27 April 2015

Minimalist Monday: Signature Style Revisited


Living with less items of clothing makes me feel calmer and I actually feel liberated by having less choice. I take pride in what I wear and enjoy my organised and low maintenance wardrobe space. 

Having worked so hard at clearing my closet I feel invincible to any future clothing temptation. 

Sales. Pah! 
Advertising. You're kidding! 
Ebay. Too busy meditating! 
Charity shops. Moi, I only donate!

I arrived at my 40 piece minimalist wardrobe feeling smugly safe from future clothing storms on the horizon. 

Colour theme: Sorted.
Style: Sorted
Ratio of tops to bottoms 2:1 Sorted.
Weather conditions: Sorted.
Lifestyle: Sorted

But like any decision to minimalise a part of your life you can occasionally doubt your actions. 

Questions, doubts and FEAR began to threaten the calm oasis of my minimalist wardrobe.

The trouble started when I began to compare my selection to others. “There's not enough monochrome! “ “I don't have (or recognise) any designer labels.” “10 items! Yikes.” 

It was almost enough to drive me to throw in the towel, rush to the shops and buy my way out of confusion. 

But then I gave my querulous self a pep talk. "What about your unique signature style? The style you've perfected and pimped for years and which permeates your very aura. Stick with it. It'll outlive any new trend and what suits another person might not suit you."

Signature style.

It takes one outfit. One necklace. One pair of boots. A colour that really suits you. A fabric that makes you feel sassy. An accessory that makes you smile.

So, my signature style outfit. 

The mustard dress (in the photo) came from a charity shop (via H & M). I wasn't planning to buy a new dress/tunic but my old favourite had finally bitten the dust and been sent for recycling. I spotted the mustard dress as soon as I stepped into the store (with my mum) and after trying it on I was smitten (the subtle pattern, the pockets, the fit and flare). My owl necklace is an old charity shop find (that survives every jewellery edit), the bracelets were a Mother's Day present and the boots and tights came from M &S bought with vouchers from Christmas and my birthday.

How very rock 'n' roll? No! 

How very me? Yes!

OK, so I do wear lots of separates but I love a tunic or dress to wear with boots (flat or small heel). As a one piece outfit there's no need to coordinate or worry about silhouettes. The only decision to make is whether to team it with tights or leggings. This type of outfit fits my lifestyle and I can wear it for lots of different occasions. The colour almost put me off (not my usual) but sometimes it's good to break the rules. Choosing an outfit that makes you happy and you know you'll wear again again makes sense. 

Your signature style might be different. So you only wear jeans and jumpers. Or purple. Or hoodies. So what?

This should be part of your capsule wardrobe. You're unique and so is your signature style. Don't copy anybody else's and don't feel intimidated by natty fashionistas either. Your style can be classy, colourful or contradictory. It doesn't matter as long as it suits you and your budget.

Because. I like your signature style. I don't care where it came from, how long you've owned it, how much it cost or if it's all you own. It's possibly not perfect. But it's you. And I'd be so sad to see it go. Don't edit it out.

Yes, we all need wardrobe staples, separates and neutral pieces. It's good to build them into your wardrobe and buy them when you can afford to. But don't ditch your signature style in the vain pursuit of perfection. Forget labels, trends, what everyone else is wearing. It's your style that counts. 

Perfect it, experiment with it, hone it and you won't need anything else in your wardrobe.






24 April 2015

Happy Friday Links


It's that time of the week again, yay! And I'm very happy to share a few links that I think you'll enjoy. 


Happy weekending and thanks as always for reading, following and commenting xo



20 April 2015

Minimalist Monday: A Morning Post


This morning I've been lucky enough to be at home for a few hours before teaching this afternoon. I don't routinely work Mondays unless I'm called in for supply work at the school I now work at. Working a half day gives me less time for myself but I probably use the time more productively. This morning I've

  • cleared up the kitchen after having family round yesterday
  • made lunches for myself, my husband and son
  • hung out a load of washing to dry outside
  • ironed 1 pair of jeans, 3 t-shirts and 1 pair of shorts (the ironing basket is now empty)
  • decluttered my school bag
  • read through this afternoon's lesson plan and made sure I've got everything ready
  • had a chat over coffee with my husband who works from home
  • read a few new blog posts including my regular Monday morning Real Life Minimalists


I should be able to leave work on time this afternoon as it's a practical lesson. Home in time to fetch in the washing, drop my son off for a piano lesson and visit my mum for a cup of tea before picking him up again half an hour later. Then it's home to get tea ready (left-overs from our entertaining yesterday). 

