Thursday, 5 February 2015

What I've read lately #1


I've always loved reading but since I got a Kindle last year I've been enjoying it even more. For some reason, I seem to be getting through books much faster than I ever did before. Seeing as none of my friends are as enthusiastic about reading as I am, I thought I'd start sharing my recent reads here. Well...I need to tell someone about them. Especially the good ones. 

Here's what I've read lately: 

1.  Wild by Cheryl Strayed

This book (recently turned into a film starring Reece Wotherspoon) is a memoir starting when Strayed was in her early 20's and going through a particularly rough patch.  Having just lost her mother and divorcing her husband after a series of meaningless sexual encounters with other men, she turns to drugs in order to dull the pain of her loss. Strayed then decides to hike solo along the Pacific Crest Trail in order to regain some control of her life.  Wild tells the story of her trek and some of the characters she encounters. I've read some pretty harsh reviews of this book where people are slating Strayed for being stupid, unprepared and self-indulgent. I think they're missing the point entirely. The fact is she was unprepared and perhaps didn't always make the best choices but that's what makes her story so interesting. It's a really honest account of grief and survival which demonstrates that we can go through tough times in life and come out ok at the other side. I would definitely recommend it and can't wait to see the film. I hope it does the book justice. 

2. Simplify by Joshua Becker

This is a short, basic guide on the principles of minimalism. I've read a couple of similar books over the past few months during my journey to let go of my less meaningful possessions.  While I have no desire to be minimalist and found some of the book to be a bit extreme,  I would say that it offers some common sense advice as well as some brief personal insights into what motivated some people to de-clutter or become minimalist. I found it interesting but it wasn't as motivational as I had hoped it would be.

3.  The Kindness of Strangers by Mike McIntyre

This is another memoir starting off when McIntyre, stuck in a rut with his job as a journalist and generally afraid of life, decides to set off on a penniless journey across America. His account of his journey and the people he meets will make you laugh, cringe and restore your faith in humanity all at the same time. As a person who is also scared of just about everything and a born worrier, I could relate to some of the feelings he describes in the beginning of the book. I thought his decision to take the journey penniless was both crazy and awe inspiring at the same time. The story itself was heart warming at times, it's funny how the people who have the least often give the most. I would highly recommend this book. 

I plan to post reviews of more books soon. Meanwhile, have you read any of these books? Or has this post inspired you to read them? I would love to hear your comments. 

Friday, 1 August 2014


When I'm feeling a bit stressed or under the weather, a trip to the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh always lifts my spirits and leaves me feeling restored.  I decided to take a trip there last month when I was in need of some alone time with my camera. Here are some of the pictures I took that day.  


Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Review - Garnier Ultimate Blends Conditioner: The Silky Smoother

I'm always on the lookout for the perfect conditioner and I hate to think how much money I've spent over the years trying to tame the frizzy/split ends of my hair.  On a recent shopping trip I came across the relatively new Garnier Ultimate Blends range.  There are six different blends within the range and I chose 'The Silky Smoother' because I have mid-long hair with split ends.  

From the first use of this product, I was hooked.  It's absolutely fantastic.  The ends of my hair are noticeably smoother and my hair is softer in general without being weighed down.  The whole range is inexpensive so suits pretty much any budget, it smells fantastic and it's also paraben-free.  What's not to love?

I would highly recommend trying Ultimate Blends the next time you need to replace one of your hair products.  

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Garden Sunbathing

We normally don't have very good summers in Scotland but the past couple of weeks have been mostly sunny and really quite warm.  I didn't want the noise and bustle of a public park and I decided there was no better place to enjoy the sun but my own garden.  Armed with SPF 30 sun cream, my kindle and ipad (for Spotify) I took to the garden for a afternoon of sunbathing.  The last time I sunbathed in a garden was at my Gran's house over 20 years ago.  I forgot how enjoyable it is just to lie there doing nothing much except listening to the birds and the trees and enjoying the smell of grass and sun cream. 

My sunbathing place
Looking up 
Looking up
Garden flowers
Garden flowers

My garden isn't particularly big or fancy but a couple of hours just lying there enjoying the heat of the sun was very good for the soul. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Thrifty Finds #2 - 1970's Staffordshire Pottery Soup Set

As soon as I saw this amazing soup set in the window of my local charity shop, I knew I had to have it. It was made by Staffordshire pottery for Boots.  I don't think it has ever been taken out of the box so the set itself is in great condition with no chips or cracks. 

I love everything about this set and I think it will be great for serving desserts too. I especially love the pattern. I can't wait to use them.

Have you found a thrift shop bargain recently?

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Nostalgia - a look back at April '97 with Vogue

Over the years I have gathered quite a collection of Vogue magazines. I've been having a look through them recently trying to decide if I want to keep any. This is probably one of the oldest ones I have. Here's a peek...

In April 1997, I had just turned 18. I was working as a Beauty Therapist, completely obsessed with make-up and I was a bit of a Goth. I probably wouldn't have admitted to anyone that I bought Vogue. 

Kirsty Hume was the face of Chanel and Chanel N.o5 was being celebrated with a Andy Warhol makeover. 

David Bailey's Rock and Roll Heroes exhibition was about to open and his book of the same title was being published.

Lisa Armstrong and Pamela Hanson gave us a look at what was happening backstage at the Catwalk shows. 

Courtney Love had been re-invented and photographed by Steven Meisel.

Sherbet colours and wedge heels were hot for summer...

..and make-up was metallic 

The end

What were you up to in 1997?

Monday, 3 March 2014

Zero Waste Home

I realised a few weeks ago during my house move that I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I had collected over the years.  After several years of living in a two bedroom flat and storing many of my possessions at my mum's house because "one day I would have a bigger place to put it all", the time has come where I now have that bigger place I was dreaming about and I still feel like my stuff is a burden. 
I was looking for some inspiration and decided to read Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home after reading an article about it in a magazine a few months ago.  Bea begins the book by explaining why she opted for the simple life after living what she describes as her 'American dream' for a while. Even though my lifestyle is very different to the one she was living then, I could still identify with her feelings towards her life and possessions. 
After this initial introduction, what follows is a detailed 'how to' guide on simplifying your home and life and in turn becoming healthier and happier by following a simple system - "refusing (what we do not need), reducing (what we do need), reusing (what we consume, recycling (what we cannot refuse, reduce or reuse) and rotting (composting) the rest".
I found the chapters Kitchen and Grocery Shopping and Bathroom, Toiletries and Wellness to be particularly interesting.  I am guilty of collecting kitchenware like you wouldn't believe. I'd need a Jamie's-Ministry-of-Food-size-kitchen to accommodate it all and I don't have one.  Food waste is also something I'm guilty of although I'm getting better with this one.  Bea lists the type of kitchen tools and dishes that you actually need and I admit for a family of two with occasional visitors, I have far too much. 
The chapter on Bathroom, Toiletries and Wellness discusses the chemicals in our beauty products (something that does concern me) and lists the ingredients to look out for and avoid. 
The other chapters cover Bedroom & Wardrobe, Housekeeping & Maintenance, Workspace & Junk Mail, Kids & School, Holidays & Gifts, Out & About, Getting Involved and The Future of Zero Waste. 
Overall, I would recommend this book if simplifying your life and reducing waste is something you are interested in.  The tone of the book isn't preachy at all, just informative.  Although I found some of Bea's methods to be a bit extreme for me, for example making many of her beauty products and food items such as condiments from scratch (I will still be buying make-up and mustard) I did find it motivational and inspirational. 
I will never and have no desire to be zero waste but I am adopting the following practises as a starting point:
  • Keeping a re-usable shopping bag in the car and in my handbag at all times so that I never have to use plastic.
  • Switching to more natural and chemical free beauty products such as deodorant to avoid the harmful chemicals in the more common brands. However, I'm not professing to do this with all products because I a bit of a beauty junkie. 
  • Using a bar of soap rather than hand wash in the upstairs bathroom. I feel the need to explain this one a bit - I am really squeamish about the public use of a soap bar for hand washing because I believe that bacteria stays on the bar of soap.  However, I don't mind if it's just the two of us using soap for hand washing.  From now on it will be soap upstairs and a bottled hand wash downstairs (for visitors).  This will save a lot of waste over time because I wash my hands ALL the time at home.
  • Reduce the amount of stuff in my kitchen.  As well as the kitchenware I mentioned before, I am guilty of storing things like tins of baked beans etc like someone preparing for a zombie apocalypse.  I live within easy reach of shops and supermarkets so there is absolutely no need to store tons of food supplies.  I will be keeping this to a minimum. 
  • Make more of an effort with composting.  Our local council does provide a food waste recycling bin and I do use it but not as religiously as I should. 
  • Finally, I am going to make an effort to avoid using chemical cleaning products where possible and opt for vinegar instead (as Bea suggests). 

I will also continue with my reducing/de-cluttering efforts by donating and listing on ebay.

"The things you own end up owning you"
                   - Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)
Here's to a more simple life!
If you are interested in reading more Bea's blog can be found here - 
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