Hello again, after quite a long absence …
Today I started a new blog. You can find it at refusetherefuse.com
The days of having hours to prepare and plan for holidays have gone, so I’m frantically trying to stuff too much into a suitcase for our holiday to Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands, which starts … in a few hours! This trip we have the luxury (or hindrance, I’m still not sure) of having check-in luggage, so the temptation is to just pack it all.
I finished work yesterday in a mad rush, and now it’s all about getting the house and my suitcase ready. Leo had saved all his holidays for the end of this year, thinking we would be going to Australia for a month, but I went and did a crazy thing like getting a job :), and such a long break was no longer viable. But luckily my work said it was quiet over Christmas, so we could still take some time off, which is great as Leo needs it. Going to Australia for two weeks would be crazy and cost prohibitive (especially with the pending house move February 1) so we found a cheap package holiday to a place where the days will be warm. It’s been unseasonable warm here though too.
The plan is to read some books (unfortunately I won’t hit my target of 52 books in one year … by a long shot), do some day walks, eat some seafood and generally unwind. I’m looking forward to being surprised by the island, as I haven’t had much time to research what there is to see and do. We might try to do a few day trips to other islands. It will be too cold to swim, but the swimmers are in, just in case! Wishful thinking perhaps? 😉
Ok, enough writing. Here are some photos from the past week.
I don’t know if I’ll write while we’re on holidays, but as a fan of never saying never, we’ll see what unfolds.
Here’s to a sensational festive season, however you choose to celebrate, and a healthy and happy 2016!
And of course, as always, wishing you a wonderful day.
Today was an achieving kind of day. So many lovely things happened.
I received my new second-hand phone in the mail and spent a few hours setting it up (but it still doesn’t seem to be complete). But, wow, does it work faster than the one I was using in the interim, after mine died. While this was loading, I spoke with my sister on the home phone for about 40 minutes. Thanks for calling, Judy!
Then I met my friend Leonie for lunch which is always a good laugh. And then I went grocery shopping, because from Monday next week I start the I Quit Sugar program.
Recently, Leo has mentioned (in a lovely way) my skin has been looking less than glowing, and I’ve also been feeling less than energetic (despite all the garden work). The I Quit Sugar blog and program has been on my radar for a long time – a long time – and until now I’ve never
thought it would be beneficial had the nerve to attempt it.
But in the guise of 2015 being the year of fitfor15in15, I thought why not give it a try?! It’s another experiment, and it will be interesting to see if giving up unnatural sugars for eight weeks will make a difference to my energy levels, my moods, my skin and my general well-being.
I have been eating a fair bit of sugar lately (hello M&M Peanuts!), so after years of thinking about it, it’s time to have a go. A few months ago, I did the 5:2 Diet, which was interesting, and I did lose two kilos in that month, but it’s not so much the weight I’m worried about, it’s the sense of feeling good. And I hate counting calories – boring!
So, here’s to the new experiment. If it’s as good as all the testimonials say, then I’m looking forward to jumping out of bed in the morning and not having any afternoon slumps. (Maybe I should put down that phone first thing in the morning too!)
This afternoon, I started filling in all the holes in the lawn, where the weeds used to be. While in the back part of the garden, near the forest, I found this wonderful, small, empty, pale blue and brown speckled bird’s egg. I did an internet search, but am still unsure as to which species it belongs to. Do you know?
It was a lovely thing to find, while tipping and patting dirt into holes. I just hope the baby hatched of its own accord, and wasn’t eaten by a falcon! When my back was hurting after an hour of being in the garden, I lay down on the grass, looked up to the clear blue sky, and watched a falcon swirling overhead. They really are magnificent to watch … I just hope that baby bird lives!
When I called it quits in the garden for the day, I had a beer with our neighbour Liliane, sitting back and relaxing and enjoying the wonderful warmth. Alas the Alps were covered in mist and cloud, but it was still so lovely to be soaking up our wonderful surroundings.
And last but not least for today, I’m on a mission to learn new things.
With help and encouragement from Freda, I’ve decided to join the 30-Day Challenge, from zenhabits. Well, I haven’t so much as signed-up on that website, I’m just doing my own thing, so to speak. I like reading Leo Babauta’s blog, it’s one of the minimalism blogs I mentioned here.
My challenge is to learn the names of three to four new plant varieties per day. The goal is to be able to recognise and name more than 100 new plants, which is about 94 more than I currently know.
The two new ones for today are the tiny creeping phlox ‘candy stripe’ which I have in a heavy pot as part of a mixed gathering of perennials (its flowering days are just about over for the year), and the tall and hardy crocosmia x crocosmiiflora which is in my little garden. I love the colour and its long, majestic, slender leaves.
