Posted in Declutter, Lifestyle, minimalism, Ponderings, Regarding polly

Polly’s Ponderings – Keeping things for ‘BEST’

#pptko2019 blog header base - ponderings

Why do we keep things ‘for best’?

I received an amazing pair of shoes for Christmas – in fact, let’s just take a second to gaze on how adorable they are…


Don’t tell my Mum, but these new shoes are on a table!

They are a little big, but nothing a pair of chunky socks won’t sort. And I love chunky knee high socks! I wore them the other day when I went out with my Mum.

“I thought you were keeping them”

“For what?”

“For best”

Can we just take a few minutes to ponder the concept of ‘keeping something for best’ and how this actually means sometimes NEVER using it!

Continue reading “Polly’s Ponderings – Keeping things for ‘BEST’”

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Posted in Bucket List, Lifestyle, minimalism, Regarding polly, Seasonal

31 December – A Review of #PollyPrepares2018

A 2018 Review
And now, the end is near, and so I face…having to film a review of it all.

The vlog/Blog Link:

I may have mentioned it once or twice…or maybe more times than that, but I have a Pinterest Board that I use to list things I would very much like, if I can find them on Pinterest that is, and if not I just retroactively add them once I do own them and can take photos… you get the general idea. What with Christmas gifts, together with a bit of an Amazon spree just before Christmas, and a trip to Ikea, I am now the owner of a number of the things on the list.

Continue reading “31 December – A Review of #PollyPrepares2018”

Posted in Blogmas, Christmas, Lifestyle, minimalism, Savings, Tips & How to's

December 12th – Christmas on a Budget: Part 1

Dec 12th
Because Christmas can be expensive!

How can we do Christmas on a budget?

As someone who spent a number of years struggling financially I know how stressful Christmas can be when you are skint. Even now we are a bit better off (i.e I am not an impoverished student anymore!) Christmas can be an expensive time. But once a frugal tightwad, always a frugal tightwad; I am not going to let my newfound wealth (!!!!) spoil my money saving ways, so I thought I would offer some realistic suggestions to help you out this Christmas.

I have a love/hate relationship with money saving tips; while I am all for saving some cash I hate those patronising suggestions like ‘cancel your gym memberships’ or ‘don’t buy a latte in Starbucks every morning’ – like we can afford to do those things anyway! What I really wanted, when I was ‘poor people’ were tips I could use, not to be told to buy my food ‘a brand cheaper’ – it doesn’t get cheaper than 9 pence noodles!

With that in mind, here are some ways we try to keep on budget for Christmas. Part one is going to look at presents and the associated stress of giving!

Gift Giving

How many people do you buy presents for?

Now how many people do you really need to buy presents for?

While trimming up the house, consider trimming down your present list. I go into this in one of my Pondering’s, but chatting to family and friends about not buying things is a conversation worth having when you are feeling the pinch. If you don’t have the option of not buying certain people presents – I remember suggesting it to my Mum one year and she was singularly unimpressed- then maybe temper their expectations. Tell them you have a budget and that is all you will be spending. And don’t feel guilty if they then choose to spend more and buy you a bigger present, despite you explaining to them. That was their choice and you shouldn’t be manipulated into giving what you don’t have.

Maybe you can get the whole family involved in a mass Secret Santa? That way you just buy one present, but you can set a slighter higher budget. I have been involved in a twitter based one this year and as I write this the present I have been sent by my Blogger Secret Santa is sat under my tree, eyeing me up, begging to be opened. We used an App called Elfster to organise the whole thing (I say we, the whole thing was sorted out by Casey), which is free to use and makes organising secret gift giving easier.

If you have children to buy for, whether your own or someone else’s – tell them what your budget is. Explain how much you have to spend and let them select presents that fit it. One year, when we were particularly poor, all of our kids agreed to having their presents after Christmas and we went out in the sales and they got almost twice as much as they would have had, had we had to pay full price for stuff! In the same vein, if you know you won’t be seeing the person until after Christmas, maybe hold off buying their present until the sales start and pick up a bargain.

Remember that there are plenty of cheaper options available. The Pound Shop – who I may have mentioned before!– have an amazing range of toys, home ware and chocolates, while Charity shops and church sales can also be a great source of gift sets and toiletries. If you have a very limited budget, you could even consider IOU’s or vouchers for babysitting, gardening or cleaning. Maybe you have art or crafty skills and could make presents, or bake cookies.

Never Ever …

I know we all want to buy our loved ones everything they want – especially our children, and it is tempting to go into debt or use credit cards to pay for it, but you must try to never do this. One day of the year is not worth the stress of having to pay off loans for months to come. Much of the stuff you will buy will be cheaper after Christmas – as I mentioned above – and a lot of the other things that people claim they just have to have are often forgotten about in a few months. Try to remember the point of the holiday : quality time with family and friends, repeats of films on TV and copious amounts of sherry…but mainly that first one about family and stuff.

