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The Ultimate Guide To A Minimalist Wedding

With everything that comes with weddings these days, it is often hard to remember what the day is really about.

The average couple now spends around £20,983 on their perfect day, according to a survey ran by You and Your Wedding in 2014. That is an awful lot of money to make a commitment to someone you love.

November is a month that always gets me thinking about weddings as it marks the anniversary of my own. It is a time where I look back and cherish a great moment, but mostly think about the day-to-day. How lucky we are to have something that gets’ stronger each day.

I feel that three years ago, I got married minimally, spent next to nothing in comparison to the UK average, but I am just as married as the couples who went all out.

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So what is a minimalist wedding?

A common misconception when thinking about a minimalist wedding is that it will involve bare tables, hardly any people and a dress you already own.

This is because quite often people associate minimalism with owning as few items as physically possible. Minimalism is not about that. It is about living only with what makes you happy. Having items to enrich your life, experiences to fill your life, and getting away from the bad clutter that just detracts from your happiness.

So this is why I think a minimalist wedding is the perfect wedding. It is about ensuring your marriage celebration contains exactly what makes you happy.

Forget about the DJ if doing the Macarena really isn’t your thing and you’d much rather be dancing to your all time favourite hits from Spotify.

Unless you have a specific reason for wanting to provide all your guests with the most elaborate favours (that honestly, they probably will have eaten, lost or stored away in a draw a week after the event), don’t. Why not donate to charity on everyone’s behalf instead?

The reality is, we have been so brainwashed with consumerist marketing messages around what a wedding should involve, we have forgot to ask the simplest of questions, why?

A wedding in the 1950’s is drastically different to today. It seems we are getting further away from the meaning of the day and more into the show and splendor of one great big party.

I think it’s time we stopped doing what we feel we should for our weddings, and start doing what we want to do. What makes us happy.

It might be a intimate wedding on a beach because you love being near the sea and you naturally don’t like a fuss. It might be a huge church wedding with 500 friends and family. But whatever the celebration, make sure you are asking yourself throughout, is this for them, or for us?

The best weddings I have been to have been because the day was filled with so much love, fun and the happiness from the couple has been infectious.

Whatever you choose to include on your day, make it for the both of you.

What our ‘minimalist’ wedding involved

Our wedding wouldn’t have made it into the pages of Brides magazine, and probably shocked a few of the guests on the day. But you know what, it was the most perfect and wonderful day of my life.

Together we decided our wedding ground rules depending on our values, and anything that didn’t fit into it didn’t get included on the day.

They were:

  1. Focus on each other. The whole day was very much around us, our memories and our favourites.
  2. Having our immediate family and friends there. An intimate wedding was more important to us than a larger one.
  3. Eating food I didn’t need to worry about and could have the same meal as everyone else. I didn’t want to be limited to a dairy free version of a five-course extravaganza. Imagine food envy on your own wedding day! Fanciness didn’t matter to us, it was just more around joint enjoyment.
  4. Drinks galore! We went for a venue without a license but that was licensed for us to bring our own alcohol. This way wine was plentiful without the shocking bar or corkage charges!
  5. Making it beautifully unique. We wanted to remember it for years to come.

So in case you are wondering, here are some of the details from our minimal wedding day.

The Dress

I wore a £20 dress that my lovely nanny-in-law altered to suit my size. It wasn’t designer, and I didn’t have that champagne in the dress store moment, but what I did have was the perfect dress. Don’t get me wrong, I tried on your typical wedding dresses but quite honestly, I looked like a child playing dress-up. I knew that to feel good on the day I needed something simple. For other brides, the big dress is perfect for them and what they need on the day, and I am all for that.

My veil was £3 from eBay. The shoes, £5. It was all a bargain, but it was perfect. I am also glad it didn’t cost much more as I wouldn’t wear any of them again!

I am still trying to decide what to do with my dress now. It is the only nostalgic item remaining in my minimal wardrobe!

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The Venue

We got married at a registry office and had the reception on a small farm called Stepney Hill Farm (Yorkshire people, if you are getting married I would wholly recommend this venue!) It was wonderful. Both my parents and my in-laws helped us with the fine details on the day to make it amazing such as having a small marquee to dance the night away in!

