22 May 2015

Happy Friday Links

I've got some inspiring links to share with you today that have caught my eye, touched my heart and kept me going with my simplifying practice. 

These bluebells are from our local woods. 

We only started walking through these woods when we moved to our current home 3 years ago yet it's just minutes from the house my dad grew up in (he was brought up by his paternal grandparents). It's so lovely to have this connection with him.

So, this week's links:

  • The clean, vintage and minimal home of Audrey Bodisco via Wild Poppy. I love the simple kitchen.
  • Magic of Tidying Up? From An Exacting Life. Dar's thoughts on Marie Kondo are a great read and just hearing Kondo's name makes me want to jump up and go tidy my sock drawer. Yes the KonMari way... I'm learning the method slowly. 
  • How to Let Go of Attachments and Find More Ease by Always Well Within. Good advice on how to form non-attachment to material possessions, emotions and even our bodies. 
  • Leo's post Feeling Determined to Change was timely as I began The Welcome to Now Project this week. 6 ideas to create an environment for change.
  • The Time In Between Silver Gilt medal winning garden for this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show has stolen my heart. Australian designer Charlie Albone lost his father as a child and has designed this garden as a place to meet his father now he is a man, husband and father of two. The symbolism of the different elements of the garden are powerful with a water feature evoking the suddenness of death, a wide path for father, son and grandchildren to walk along and a fire pit representing his wife as the centre of his life. These global plants and colours would work well in my garden. 

I hope you enjoy these links as much as I have.

I'll be back over the weekend with more from The Welcome to Now Project. Thank you for all your support this week and good luck with the project. Go gently xo

19 May 2015

The Welcome to Now Project: Week 1

Thanks so much for your encouragement with The Welcome to Now Project and welcome to all those who have decided to join in - I'm sure it'll be worth it. Yesterday was a positive start for me and I feel full of motivation to get moving with the 4 areas. So here are my plans for week 1. It's all about dipping my toes in and then taking the plunge.

1. The-once-and-for-all-declutter. This week I'm teaching 3½ days so I won't have much time to declutter. However, on my full day off I'm going to go into the loft and remove the large, easy to clear bits of clutter (unused furniture, cardboard boxes etc.). The reason I'm going to attack the loft first is because it's probably the most cluttered area of the house and according to feng shui (which I'm beginning to read about) it's best to tackle those areas that are most disorganised first. I also have half empty boxes from our 2012 house move so I'm going to consolidate those boxes. My visit to the loft will also be about assessing what's there so that I can plan what to declutter next. Afterwards I'll visit the tip/recycling centre with the debris and also my favourite charity shop as my son has returned from uni and has willingly edited his clothes (he has more clothes than anyone else in our family). On work days I'll aim to do a 30 minute declutter each evening in the kitchen attacking drawers, cupboards and any paperwork that's lingering. At the weekend I'll spend a few more hours with my husband streamlining our kitchen crockery, pans and glassware. 

2. Be Fabulous. My mornings will start with a drink of hot water and lemon and a short meditation (2-5 minutes). These are habits I've been forming over recent months that I want to establish as daily practice. Hopefully, healthy morning habits will lead to good choices throughout the rest of the day such as drinking plenty of water. This week my aim is to walk for 25 minutes a day either with my husband during his lunch break (he works from home) or after work before we eat. Walking is gentle exercise but also a really good way to unwind. We walk most days but not everyday so this week I'm going to be more disciplined. I'm going to increase my running sessions from 2 to 3 times a week but I'm going to make this 3rd run a short one (15 minutes) to avoid injury. I'll also try and plan some healthy meals for later on in the project. I'm working on ways of reducing sugar and have already ditched artificial sweeteners, diet drinks and tomato ketchup. 

3. Finding Focus.  I'm not the most organised of people and often keep my to-do list in my head. For week 1 of The Welcome to Now Project I'm going to try to write manageable to-do lists and power through these items before I allow myself any time online. I'm going to put my laptop to bed earlier and and give myself at least an hour to unwind before bed.  

4. Try Something New.  I'm going to read a book about mindfulness meditation Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, find out more about feng shui and plan something fun for the weekend. I'm not quite sure what but I I know there's enough mint in the garden for our first mojito of the year.

