good news is, I would still call myself a minimalist or at least an aspiring minimalist.

The great thing about minimalism is that it gives you the opportunity to wipe the slate clean (very appropriate for a teacher, I guess). Never be frightened to start again. And again. Remember minimalism is a tool which can help you to create a simpler life. Minimalism is about experimenting with less. It's about selecting what you want to own and creating new routines and habits. It requires discipline, personal challenge and asking yourself tough questions.

You too could make a new start. Just stopping every now and then helps: evaluate the last year, month or even this morning. Take simple steps: stop buying in excess; breathe deeply; try meditation and mindfulness to be present; seek out the beauty of nature; exercise to improve your mood; and practise gratitude. Gratitude always brings perspective in a world where the distribution of wealth and freedom is so unequal. 

And often it's those with the least who show the most gratitude and who are the most generous and happy.


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8.9.17

A Short Break in Tenby

This is the third short break Mum and I've been on together since Dad died, and as before, I thought I'd share some snaps with you. We visited this area of southwest Wales when I was a child and we both wanted to return. It's as delightful as ever: a quaint harbour town, beautiful sandy beaches, pastel buildings and medieval town walls. It looks stunning whatever the light or time of day. I took rather a lot of photos both on my DSLR and phone - yes, I've returned to Instagram too :)
We didn't use the car during our stay which made it very restful. We explored the town which, I'm pleased to say, didn't have too many of the big high street names; visited St.Catherine's Fort (which has recently been reopened and was once a zoo as well as a fort); and went on a boat trip to Caldey Island which is home to a small order of Cistercian monks (a stricter offshoot of the Benedictine order). Caldey Island is just twenty minutes from Tenby but a very different world: quiet, unspoilt and with a contemplative feel. Walking along the coast path, attending a chanted service in the Abbey Church and even queueing for refreshments were carried out calmly and unhurriedly. The island breathed simplicity, creating a presence of peace - a feeling I hope I can hold onto in the future.
Mum was so happy to have a break and I enjoyed spending precious time with her. Tenby is a lot busier in the school holidays, I'm sure. However, it was beginning to get more crowded and hectic as the weekend and Ironman Wales beckoned. A spectacular venue but not for the faint-hearted. It'd be fun to watch, though!

Thank you all for reading. I'll be back on Monday with some minimalist musings. Have a great weekend xo


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4.9.17

40 Piece Wardrobe Update


I'm reviewing my wardrobe and one of the things I've done is to evaluate each item in the 40 piece minimalist wardrobe which I chose in August 2014. For background information, I came to creating an all season minimalist wardrobe after several rounds of Project 333

Despite a lot of thought going into this wardrobe, few of the original pieces remain: many items were hardly worn, and were therefore donated, and several wore out. However, I'm pleased to say that some are still going strong! Losing a few pounds due to changing to a lower carb diet last year, meant that some items just don't fit anymore. I think it's really interesting to reflect on how many of the selected items of clothes have been worn over the last three years and I've used this knowledge to help me with future garment purchases and decluttering. 

I would like to say that my wardrobe has stayed constant at 40 items, but the truth is that I haven't been disciplined enough to maintain it. I've bought some lovely new pieces recently and my wardrobe is beginning to bulge. I'm beginning to feel wardrobe overwhelm again and I'm definitely holding onto clothes which I hardly wear. Hence, the need for a thorough review, edit and wardrobe revamp. 

I'm aiming at 40 pieces again or thereabouts. I like my wardrobe to be tidy and organised and 40 items fit nicely into the space I've got, but I think some seasonally specific items (such as boots, thick jumpers and summer dresses) may need to be put in storage.

Less than 40 clothing items is too drastic for me but I would like to try the 10 x 10 Challenge as I'm interested in seeing what an extreme minimalist wardrobe could teach me and how it could influence me in the future. It may help me get back to close to 40 items. A clothes shopping ban is also something I'm interested in trying.