If being, what you feel is a bit stingy this Christmas makes you feel a bit guilty, resolve to save in advance for next year; While I appreciate that this tip is of no benefit to you now -unless you happen to have a time machine that is- from the beginning of next year, look to start putting some money away each month for Christmas and look forward to a less financially stressful season.

What are your top gift buying budget tips? What limits do you set?

Posted in Give Away, Japan, minimalism, Regarding polly

A Kawaii Box Unboxing and a Give away!

As promised in my previous 2 vlogs, here is my grand give away.  If you haven’t seen my vlogs then a) go watch them! b) here is what is happening.

Many moons ago My eldest daughter Harri convinced me to get a free Kawaii box, because she had a code or some such.  It arrived, the things in it were adorable, ( I have lots of them in my handbag right now) and then…I forgot to cancel the subscription!

A few of the things that will be in the box....

So now I have more cool Japanese/ Korean stuff than a minimalist should really have and I thought what better way to share the love, than to share it with one of you guys!

 

Kawaii Stuff!

So here is the plan:

If you would like recieve the items above, plus the things I couldn’t get photos of because the light in my living room is terrible, then all you have to do is visit this Rafflecopter giveaway on Twitter. You just need to follow me, through the link, and if you already follow me? Just click the link. Couldn’t be simpler.

Official rules bit:
My decision is final and will not be entered into.
The draw ends on November 30th 2018
UK entries only due to postage costs -once I am rich I will open my giveaways globally!

Now to tape up all those goodies in a box and prepare to post it out!

Posted in Lifestyle, minimalism, Ponderings, Regarding polly

Polly’s Pondering’s – Multi-tasking is actually bad for you.

This weeks pondering?
Is Multi-tasking actually a skill worth cultivating?

Does this sound familiar:

My kitchen needs tidying, I think I will start with the dishes, but the wash bowl and sink need a scrub first, so I will just boil the kettle as we don’t have any hot water, actually, while I am doing that, I may as well make a coffee …where’s my cup gone? It’s in the front room; I’ll just go and grab it… What a mess! I’ll just pick these shoes up and put them in the hallway… whose bag is this dumped here? Looks like Hannah’s; I will just run upstairs and put it in her room. Oh look, dirty clothes, I will just gather those for the laundry. I head back to the kitchen. What was I doing again? Oh yes, a coffee…

I am doing EVERYTHING but NOTHING is getting done!

This is the myth of multi-tasking. I am a scientist* so let’s back this up with some studies and stuff :

What we think: If we do five jobs at once we are being five times as productive.

Why it is wrong: When we ‘multi-task’, what we are actually doing is switching between a number of jobs quickly, and each time we do that, our brain needs to reconfigure. This costs time, energy and is actually less efficient in the long run.

What we think: If I do it all together, at once, then I can relax.

Why it is wrong: Stanford University conducted a study on 100 students and their multi-tasking media use (for example: texting, while watching the TV). During the experiments they found that the high multi-taskers were unable to ignore things; they couldn’t filter out things that were unimportant and were poorly organised. It found that rather than making life easier, multi-tasking increased stress and had a demonstrable effect on both productivity and the mood of the participant.

What we think: People who multitask are super organised or memory wizards who can do magic!

Why it is wrong:
Back with those pesky studies again I’m afraid! A 2011 research study from the University of California discovered that the quick task shifting involved in trying to multi-task actually impairs the short term memory. When a multitude of information is always in front of you, some multi-taskers don’t feel it necessary to memorise things, and together with being overloaded by irrelevancies, this often makes it harder for them to remember things.

So, what are you saying Polly?

When you try and do too many things at once, you are not focussing. If you don’t focus, you aren’t really connecting with the task. If a job is worth doing it is worth your full attention. When you multi-task you are dividing your mind onto several things. It is inevitable that this could lead to mistakes, to additional stress and – because your mind is never fully on the task at hand- it will have an impact on your creativity; your brain can’t be expected to come up with new ideas when it is already split up over a number of other tasks.

So what can I do?

Concentrated Activity. If you have a number of similar jobs to do, such as pay bills, or emails to answer, then try to do them all in one block. You will get into your ‘zone’ because the work is similar and will probably complete the tasks quicker than if you mixed them in with other jobs throughout the day.

At your Best. Work out when you are at your best; I am a morning person, but for you this might be different. Try and organise your task list by putting the more creative tasks, like writing blog posts, at this time. If you have the time to dedicate to your task, you can combine this with the ‘concentrated activity’ suggestion above to increase your productivity.