The views were amazing, the food was brilliant and all locally sourced from the farm ticking our environmental boxes, and it was intimate enough to make our wedding feel full and alive with our 40 guests.

Make sure it is perfect for the both of you, and this feeling will surround the whole day. Happiness is infectious, if you are happy your guests will be happy.

The Cake

It was the most incredible cake, lovingly made by my wonderful mother-in-law.

As I am lactose intolerant I was incredibly worried about the cost of getting a bespoke cake made. Oh, and add to this the fact that my husband or myself didn’t really love cake.

My mother-in-law stepped up here and made us the most wonderful and delicious cake using her homemade carrot cake recipe. It was something we both loved, and was a much better alternative than a £600 nine-tiered dessert that neither of us would eat again after the day!

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The Flowers 

Kudos again here to my mother-in-law, you will soon learn her creative talents are endless.

My husband and I love books. We lived for books. My ingenious mother in law made us bouquets out of books and roses so that we could keep them for years to come.

I was very unsure about spending thousands (yes you read that right, a lot of wedding flowers cost this much) on something that wouldn’t live long past the day.

Again, the message here, do what makes you happy.

The Invites

As we both work in digital, it seemed fitting that we designed the invites ourselves. Oh, and then we used the medium of the internet to deliver the invites. I know for a lot of people gorgeous posted cards are a necessity, but for us, just ensuring we had the people there on the day was the main aim. So we didn’t mind too much about how we invited them, just that they were there.

Oh and a bonus to this, almost instant RSVP’s. This I can assure you is a brides dream!

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The Photos

We are very fortunate to have two wonderful photographers in the family. Both Kevin and Ross lent us their expertise for the day and for this I will be forever grateful.

For us capturing the memories was one of the biggest priorities and so we were lucky to have two brilliant photographers on hand to help us do just this.

So, what does a minimalist wedding really mean?

Overall, the theme of this article is do what makes you happy. Your wedding day is a celebration of your commitment to each other. The people there should be happy to celebrate with you over a five-course meal, or a burger and fries. It is about the love, not the day.

We loved it that much we go back regularly on our anniversary to relive the memories:

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Back at the venue two years later

But if for you it is about the favours and limousines, do it, just make sure it is for the both of you, not to impress your guests. I love a big wedding, but only if the big wedding is there for the right reasons.

Oh and with the money you save, do more of what you love. For us, we went on a year of mini-honeymoons across Europe and furnished our flat with essentials.

Minimalist Insider : 25 Personal Things About Me

This year I will turn a quarter of a century old. I will be turning the same age as the first publically unveiled website and the SNES. It’s time for me to officially join Margot Robbie and Jennifer Lawrence in the 25 club.

As I wave goodbye to my early twenties, I realise that I have learned a lot in these years. One particularly important education has been the last two years in which I have started to live a more meaningful life. By becoming ‘minimalist’ I have got past the things that cause discontent, and can now focus on making room for more experiences, travel and freedom.

I am naturally a more introverted person, happiest at home with my cats and a book. However since I have discovered Instagram and began to blog I have become happier with sharing my life details in the hope that it will influence just one more person to remove the excess and live a meaningful life. So this is also part of the reason behind this post.

I am fortunate to have a lovely and modest group of followers who read, share and contribute to the articles on this site. However I feel like although you might know my personal style and what my main priorities and goals are, you don’t know much about the person behind the blog.

So for those who have reached out with more curious comments and questions, here are twenty five things about me to help you gain some insight into my personality:

  1. My favourite time of the day is the morning, 6am – 8am to be exact. I love to wake up, enjoy the quiet serenity of this time of day, and write, read and empty my mind.
  2. I read History at University, however I work and I for the foreseeable future hope to always work in Digital.
  3. My only sentimental items that I now keep are my wedding photo albums and a small memories chest.
  4. I’m left handed.
  5. My favourite smell in the entire world is Vanilla. However I use lavender spray on my pillow to help me sleep soundly.
  6. My favourite bands are Radiohead, The XX and Bon Iver, although I also love Hip Hop, Rock and Classical music. When I am at home relaxing my radio is always set to Classical FM.
  7. I try to eat clean and my favourite foods to cook at home are spicy noodles with beansprouts, spinach and plenty of greens. However I like to listen to my cravings sometimes and indulge in a Chinese takeout or Sea Salt Kettle Crisps.
  8. I love coffee, although I weirdly don’t seem to suffer when I don’t drink it for a week abroad. I also don’t rely on it to wake up in the morning.
  9. I have two long haired kittens, Arthur and Margot, who are both turning two this year.
  10. I love to read, and I usually get through around 100 books a year. I don’t have a favourite genre, so recommend anything to me.
  11. I am naturally a red head.
  12. My favourite place to travel to is Italy, I love the food, the wine and the history.
  13. If I am watching TV I tend to choose a documentary over a sitcom or drama. Anything Louis Theroux or part of the Unreported World series is an instant hit with me.
  14. Talking about watching media, my favourite director is Wes Anderson. I love his clean, minimal style and the handful of Actors he regularly casts.
  15. Spinach is amazing, I put it in around 4-5 meals a week.
  16. I need to work on my patience. I think it is my biggest personal weakness at the moment.
  17. Although I am happily settled in York at the moment, I have lived in many different places over the last five years including Birmingham, Nottingham, Scotland, Belgium and Scarborough. I often miss the feeling of not knowing where’s next now I have bought a house.
  18. I love writing, and blogging is my way of channeling this passion. However I don’t think I would ever be able to write a book.
  19. My favourite day of the year is Bonfire Night.
  20. I have a condition called Endometriosis. I also suffer from migraines however since meditating more I have had only one this year. I don’t know if it is because of this, but if it is, that’s amazing.
  21. I love to take photos, especially candid caught in the moment snaps of friends and family when they’re laughing, having a good time or adventuring in another city.
  22. I got married on the 22nd of November to my best friend.
  23. I am an accredited life coach.
  24. I always sleep on the right hand side of the bed, even when alone.
  25. I found it really hard to think of twenty five things to fill this list!

Define Your Personal Style: Build Your Key Look

I have worked hard to ensure that each and every piece in my wardrobe has been carefully curated and selected to reflect my own personal style. This guarantees that all my wearables have been purchased because I know I will be able to wear and enjoy them again and again, and because they serve a purpose.

My personal style can be defined as Vintage & Safe Neutrals. I like delicate neutral clothing, in more traditional and formal cuts, that often have a vintage feel about them. It might be the cut, fabric or the way I obtained it, but I personally love a retro inspired wardrobe.

I no longer collect drawers full of clothing that I bought on a whim, purchased because they were on sale, or have in case one day I might wear them again.

I now spend less time in the morning worrying and wasting time on deciding what to wear. I don’t feel uncomfortable in any of my outfits (I used to regularly panic about wearing a too bright colour, too tight dress or fuller skirts) because now I only buy clothes that I know suit my body shape.

By having a personal style, you are well on your way to having a minimalist wardrobe, as every item within there will have a function and have been purchased with thought and purpose, and be worn again and again.

To refine my personal style I followed a number of practices along a period of weeks, however that wasn’t the end of my journey. To this day I am still working to develop my look, tastes and clothing palette to ensure it is functional, fashionable but also still exciting and reflects my personality.

Each month I review the steps below to ensure that I have a well-defined style, and it is still meeting my needs.

Step One: Declutter

Follow the de-cluttering process as described in this previous post here. You want to begin in a good place, and therefore you need to avoid sorting through clothes that don’t have a place in your closet.

I know many people see minimalism as a process of removing and reducing to clear space, only to begin collecting again until you need to repeat the decluttering down the line. I see a minimalist wardrobe as a way of removing the waste once, and shopping smartly going forward to ensure that clutter never collects again.

Step Two: 11 piece wardrobe

Go into your closet, wardrobe or drawers and pick out your favourite eleven items that you wear regularly and can be easily mixed and matched. Lay them out on your bed or floor and take a photo of them.

I did this yesterday, as you can see here:

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For the next week, I want you to wear these items and these items only and whilst doing so fill out this free printable style defining matrix.

Define your personal style

I want you to ask yourself:

  • What do these items all have in common? Are they a similar fabric, shape or colour?
  • Are they practical and is this why you wear them so regularly?
  • How did you obtain these pieces? Were they investments or did you just happen across them and buy them almost instantaneously?

