I have to move house again at the beginning of July and I am finally confronting the fact that I own way too much stuff. I am trying to de-clutter in the most brutal way possible. I am tired of having to move this stuff around with me. I have been trying to follow some broad green principles that I’ve picked up from various Instagrammers during this declutter. I know that the whole ‘sparking joy’ thing has become a bit of a meme, but honestly I think it’s a good baseline for deciding whether something is worthy of space in ones life.
I am dividing the things I no longer need into what can be given away to people I know, sold, given to charity or discarded altogether. This requires me to balance different priorities. I have some things that I have been hanging on to because I don’t want to waste them. For example, I have a bag of old t-shirts that I might one day turn into jersey yarn. I am aware that sending old clothing to charity shops isn’t necessary the green solution we would like it to be; apparently some companies still send a lot of items to landfill, while on a broader level second-hand clothing has damaged the textiles industries in some developing nations. On the other hand, I don’t really want to take a bag of t-shirts (which I have already elected to discard) to my new house.
When selling items, I have to balance whether it will be worth the time and effort required. Selling is better from an environmental perspective because you know that the item is going where it is needed or wanted. However, photographing, listing (and often re-listing) and posting items is very time-consuming. In a lot of cases, I have donated saleable items because I am happy for the charity to take on the burden of selling them.
Some of the declutter has been great fun. I decided to donate (pretty much) all of the books that I have read. I posted some stories on Instagram and asked if anyone would like to take the books off my hands. I had a great response and it feels great to be sharing my books with friends. The rest were donated. I buy the vast majority of my books second-hand so I’m glad to be adding titles that aren’t old Dan Brown novels and copies of Fifty Shades of Grey to the shelves of charity shops in the local area.
One of the more brutal decisions I made (that I’m proud of) was to get rid of my old guide books. I have hung on to many of them for years as souvenirs of my travels, but it’s time to let them go now. I am old-fashioned enough to still like physical guidebooks, but it seems unnecessary to hang on to them as they become increasingly out-of-date.
So far I’ve got rid of a couple of big boxes and several bags of items. I plan to list the items above for sale soon. I also need to decide how and where to sell some larger items, including the stand mixer I won several years ago and my saxophone.
Decided to make a little post about this toy clanger, that I never finished knitting, in case it helps anyone else considering using this pattern. Overall I think the pattern is good and would produce a lovely finished item. Here is the Ravelry project page if you would like more information about the pattern etc.
I got quite a way into making this toy a good few years ago. I think I originally started it because my boyfriend at the time liked the Clangers. We split up about ten years ago now so I’m not sure that’s right. But I do know that I’ve been carrying this WiP around for a long time.
I think I got stuck on the pattern because I was a relatively inexperienced knitter at the time. I always thought I would finish it one day, hence bringing it with me on several house moves.
I had a moth problem in one of my previous houses and I’m sure that I froze this project to kill the larvae. However, when I picked it up again recently, I realised that both the yarn and the knitting had quite bad damage and evidence of infestation. I initially planned to keep what yarn I could salvage before realising- if I haven’t finished a project in a decade, when am I going to get to it? Even if I did finish it, do I actually have any need or want for the finished item?
I finally threw poor half-finished clanger the bin. I will now need to freeze the basket it was stored in as well as my mermaid Humboldt sweater, both of which were in the vicinity of the infestation.
Discarding the clanger is part of a wider attempt I’m making to de-clutter. My mother and aunt, probably the biggest female influences in my family, are enormous hoarders. While I felt that I have done my best to avoid following in their footsteps, I can’t deny that I own a lot of stuff (edit: I have denied this many times but I have now accepted the fact). Way more stuff, in fact, than it is reasonable for someone who does not own property to have. Moving the stuff between rental properties every couple years (an unfortunate but necessary part of living in London without familial wealth) is an enormous burden, both literally and metaphorically.