This evening my plan is to organise and box up our remaining CDs to sell via musicMagpie. I shall read this evening, check my school work for tomorrow and maybe watch something on TV. 

No need to write a blog post this evening as it's already done. 

Just an ordinary Monday but very different to the frantic Mondays I used to have just a few years ago. Life is still busy but more enjoyable than when I worked full-time. I've come a long way, feel grateful for all the changes in my life and the slower pace I have every day. Right I'm off to work now.

Have a good week xo

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17 April 2015

Happy Friday Links

Learning about ourselves and others is a lifelong process. And we can continue to learn and be inspired by others even after their time on Earth is over. The way we live our lives can be as much a legacy as any financial assets we leave behind.

This week we received some heartwarming news from the funeral directors. Details of the donations given to Parkinsons UK were included (such generous friends and family) as was something just as generous but with no monetary value whatsoever. 

Tucked inside a card were 2 poems Dad had written for his former work colleagues which still hang on the office wall. One described the beauty of the passing seasons near the river Derwent where he worked and the other was his leaving poem. We were deeply touched both by Dad's words and the respect and friendship that he cultivated at work. And we knew nothing of his poetic skills!

I can't quite express my emotions in words but discovering something wonderful about a loved one even after their passing feels extraordinary. I feel gratitude for Dad's life and for the generosity of those he knew.

I've been dwelling on my simplifying journey this week and feeling frustrated at times that my progress is slower than my 'ideal' especially when I compare myself to others. I know this isn't positive and the answer is to find my own pace, methods and motivation. 

These posts have inspired me to hold my vision tight and make the changes I dream of real.

* indicates some of my new blog discoveries that are definitely worth checking out!

With these, have a great weekend xo



12 April 2015

A Simple Easter

This Easter we tried to keep things simple with the focus on nurturing our family - young and not so young. We kept the decorations minimal with just a pretty table cloth, fresh daffodils and a few knitted chicks. All our food came from good old Aldi and was cooked with great love by Tim. We hurriedly baked some cakes - they look better than they tasted but they got eaten. Who needs mass produced perfect cakes? We had our usual fill of chocolate and moaned about the amount of packaging. Something to work on...




Time off work means time to play and I had a lovely day catching up with a school friend from sixth form. For a few hours we were tourists in the city we both spent our teenage years in and swapped notes as only friends of the same age can. 

Our next meet up is scheduled and the cake is already being discussed.

We didn't venture far over the holiday weekend but a trip to our local marina to stroll past the narrowboats was a treat. We walked from the marina into the nearby picturesque village. Old properties and quirky touches caught my eye.
On Easter Saturday our eldest turned 20 which made us feel old. A week later we visited our great nephew. With his smiles and giggles he was a great host. I tagged this photo 'hands'. Can you see why?



Today we took our eldest back to uni but stopped on the way back at one of my favourite peaceful places - The Tara Centre in Etwall, Derby. My husband jokes that I only take him there when it's raining but it was still beautiful.

I've so much to be grateful for this Easter not least my friends old and new who read Just a little less. You're all very welcome here xo



10 April 2015

Happy Friday Links: Authenticity

Welcome to my third week of Happy Friday Links. I hope you enjoy reading them - please let me know any thoughts. 

My aim is to offer some interesting reads and inspiration that might just save you endless trekking around the internet (but I know that's easier said than done and there's nothing quite like discovering a great new site/post for yourself). 

Something I've been pondering this week is authenticity. Am I living as I am because I'm trying to please others or conform to society's norms? To what extent are my lifestyle choices being influenced by trends? 

Here are my favourite clicks of the week - some of which fit in with this theme.


With these, enjoy your weekend!



6 April 2015

Minimalist Monday: Hair by Claire






I've always loved experimenting with my hair. Nothing outrageous you understand but I love the excitement of a new look. As a teenager a visit to the hairdressers was, for me, full of happy anticipation, like being in an episode of Mr. Benn and not knowing which adventure the magic changing room door would lead me to. Home perms, the Purdey and my attempt at the Bananarama look were all great fun at the time though hilarious to look back on now. I never really got the hang of hair accessories though, especially scrunchies.  

I've spent quite a lot of my hard earned money on my hair over the years. Ridiculous amounts of money really especially when I had a pixie cut that needed expensive trims every 4 or 5 weeks. Still, such short hair saved me valuable time when I was working full-time with 2 young children. 

I have until recently valued spending money on my hair and have seen it as a treat and a necessity to stay looking and feeling presentable. Since last August, though, I've felt the need to simplify my hair. To spend less time and money on my hair and less chemicals. To work towards a style that's classic and doesn't need frequent salon visits to maintain. To question the cost of beauty on my purse and the environment.

So I've been experimenting with shampooing less often, using natural hair products and ditching home hair dye. As a result of my no-poo (no shampoo) experiment last autumn I now only use organic shampoo but I still use shampoo several times a week (and the occasional egg). The truth is I missed the swish of a freshly shampooed head of hair too much to forgo shampoo completely. Maybe I'll give the experiment another go in the summer.

My natural hair colour is coming through as you can see from these photos. I have the odd panic when I catch sight of my hair under a really bright light but generally I'm OK with my 'new' older colour and so is my husband.

And to get to the point of this post here are some photos of my first attempt at cutting my own hair. It's not perfect but I'm pleased with the results. I only trimmed the ends as I'm trying to grow out the shorter layers. If you want to know how I cut it please check the links I gave in last Friday's links post.

As this is a random post I'll leave you with a few of my random thoughts. 

When I doodle I doodle hair styles.

I've always coveted a hairdresser's black wardrobe even before my interest in minimalism. 

And these days I follow Mr. Benn on Twitter. 

Have a great week xo





3 April 2015

Happy Friday Links - Unbusy Your Weekend

I do hope you find a little time for yourself this weekend. It's been a long haul to Easter hasn't it? However you spend it, enjoy the moment, take some breaks (if you've got chores to do) and make choices that'll nurture your well-being. There's a desire in many of us to switch off more yet how often do we listen to that voice? That deep desire within to be quiet can, if we make time for it, lead us to the answers we often spend hours searching for online.

If you do spend time online this weekend here's a few links that I've enjoyed and found useful this week.


With these, I wish you a refreshing Easter break xo



1 April 2015

Health Goals Update


Health seems to have been on my mind a lot recently. Maybe it's a kind of internal spring cleaning or maybe I'm panicking as I approach 50. Early in January I wrote about my health goals for the year so here's an update. 

1. Healthy work. I'm lucky that my job is mostly enjoyable and very engaging! With everything else going on over the last few months my part-time hours have allowed me plenty of respite at home to readjust to a 'new normal' without my dad. For this I'm very grateful.

2. Healthy relationships. Losing my dad at the end of January has taught me a lot about relationships. It's taught me 
  • not to take other people for granted 
  • the amazing kindness of friends and family
  • the importance of self-care in order to be able to love others
  • that life is short and is for living
  • to make more time for my husband as it's all too easy to let the romance slip (we have booked a weekend away in May)

3. Healthy finances. Our main priority is to keep our grocery shopping under control this year. Whilst progress was made in this area last year there's always room for improvement. My motivation is to waste less money; have more room in my cupboards, fridge and freezer; prove to myself that I can stick to a budget; and to use the saved money for savings and fun things for the family. Last month I set a budget and carefully recorded my grocery spending. I stayed on or under budget every week. I think the success was due to sheer determination to stick to my goal and realise the dream of having some spare cash to save and enjoy. My determination meant that I was more disciplined at stock taking, menu planning and sticking to a routine of shopping on the same days. I also avoided my favourite but expensive store. All of this took a lot of time and it became a priority over other domestic tasks like cleaning (which can always wait). Our meals have been just as yummy (especially those not made by me), our diet just as healthy and our kitchen cupboards less full. I've learnt that saving money and sticking to a budget requires determination, planning and time.

4. Healthy food. My efforts to try to improve the quality of my diet by eating more protein, good fats and less sugar have been hit and miss. It wasn't easy with all the hospital visiting in January. My diet really suffered and I consumed far too much caffeine and gourmet crisps. However, I'm getting back on track and gradually reinstating healthier choices. A great new source of inspiration is the lovely Sarah Britton who writes a blog My New Roots. I'm itching to try her Ginger-Pear Mint Smoothie (which also includes avocado). She has a new book out too packed full of inspirational and healthy recipes. During Lent I've also been moderating my alcohol intake to just 1 glass and having more alcohol free days. This has been successful and something I'm going to continue to work on. Looking back at previous health goals I realise that it's been over a year since I drank diet drinks and I've also recently given up sweeteners. It's good to look back at old goals and measure some progress although some habits do seem to take longer to form (flossing?)

5. Healthy mind. Trying to find sanctuary in this digital age (did I really write that) has also been erratic. I need to set limits to my online time, establish a more relaxing bedtime routine and also to practise meditation more regularly. There's 30 days in April so I'll let you know on how many of those days I manage to meditate. My husband is also meditating and we're finding it helpful to be able to share our progress.

6. Healthy body. My aim to run at least one half-marathon this year is going well (my last one was in 2007). I've been running twice a week since January and I can now run for 1 hour and 20 minutes. My goal of running a half-marathon is definitely motivating me. I enjoy every run once I'm out the door and I'm feeling better both physically and mentally than I was before I upped my training (I was previously running once a week). Walking with my husband is also becoming a more regular habit. He works from home and goes for a daily 25 minute walk during his lunch hour and I join him whenever I'm free. Walking side by side is a great way to share some time and switch off in the middle of the day.

7. Healthy consumerism. I've made some recent wardrobe purchases with my birthday money. I've also been given quite a few books as presents as reading is really helping me to unwind at the moment. These new additions have led to some mini-decluttering sessions which I'll update you with soon. We've also been spending a small amount of money on garden supplies for growing some veg this summer. Other than that I've made no unnecessary purchases. What I'm doing well at resisting are all the lovely but expensive home accessories I see online. Glass cloches, double sided hanging frames, designer wallpapers and gorgeous throws will have to remain on Pinterest for me. I could so easily buy these things but realise I don't actually need them. The simple/rustic/ look can be expensive and I could easily be seduced into spending money on it. I think I'll have a restyle of my current home accessories instead and maybe get creative with some homemade wall art as well. And if I do well at restraining myself from purchasing simple accoutrements I may well treat myself to some paint as I'm feeling the urge to repaint our walls. Freshly painted walls - the simplest look of all. The kitchen is first on my list. Gosh, it feels good to get my want list off my chest. 

Oh, and I cut my own hair this weekend. Several vlog tutorials and 40 minutes with some scissors and ta-dah not a bad result! I will definitely cut my own hair again when it needs it. Cutting hair is a fairly simple skill and one I'm trying to master. Do you know I felt just as good afterwards as when I visit a salon. Which just goes to show that it's not spending money, sitting in a plush hairdressers or being pampered that make me feel better - it's just getting a new look. It was also a relief not to have to discuss holidays, be encouraged to buy expensive hair products or asked if I needed any foil highlights (I don't as I'm growing out my hair colour and letting in the grey gracefully). 

Did you set any health goals this year? Do you still get spending urges? How are you getting on? It's always lovely to hear from you.

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29 March 2015

At the Weekend









Today we had a celebratory birthday meal for my mum-in-law. As we sat down there was a heavy shower of hailstones but it was soon followed by bright sunshine. Hail British Summer Time! 

I haven't taken many photos recently but this weekend I carried my camera around with me and found myself captivated by the beauty of spring and family gathering. I really enjoyed getting lost behind the lens once more. 

This weekend's highlights...

♥  A wonderfully relaxing evening last night with singer songwriter Chris Helme (formerly front man of The Seahorses). An acoustic guitar, soaring vocals and great story telling made for spellbinding music.
I brought this chick home with me from church. It was made by the 'Knit & Stitch' group to raise funds for Haiti. I have 2 others already and they all contain a chocolate egg. How could I resist?
Gluten free lemon polenta cake made by my brother-in-law's partner. The recipe is adapted from Nigella. The best lemon drizzle cake I've tasted. 
♥ My mum-in-law's pretty spring garden. The daffodils stood stoically like soldiers fighting off the fierce wind. The hyacinths are magnificent and the japonica is just opening. I'm very fond of this cheerful shrub.
Stripes on stripes. This beautiful cat was never far from us this afternoon.
Our seedlings are growing well and more will be planted this week. Our little garden is going to be well stocked this summer.

Thank you for reading, commenting and following Just a little less this week. Be well xo