To fill out the matrix, enter what top fabrics, shapes, colours and brands feature in your 11 favourite items. If you can, think of some key adjectives to describe what you’ve gathered to wear for the week.

When you have filled out the matrix you should have some key components already for what your personal style should look like.

Step Three: Favourite Items

Now go into your wardrobe again and pick out your three favourite items. The only rules here is that you need to have worn the items in the last six months. You might have more sentimental pieces, but right now we are looking for key influencers for your personal trend.

  • Add to the bottom of the printable style defining matrix one reason why you love each item. Try to be specific. Is it the fit, the colour or the reason you own it?

Step Four: Put together your own defined personal style

From the above exercises, I want you to make a personal style chart (free printable at the bottom of the page) that sums up you own personal style. Use this sheet to capture your thoughts and influence future purchasing decisions. By only buying from these guidelines, your wardrobe will reflect what styles, shapes and colours suit you best.

This means that you no longer need to waste precious time and money on those instant gratification buys, and can instead invest your earnings into something that enriches your life. Even if fashion is the thing that makes you happy, make sure you are buying pieces you’ll regularly wear by buying according to your defined style guide.

Step Five: Create and collaborate

Using your defined style, you can now plan for future purchases and developments in your own personal look by creating inspirational idea boards. Top tip – Pinterest is great for this however if you are more hands-on and creative the old cut out of magazines and stick into a scrapbook method never gets old.

Step Six: Document your personal minimalist style

When you have finally been through all of the above steps, I am pretty certain you will have discovered some great trends about the clothes you love, suit and are practical for your day-to-day life.

Document these findings in this final personal style matrix, and keep a copy to refer to for your future shopping adventures. It might differ from your one above as you will include ideas from your inspiration boards and scrapbooks and your three favourite items.

My Personal Style

 

Minimalist Style: A week’s worth of clothes

I describe my wardrobe as minimalist because it is a capsule collection of styles, shapes and colours that are perfectly synced to the way I live my life. Everything in there serves a purpose, and I repeatedly wear the few but fantastic items I have collected over the years.

The key to living a minimalist way of life is to ensure each and everything thing you do or own adds value, experiences and contributes to your personal happiness. Everything I own enriches my life or makes me happy, including the items hidden behind my wardrobe doors and drawers.

Think twice when it comes to buying those new shoes on sale for that instant gratification rush, or rushing out in a mad frenzy to stock your wardrobes with clothes for your upcoming short break. Instead, spend your time carefully curating a wardrobe that reflects your personal style, and will be yours to wear and wear again.

This way, you can avoid the ‘I have nothing to wear and nothing suits me’ meltdown we have all experienced twenty minutes before we are due out of the door.

One big misconception when it comes to having a minimalist wardrobe is that it should be limited to very few items. My wardrobe has a great range of key staples that match my own personal style and body shape, whilst allowing me the flexibility to dress for any occasion and not look the same each and every day.

Key steps to minimising your wardrobe

I personally got my wardrobe to it’s current minimalist state by following five key steps. I will talk through the first one today, but I will be posting resources and posts over the next five days on how to tackle each of the following steps.

  1. Having a first initial declutter

If you are looking to minimise your wardrobe, it’s likely that you are doing so to reduce the amount of clutter your clothes are currently taking up in your home.

Before you begin to define your own personal look and work towards having less but loving your clothes more, you need to get rid of the clutter.

Take two boxes, and work through your closets (one draw at a time if they are a little overwhelming). Bin stained, frayed or damaged clothes and recycle or sell on anything you haven’t worn in a year or you’re really not keen on. Including that dress you’re keeping ‘just in case’ you lose/gain weight, it suddenly fits right, or you need it for that particular night out (we all have one!)

  1. Defining my personal style – view the post to guide you through this step by clicking the image below or this link here:

Define your personal style

  1. Addressing the needs of my day-to-day life – ensure your clothes are purchased with your lifestyle in mind.

Assess Functional Minimalist Wardrobe

  1. Retackling that declutter, with a personal style and objective in mind
  2. Build it back up with a minimalist mind

To show you how a wardrobe can be minimised but still be fashionable, functional and exciting, I have laid out my clothes for the next week.