Have you any plans to get started with decluterring or build new habits this week? Is there anything you can't wait to cross off your to-do list? Please share and don't forget to reward yourself and allow time for rest too. 

Welcome to week 1 of The Welcome to Now Project. I'll be back with an update later in the week and will be using instagram to track my progress too. 

18 May 2015

The Welcome to Now Project

We all have dreams of getting fit, having more time and trying new ideas but do we ever get anywhere near to achieving our goals?

I regularly write about my goals but I feel that I want to give my goal setting more structure. The Welcome to Now Project is a self-improvement project I've set myself (you can follow my progress or join me at any stage). It's all about taking action today by making small changes to make future dreams a reality.

I'm creating a straightforward and user-friendly approach to finding new motivation and achieving quick results by working on 4 areas for 4 weeks. 

The Welcome to Now Project is a personal experiment and challenge but by writing about it I will be accountable to you and hopefully find new motivation to keep going. I might also inspire you to join in. Initially, I'm going to try this project for just 4 weeks (starting today and ending on June 15th). I'll be updating you regularly and evaluating the project at the end. Who knows where it'll lead?

My goal is to live a simpler life unclouded by distractions, confusion and clutter (both mental and physical), to be healthier and to spend time doing the things I really want to do. I guess that pretty much sums up my approach to minimalism. 

Through the experience of downsizing my home, changing job and re-evaluating my values I have improved my life considerably over the past 5 years. I've developed confidence to take risks and make changes that I would never have thought possible a few years ago. But I still have residual clutter that I feel is holding me back and unfulfilled dreams that never seem to get off the ground. 

Why 'Welcome to Now'? Because I believe we have to accept and love ourselves as we are today. There's no point in looking back at past failures or wishing for a mythical future when we'll be stronger, have more time and more motivation to change our lives. That's never going to happen. The best time to start is now. Every week we have just 168 hours at our disposal including sleep! We need to choose how to spend that time wisely.

The Welcome to Now Project is a mindset, an affirmation and a way of giving some oomph to those brilliant ideas that you already have deep in your heart but you're just too frightened to try. 

Here are the areas I'm going to work on for the next 4 weeks:

1. The-once-and-for-all-declutter. Clearing clutter creates a calmer home and mind. By removing the excess from our lives we can be more open to new direction and ready to explore new horizons. We can be bolder and braver in life, think more clearly and really move onwards with our plans. I regularly declutter but I still have a long decluttering to-do list which I'm never going to break the back of unless I take serious action and make time for a huge purge. Now is the time to declutter. 

2. Be Fabulous. Enjoy exercise, sit still for less, make healthier food choices and try meditation. Maybe have a style refresh. Find pleasure in everyday things and be a glass half-full type of person. It's all about attitude.

3. Find Focus. Learn to set limits on online time, prioritise tasks and take baby steps towards new projects. 

4. Try Something New. It's time to try new things, read something inspiring, learn a new skill and and have some fun.

Each week I'll reveal my plans for each area. Alongside this I'll be writing about time management, mindfulness, nutrition and anything else that is a useful tool in moving forward.

Please feel free to join me with The Welcome to Now Project. 

Together might be easier. 

You could choose to join me on all 4 areas or just pick 1 or 2. I believe any changes I make will have a positive impact on my life and will take me forward. I'll share my successes as well as my failures. You might have your own ideas to work on in each of these areas – I'd love to hear about them. If you have any ideas or questions about this project please let me know so I can be of more help to you. 

Let's do this!  

Fast forward 4 weeks. How do you want to feel? How do you want to look? What do you want to be proud of? Do you want to be the best you you've ever been? Is it finally time to let go and start living your dream?

The Welcome to Now Project has begun!

16 May 2015

A Weekend in the Peak District

The Swallows Nest in Monyash, Derbyshire was our home last weekend. A chance to get away and explore the Peak District, a beautiful area of the UK, which is just an hours' drive from our home in Staffordshire. Weary from the rain we arrived to find our tiny luxury B & B the perfect bolthole.  

Vintage G-plan furniture (this painted drinks station plus a sideboard and mirror), a muted palette of coastal colours and the luxury of underfloor heating; at every turn this tiny space thrilled me.

