Hello. I can hardly believe I've been blogging here at Just a little less for six months now and that I've posted here nearly everyday since the end of September. What's kept me going, I wonder? Your feedback and support are number one but blogging is also important to me because

it's an outlet for my creativity – writing, photography and cooking

it is an online diary/journal of daily life
it's a way of connecting with like-minded people
it's a way of giving support to others
it helps keep me focused on minimalism and simple living

I would like to celebrate with you by offering a giveaway of my copy of Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. I enjoyed reading this book back in January and reviewed it here. If you're looking for simple ideas on how to make your life happier then this book may interest you. I like to think this book could be really helpful to someone out there interested in minimalism and making a more meaningful life not driven by consumerism. Other than looking pretty it's not very useful on my bookshelf right now. 

I would like to give my copy of this book away to one lucky reader to thank you for your support. This giveaway is open to all followers worldwide who leave a comment below - I'd love to hear from you. I will announce the winner on Thursday 11th April. 

In the meantime I'm off to the far west of Cornwall for a peaceful week with my family. I will be taking a blogging break for a week to refresh and find new inspiration. Minimalist Monday will be back on Monday 15th April but I'll be back before then. If you're new here please take a look around my archives - there's plenty of varied posts to read.

Have a Happy Easter and I look forward to catching up with you soon xo



March Scavenger Hunt

With my new camera in tow I decided to join in with Made With Love's monthly Scavenger Hunt. Each month there are twelve items to find photos of. This month's list was: green, 3, a person in uniform, bubbles, shoes, toys, a gate, eggs, dessert, water, a bridge and empty. Here are my March photos. 

A challenge but good fun. 

If you want to know more about my photos...

1. My youngest helping with veg prep 2. My favourite mocha 3. My Grandpa in his Royal Artillery uniform (Second World War - Ceylon) 4. Angel Delight 5. Hubs' brogues 6. Hubs' old toys 7. A local church gate 8. My Easter tree 9. Cheesecake 10. Water in the woods 11. A fun red bridge 12. Early doors Friday evening



Holiday List

We're going to Cornwall at the weekend. On my list...

Friendly hosts

Sea air
Panoramic views
Minimalist wardrobe
Notebook and pen
Beach hair
Early morning runs
Cream tea on arrival
Farmyard friends
Bread maker
Wood burning stove
Beautiful flowers
Deep sleep
Coastal walks
Sand everywhere
An open mind
Good food and wine
Coffee out
An eighteenth birthday celebration
Easter chocs
Playing games
Each other

Yes, I'm excited. Who cares if I forget to pack something?




Nature in the Home

Meet my Aloe vera plant. An easy-going plant with hidden healing properties – the most common one being the use of the gel from its cut leaves to soothe burns. I haven't tried this yet but I like the idea that I have a first aid treatment sitting in wait on my bookcase. A house plant for now, it will get a chance to go outside when the last frosts are over and will be a much needed plant in our minimalist garden. 

Linking in with Lou from Littlegreenshed. Such a pretty project to brighten the middle of the week.



52 Weeks of Happy (26/52)

Keeping happy this week means keeping warm and comfortable. So I have been...

♥ wearing either thick tights under skirts and boots or knee length socks under trousers

♥ wearing socks in bed
♥ enjoying a few extra hot toasty minutes in the shower each morning
♥ eating up 'lost' Christmas chocs

We have been wishing each other Happy Christmas this week. Can Easter really be less than a week away?

Soo looking forward to Easter, summertime hours, warmer weather and more chocs.

How about you?

Be happy xo



Minimalist Monday: Not Doing it All

Almost eighteen years ago, on my last day of maternity leave, I remember memorising my eldest son's face looking up at me from his pushchair. I wanted to hold on to the moment and remember that I was the centre of his world and he of mine. 

The early days of babyhood thrilled and fulfilled me but I was also keen to develop my career. Returning to full-time work I coped well on the surface. However, remarks such as, “I don't know how you do it all”, made me feel uncomfortable as secretly I felt that I was compromising in all areas of my life and I felt exhausted most of the time. As a teacher working long hours I had little time or energy left at the end of the day for my family. I relied heavily on the support of my husband and our parents and being able to play catch-up in the holidays. I dreamt of working part-time but our ever increasing outgoings and desire for material possessions meant we relied on two full-time incomes. 

Then in 2011 I developed a stress-induced illness. After time off work, I realised I could rebalance my life, if I was brave enough. I was lucky to be able to go part-time, working three days a week. This wasn't an easy choice, as it meant cutting our expenditure and selling our family home.

Now I have time for my children and my job. Even though they are older I still feel they benefit from having me around more. I enjoy more relaxed evenings and weekends and I have more energy and enthusiasm for family life. I have happy memories of my children’s early years and know that they haven't been deprived of love or care. I always made time for them and would work late at night or early in the morning so that I could still enjoy evenings and weekend activities with them. However, looking back I regret not realising the value of time with my children earlier. Experience has taught me that time with my family is worth far more than career success, status and possessions. 

I know I'm not alone in feeling regret for not spending enough time with my children – this is one of the top five regrets of parents according to a top psychologist. And I know that working full-time is not a choice but a necessity for many parents. I'm not judging working parents or stay at home parents. I'm just saying that maybe I should have listened to that little voice inside my head eighteen years ago and that maybe I had more choice than I thought. 



At the Weekend


schlepped through thick snow once more

scattered wildflower seeds in memory of my friend
immersed ourselves in Hamlet (great acting with unexpected humour)
lit candles in new lanterns
sang Happy Birthday
ate Battenberg cake
enjoyed a Nigella midnight fridge raid of leftover curry
played with my in-laws' gorgeous cat
watched snowflakes fall for most of today
listened to Dark Side of the Moon

high drama, not least from the weather...

Thank you for reading, commenting and following this week.



Shine On My Crazy Diamond

I have to be honest, 

I married my husband because (amongst other things) he...

can cook

was in a band and plays an instrument (guitar)
can draw/is creative 
is kind
makes me laugh

He's a big Pink Floyd fan and today, as well as his birthday, it just happens to be the 40th anniversary of the release of Dark Side of the Moon. 

Btw hubs is the long-haired head banger mid shot - just love the passion. Photo circa 1980.

Happy Birthday xo

Shine on my crazy diamond 



March Goals Update

As we approach the end of March it's time for an update on this month's goals. It's the first month, since I've started setting mini-goals, where I feel I've been over ambitious. No worries, I'll make my goals list a little shorter next month and carry some goals forward. Here's my limited progress.

1. Post about bedroom decluttering on my 'Making Room' series. Not achieved but I'm still keen to do this.

2. Plan a simple garden makeover. The main thing will be to get rid of the small lawn and be lawn free – no more mowing for us. No definite plans as yet. As you can see from the photo our garden is fairly minimalistic already – it just needs an alternative to the lawn. Any ideas?
3. Ebay/sell some items to fund garden makeover. No I haven't sold anything but I am collecting items together. However, I worked some extra hours and this will be put into the garden makeover fund.
4. Have a digital declutter – my phone/laptop/camera all need a good edit. No too busy blogging, say no more.
5. Spend less than last month on groceries. I need to continue to use my spending diary and spend more time menu planning simple meals. Achieved. I have recorded most of my spending this month and the kitchen cupboards aren't as full. This is a clear sign that I've been buying less. 
6. Plan our son's 18th birthday in April. Achieved. Plans coming along nicely – should be good.
7. Select items for next attempt at project 333 towards the end of the month. With the temperatures so low I haven't felt inclined to contemplate a spring/summer wardrobe. However, I'm planning to pack my lightest holiday wardrobe to date for our Easter break.
8. Hubs has requested a low-key birthday but with a 'show-stopper' cake. Is he winding me up? Achieved. I have broken my usual habit of overbuying and have only bought him things he has asked for/needs. And the cake is very low-key. 

As I said at the beginning of the month I find setting mini-goals month by month helps to motivate me and there's no shame in not achieving them all.

Apart from these goals I have had some success in other areas. We have done the 5:2 fast diet for one or two days each week this month. A few pounds have been lost and we have found it has given us the discipline to conquer other bad eating habits. And for Lent I have given up Diet Coke which is quite an achievement for me.

So, how's your March been so far? Please share.



To be...

We're very lucky to be going to see the play Hamlet at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend. This has led me to think up a to be list. Here goes.

To be

  • happy with what I have
  • helpful
  • resourceful with less
  • present
  • grateful
  • forgiving
  • non-judgemental
  • generous with my time
  • understanding
  • joyful

I think that's enough for starters.

What's on your to be list?

image via pinterest



Nature in the Home

Most years I have an Easter tree in my house. No one else in the family is interested - it's just my little indulgence. I enjoy collecting the twigs (twisted willow and pussy willow this year), cutting and arranging them and then deciding what to hang from my collection of eggs and birds. The fluffy white chick always gets a branch.

I love it because it's simpler and cheaper than a Christmas tree – I collect new branches each year and my decorations (collected and edited over the years) fit into one small box. The combination of natural twigs, colourful eggs and their symbolism of new life epitomise spring and Easter to me.

It makes me happy as does this project Nature in the Home led by Lou from Littlegreenshed. I hope to join in most weeks.



52 Weeks of Happy (25/52)

Keeping it simple this week in an attempt to get back to posting 52 Weeks of Happy on a Tuesday. Linking in with Jen.

Making me happy this week...

♥ Looking forward to our holiday in Cornwall.

♥ Daffodils finally coming out.
♥ Interesting and thoughtful comments on my blog.
♥ Buying seeds to scatter over a wildflower meadow, later this week, to celebrate my late friend's life. Nothing could be more fitting for someone who so loved nature.

Be happy this week xo



Minimalist Monday: The Path to Minimalism

One of my favourite reads on minimalist sites are the real life stories from readers of how they first became interested in minimalism. One day I will submit my own version but in the meantime I thought that today I would tell you a little more about why I am attracted to minimalism and simple living. Several things have triggered my interest – here they are broken down.

1. Control. In the past I was very good at accumulating possessions but not so good at editing them. Suddenly, a few years ago I realised I had too much of most things: clothes, books, CDs, sentimental keepsakes and various odds and ends. I found owning too much overwhelming and I longed for more control and enjoyment from having less possessions. I began to read minimalist blogs and ponder if I could live with less. Major decluttering followed and continues to this day.

2. Health. Without warning two years ago I developed a ME type stress induced illness. I had to completely rest for several months. During this time I re-evaluated my life and made the decision to work part-time as my job was the the main source of stress in my life. My return to work was successful but I still have to keep myself in check and not over schedule my time. Reading minimalist and simple living blogs has taught me the value of relaxation, hobbies and time to be. I now have time to stop and stare and enjoy simple pleasures each week.
3. House clearing. Over the last two years I have had to help my Mum and Dad (who is disabled) with the house clearances of two deceased uncles. Both were bachelors and serious hoarders. In one house we found hundreds of old newspapers going back many decades and numerous identical blue shirts some unopened from their packets. Clearing their homes honed my decluttering skills, making me better at getting rid of sentimental items and more determined than ever not to hoard. 
4. Values. I am attracted to less because I don't feel comfortable with owning too much stuff or any one item that is too expensive. Trying to develop non-attachment to material possessions makes me a happier and a more giving person. When I am not obsessing over my next purchase I can be more present in the moment and have more time for family and friends. I am not impressed when other people buy expensive things and I am not interested in buying something that will give me status. 
5. Experiences. I value my time and the time I share with others more than material possessions. Memories of good times and the positive effect that these experiences have on my life are worth more than any one possession. I try to plan trips out as regularly as I can afford. Watching live music, theatre and simple holidays are things I like to spend my money on.
6. Self-development. Downsizing was a big step for us but one that has been successful. Earning enough money to feel secure is our only financial goal and we are beginning to pursue other projects outside of our main jobs that may have potential for income in the future. Working less hours allows me more time to pursue interests such as reading, writing and photography. Also, living with less actively encourages creativity - having to make do forces you to become more creative.
7. Calm. From an aesthetic point of view I like the look and feel of clearer and less cluttered spaces. Some of the images I choose in this blog are beyond my reach but I still aspire to the essence of this pared down stylish look. Also, living a less hectic life leads to more moments of calm. I'm not there yet - but I have more calm moments than I used to. And this is because of changes I've made that have been influenced by minimalism.

Those are the main reasons I started down the minimalist and simple living path. 

Why are you attracted to a simple life? Do you think living with less stuff improves your life ? I'd love to hear from you.




At the Weekend


had a chippy tea

cleaned the house
gathered twigs for an Easter tree
read the papers
ate tiffin cake in a favourite café
heard an interesting radio interview with Sinéad O'Connor 
emptied an overflowing ironing basket
went for a walk 
sipped Irish coffees
rediscovered The Waterboys
made plans for our upcoming holiday
enjoyed reading 
listened to our eldest's guitar playing
felt happy without any schedule 
had a glass or two of red in the evening

ahh... we don't get many weekends like this.