It was quite fun typing things into Google, such as “perennial plant with long green leaves and red or orange flowers” and seeing what pictures came up. What would we do without the internet?! The creeping phlox I stumbled upon by accident (looking for another plant, which hopefully I can name tomorrow!).
Wishing you a wonderful day.
Today was an on-the-go kind of day – I should have worn my running shoes!
My phone died this morning (Leo says from overuse – can’t argue) so I borrowed the neighbours’ car to go to a nearby shopping centre with a phone store, hoping they could fix it. No luck – it’s been sent away for a week, like a naughty kid suspended from school – but at least I have my old phone to use in the meantime.
This is one time I’m glad I haven’t been a minimalist and gotten rid of the old phone as soon as the new one arrived. The old one feels like a brick in comparison, and the photo quality will be pretty average, but I’m contactable, which feels more important than it should be. I’ll carry my compact camera around in case I see Betsy and friends again.
Amazing things, cars. I even managed to do a grocery shop AND go to the nursery for more plants and soil. I wasn’t going to put planter boxes on the upstairs balcony but hey, I needed geraniums. It wouldn’t be a Swiss house without geraniums. I was trying to avoid conforming, because it seems like it’s compulsory to have planter boxes overflowing with red geraniums in Switzerland … so I chose pink ones instead. Still a rebel.
Couldn’t plant them this afternoon because it was raining so much, but hopefully I’ll do it on Saturday … if the weather gets any better. It was five degrees Celsius this morning, and 10 degrees at 3pm. Come back spring, we miss you already.
I really, really, really have lost my exercising mojo. I feel worn out, and I look it too, but really, I’m not worn out, I’m just being lazy. Which is a shame because the fitfor15in15 six-month mark isn’t too far away and I want to look and feel my best. (I blame the mammoth book, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, that I’m still reading. What a sorry sack that whole story is at the moment – it’s leaching into every pore).
So, banishing the book and with the halfway mark as my motivation, I’m off to do 15 minutes of squats with hand weights, push ups, sit ups, lunges and all that kind of malarkey.
Wishing you a wonderful day.
Finally! I can’t believe it’s taken me five months to write about what I take when travelling. I love to pack light – just love it! Some may look at this and think ‘that’s not light’, and I’m cool with that! Everyone’s different, so, without further ado, here’s what’s in my new toiletry bag.
It’s a three-zippered number from deuter, with a capacity of 1.2 litres, weighing 50g when empty.* Until recently, I used a single zippered lightweight case from Eagle Creek (which I can’t find on the internet), but I’m loving the organisation options of the new bag – three compartments for easy access!
We’re (hopefully, depending on the weather) going hiking/walking for five to six days next week from Constance to Einsiedeln in Switzerland, which is basically the first third of the Swiss Camino.
We don’t know where we’ll be staying along the way, so I have to assume that some nights may be in youth hostels or basic hotels, where no toiletries are provided.
Sample or travel sizes are your friend (most of these were free!). Here’s what I’ve packed for one week:
When it’s all listed out, it looks like so much, but I’ll use everything (except possibly the make-up) every day.
Now it all goes into the three pockets of the washbag:
And this is what it looks like when it’s all zipped up. There’s still a bit of room in there, and will gain more as the tablets get taken.
I’m pretty happy with that total weight, just over half a kilo, and if I didn’t feel the need to pretty myself up at night, I would ditch the make-up completely.
But wait? What about sunscreen, I hear you say! I wear a wide-brimmed hat, neck scarf, long-sleeved top and pants to avoid sunburn (damn thee fair, sensitive skin!) and carry a small sample-size sunscreen, about 7ml, in the pocket on the waistband of my backpack for easy access and regular cheek and nose applications. The lip balm (which also has sunscreen in it) lives in my trousers’ pocket.
So there you have it. In a dream world, where I had 20/20 vision, my skin wasn’t dry and sensitive and I had short hair, I think my toiletry bag would look very different. Eventually, I’d like everything to be eco-friendly plant or oil-based items, but because I have these things already, and most of them were free, it would be crazy not to use them. I’d love to travel with one natural soap for everything, one oil as a face, body and hair moisturiser and bicarb soda as toothpaste and deodorant. One day! One day! (I look forward to writing that post too!)
What toiletries do you like to take when travelling? Do you use sample sizes or take the lot?
Check again soon for posts about my backpack, walking clothes, casual clothes and sundry/miscellaneous items.
* As always there are no affiliate links on this site. I’m just providing you with information and receive no perks or money from the companies and products mentioned, giving me free reign to say if I like them or not.
I slept the sleep of the slightly sloshed last night and woke up feeling like I’d been on a 10km run. Sheesh, fun has a price, huh?!
Yesterday, before I ran for the bus and had a merry old time, I was having a productive morning in regards to my clothes. In the words of the lovely Ariana from Paris-to-Go, this isn’t a fashion blog, but I like reading about her wardrobe so maybe you might like reading about mine too. Change can be interesting.
I was spurred on by this article on the Becoming Minimalist blog, about people being happier with fewer choices in their closets. A sentence from Drew Barrymore’s blurb really stood out to me.
She mentioned clothes from her 20s were no longer appropriate and I had a sudden flash of a dress I like but don’t wear often because it has several frills on the bottom hem. My mum likes this dress and says the colours suit me, but I’ve only worn it about three times because the frills have always made me feel, well, a bit mutton-dressed-as-lamb-ish. It was no longer age appropriate.
Within seconds of reading Barrymore’s words, I knew what I had to do … I raced down the ladder and grabbed the blunt kitchen scissors and hacked off all the frills. I’ll wear it as a top and love it! Why hadn’t I ever thought of doing that before?! It’s light and cool, and will be a perfect, colourful, cheap, summer addition. I just need to hem it. (Sometimes inspiration strikes when you least expect it, but there’s no chance of me having any inspiration today!) 🙂
Here’s a photo of it without the frill. In my excitement I forgot to take a before photo, because I didn’t think I would even write about it. But I’m really pleased with the result so thought I’d show it off a bit ahahahaha.
So there you go.
I met Claudia in town today and we had falafel kebabs for lunch. Poor Claudia, I’m not sure it was what she was hoping to eat, but I had a hankering for something nasty. Drinking has many knock-on effects. I was craving a burger but went for something a little less greasy. That’s being nutritionally fit, don’t you think?!
It’s still afternoon, but I know I’ll be doing bedtime yoga as my fitfor15in15 workout today. I’ve done it a couple of times before and it really is a soothing way to wind down before tripping the light of the tired and not tipsy.
Wishing you a wonderful day.
“What a wretched lot of old shrivelled creatures we shall be by-and-by. Never mind – the uglier we get in the eyes of others, the lovelier we shall be to each other; that has always been my firm faith about friendship.” George Eliot.
I love this quote from George Eliot, the pen name of author Mary Ann(e) Evans, who wrote it in a letter to her friend Sara Hennell in May, 1852. It’s stuck to a pin board above my computer and comes from a little 8x8cm paperback book about friendship, given to me by Gabby (pictured below … at our finest).
The book no longer exists – I ripped out the quote which grabbed me the most so I can see it every day, rather than having it lost amongst my belongings. I’m sure Gabby wouldn’t mind knowing that part of her present has been recycled, because I’ve taken the best thing from the book and it’s being used. Those sentences remind me of our friendship and I smile every time I read it.
To celebrate our 20th anniversary of travelling around Europe and the UK together, Gab and I walked Hadrian’s Wall, in the north of England, in June 2014. What a blissful (and strenuous!) week that was, stomping across such lovely countryside, surrounded by all that history. It was all the more special because Gab lives in Melbourne and has two young boys. Many thanks also go to her husband, Dean, for holding the fort and making this trip possible. So many wonderful memories …
What would you rather have? The present or the memories? I’m very grateful for both, but, for me, experiences and memories mean so much more.
Plenty’s been written recently about a trend that’s gathering strength – selling things rather than keeping them for the next generation. This is a blunt but brilliant story from The Washington Post about adult children not wanting more stuff from their parents. Even my mum and sister are thinking about selling their huge dinner sets which no longer see the light of day, because they know none of our clan are all that interested in them (the responsibilities of an heirloom, stressing about them breaking when used or moving house, and how much space is needed to store them, to name a few concerns).
Do you have unused things you hold onto, because someone gave them to you and there could be tension if they were gone? This can be a really tricky area if you’re trying to declutter or downsize your belongings. We all have a few (or many!) things we keep for sentimental reasons. How do you sort through them all and decide what to keep?
Here are some tips from Miss Minimalist about letting go of heirlooms and more from House Beautiful about sentimental clutter. Maybe something in there will be helpful. And don’t forget to thank your things before letting them go, a la the KonMari Method. Even though it sounds crazy, I think it really helps.
Wishing you a wonderful day.
p.s The exercise story will come next. I’m happy for this to be a stand-alone post.