Here's my review:

1. Blue skinny jeans (M&S) - donated as too baggy but replaced with similar better fitting version which I love.
2. Blue bootcut jeans (Next) - almost worn out (need patching!) but still used for gardening.
3. Black work trousers(Next) - donated as a duplicate to item 4, and not worn enough.
4. Black smart trousers (Principles by John Rocha) - still in good condition.
5. Black linen trousers (F&F) - kept but only wear in hotter weather and mainly for work .
6. Black jeggings (M&S) - faded but replaced with grey pair (as seen in photo).
7. Black/grey linen skirt (M&S) - donated as didn't wear enough.
8. Tulip skirt (Laura Ashley) - donated as not versatile enough.
9. Pink velour skirt (Seasalt) - kept as still wear a lot although slightly loose but this doesn't matter as it just rests lower on my hips. I've seen this exact skirt on Ebay but I'm going to keep mine as long as it lasts! 
10. Green cotton summer dress (Laura Ashley) - donated as hardly worn.
11. White v-neck t-shirt (Boden) - recycled as holes formed, which disappointed me given the label.
12. Grey v-neck t-shirt (Boden) - recycled as holes formed, which disappointed me given the label.
13. Black v-neck t-shirt (Boden) - wear for cleaning as holes formed which disappointed me given the label.
14. Blue modal light blue round neck t-shirt (Gok for TU) - recycled as lost shape but it had a lot of wear. 
15. Purple draped t-shirt (Laura Ashley) - donated as not versatile enough.
16. White/black stripe 3/4 length sleeved top (Gap) - kept in fact wearing in photo above (although would prefer full-length sleeve). 
17. Black/white stripe 3/4 length sleeved top (Gap) - kept (although would prefer full-length sleeve).
18. Coral sequin 3/4 length top (M&S) - donated as tired of the colour and the sequins. 
19. Navy smart blouse (M&S) - donated as didn't like neckline (too low).
20. Purple linen grandad shirt (Wallis) - donated as didn't wear enough. 
21. Check blue/green check casual shirt (F&F) - donated as didn't wear enough.
22. Black round neck long sleeved t-shirt (Next) - donated as didn't like colour/fit
23. Blue round neck long sleeved top with cuff detail (M&S) - recycled as holes developed.
24. Light blue round neck long sleeved top (M&S) - kept as still in good condition and light but warm.
25. Green striped woollen tunic (Seasalt) - kept although beginning to wear out.
26. Grey cashmere cardigan (F&F) - kept as versatile, wear weekly and still in good condition. 
27. Blue cardigan (New Look) - kept as versatile, wear regularly and still in good condition 
28. Black boyfriend cardigan (M&S) - donated as didn't wear enough.
29. Black blazer (F&F) - donated as condition deteriorated.
30. Black biker jacket (M&S) - donated as started to disintegrate. 
31. Purple gilet (Gap) - kept as versatile, wear regularly and still in good condition.
32. Blue storm coat (Berghaus) - wear regularly but needs replacing as lining disintegrating.
33. Purple parka (M&S) - wear constantly October -April but wearing out and tiring of this so would like to replace eventually.
34. Olive green cord coat (M&S) - kept but only wear occasionally and may donate soon
35. Black and cream ballet flats (Debenhams) - recycled as worn out.
36. Flat sandals (local boutique) - recycled as worn out. These yellow ones in the photo above have replaced them (I like splashes of colour in my outfits).
37. Black small heeled brogues (Rieker) - kept as still wearing reguarly (great for work).
38. Brown Chelsea boot (Next) - donated as found a black ankle boot more versatile.
39. Purple patent Birkinstocks - recycled as worn out.
40. Black tapered heel ankle boot (M&S) - kept for occasional use but I don't feel comfortable in heels anymore.

Paring down my wardrobe to 40 pieces has taught me a lot. Putting one together is easy; it's the discipline to keep it from growing that's difficult. However, I'm keen to try again. I'm aiming at a small wardrobe which is just enough to suit my lifestyle, love of clothes and is easy to organise. Have you tried any minimalist wardrobe challenges? What works for you? Is clothes shopping your weakness? Please share, I'd love to hear from you.