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This includes:

  • A striped loose off-the-shoulder top
  • Pink knitted jumper
  • Grey long sleeved t-shirt
  • Black cropped t-shirt
  • Black halter neck jumper
  • Black jeans
  • Nike leggings
  • Cropped work out top
  • Black playsuit
  • Black dungaree dress
  • Nightdress
  • White shorts

Accessories:

  • Marc Jacobs silver earrings
  • Skagen Watch
  • Sunglasses
  • Glasses

Not pictured – a weeks worth of underwear and the turtle neck jumper (as I am currently writing this post in it!)

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I will be wearing these 11 items over the next seven days and you can follow my outfit updates over on my Instagram. This capsule collection will take me from work, to weekday dinners, workouts and weekend adventures and parties.

My personal style

I have curated these key pieces over a couple of years, and they have become regular wardrobe staples, as I have purchased them to align with my own personal style.

I have a main colour palette that I rarely stray from, because I know these colours work for me and additionally as I tend to purchase in similar tones, I can mix and match my clothes easily.

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I go for the same shapes – skinny jeans or cigarette trousers on the bottom, and plain delicate fabrics for my tops. I work in an office with a casual dress code and therefore my clothes tend to be less risqué as then I can wear my whole wardrobe both in and out of work.

I don’t suit high waists, full skirts, complex patterns or loose fitted trousers, so I steer clear of these.

By bearing all this in mind when shopping, I have managed to put together the perfect minimalist wardrobe in which each item enriches my life and makes me happy. No more instant buys, and therefore more money for doing the things that matter!

 

Dubrovnik Travel Guide

Dubrovnik Travel Guide: An Luxury City Retreat

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Dubrovnik’s old town are the colours. Turquoise blues of the Adriatic, and the rich orange of the stone buildings encased by the impressive city walls. You know instantly that you have happened upon somewhere unique, incredible and that you will never forget.

When to go

We travelled in June, and found that the timing was perfect. The temperature was ideal, the sea warm enough to swim and the crowds were manageable. I had previously read that late July through to the end of August should be avoided if possible as the prices increase and the tourist levels boom.

How to get there

We flew with British Airways from London for a return super saver price of just £40 each. I would wholly recommend BA for their comfortable cabins, complimentary refreshments onboard and great service. However you can also fly with many other operators from other parts of the UK for great prices.

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What to see

Inside the city walls, you will find a huge number of attractions lining the beautiful old town’s marble streets. Spend an hour after entering through either of the impressive arched gates wandering up and down the narrow alleys and stone steps taking in the hidden sights of the city.

I would wholly recommend the city walls walk. From the top of this towering fortification you can leisurely wander for two to three hours, and take in incredible views of the historic city from above. Stop a third of the way round at the bar at the north of the walk for a drink and to take in the views of the local ‘cursed’ island of Lokrum and the never-ending azure blue sea.

Top Tip: You can get a really great value ‘3-day city pass’ from the tourist information offices which costs just 200 kuna (around £21) and this includes the wall tour, entrance to eight historical sites in the walls including the cultural palace and 10 bus rides.

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Within the city there are many museums, restaurants and shopping opportunities to please all manner of tourists no matter what their itinerary. When your feet are aching from all the exploring, take a break in the cliff-side Buza Bar, and enjoy a cold beer before using the opportunity and perfect location to launch yourself into the Adriatic from the white stone cliffs.

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Jumping off the Buza Bar cliffs

Beaches and bars

Outside of the city, take the number 6 bus to the beaches of Babin Kuk. Here sun-seekers and those wanting hours of relaxation will not be disappointed.

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Coral Beach Club

We personally enjoyed the delights of the incredible Coral Beach Club for three days during our trip, and I would really recommend it to anyone visiting Dubrovnik. The staff are warm and welcoming, the loungers in the bar area are soft, luxurious and free for paying guests, and the drinks are reasonable (around £2.50 for a large beer). You can easily spend hours here sipping on local cocktails and slowly eating your way through their delicious seafood menu. It also is a blue flag beach meaning you can break up the heat with a dip into the shimmering waters. If you visit the city, you must go and spend some sun seeking hours here.