Take a Break. Differentiate between tasks to reset your brain with a break – a break where you actually do nothing! No crafty email checking! Give your mind a chance to catch up and refocus on the new task ahead.

So my take away for this pondering is to remember this acronym – because everyone loves an acronym!

Follow
One
Course
Until
Successful

How will you make your life less stressful and more productive today?

*Technically a scientist – I have a Bsc & a PGC in Social & Cultural Theory which totally makes me a (social) scientist…

Posted in Declutter, Lifestyle, minimalism, Seasonal

Blogtober Collaboration – Halloween with Lavrax

I always thought that being a mid-life crisis survivor, wannabe minimalist who dreamed of living in Japan would really limit my readership, but I have been pleasantly surprised by all the love I have been getting in the bloggosphere (totally a word!) lately. I was also surprised when this lovely person agreed to collaborate with me for a Halloween themed post swap. And here is her post for you!…This calls for a new Canva!


collab blog header
With the rising popularity of minimalism and “millennial going minimal” this barely leaves any space for our urges to splash out on those terribly built plastic skeletons with absolutely no use. But why do they exist? And why do people keep buying them? Because we gotta!

There are varying degrees of minimalism, from extreme, to mild, to just “trying to declutter my life”.
But what is “minimalism”, really?

A style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme sparseness and simplicity.

It is a style that is now being applied to people’s lives. But even so… The vagueness leaves it open for interpretation. The simplicity of some may be an absolute cluttering mess to others.
Just for reference, my own definition of a minimalist lifestyle, and the one that this post will follow is:

A lifestyle that allows you to only preserve items or things that are of value to you.

So forget all those “I use one soap to wash my face, body, hair, house, car, and dog. Shame on you” people, and focus on having things that are useful to you and make you feel good!
Well, let me tell you, shopping for minimalist Halloween decorations was not any easier than finding a solid definition for it. But I realised after a while, you can make Halloween decorations out of almost anything.

Nature

If you’re lucky enough to have some nature around you (definitely not here in London) make use of it! This will cost you (almost) nothing, depending on how wild you want to go!
Take all the pumpkins, leaves, twigs, and get crafty! Put them up all over your house and bring the feel of Autumn into your home.

Decorations

I can definitely tell that Halloween decorations were not made with a minimalist lifestyle in mind… But if you’re like me and you quite like having the spooky all year round, these are definitely some spooky things that you can invest in!


I found some home ware stuff that I thought would be perfect in keeping with the minimalist aesthetic as well as having multipurpose, or just genuine use! I found all of these accessories at TKmaxx!

The idea also struck that a lot of people use mason jars to decorate at christmas, so why not make a spooky themed one?

Foods

Let’s not forget about everyone’s favourite thing. Food!
I looked at the amount of Halloween sweets that there were on display in nearly all the shops. These are a such a great decoration especially if you’re having people over. Why not invest in the multipurpose-ness of food; something to make your place look pretty and homely, that you and your guests can eat, as well as making them spooky?



You can arrange orange and black sweets together to make them themed, or even make these in the shape of spooky things! Just take a look at those Halloween cookies…
Also let’s not forget the Halloween essentials! Pumpkins, pumpkins and more pumpkins. These are the ultimate Halloween decoration to use and have the best use for after Halloween. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin everything! You are spoilt for choice if you’re looking for a pumpkin recipe.


Thank you so much to Polly for collaborating with me on this post and I hope that you enjoyed all of the ideas that we have put together for you!

Much love,

Lavrax

Blog: Lavraxlondon.com

Instagram: @lavraxblogs

Twitter: @lavraxb

And if you would like to have a read of my Halloween post on Laura’s Website, go have a look here

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Posted in Declutter, Lifestyle, minimalism, Project 333, Regarding polly, Uncategorized

Capsule Wardrobe – Take 2

A few years ago, after reading up on the wonders of Kon Mari and discovering Courtney Carver, I started dabbling with reducing my clothes – in fact there is a very old vlog kicking about on YouTube if you fancy a laugh. As someone attempting to declutter both my house and life, I have read a few books on the whole ‘less is more’ concept and have realised a few things: If you are trying to declutter a family home it is difficult as it is full of things that aren’t necessarily yours – this is why clothes are one of the easiest things to start your declutter with as they one thing that is all yours. I have never been a particularly ‘clothesy’ person, so being overburdened with shoes and tops has never been a problem. Having said that, let me tell you about my latest wardrobe.

(I am currently on a weekend away in sunny Somerset, and as such cannot access my full wardrobe, or indeed add pictures to this post – but I will update it as soon as I get back to my PC!)

So what is the plan?