A beautifully made bed is one of my favourite pleasures and I can tell you this one was just as comfortable as it looks. After a good night's rest and a magnificent cooked breakfast we set off in search of Bakewell pudding. It had to be done. The road to Bakewell took us on a twisty-turny drive with beautiful white limestone dry stone walls framing the dramatic landscape (this area is also called the White Peak District because of the colour of its stone). Bakewell is a small market town and very pretty. 

This pudding from this deli had the shortest pastry we've ever tasted.

We also bought a Derbyshire pasty to fuel our afternoon's walk through Lathkill Dale. We certainly needed the energy as it was much hillier than we'd anticipated. Lathkill Dale is just minutes away from where we stayed and one of the country's finest limestone valleys. Its sharp sides encase clear streams, mossy rocks, woodlands, grasslands and evidence of lead mining. It's part of the Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve and every climb gave us breathtaking views and every descent unveiled a new wonder. The sky, landscape and wild flowers were stunning.

We had directions for a route with instructions such as 'continue over the next 5 stiles'. Along the way we saw fields dotted with wild orchids and dandelions.

Down in the valley we saw banks of cowslips, bluebells, campion and wood anemones.

We finished our walk on the opposite side of the dale where sheep and a lone horse silhouetted the skyline. This reminded us of a scene from Poldark.

The village was very peaceful and luckily had a thriving pub just opposite the village green which we ate at both evenings. 

Our host Suzanne at the B & B was very relaxed and friendly delivering our breakfasts through the hatch from her adjoining barn (Swallow Barn) in pjs. How clever is that. A self-contained B & B with a serving hatch. There was plenty of chat about families, interior design and future plans. Oh, and here's Suzanne's chocolate cake that greeted us on arrival. My wasitline is just recovering a week later. 

I loved our bedroom window. 

We had plans to visit Chatsworth House on Sunday but were drawn back to Lathkill Dale instead. This time we drove to Over Haddon to start our walk and saw more of the river Lathkill. It's full of character with weirs and gorgeous crystal clear water. 

This dreamy house was nestled deep in the valley. Imagine living here. Further on we were mesmerised by large ripples in the water which led us to spot a trout which you may just be able to make out. 

These are my last views of Lathkill Dale. Add warm sunlight, birdsong and gentle gurgling water. Is it any wonder we were reluctant to leave. I'm so glad we chose a nature break instead of a city break.

Just to let you know this is not a sponsored post - we treated ourselves to these two wonderful days away. I hope you don't mind the photo overload. I couldn't whittle it down any further.

15 May 2015

Happy Friday Links

Hiya! Here's my pick from this week's online adventuring. Today's selection includes a new UK blogger writing about decluttering, some beautiful images and some style inspiration from ordinary (but uber cool) women. 

I hope these links inspire you. I'll be back over the weekend with news of our Peak District mini break and then next week it's time to start afresh with my new project. Thanks for all your feedback. It's good to hear what you're interested in reading.

Right, I'm off to trim my mum's hair (second time, I can't be too bad).

Have a lovely weekend xo

11 May 2015

Minimalist Monday: A New Start

Almost 5 years ago I had an epiphany. I discovered minimalism and started reducing my possessions, my workload and my commitments. You can read how it started here.

Since 2012 I've been writing about my minimalist journey here at Just a little less and sharing it with you. I do this because I'm passionate about simplifying and also because I love writing, photography and the interaction I get from readers. I've learnt so much from you it's amazing. 

This weekend I've had another epiphany of sorts. Taking time away from routine, familiar surroundings and spending less time online has led me to realise that I need to start working on fresh ideas that I have for this blog. Now. 

My plans include a thorough (once and for all) declutter of my home (before the school summer holidays in 10 weeks time) and writing about different aspects of well-being. As I approach 50 this is becoming more important to me. 

It's a personal project but one I hope you can follow and join in with too. All will be revealed soon.

I need to be accountable and also to remain true to the original intention I had for this blog which was to inspire others. 

Many things about Just a little less will remain the same, don't worry, but I just wanted to let you know where I'm coming from in case you notice a slight shift. If you have any questions please ask!

Have a great week. Be happy xo


8 May 2015

Happy Friday Links

Have you had a good week? I hope so. And have you anything planned for the weekend? Hubs and I are escaping this weekend for a little break in the country (more photos like this one above next week). I think I need my bed after getting up early this morning to watch the UK election results unfold. Quite a few hats being eaten after some surprising results (on Woman's Hour Jenni Murray suggested marzipan ones which made me smile). I'm proud of my vote even though it didn't make an impression, grateful for the right to vote and for everyone else who turned out to vote. 