I have set myself a target of getting rid of half my stuff. Basically I am the Thanos of my own possessions. I’m not quite sure how I will actually quantify whether it was actually half, but I will know in myself if I have met my target. I will probably write a separate blog post about the de-clutter, but I will say that the project reflects an attempt in my life to get rid of things that no longer serve me. My relaxed hair, my burdensome possessions, and hopefully some psychological habits too. To the left, to the left.
I was going to include some about the change to my make-up habits in my previous post about cosmetics, but it was starting to get a bit long.
The biggest change there has been is that I am simply using less. It makes me a bit sad to think that when my skin was near-perfect in my late teens, I covered it up with loads of products. This is probably part of the reason I feel so sad and outraged when I see young women plastered in foundation. As I’ve grown older, I have become more able to accept the fact that my skin has some flaws. Most days, I don’t wear anything on my face except moisturiser. If I’m feeling fancy, I still have a bottle of Mac Face and Body that will probably last me for years to come.
I also accidentally stopped wearing blush. For a long time, I used Posie Tint. I wasn’t able to restock it the last time I ran out (I generally buy make-up at the airport) and I have now reached the point where I’ve not been wearing it for so long that I don’t think I need it.
I am quite reliant on eye make-up. I’ve been wearing liquid eyeliner on a daily basis for at least a decade. Someone (normally my friend Paula, who I don’t think realises what a faux pas this is) comments that I look tired every time I appear in public without it. And I agree. I don’t like to have my picture taken if my eyes are bare. Maybe this is something that will change over time, but the eyeliner certainly creates a dramatic change in appearance compared to the subtle blurring of a tinted moisturiser.
One thing I’ve never understood was makeup brands constantly changing their formulae. I used a No.7 product for ages until they changed it. I switched to Illamasqua and the same thing happened. Since then, I have been on a carousel of trying new brands, never finding a product that I really loved.
The last time I was at the airport, unable to find a suitable product, one of the employees suggested that I try one from Boots. Pfft, I scoffed internally. I have become way too fancy to use a drugstore brand. I bought a long-wear brand from Mac that looks great but needs professional make-up remover to get off. It is like glue. I am not willing to invest in a special make-up remover to keep fuelling my habit.
A few weeks on, and a few eyelashes down, I re-thought. Since when did I become a slave to the idea that more expensive brands are inherently better? Why am I determined to buy from a premium brand when I have been disappointed time after time for several years? I popped into a Boots store to see if any of the brands (I had long since forgotten the recommendation of the nice lady at the airport) appealed. While I was looking for a tester that didn’t look replete with conjunctivitis, I spotted a gel eyeliner kit.
It was a lightbulb moment. Gel eyeliner comes in a small glass tub. You use a proper make-up brush rather than the disposable one inside the plastic tube of a liquid liner. I’d tried a gel a few years ago in my search for a consistent brand. I rejected it at the time because I was still in love with the look of liquid. Now, the idea of a less defined wing doesn’t bother me so much. The next time I passed the Mac store (I know I realised earlier that I didn’t need to be a sucker and stick to a more expensive brand, but throw a girl a bone), I made the switch.
I realise that this has been a ridiculously long-winded way of saying that I changed eyeliners, but I guess my point is that change happens incrementally at times. In an ideal world, I would just be happy with the way I look bare-faced and stop wearing make-up altogether. I still feel the need to balance my personal comfort with my desire to have less of an impact on the planet.
I didn’t post about my twelfth OddBox because I didn’t make anything that interesting. Here is what I received in my most recent instalment.
My flatmate brought me some curry mix back from Singapore. I used some onions, the squash and potatoes in a vegan curry. It was really tasty!
I added a block of Tofoo brand extra-firm tofu to increase the protein content. The curry paste is pretty spicy so it’s nice to have something bland in there too.
I used the beetroot, an apple and the remaining onions in this vegan galette.
I found the recipe on Pinterest. I have to say the galette is amazing. The vegetables all have the right texture (this was on me, I roasted them for different amounts of time until I was happy) and their natural taste is enhanced by the dressing. The pastry is lovely and crisp. I used chunky sea salt that adds an extra crunch too. I was worried that it would be horribly dry. Like the vegan patties I made, the galette is on the dry side but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment.
You can easily adjust the recipe according to what you have. I used quite a bit more veg than stated in the recipe (due to what I had on hand). I just rolled the pastry extra-thin and piled the veg high. It worked well.
I made soup with the cabbage.
I finally got around to making some reusable cotton pads for removing make-up. I ran out of disposable cotton rounds some time ago.
My handmade pads took some getting used to. They absorb a lot of liquid, which seems a bit wasteful, but then I probably need to re-think using micellar water once I run out of that. The crocheted surface is also very different to the smooth surface of a disposable product. However, I used them to take off the makeup (liquid eyeliner and lipstick, false eyelash glue) from my Wonder Woman costume and they worked fine.
I would probably mark the cotton pads down as a fail overall. I bought some pre-made reusable cotton pads from the Source and they are much better. Removing make-up with toner is still an occasional part of my skincare routine and my skin suffered when I stopped using disposable pads.
It’s so interesting to reflect on the genius of the cosmetics industry. I started using micellar water when it came out a few years ago and totally believed that it was superior to toner. I remember how MW was marketed as being better (and thus justifiably more costly) because it eliminated the ‘need’ to use cleanser. I thought this was great! A few years later I wanted to take some MW on holiday so looked for a travel-sized bottle at the airport. They had nothing under 100ml so I reluctantly bought toner instead.
Reader, the two products were indistinguishable to me. I got got. I have since switched to showering at night, which means that I seldom need to remove my makeup (I just wash my face in the shower) but it was such a revelation at the time. Marketing can be so powerful, even if you consider yourself to be a thoughtful person with a critical eye.
Speaking of showering, I have also been trying to get single-use plastics out of my bathroom in general. I went to Lush and bought a few plastic-light things to try. I went in looking for a shampoo bar and some face wash. I came out with two solid facial cleansers. I have to say that I’m not too keen on them so far. The base is quite oily and I find it impossible to remove the oily feeling without using soap on top of the cleanser, which doesn’t really make sense to me. I am yet to try removing the product with a hot washcloth (this is my face wash routine in the morning) so perhaps that will work better for me.
In the end, I got a tub of liquid shampoo since I didn’t think that any of the bars would be suitable for my hair. The tubs can be returned to their stores. I’m not sure if any of their products are designed with POC in mind. I am planning to cut my hair very short soon, so perhaps I will try a shampoo bar then.
Last week, I returned from Lapland to my latest OddBox delivery.
I must say that I was baffled by the item in the bottom left corner. I thought it was a beetroot but there was no indication on the website or letter that we would get beetroot this week. I then thought it might be a really big potato. It smelled like a potato.
It was indeed a yellow beetroot, though I wasn’t entirely certain until I had cooked and tasted it 🙈
I stir-fried the cavolo nero and purple broccoli.
I followed the recipe that came in the box for a roasted carrot and lentil salad. I don’t really like roasted carrot (I prefer sweet potato) but I liked the lentils and dressing, and it was pretty filling.
I also followed the vegetable soup recipe from the box. The soup is serviceable but it looks repulsive.
I also managed to have zero waste vegan quidditch tournament! When I realised that the only available food would be from a burger van, I took some time to food prep. I had shopped in the Source and Lemons & Limes, a lovely greengrocer in Chiswick. I made the satay noodle dish I’ve done a few times before.
I packed two servings and warmed them up each morning before transferring to my vacuum flask.
Since I was volunteering, I got a £5 food voucher. I got some (black) coffee in my keep cup and the lid of my food container saved a couple of polystyrene trays from landfill. Its so nice to be able to eat hot food when you’re standing around outside in Manchester all day.
The team I was coaching came third and my club’s second team (London Unstoppables) took silver, so all in all a successful weekend.