While outside this afternoon, putting seed into the bird feeder, I heard the sound of alphorns from a neighbouring village wafting on the breeze. I love the sound of those horns – it’s so melodic and calming. Swissrose, are you often surprised by such sweet sounds too?
To make the most of it, I abandoned my plans to do yoga and grabbed my skipping rope for 15 minutes. Luckily, the constant (and sometimes sporadic!) thwack on the concrete terrace didn’t drown out their songs. A huge falcon was circling over the forest as well, so right now, after listening, exercising and nature spotting, I feel very relaxed.
A day with no plans meant a day of fasting. After the success of the first fast day on Monday, where I almost gave myself lockjaw eating a massive salad, I knew today was going to be more than achievable. So here’s how I broke down the 500 calories allowed on the 5:2 Diet:
By not having Monday’s glass of milk with protein powder, there was room to make a more appealing dinner. But I’ve promised I won’t waffle on too much about the 5:2 Diet, so here endeth my talk of food.
It’s been a day spent on the computer. I wrote another book review, sent a job application and sorted out my iPad’s detachable keyboard, so I now know what the function, alt and command keys actually do. And no, I didn’t find the exclamation mark. (Oh no, I hear you say!) I did find an upside down exclamation mark and a lot of Greek-looking symbols so I think this keyboard isn’t set up for English typing! Not to worry! (Can you tell I’m using my normal computer?! … !!!)
For giggles, I also looked at my stats for posts on fitfor15in15. By far the most popular story I’ve written is “The KonMari Method, with gusto!” Published on February 2, the story has been read every day without fail, and as of this afternoon, it’s been viewed 478 times. I have no idea how readers are being led to it, but I’m guessing most traffic comes from searching the internet for information about decluttering expert Marie Kondo and her KonMari Method (read my review of her book here).
Living with less is a very popular topic, which has been gaining momentum for years. And this month it cracked the bastion of buy buy buy consumerism – Vogue Magazine. I originally read the story of Prerna and Parag Gupta on LifeEdited.com and went to the Vogue website to read the whole story, here. All these kinds of stories make my eyes widen and my pulse race. I love hearing about people who’ve packed it all up and in, so to speak, to downsize, de-stress and hit the road.
Sometimes I wish I’d sold or given away all my things in Australia. They’re all currently stored in mum’s unit block, and I pay for the privilege of keeping memories. Every time I visit, I check to see it hasn’t flooded or isn’t infested with cockroaches and occasionally search for something I think I’ll need (like a trench coat, which I didn’t wear once this winter). I know, in the future, I’m going to wonder why I kept this stuff. I’m beginning to wonder about it now.
Wishing you a wonderful day.
Judy mentioned the buzz word “mindfulness” in a comment on March 30 and it got me wondering, what exactly is it? Can we put a finger on what makes someone mindful? For me, mindfulness means being present in, and making the most of, the moment. It’s a huge part of being mentally fit. Adding just 10 minutes of meditation each day to my morning routine has helped me with awareness and honing my thoughts. It may not mean the to-do list gets done faster (or written for that matter!) but I do feel more centred and focussed when needed.
There are many great blogs and websites promoting mindfulness in its many forms and I tend to gravitate towards the ones about living, and being happy, with less. Recently I came across this great site www.paris-to-go.com from Ariana Schwarz. I think I binge-read almost everything within a few days.
Part of me would love to be as extreme as she is with her wardrobe, with about 40 items in total, but when I look at the clothes I have, I love them (thanks to Marie Kondo’s method of asking “Does it spark joy?”) and couldn’t imagine parting with so much.
But then I do a 180 again and think how liberating it would be to have everything I own fit into my backpack, and then I flip again and think of all the current variety which allows me to be a chameleon. And as much as I’d love to live with just a few pieces, I love being able to change my look.
Other great blogs and websites I enjoy – about being mindful of our environment, our resources, our consumption, our health, our finances – are listed below. This is in no way a definitive list – there must be so many more out there, but these are the ones I look at regularly.
The Tiny House Movement/Living Small:
These are all saved on my phone as my favourites, and wow, when I look at them all lined up like that, I now know where all my time goes every day! Ha! Not everyone posts regularly, so I should set up a system where I get an email when something new comes in, rather than checking on the sites all the time.
So there you have my reading list to do with minimalism, living with less so you appreciate more, living mindfully and trying to make as little impact as possible. I hope it leads you to new resources and ideas if you’re also on an intentional living journey.