So, onto this week's links. Inspiring, interesting, informative.... I hope there's something here for you. Thank you for reading, following, commenting and contacting me. It's always great to hear from you.

7 life changing tips to heal your IBS from Madeleine Shaw
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying ANYTHING by the Skint Dad blog
Why tidying up could change your life via The Guardian
Why this 29 yr old has given up relationships and sex to become a nun via Cosmopolitan 
From Clutter and Depression to Minimalism and Contentment by nourishing minimalism

I hope you enjoy these!

4 May 2015

Minimalist Monday: 5 Tips for Maintaining a Minimalist Wardrobe

Minimalist wardrobes are pretty awesome and inspiring. But how easy is it to stick to one once you've settled on your items or pressed publish on your minimalist wardrobe blog post? Self doubt can kick in (austerity in your wardrobe are you mad?). It's so easy to relax the the number of items in your wardrobe. After all 40 items or less can look lonely and it's so easy to take pity on stray garments that come your way, look you in the eye and somehow connive their way onto a spare hanger. Yes, maintaining a minimalist wardrobe takes discipline. But it can be done. Here's 5 simple tips to help. 

1. Go shopping less often. Ideally go shopping for clothes twice a year. Shop purposefully with a wish list. If you feel tempted to buy something wait 24 hours, then a week, then a month and the desire for that item often disappears. Remember that you already have a well put together minimalist wardrobe to cover your clothing needs. Put anything you still desire on a wish list. 

2. Have fun. A minimalist wardrobe doesn't have to be totally monochrome. You can have colour, pattern and quirky details in your wardrobe and having them can make all the difference to making a minimalist wardrobe work. If you desire some colour go for colour in a dress as this is a stand alone piece that only has to coordinate with footwear and a coat. It's an easy way to add pizzazz to your minimalist wardrobe and make your wardrobe a happy place.  

3. Stick to some rules. Set a limit for your wardrobe size. Mine is 40 yours might be more or less. Use the 1 in 1 out rule to maintain the size of your wardrobe. Apply the 2 to 1 ratio of tops to bottoms rule to have versatility and balance in your wardrobe. Try following other rules like not shopping in the sales or aiming to have just 1 of some items such as 1 handbag, 1 pair of gloves or 1 winter scarf.

4. Get rid of items you've stored away. If you have stored some 'just in case' items of clothing away in the process of creating your minimalist wardrobe after 6 months try and get rid of the boxed up items. If you've not missed the items (and can be brave and ruthless) get rid of the boxes without looking in them. If you must take a peek don't save everything, salvage several items to store for longer but get rid of the rest. Your aim is to own only the items in your wardrobe and not have extra boxes of clothes in storage in your home. The temptation to raid a box of clothing is never far away and you could easily end up with an expanding wardrobe if you start raiding clothes that are in storage. Soon you could back to where you started with a bursting wardrobe. Not a good result. 

5. Be happy with what you've got. Working towards having the ideal wardrobe takes time so don't expect every item to be perfect. Instead make the most of what you've got. Some items might not be the right colour or as versatile as you'd like but stick with them until you can afford to improve these pieces. Use the information you've learned from wearing 'not quite right' clothes to make more purposeful purchases in the future. Be happy with the progress you've made to date even if your minimalist wardrobe is not finished. Be kind to yourself if you make mistakes and believe that one day you'll create a minimalist  wardrobe. Be happy with the extra time and energy not having to maintain a large wardrobe gives you. Use this time to nurture yourself taking time for your health and relationships all of which can improve how you feel and look. Looking good isn't just about what you wear it comes from the inside too. 

More important than anything in your minimalist wardrobe is having a healthy and happy relationship with yourself. Take care and have fun xo

1 May 2015

Happy Friday Links

My, oh my it's May. How happy that makes me feel. This is one of my favourite months, a time of growth, hope and light. I love the lighter mornings, watching nature bloom and the energy I feel at this time of year.  

Here's my pick of interesting reads. I hope they inspire you to live well with a little less. Whether that's less air miles in your shopping basket, embracing small space living or managing information overload. 

Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my signature style post. It was so lovely to read your comments. 

Happy weekending!