One woman’s rubbish is another’s new outfit

It’s been a while since I’ve turned to minimalism on the blog, it’s all been about this turning 40 business, mixed with a bit of mindfulness, but minimalism is still a great passion of mine and I am proud of how my wife and I have reduced our belongings and our needs.

Alongside this reduction in things, I’ve seen an increase in time spent together, in improved wellbeing  – I feel calmer, happier and more organised –  and in the time spent in experiencing things, rather than tidying, cleaning and paying for it all.

Yet there are still key areas that I can’t get round with minimalism; my wardrobe, throwing things away and reducing the waste we produce.

Continue reading “One woman’s rubbish is another’s new outfit”

A Beginner’s Guide to Minimalism…Part 1

I’ve been trying to live a minimalist lifestyle for a while now, upping the ante in the last six months to remove lots of our belongings that aren’t important, loved or needed, as well as thinking more about how we live and aiming to live with a more simple, minimalist lifestyle; based on having an experiential lifestyle, using memories, experiences and family rather than things such as reaching for the ever bigger house in the most expensive area, and upgrading our ‘stuff’ as money allows.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m prepared to pay for things that I really need, and I’d rather have a smartphone that helps me manage my life and all the things I need it to do; camera, apps so I can use to write on the go, and an interactive calendar because it means I don’t need seperate items, but I want to have a life of a few meaningful, important or loved items, rather than wading through stacks of books, collectibles and piles of ‘home decor’.

But if you fancy starting a minimalist journey, or living a more minimalist lifestyle it can be overwhelming. Where do you start? What do you do? If you’re someone who like me had lots of physical ‘stuff’ it can be really difficult to know where to start. There are some great blogs out there to inspire you , but my recommendation as well if you’re a social media fan is to set up a Pinterest board. Pinterest is great because it’s like a virtual scrapbook. All the ideas without painstakingly cutting out magazine after magazine and sticking in a book.

Pinterest can inspire you in two ways; one – there’s loads of great pins on articles for minimalist living which will help you, and give you ideas, but I would also suggest setting up boards to pin pictures of what you want to achieve. So images of clean , clutter free interiors, pictures of what you’d rather spend your money on (Holidays? Weekends away? Time with friends and family?) Hopefully that will help inspire you through the first difficult times.

If you’re planning on a physical de-clutter, which is often the easiest way to start on your journey to minimalism, I’ve got a few ideas you can use to get started. They’re well tried and tested by other minimalistas so hopefully will work for you too!

Getting Started

  1. – Find one drawer (perhaps the one where you crush everything into, with the thought that it might be useful one day, or  ‘come in handy’) . Take everything out, and I mean everything and pick each item up. Ask yourself ‘Do I love this?’, if it’s a no, don’t panic. No breaking out in a cold sweat yet. Ask yourself ‘Do I need this?’ and before you say yes and put it back in the drawer, ask yourself again ‘Do I really need this? Will I use it?’  If it’s a no (i.e. that leaky ballpen, the 10 takeaway leaflets, an old tupperware pot, bits of plastics that might come in handy, old, grey tea-towels) there are a number of things you can do;
    1. Think can it be repurposed? For example old tea towels we cut up and use as cloths.
    2. Can it be recycled? If you’ve got paper, glass or plastics that aren’t of use can you recycle them for a new item?
    3. Can it be sold? If you’re sorting out items of value e.g. old jewellery, clothes or CDs etc can you sell on an site like Ebay, or Magpie for CDs and DVDs?
    4. Will it need to go in landfill? If you really can’t find an alternative, can it go into landfill?

At the end of your first drawer – hopefully you’ll have a clean drawer with perhaps a few loved or needed items in and be feeling rather pleased with yourself. Now you can try and tackle something else, or set yourself a goal to pick another area next time.

2. If you’re someone who has to push back a tidal wave of clothes every time you try to close the wardrobe, you could try starting with a wardrobe clear-out and  finding a few items to start with so it feels like you’re not parting with your right leg. Have a look through piece by piece, and ask yourself ‘Do I love this?’ Unless you’re a vet or a police officer, it’s unlikely you have clothing you ‘need’. So your next question is ‘Have I worn this in six months?’ if not why not? Now comes the painful bit…as a plus size woman I know that theory of buying something ‘to fit into’ , or something that’s a bit tight that you will ‘slim into’, and I’m definitely guilty of buying purchases that I think I look great in which actually make me look like a shiny sausage. It can’t just be me surely? So be brave, chin up, and take out anything that doesn’t fit, you don’t like or that has a hole in where it shouldn’t. Well done…a first sweep of the wardrobe. Again, think repurpose, recycle, sell bin.

3. Final suggestion for today to get started – Get a box and put it somewhere out the way. Each day do a general sweep of your home, and find one thing you can’t say you truly love and need, put it in the box. The box should be out of your general line of sight so you don’t think about it all the time. If you find yourself really missing the item, bring it back out. Chances are after a few weeks you won’t remember what’s in the box and you definitely won’t have missed it. If a daily sweep feels too much try alternate days or a weekly sweep.

If you have a go, let me know how you get on, or if you have any other good ideas for beginners let me know…

Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle!

For a lot of people minimalist living is about having a few things they treasure, and getting rid of things that don’t meet their needs. Although I wholeheartedly support this approach, mine is slightly different in that I actively look for things people don’t love anymore to upcycle into things I will love and that will become part of our home.

My latest piece is a bureau desk I got for £40 on Ebay. I have been known to pick up items down the alley (telephone table, and a lovely bistro set I have repainted in Hammerite metal paint that now lives in the garden) and Ebay is like a virtual Aladdin’s Cave of unloved pieces waiting for my hand to give them a new lease of life.

The bureau is quite sturdy, there’s nothing wrong with it but it is a bit aesthetically challenging but I bought it always with the intention of upcycling it. I’ve heard all about this Annie Sloan paint, and being the sort who finds prep really very boring a paint with no need to sand or prime seems like a gift from God.

Thought you might like to see the before and after and hear how I found the whole process, so you can have a go too. The more we upcycle, the less we need to consume and that’s good for the environment, good for our wallets, and good for minimalism!

BEFORE

The bureau is wooden, and has four drawers with a great section at a top for storing things. I think the drawer sections in the bureau have been added by the look of things.

bureau before 2 bureay 3 bureau 4

I used Annie Sloan Provence which is like a blue-ey green colour. It was pretty thick and oily at the top, and very chalky at the bottom so needed a massive stir at the start. I think it would be worth turning it upside down for 10 minutes. It was really easy to apply but I think in hindsight the best coverage is where I have applied really thin coats, and given the bureau two thin coats. The sections where I have applied paint more thickly have become a bit more rustic looking!

The paint, when brushed on in thin coats dries really quickly. I painted outside, and it was a warm windy day so that probably helped, but in an hour it was dry to the touch. It’s also eco friendly which I loved, and comes off things really easily, which as I manage to get paint everywhere is a really good thing!

Once the paint is thoroughly dry, about 2 hours after painting, the paint needs to be waxed. The wax helps seal the chalk paint, and also prevent things like grease stains. I looked up a few YouTube videos on the waxing, as I had never done it before, and the key seems to be putting on a very thin coat and then working it in bit by bit. It took a good bit of elbow grease, but I was really pleased with the results.

AFTER

Et Voila! One upcycled bureau which I love, and will do for years to come, for very little cost…

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