Exercise today was 15 minutes on the step machine with the hand weights. I’d just had a shower and slathered myself in moisturiser (I know, all wrong!) and, boy, did I sweat! Leo was cooking tortilla too, so the heat from the kitchen added a few degrees to our warm little house and sweaty little me. It’s still horribly cool, windy and rainy outside.
Pastora and her husband Leandro (Leo and Leo in da house!) arrive soon for an afternoon and evening of painting hard boiled eggs, food, drinks and laughter. And all in German! Very much looking forward to that.
Wishing you a wonderful day. I hope you’re having fun with family and/or friends wherever you are.
The tried and tested 4km path through the forest was stomped on again by me today. This was only my fourth run/shuffle this year, which I’m finding hard to believe! The previous ones were January 10, February 13 and February 20. The weather and a sore foot have played some part in this, of course, but I really thought I would have done more by now.
Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m improving! Using the MapMyRun app on my phone, I can see I’ve done 31:15 (fell over), 26:15 (must have had a tailwind), 29:32 and today’s effort was 27:19. A bit all over the place really. And I do like to stop for the odd photo or two.
But, it’s done and it was good to be outside, even if the headwind was freezing and it felt like I was on the verge of getting an ice cream headache the entire way.
This morning, I was motivated to get out of bed early and tackle the bathroom cabinets. For some reason, I really felt the need to declutter. I’m sure there’s a scientific reason for this (or a mental one!). The thought of “the mess” in one of the cupboards was making me cringe. There isn’t really all that much stuff in there, but then again, there is … know what I mean?!
Old things went that hadn’t been used in ages. I held them and asked the Marie Kondo question, “Does it spark joy?” In some cases, it was more like, “Could that make me sick?” A red lipstick (how long should you keep them for before they go off?), green eye shadow (what was I thinking? Haven’t worn it once in three years), a makeup bag, an old mascara (which was a great size for travelling but it’s a few years old now and it says to keep for six months on the packaging), two makeup brushes and some penicillin tablets past their use-by date (for tonsillitis which flares up now and then). I thanked them all for their efforts and in the bin they went.
Then, to top off my OCDness, I made a list of every item of mine in the bathroom, everything, using the Evernote app, and sorted them into groups such as Creams – Face; Creams – Body; Nails, hands and feet; Cleansers; Perfumes; Oils; Face; Eyes; Lips; Sunscreens … you get the idea. There are now 16 different lists within the “Bathroom Supplies” notebook. I know, I know … I need a job.
At least I now know the names of everything I use for when they need replacing. If they get replaced. In an ideal world, I’d just use soap, moisturiser and a toothbrush, but I’m not quite that minimalistic (yet!). And I don’t think my sensitive skin would love me for it either. Most of the lists aren’t extensive. I have two perfumes, four oils, and five sunscreens all in various states of emptiness. But I do have seven lipsticks (mattes and glosses) and six lip balms … hmmm …
Some things were simplified. I love tiny ziplock plastic bags for travelling (about 7cm x 8cm) and had several made-up with cotton buds (must clean my ears to get the water out after washing my hair), headache tablets, penicillin tablets, toothpick things, the occasional band-aid or Compeed plaster (a must on all long walks), hayfever tablets … oh the list goes on.
Rather than the four or five I seemed to have in various states of use, I now have one, and only one, ready to go in my travel toiletry bag. Which is just a small waterproof makeup bag really. Lots of people swear by the ones you can hang, but for me they’re too bulky. The bag is now ready for any spur of the moment weekend trips, and will oggle me longingly with a desire for adventure every time I open the lower cupboard.
Does your skin go crazy in winter? I get a shocking case of winter itch which sometimes prevents me from getting to sleep. It seems to happen most, when my skin is warm but dry, while lying on the couch or in bed. Thankfully, a good chemist recommended a body cream at the start of the year and it’s hardly been an issue this year. I didn’t take it to Strasbourg and whadiyaknow, after three days I was covered in tiny, red, itchy bumps. It’s starting to go away now thanks to this …
What other wafflings can I bore you with from today? Umm … I watched another Miss Marple, I searched the internet for jobs (nothing!), I read, I ran, I ate … oh yes, and how I ate!! For some reason, I have a hunger today that can not be satiated. After the run, I immediately had a glass of water, four small round slices of a baguette with soft cheese, salmon and cucumber, then an apple, then a cup of tea, then a few spoons of yoghurt with protein powder and fresh raspberries, two small easter bunny chocolates (5cm high), then (yes … and then!) four rice cakes with honey drizzled over the top … and I still can’t wait for dinner!
Just writing about it is making me hungry. I’m off to warm up two of these little beauties, which we had fresh last night with a salad. They were delicious.
Wishing you a wonderful day.