At night, start your evening off right with a visit to Cave Bar More, a hidden gem accessed by walking along the cliff coastline on the West of Babin Kuk. This bar has a fantastic outside terrace, and inside the cave bar really does not disappoint. The stalagmites shimmer from the dotted spotlights in the ceiling of the cave, and you can enjoy a fresh cocktail whilst stood on a glass floor looking right down into the deep caverns. Plus, considering the views and location, the prices are remarkably reasonable.

Finally, escape from the slightly inflated prices of Dubrovnik, in comparison to the rest of Croatia, by enjoying a cool glass of wine at the Orsan Yacht Club on the East coast of Babin Kuk overlooking one of the larger ports in Dubrovnik. This white tabled gem of a find is reasonable, serves some of the best foods in the city and is a quiet hidden spot to retreat to on your evenings.

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Dubrovnik is a fantastic location for historic sights, pristine beaches and delicious food all enjoyed best under the warm summer sun. Visit now and I promise it will be magical.

A Minimal Millennial – Six Ways to Live With Less

I have spent the last 18 months simplifying my life. As a result, I have been enjoying my experiences, my lifestyle and my choices way more.

As a young twenty something, I find more and more that I am surrounded by the need for ‘more’. More success in the workplace, more technology to help me with my everyday activities, more clothes to make me look better, more to show on social media, and the list goes on.

I found that by forever looking at what I could be doing, and not focusing on the great things I was doing, I became blind to the enjoyment I got with achievements, purchases and adventures. The thing was, it was never enough. I was always comparing it to someone else’s greater achievements and purchases on social media, in real life and on the television.

It was only when I moved house for the third time in the same amount of years, once again hauling boxes and boxes of things up and down stairs, that I started to think about what I was collecting. Why was I spending so much money on things, and missing out on the important experiences I could be having whilst I was still young.

I set about simplifying my life in six different areas, and I felt balanced and happier within a few short weeks. You can easily do this too, and start focusing your attention on what is important once again.

  1. Material Possessions.

I realised that if I was really going to minimise my life successfully, I would need to start by decluttering my home. I didn’t go crazy and start binning items left right and centre (though I was tempted). Instead, I did it in several easy steps.

  • Firstly, I did a tour of the house with three boxes. Bin, Charity and Rehome. Anything I hadn’t used in over a year, that didn’t have sentimental value, had to go into one of these boxes. I will admit I kept quite a bit at this stage as I still had the ‘but what if I need it to do x, y and z mind set’.
  • I waited two weeks before doing it again, and this time I tried to be a little stronger. Did I really need copies of the last two years’ of Vogue magazines? Yes I might have flicked through them now and then, but was it really something I couldn’t find online if I needed to?
  • Next, I tackled the wardrobe. Goodbye old holey leggings that I kept ‘in case’ I did any decorating. You will soon notice a theme here. At this point, I removed everything I hadn’t worn in a year (aside from my couple of ball gowns and wedding dress) and set a reminder to come back and have another look a few months down the line.
  • Kitchen items. I had so many needless utensils, plates and measuring spoons. Boxed up and given to a charity store.
  • I now go back one a month, just to check, do I really need all of this?

If you take the time over a few months to declutter your home, you will really feel the benefit of living in a fuss free environment. It will also free up your purse strings as you stop buying the extra pieces of home clutter that you really don’t need. You just want.

I now have the spare finances to travel more, something that has always been really important to me. More memories, less materialism. It seems like a fair trade off to me.

Less things, more money and time to travel.

Less things, more money and time to travel – Sardinia, 2015.

  1. Diet

I am not saying that I have the best diet in the world, I am all too aware that I am easily swayed by the temptation of a Chinese takeaway on a Friday. One thing I can say though is that I have minimised my consumption of overly processed foods compared to what I used to eat, and the results have been great.

I live by a few simple rules.

  • Less dairy (being Lactose intolerant certainly helps here) however I have encouraged my husband to do the same, and he has noticed some great benefits.
  • As little sugar as possible. Avoiding this sweet additive is hard, but if you need any encouragement as to why you should, I would fully recommend watching Jamie Oliver’s recent documentary.
  • Go green. More cabbage, more kale. Got to love the green veggies.
  • Ditch the packaged products as much as possible. I find that however good they may taste at the time, they make you feel worse for days after. Put in that little extra effort to eat something homemade.

By minimising your intake of processed foods and sugars, you will notice an improved energy level and that you are healthier and happier overall. Try just cutting out one item today, and going from there.

  1. Time for you

Mornings are, and have always been, my favourite part of the day. I find that it is incredibly important to have some time in the morning to do something that matters to me. This is why I have a morning routine that I quite firmly stick to. This way, every day, I know no matter what happens after I have left the house, I know I have achieved something important to me.

I always try to fit in Yoga before I leave the house. It is a time to reflect, exercise and meditate. My husband wakes up even earlier and dedicates his time to writing and digital art. He never used to be a morning person, now he feels that it is his most productive time in the day.

Write down three things that would make your morning better, and start doing them each day. Give yourself that extra hour to focus some time on you. You deserve it.

  1. Pressure

In 2015, people are feeling more under pressure than ever before. Speak to people around you today, I can assure you that at least 50% of them are feeling pressured or stressed in some way.

Firstly, give those stressed people an ear and listen to them and their worries. Then secondly, assess how you are going to escape the ever growing pressure that you face on a daily basis.

I used to feel stressed about a whole range of things. Why do I not look like the women on the covers of Vogue.

Why am I driving this car when ‘x’ over there has a newer shiner model, am I supposed to have that car too?

Why haven’t I been promoted yet. Why don’t I look like that in a bikini. When will I travel there.

When I started to live more minimally, I began to realise that I didn’t care about having the newest material item, I just wanted others to know I had it. I put a stop to wanting something to alleviate pressures I was constructing in my own mind.

I came to realise, that although people may judge me on a day to day basis, they spend more time worrying about their own problems and pressures to give much thought to mine. I decided that I was no longer going to do anything that I felt I ‘needed’ to do to be achieving, but only things I wanted to do.

Yes, I still feel pressured on a daily basis when I see a Instagram photo of a girl in a gorgeous dress, and yes you can’t help but compare .However now I take a minute to take myself away from that feeling and remember what matters to me. £500 on that gorgeous dress so I can wear it and Instagram it too, or £500 travelling and making new memories? The choice is easy.

Nowadays, I feel that my life is more perfect even though I have less. And that’s the beauty of living without pressures.

  1. Work

This topic leads on from the above, as really these days we all feel so ‘pressured’ to do well at work and in the office, we lose sight of what really matters to us.

I have found it important to bear one phrase in mind when it comes to work.

‘If it is causing you distress or to be unhappy, it’s not worth it’

There are too many people in their early twenties, clinging on to jobs that make them miserable because they think there’s no other option. Don’t get yourself stuck in a rut so early on in life.

I love my job, and I think that this helps me feel positive on a daily basis. You should love your job too.

If we are spending eight or more hours a day doing something that makes us miserable or stressed, we are causing damage to our wellbeing. Put in the extra effort now to be where you want to be, and you will see an impact on your life and wellbeing almost instantly.

Do a job you love to go to everyday.

Do a job you love to go to everyday.

  1. Relationships

Take ten minutes to have a good look at the people in your life. Then do these simple things to minimise the influence of negative people around you.

  1. Go through your social media feeds, and remove anyone you are keeping there ‘because you think you should’. Life is too short for this.
  2. Categorise the people in your life into three areas. The good, the bad and the neutral. Spend most of your time with the good and build on meaningful relationships with these. The bad, don’t dwell on them, and don’t focus your energies on thinking about them.

We spend far too much time worrying about what others think to focus on what we are thinking. Care less to experience more.

Let me know if you make any of these changes and the impact they have on you. Start putting yourself first today!

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Zadar: Boutique City Break on a Budget

The medieval port of Zadar has everything you would want from a short European city break. Rich in history and relatively undiscovered by tourists compared to Croatian current hot spots such as Dubrovnik and Hvar, the marble city of Zadar is a northern gem.

There are several beaches close to the historic city centre, and plenty of sites to see including the Roman Forum, Byzantine churches and nightclubs sprawled across impressive parks hidden amongst the ancient ruins.

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Stop Living Perfectly, And Start Living Authentically

It’s too easy to fall into the trappings of living a ‘perfect’ life, a ