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Earth Hour 2016

Shortly it will be time for #EarthHour here in the UK, starting at 8.30pm GMT, and I’ve just been getting my candles ready.  Earth Hour - candles

Earth Hour asks you to switch off your lights for an hour in a symbolic gesture against climate change. It was started by the WWF in Sydney in 2007 and has since spread across the globe.

The hope is that the message goes further than just this one hour – how can everyone do something to help against climate change? Even little things can help turn the tide.

Earth Hour - stag
I certainly can do more – we don’t recycle as much as we should, and we could definitely reduce our electricity usage. It’s something I’m going to try and be better at in the future.

I hope you’re turning off your lights too.

#ChangeClimateChange

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How to declutter

I seem to accumulate a lot of stuff.

For a fair sized one bedroom flat we surprisingly have next to no built in storage – just one cupboard – and it all just seems to take over sometimes. This is not to say I help in any way: I’ve always been a prolific shopper, ever since I got my first part time job as a teenager. I’ve curbed this a lot in recent months though; I’ve tried to cut down and started to get rid of things we no longer need.

Flat - lots of stuff!
See all those books piled on the bookcase on the corner?! ^_^

Now that it’s the spring, that age old idea of ‘spring cleaning’ has made me decide to do an even bigger clear out over the next few weeks, so while I’m no expert (my husband will testify to that!!) I thought it might be useful to give you a low down on what I’ve learnt about downsizing your stuff.

 

Be realistic and ruthless

If there’s one thing I can tell you from personal experience, it’s this. Try to look at everything with as unemotional an eye as possible – easier said than done, I know, but ask yourself some questions, and you might find it easier:

  1. When did you last use this?
  2. When will you next use it (honestly?)
  3. Is it contributing to your quality of life?
  4. Will you miss it if it’s gone?

I didn’t do this initially and it’s taken much longer than it should have done to get this far. Try to only take a few seconds to decide on each item.

 

Test yourself

So, you’ve done the above. You probably have ‘Keep’, ‘Throw’ and ‘Maybe’ piles. Now’s the time to really test your resolve. With the ‘Keep’ and ‘Maybe’ piles, I suggest you put all of it away for a couple of weeks, and then ask yourself the questions above again. You might be surprised by the answers.

 

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

Now, what to do with the stuff you don’t want?

There are lots of options:

GIVE 

Charity – local stores will accept donations (but please drop off bags when the store is open) and some will collect from your doorstep – speak to your local branches.

Friends – Would your friends or family make use of it? Is it in good enough condition to give as a present at their next birthday or Christmas? otherwise, just hold a ‘jumble sale’ and let them help themselves.

SELL 

Boot Sale – during the summer. This can cost anything from a few quid to over £10 for a pitch – I suggest sharing with a friend unless you have lots to sell. I did two last year and was amazed at how much I was able to get rid of. Clothes sold more easily than I anticipated and I sold all of my silver jewellery in the first 5 minutes at 7am!

eBay – obviously. This has been a go to for years. However I should point out that they have changed their billing model not so long ago, meaning there are now no listing fees, but you pay a ‘final value fee’ on everything you sell (not just in certain categories like it used to be) AND you also pay the final value fee on the postage. This can easily leave you out of pocket if you’re not careful to price up correctly. Don’t forget to include your packaging costs into your postage charge too.

Preloved UK – Possibly slightly less well known, it’s also free to list on here though there are premium options which may help your stuff get sold quicker – the Premium Membership (a year’s membership is £25 but get 4 extra months free via this link using code: PREM4FREE) gets you full page ads, unlimited photos, the ability to add links and videos, among other things.

Gumtree – free to list, though there are options to upgrade ads by paying should you wish to. For me it’s lost some of it’s sparkle in recent years and I’ve found selling things elsewhere much easier.

MusicMagpie / Zapper – Similar but not the same. With MusicMagpie you can sell DVDs, CDs and games as well as electronics and mobile phones; Zapper accepts books, DVDs, CDs and games, mobiles and electronics – and Lego® (?!). You’re not going to get loads for each item but a good option if you just want to get rid.

Shpock – my new favourite. I’ve both bought and sold on here and it’s really easy. It’s all done via an app rather than online, and I love the layout. The offer system is really simple and clear and there’s a real mixture of stuff on here – their tagline is ‘the boot sale app’ – which means that almost anything might sell. As it’s free to list, anything is worth a try!

 

Repeat this process a few times a year

As I mentioned earlier I struggled to get into the swing of doing this and have found myself doing it multiple times. To be honest it’s worked out for the best in a way as it’s forced me to constantly re-evaluate. I have a big pile of things to put up for sale so I’ll be working through this in the next few weeks!

 

Do you have any tips for me?! 🙂

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2nd Wedding Anniversary: Cotton

Last month we celebrated our two year wedding anniversary. TWO YEARS! Can you believe it. I look at pictures of that perfect day and I’m just filled with so much joy. There’s no other word for it.

Wedding - Oaks Farm
© Foden Photography

I decided that I’d like to stick to traditional wedding presents, so this year it was time for Cotton. If you don’t know what this is all about, here are the traditional UK wedding presents for the first 10 years of marriage:

  1. Paper
  2. Cotton
  3. Leather
  4. Fruit, Flowers
  5. Wood
  6. Sugar
  7. Wool, Copper
  8. Salt / Bronze, Pottery (depending where you read!)
  9. Copper / Willow, Pottery (depending where you read!)
  10. Tin

Gift giving on anniversaries dates back to around the Middle Ages, and supposedly in some forms back to the Roman Empire; however, the above is all a twentieth century concoction – for commercial reasons, no doubt. Even so, it’s nice to have a guide, though the Sugar and Salt ones won’t be easy…!

Last year for Paper I bought Martin a (paper) ticket to a football match with his friends – this year I wanted to do something slightly more romantic, so I headed over to Etsy. Etsy is a treasure trove for unusual presents, and I eventually stumbled onto FinchandCotter, a store based in Michigan, USA.

I liked the idea of our first dance song lyrics printed on something, and FinchandCotter do both wall hangings and cushions. I loved both, but we happened to be looking for a new cushion and I figured we’d see that much more than if it were a hanging in our bedroom, so the cushion it was! Our first dance was to Stay With You, by John Legend. The song was released not long after we got together and it was the soundtrack to the early part of our relationship, so a natural choice for our first dance together as husband and wife.

Here’s the final product, hand designed, printed and sewn all the way from Chicago. Definitely more romantic than a football ticket (though knowing my football loving husband, he’d probably disagree…!) It’s made of a seriously sturdy cotton,  and has an envelope opening at the back. I got ours in the 16″x20″ size and it is pretty big, but I quite like that – though it does come in 12″x18″ if that’s more your thing. You can choose from two different colours of cotton and loads of colours of text, and the order process was really smooth. I highly recommend them if you’re looking for an unusual anniversary gift!

FinchandCotter - Song Lyric Cushion 1

FinchandCotter - Song Lyric Cushion 2

FinchandCotter - Song Lyric Cushion 3

FinchandCotter - Song Lyric Cushion 5

FinchandCotter - Song Lyric Cushion 4

FinchandCotter - Song Lyric Cushion 6

 

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Lust List: George Home – Spring / Summer Collection

It’s been a while since I did one of these Lust Lists – something I meant to become a regular thing…

Shrug
Source

George Home at ASDA recently sent me a newsletter and within 30 seconds, I realised I basically want. it. all. Disastrous when you’re meant to be watching your spending…! We have a lot of improvement work to do to our flat this year so really, I shouldn’t be buying more cushions. Or duvet covers. Or light fittings. But…. it’s all improvement, right? It’ll make it look pretty, so that makes it okay, RIGHT?!

I hope so. Take a look at my favourites, below.

George Home at ASDA Lust List – March 2015:

George Home Purple Glass Pot Lamp
George Home Purple Glass Pot Lamp – £15
George Home Wire Basket
George Home Wire Basket – £7
George Home Hello Sailor Cushion
George Home Hello Sailor Cushion – £5
George Home Good Morning Sunshine Rise and Shine Mugs
George Home “Good Morning Sunshine” & “Rise and Shine” Mugs, Set of 4 – £5
George Home Watercolour Floral Duvet Cover
George Home Watercolour Duvet Cover – £15 (double)
George Home Smoked Glass Ball Pendant
George Home Smoked Glass Ball Pendant – £20
George Home Indigo Ombre Cushion
George Home Indigo Ombre Cushion – £7
George Home White Pendant Lantern
George Home Square White Metal Pendant Light Shade – £20
George Home Vintage Mirror
George Home Vintage Cream Mirror – £12
George Home NYC Map Duvet Set
George Home NYC Map Duvet Set – £15 (double)
George Home Octopus Cushion
George Home Octopus Cushion – £7

 

Is there anything here that takes your fancy? Seen something I’ve missed?

Let me know in the Comments section below.

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Kitchen Upgrade – The Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri*

You may or may not know that hubby & I bought a flat in 2011. It’s a lovely little place – one bedroom, right by our local high street, a miniscule amount of outside space. We decorated when we moved in, and over time have slowly been upgrading our furniture and fittings as we’ve gone along. One area we’ve not shown a massive amount of love until fairly recently was our kitchen – relatively ironic, considering my husband is a chef! For some reason it always ended up further down the list, until we decided last year to try to get our act together.

We started by deciding to paint our severely 80’s “pine” laminate cabinets to bring them a bit more up to date, and got a new light fixture for the seating area to match the new door handles. I’ll do another post in more detail on these updates soon once we’ve finished Phase 2 in a few months – also known as “getting rid of that awful plastic sink”!

Here’s the list of things still left to do:

  • Paint the cabinets
  • Replace the cabinet handles
  • Update lampshade
  • Replace the sink & taps
  • Either replace or trim the worktop to enable us to…
  • …Replace the cooker (which was left by the previous owners and is an awful, old, slimline cooker)
  • New tiles? (still deciding on this one)
  • Replace the blind
  • Replace the net curtains
  • Upgrade all of our cooking equipment

On the last point, we’ve picked up bits and bobs over the years but are still using the stainless steel pan set we bought when we first moved in to a rented flat in 2010. Don’t get me wrong; they’ve lasted well and no doubt would for years to come, but we dream of good quality pans! Non-stick coatings! Ah, how life changes as you get old, eh?

So, when Moderna Housewares offered to send me the Ozeri Stone Earth Pan* to try, it was almost like fate! We’ve been using it for a month or so now, so can give our honest opinion.

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 1

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 2

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 5

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 8

This pan is FAB. It’s that simple! The pan we have is 26cm (10in) which is a more than adequate size for our 2 person household, though considering the depth of the pan (about 5 cm!) it can accommodate a lot more besides – making it great for big curries, bolognese and so on as it can hold a great amount of food and sauce! It’s made using Stonehenge®, an “ultra-safe, 100% PFOA-free non-stick stone coating from Germany”. You may not realise but most household cooking equipment with non-stick coatings contain PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid); while the effects of low doses on humans is still disputed, studies have shown links to high cholesterol, and high doses have lead to cancer among other things in animal testing. I never had a clue this was the case, so I’m glad this trial opened my eyes and definitely something I will think about going forward.

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 4

The non-stick coating really is impressive. Compared to our stainless steel pans, where it is a constant battle, this is like a dream. The inner is made from heavy-gauge die-cast aluminium and the base is magnetised (so those who use induction hobs are safe), allowing the heat to be distributed evenly and quickly. As promised in the description, I’ve not noticed any “hot spots” which is often the case with our stainless steel pans on our electric hob. We’ve definitely noticed that food cooks more quickly and as it’s so balanced across the pan it’s much less stressful to use (particularly for a novice cook like me!)

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 3

The heat-resistant silicon handle is an added bonus, as my husband often moves food straight from the hob into the oven. Maybe the only downside to the pan is that it can’t go in the dishwasher. First world problems or what?! As it happens, cleaning it by hand is really easy – I guess another nod to the non-stick coating.

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 6

There was an extra in the box that I wasn’t expecting and haven’t seen before – a thick felt pan protector. Even though the durable coating means it is less likely to scratch than other pans anyway, this is still a genius addition and another hint at the quality of the pan that the manufacturers have thought about this sort of thing!

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 7

We would highly recommend the Stone Earth Pan* by Ozeri and look forward to expanding our set to some of the other products in their range at some point in the future! Check them out here on Amazon.

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Lust List: IKEA – Feb 14

The new Spring collection has just launched at IKEA, and after receiving a newsletter about it, I immediately went to the site to check it out. It made me realise just how long it’s been since I last went to IKEA (maybe two or three Christmases ago?!)

Since then, there’s some lovely things that suit the look we’re going to be going for with our home. I’m coveting all sorts of things from the new stock as well as the old, and when the budget allows, may have to take a trip down to Croydon…

IKEA Lust List – Feb 14:

RÖDBINKA - IKEA duvet set
RÖDBINKA Quilt cover and 4 pillowcases, white, floral patterned – £45
SKÄRBLAD Cushion cover
SKÄRBLAD – IKEA Cushion cover, £4
Stockholm Rug
STOCKHOLM Rug, flatwoven, net pattern, yellow – £160
FOTO Pendant Lamp
FOTO Green Pendant Lamp – £12
HENNY RAND Curtains
HENNY RAND Curtains, 1 pair, white/brown, grey – £30
HJÄLMAREN Laundry bag
HJÄLMAREN Laundry bag with stand, white – £35
STORJORM Mirror cabinet
STORJORM Mirror cabinet 2 door/built-in lighting, white – £150
LYCKAD Oven/serving dish set
LYCKAD Oven/serving dish set of 2, green – £8
STRANDMON Wing chair
STRANDMON Wing chair, Svanby grey – £195

The grey winged armchair would be a perfect piece of furniture for our living room!

What are your favourite pieces from the IKEA range?

*All images copyright IKEA

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