Minimalist Monday: Just a Year

Whoop, whoop. Twelve months of blogging... and I'm still here!

On the 30th September 2012 I started this blog after many months of pondering... mainly about the name... but also about the commitment... and the exposure. Should I?... Could I?...

I knew my niche would be minimalism because this is what first drew me into the blogging community. I also knew I wanted my blog to have a lifestyle and style vibe but could I pull it off? Did I have the design skills? The technological knowledge? Enough content? Probably not but sometimes you just have to act a little impulsively and have a go.

Eventually I bit the bullet. I launched myself into the unknown and I was smitten. 

It took me a few months to find my feet but I was warmly welcomed by the blogging community both here in the UK and across the world. Slowly connections were made with fellow bloggers and readers - each equally supportive.

I've had my lows. Yes, blogging is hard work and it can be overwhelming to start with. How do you reconcile documenting your 'simple' life with living a 'simple' life? How do you balance blogging and privacy? How do you make time for blogging when life gets busy?

I don't know the answers but I know that sometimes the ideas and enthusiasm flow and other times there are doubts. 

Luckily, I've also had many highs. I've stuck with it because blogging has given me so much - confidence, opportunities, inspiration and friendships. It's given me the chance to connect with some wonderful people and to give something back - hopefully a little inspiration to brighten your day.

Three years ago I felt overwhelmed by my lifestyle, commitments and possessions. I started to read minimalist blogs and gradually by paring down my possessions, my debts, my shopping and my working hours I began to find a better balance in my life. The positive impact of these changes inspired me to start a UK minimalist blog.

Just a little less is my mantra. It works for me. I need less stuff, less pressure and more life. Simple stuff really.

I think the smallest changes can make a huge difference to your life. Decluttering one area of your home, purging your wardrobe of unloved pieces, breaking the habit of shopping and finding alternative ways to treat yourself can give you new energy. Somehow reducing physical aspects of your life opens your mind to new possibilities. You start to question how much stuff you really need and what your values are. How much does chasing money, success and status cost you in terms of time lost?

Thank you all for reading, commenting and following Just a little less and I hope I can continue to share my journey, my ideals and my practical tips. It's a journey we can share. I love writing here - both about minimalism and the simple pleasures in my life.

Oh, I nearly forgot, there'll be a lovely giveaway later in October. Something hopefully to inspire you to want Just a little less. Watch this space xo



52 Weeks of Happy (50/52)

Joining in with Jen from Little Birdie here are my four of my happy moments from this week. It was easy to find four happy moments this week but not so easy to choose just four photos so please excuse my self-indulgence.

♥ Yesterday we  took part in a charity fund raising walk 'Just Fabulous'. This was the second of 5 x10 mile walks organised by friends we know through our local arts organisation who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and simultaneously raising money for their son- in- law, who lives in France and has motor neurone disease. We walked part of the Monarch's Way (the escape route of Charles II), the Staffordshire Way and the Kingswinford Railway Walk. The walk started at the Tough Guy venue (you can just about make out the obstacle course behind the donkeys) which is a running obstacle course like no other. Highlights of our walk included seeing a heron along the Staffordshire and Worcester canal, breaking for lunch at The Bell Inn in the pretty village of Trysull, walking past many lovely properties and enjoying rural views. There was plenty of chat along the way and we came away feeling inspired by everyone involved. 

♥ On Friday evening hubs made Yuk Sung for the first time. We have been promising our youngest that we would try making it at home as it's his favourite dish when we eat out at Chinese restaurants. Hubs and our youngest did a fantastic job and it really was quite easy and delicious. 

♥ After yesterday's hike we went for a shorter walk today, just far enough to collect the last lingering blackberries. There was a lot of stretching and bending to reach the last remaining berries but we still came away with an ice cream tub full. I think there's a few more yet to ripen so get them while you can.

♥ I've been finding tiny little red leaves in my garden and collecting them. And lighting more candles as daylight hours shorten. I love the ritual of lighting candles and the simple pleasure of treasuring a fallen autumn leaf.

Thank you for all reading, commenting and following this week. We have got through the first week with our son away at uni and your thoughtful comments really helped. He is having a great time and having to take 'power naps' in the afternoon as it's been so 'hectic'. Students eh? I love the fact that he can still make me laugh even though he's miles away.

Have a great week and be happy xo



Food 4 Thought

Today hubs had the day off work and we spent a leisurely few hours in our county town of Stafford. Our plan was to drink coffee, explore the town (where many years ago hubs was an art foundation student) and find a cosy, individual café for a restful lunch. 

We found this and more at Food 4 Thought - a training café providing support for people recovering from mental health problems to get into employment, voluntary work and college. We were given the warmest welcome and our Staffordshire oatcakes (mine were filled with brie and grapes) were delicious and great value. What's more the money from our pot of tea was taken separately to raise money for Macmillan coffee morning.

Food 4 thought is part of the Time to Change programme (a programme set up to end discrimination faced by people who experience mental health problems). According to statistics one in four people will suffer mental health problems in any given year. Hopefully this programme, and projects like this café, will raise awareness that our mental health is just as fragile as our physical health.

A restful lunch date that made a difference. 



RIBA Stirling Prize - Park Hill

Tomorrow the winner of the Riba Stirling Prize for architecture will be announced. Every year this prize is given to the building deemed to have made the greatest contribution to British architecture in the last twelve months. 

Six buildings have been shortlisted including Park Hill, a project by developers Urban Splash, to regenerate a late 1950s housing development in the centre of Sheffield.

Park Hill became an unloved housing estate in recent decades but has been given a new lease of life through careful and imaginative design. I saw this housing estate in its sorry state in the late 1980s so it is wonderfully uplifting to see the same grim housing dominate the skyline in a new and inspiring way.

The other five shortlisted buildings are all worthy of winning but Park Hill gets my vote because its developers are passionate about restoring not only good design but also a sense of community to a once neglected urban area.

The use of colour, line and light is simply stunning.

See here to read more about the Riba prize and Urban Splash.



Minimalist Monday: Making the Best of...

Making the most of what you have can make you happier. Living with less teaches you to be flexible and creative with your possessions. It's very satisfying to find solutions to problems from within your current resources and capabilities. A more minimalistic lifestyle can give you confidence, resilience and a different sort of happiness than the one that money buys. 

How to make the best of:

Smaller living spaces – there's no utility room, separate dining room or spare bedroom in our new smaller house but there's no wasted space either. It's easier to clean and therefore gives me more free time.
People – look for the best in people and you'll be happier. Most people's annoying habits just have to be tolerated and we know we can’t change people. Accept you won't get on with everyone – fewer closer friendships can make you happier than many superficial friendships.
Leftovers – invent new recipes and combinations from what's left in your cupboards and fridge or freezer. Meals made from leftovers are often just as delicious as those made after an expensive supermarket trip.
Kitchen – gadgets are great when they are used regularly but not when they lie dormant in the cupboard. You don't need every appliance going – improvisation ( a rolling pin and bowl for a pestle and mortar) and hard graft (chopping and mixing by hand) are very satisfying. 
Ageing– be grateful for the wisdom of your life experiences, the freedom from peer pressure and that feeling of being comfortable in your own skin that advancing age can bring. Accepting yourself and your imperfections makes you a much more attractive person than someone who is very self-critical. Make the most of your best features and don't compare yourself to others too much.
Wardrobe – wearing your favourite clothes more often instead of saving them for special occasions can lift an ordinary day. Putting together a new combination of garments from your existing clothes is very satisfying.
Your current home – every home has its plus points but why do we often dwell on their negative features? Perfection isn't homely – do the best you can to make your home lovely within your budget. 
Your mood – learn to be mindful of your mood and accept that some days are more challenging than others. Looking after your emotional health is as important (and contributes to) your physical well being. Be confident in your achievements but forgiving of your imperfections.
Free time – not every moment needs to filled with purpose. Try balancing paid work, domestic work and time helping others with sometime for yourself and doing or not doing whatever makes you happy.

How do you make the most of less? Or what could you live without? Please share.



At the Weekend


had a lovely farewell meal for our son with his grandparents
visited a food and craft market and bought chutney and spicy sausages
bought these second hand shoes for a song after haggling (no prices - at the same market)
went to a canal boat heritage event
enjoyed blue skies, warm sun and ripples reflected on canal bridges
listened to a local sea shanty group (yes, in the midlands)
admired this caravan and horse
sat in the garden
watched two movies
dropped son off at uni - he was happy for us to go
wandered around Sheffield and ate lunch outside
arrived home but it felt emptier
felt reassured by a friend phoning about her son leaving for uni
enjoyed a beautiful evening sky
made plans for next weekend
got nowhere with the ironing  
had a glass or two of red in the evening

a beautiful but emotional September weekend, how was yours?



52 Weeks of Happy (48 & 49/52)

Hello. Two weeks have slipped by so here I am playing catch-up with 52 Weeks of Happy. Joining in with lovely Jen from Little Birdie.

♥ Baking therapy - hubs' soda bread gets the bottom test. 
♥ And I made Rachel Allen's fluffy lemon pudding. Yummy and easy.
♥ Open windows and a glimpse of leaves on the turn. Yay to slightly warmer weather here in the UK this weekend.
♥ A digital photo for a student railcard of my eldest (gone wrong). On Sunday he's off to Sheffield Hallam to study English. It doesn't seem five minutes since we were getting him ready to start school - where has the time gone? I'm so excited for him but I know there'll be a gap in our lives...

Thank you for all your wonderful comments this week and hello to my new followers. I hope you enjoy Just a little less.

Have a great weekend xo



Blogging and Inspiration

Ahh... new inspiration for both my home and wardrobe. 

This week a lovely reader, Anu from Finland, left me a wonderful comment and a great blog recommendation MuotiMielessa. One little peek and I was smitten. Anne Malia has serious grown up style both in her home and wardrobe - simple, sleek and stylish.

Blogging is very much a two way process. I feel flattered when I receive comments saying that I inspire others but quite honestly the comments that you leave me here inspire me beyond words. Via my little blog I have connected with many like minded people and bloggers here in the UK and around the world. And a recommendation like this makes my day. 

Thank you - you inspire me xo