While there have been a number of changes to my original wardrobe I am confident I have found my style and colour palette. For anyone new to the capsule wardrobe concept, I explain it all here, and I then review my first attempt at it here, if you are still not sure if it is for you I discuss the pros & cons in this post (Yes, I have written three whole articles on capsule wardrobes despite claiming to not be a ‘clothesy’ person!)

If you haven’t got time to look at those posts – the basic premise is that for the next 3 months I will be using just 33 pieces for my wardrobe, and the idea is they should all work together to create sartorial harmony…fingers crossed. Let me introduce you to the wardrobe (this will easier after my Monday vlog goes live and I can just add a video of me telling what all the pieces are here!)

Tops

This is the only part of the wardrobe where I have been able to add a few patterned pieces. I have gone for relatively plain short sleeve tops (my stripey peach bow top notwithstanding!) in shades of grey, navy and peach. I have also chosen two long sleeve bretons, and three blouses: a peach Laura Ashley one, a spotty Bowden one and a blue and white striped one from M&S.

I do actually wear a lot of vests, but generally they are under clothes, so made an executive decision that these technically counted as underwear and that I was totally not cheating by deciding to do that.

 

Knitwear and Sweaters

While my blazer doesn’t really count as either knitwear or a sweater it has been added to this section anyway. It is literally one of my best ever charity shop finds and goes so well with smart dresses and jeans.DSC_0413

I feel I may have ‘over egged the warm warm wear cake’ – it is still unseasonably warm, though I imagine my saying that out loud will jinx it and there will now be rain until next March (and as if by magic, it is now pouring down!)

This section has 3 cardigans: my maroon oversized fluffy one AKA craft cardi, and two similar versions of a round neck card in light grey and blue.

There are two jumpers, a deep blue v-neck and a peach batwing style one. Not really sure how I feel about the blue one, so may potentially swap it out if I spot one I prefer.

For sweaters I have my Pusheen top and a floral offering from Monki.

Bottoms

My original capsule didn’t contain any trousers, as I didn’t own any. I always put off getting a pair of jeans because I knew what was going to happen… I would just chuck them on and not even think about it. To an extent that is true now that I own jeans; I try not to over rely them but they are now a mainstay of my wardrobe. They are also – if you want to be a pedant about it- the only actual pair of trousers in the capsule, as I have put two pairs of culottes that I bought in Japan. More and more people seem to be sporting similar pairs lately, so I like to think I was ahead of the game there!

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I have also whittled down my skirts to just two: a heavy cotton navy number from M&S, and a shiny pleated silver one. Both can be dressed up for nights out, or worn casually with the sweaters.

 

Dresses

Reducing my my dress collection down to five was a bit painful, but I decided to go for a combination of pinafores that I could layer with the tops, smart ones that I could ‘dress up’, as it were, and one totally impractical netty peach one!

They are all navy – I just can’t wear black- and they all have pockets, as that is just something any good dress should possess.

Footwear

I don’t own loads of shoes, and as it is the season for it, my brown boots were an obvious first choice.

My trainers were also going to have to go on the list, and now we have a permanent ‘casual wear’ policy at work, I don’t need to include any smart shoes.

Last of all I will add my jade-green totally-don’t-go-with-anything-but-so-comfy baseball boots. They are somewhat wrecked, so once the inevitably fall apart, I will swap them for my peach baseball boots. At least they will coordinate with my wardrobe colourwise!

Outerwear

I have added my warm scarf, that served me so well in Berlin and two coats to the list.

My pink coat is more waterproof, while my navy wool coat is a lot warmer. So I will need to decide between getting wet and staying warm in any given weather situation!

Allowable Extras

I am allowed – as per the rules – my undies, pyjamas, laze about clothes and stuff for working out.

I am not including bags, as I only have a few, and depending on whether I have to walk miles or I can get a lift, I take a backpack or a handbag. They aren’t so much part of my wardrobe, but a practical means to carry my important stuff about.

The PJs, my house culottes, and my onesie AKA my ‘not tonightsie’ are all staying. Also, my Guide uniform is included as an extra.

Naughty Cheats

I bought a beautiful dress a few months ago, and some shoes. Never had the chance to wear them…

So I have them for my weekend away to Butlin’s and will wear them again for Christmas… Bit of a cheat, but it wasn’t worth making them part of the wardrobe for one wear – also there are no photos so, technically, it never happened!

So here we are… I will upload photos to this post once I get home, and I am sure it will make a difference. As it is, check out the 10.30am vlog on the YouTube channel on Monday to see all the clothes.

I plan on doing a weekly round up on Instagram of my outfits of the week, so you could pop and see me there too.

How does your wardrobe grow? Too much? Too little? Just right?

Any favourite pieces you couldn’t live without? Let me know in the comments.