Saturday, September 29, 2012

Week 3: The coat cupboard

I'm really enjoying the planning stage of the simplifying - identifying what can go, what needs to stay, and what I don't yet have (eg storage containers). I am finding that as I go along, I usually manage to solve the puzzle - I spot something somewhere else that is unnecessary there and can be repurposed in another room. In fact, I have already thought of some better uses for items I have already thrown out, but that's just tough.

As I have recently acquired a new coat, and with winter coming on, I made my next target the coat cupboard. Take a look at it. It's 'orrible!

The coat cupboard - BEFORE

Friday, September 28, 2012

Making me smile today

::Homemade almond and oat cleanser::

::Hot homemade fish soup with toasted homemade bread for lunch::

::My new jeans, fitting like a glove::

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Charity shop haul

One of the things I miss most about England is the vast array and variety of charity shops. I grew up in a small Bucks town, and the high street had more charity shops than newsagents, grocers, supermarkets and cafes combined.

In Brussels, there is much less of a culture of this kind of shop. In fact, I have only been able to identify two such shops in the whole of Brussels, and one of them is on my street. Yippee!

They are staffed by volunteers and so have opening hours which mean I very rarely get inside. However, on Saturday, I walked past and saw a coat in the window that I fell in love with, so I worked through lunch on Monday to be able to leave work early and I dashed to the Oxfam. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Winterising: Bleeding radiators

There are many blog entries and articles about preparing for winter around on the internet, not to mention in books about green living and self-sufficiency. However, most of these assume that you own your own home and can therefore make changes to the roofing, insulation, windows, heating systems and so on. There's not a lot out there for renters, so I'm exploring what I can do in my home.

The first thing is to bleed your radiators. All you need for this is a radiator bleeding key and something to mop up water eg a rag or kitchen towel. A radiator bleeding key can be bought cheaply from DIY stores - I got mine from Brico. Instructions are below and can also be found here.

As we are on the top floor of the building, air accumulates very quickly in our radiators and we bleed them several times each winter. They usually tell us when they need bleeding - the apartment gets very, very cold! We were freezing last week, but after bleeding the radiators on Friday, it's lovely and snugly and warm now!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Week 2: Decluttering my handbag

Have you ever found yourself juggling your many bags at the checkout, trying to pay with only one hand, when your phone rings and you spend ages rifling through your overcrowded bag, while people queuing get restless and you try to avoid spilling essential things?

That happened several times this week. So I thought it was about time for week 2 of the Simples challenge.

First I got together my decluttering kit. A lit candle, a meringue, a glass of water and a jazz CD. Who says that simple living can't involve a dash of glamour?

Then I emptied my bag and laid it all out on a table.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Week 1: Laying out clothes

Last Saturday I decided to make a change to my routine to make it easier, and over the week I mulled over this topic, ending up not with hot spiced wine but with a more developed challenge to myself - to make one change a week to simplify my home and my life, focusing particularly on those aspects of the simple life  philosophy which I find difficult, such as routine, organisation, decluttering and time management.

I'm calling this challenge the Simples challenge. For week one, I decided to lay out my clothes each evening for the following day. I've tried it before, but always left it too late into the evening. Now I am doing this as soon as I get home from work, when I get changed into jeans and a t-shirt (or civvies, as we used to call them at school).

My work clothes are laid out over the arm on the left, and my running kit on the seat.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Simples: a simple living challenge

Since I started this blog, I've been on a journey. The focus has shifted slightly but significantly.

When I started writing, I wanted to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. But I quickly found that as soon as any conflict arose, I abandoned by alleged green principles. Green is awesome, but I wasn't about to turn down an invitation to spend a month in Argentina with my boyfriend to meet his parents and his friends. Plus I love hot baths too much.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Making me smile today

::Chamomile tea with meringue and raisin biscuit::

::The Good Life Christmas Special::

::Watching Christmas stockings come alive::

::Warm, fluffy socks::

And to whoever was playing the bagpigpes in Place Luxembourg this morning, thank you! You made my day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

No-poo update: Month Two

I'm now just coming up to the end of the second month and the beginning of the third month of no-poo - of this attempt at it, anyway!

After washing hair but before brushing

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Car-free Sunday

This morning, I woke up, and it felt different. Odd. Weird.


Then my boyfriend commented that today is an auto-free day. Ahah!

As a city dweller who grew up in a more suburban, almost rural environment, I miss quiet, reflective days. I miss sitting on a fence listening to the wind in the trees. But today, I don't miss the countryside as much as I normally do. Brussels is a very green city, with plenty of parks and trees and people-spaces, but today without the cars, it's blissful. It feels quiet and calm and restful, tranquil and pensive. And there are so many people. People on rented bicycles, walking, playing with their children in the streets.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Start as you mean to go on

Best way to start the weekend, methinks? Meringues that have been in the oven overnight, and a pot of fresh coffee. I feel so decadent! Let's hope this continues.

I have been mulling recently about building routines that work for me.

I have observed a pattern in my behaviour, when it comes to keeping my space (both home and work) tidy, organised and clean. I have a period of enthusiasm lasting maybe 2 weeks to one month, in which I keep everything immaculate and find endless energy for sorting old piles and tackling odd jobs that build up.

This is followed by a period of one to two months of sloth and lethargy, when I can see that the floor needs to be hoovered and my intray at work piles higher and higher, but for some reason I let it get on top of me.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bitten by the baking bug

So what is it about Great British Bake Off that has me dusting off my apron and tutting at the poor array of baking equipment in my cupboard? (Seriously. Can't even do a Victoria sponge.) 

I seem to have been bitten by the baking bug. In the last week, I have made: one loaf of white bread with linseeds (and who'd have thought that the humble linseed could so totally transform bread?); one batch of rotis, ginger and oat cookies, chocolate chip and walnut biscuits, and now I have a teeny tiny batch of meringues in the oven. I've never made meringues before, but I've been meaning to try for a while, and with an egg white left over from the biscuits, I thought - why not? The world's smallest batch of meringue ever made. Fingers crossed they come out well.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

It's working!

I have been experimenting with no-poo methods again. The summer is a good time to do this - with fewer conferences and everyone on holidays, I can go to work with greasy hair and not worry. And I have finally, FINALLY reached a stable, clean-looking no poo solution.



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