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1.9.17

48. Happy Friday Links

How are you? I'm settling back in after breaking my blogging silence yesterday. Thanks so much for visiting here and for your kind comments. Relax and enjoy my latest round-up of links.
  • I'm so pleased that Meg Wolfe is back over at The Minimalist Woman. There are several interesting posts to read since she "rebooted" her blog in January. If you haven't got time to browse her site, I'd recommend reading the post, The Existential Minimalist. I'm very interested in her suggestion that "our very existence is a rebellion against the snares of consumerism."
  • What if All I Want is A Mediocre Life? by Krista O'Reilly-Davi Digua at A Life In Progress. This post went viral last year but it's worth reading if (like me) you missed it the first time.
  • Building a Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget via Jodi Goldman. I like her rule of 3 and her recognition that shoes and bags are important in creating a totally different look.
  • Great advice on how to shop well at thrift stores or charity shops by Vareena Erin from The Green Closet, via treehugger.
  • Another option for ethical clothes shopping is eBay. I enjoyed these 5 good tips from Mel Wiggins.  
  • A timely reminder of how transient our belongings and homes are: Simplifying After Tragedy Strikes over at Becoming Minimalist by guest writer, Sandy Krepps. The comments are very thought-provoking too.  
  • I discovered via Julie's blog, lovely grey day, that Leo Babatua from Zen Habits has started to post occasionally on his other site mnmlist.com. His minimalist site resonates calm and there are some great new posts to read such as just two pieces of bread. Julie has a great blogroll by the way.
  • I love Gay Cioffi's style, as seen on A Cup of Jo.
  • This video, remember why by Amanda Sandlin, is beautiful.
  • Pasta e Ceci, from Eat Like a Girl, looks yummy and it's easy to adapt to a vegetarian dish. You'll need to scroll right down the page to find the recipe!
Be happy xo
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31.8.17

Back to Blogging and Life Lately

Hello - I hope you've had a great summer. I've spent the six week school holidays relaxing and recuperating after a year of full-time teaching. There's still been a lot going on. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a night away in Warwickshire, a day at Womad festival and a short hotel break in Mousehole, Cornwall. It was a great start to the holidays.

We've also had A level results for our youngest son; he secured his first choice at Reading uni to study architecture (I may get a tiny home one day) and we celebrated with a family meal and a trip to the cinema (A Ghost Story starring Casey Affleck) before he went camping with his friends in Cornwall over the Bank Holiday weekend (best weather of August - jammy, I know).

I've gradually been catching up with friends and beginning to make plans for life after the school holidays. From September (tomorrow-eek) I'm returning to supply teaching so that I can restore the work-life balance that I had two years ago (until I agreed to cover a teacher on sick leave and then take on her job permanently). It's all been a bit topsy turvy job wise and home life has suffered. However, I've gained not only valuable teaching experience but also a greater understanding of myself and a recognition of what I need and what others need from me, and how these two things can be incompatible. 'Live to work' is my new mantra and whilst on the last day of term I was feeling very torn about leaving lovely colleagues and children, I now feel very happy with my decision. September is a quiet month for supply work so I'm not anticipating much work - in fact I'm taking Mum away next week for three nights and hubs and I are off to Crete later in the month.

So, I've been thinking about getting reacquainted with blogging now that I've got the headspace for it. There's been a little tinkering with the design of the blog - it's still work in progress but I hope you like it. And there'll be more frequent posts with some essay type posts as well as the diary type posts. Plus lots of photos, of course. And decluttering, that's always work in progress.

Womad pretty much sums up my summer. Not perfect weather but a jolly good time. I'll leave you with some photos of our day there. Look out for the unicorn wellington.

Highlights of Womad were: seeing Ska Vengers playing on the BBC stage (yes that's Cerys Matthews); Noureddine Khourchid and the Whirling Dervishes of Damascus - hypnotising; !!! (Chk Chk Chk), an American dance band - fabulous fun; and the mellifluous Nick Mulvey. All worth checking out.
Until tomorrow when I'll post some Happy Friday Links.
It's good to be back.
Claire xo

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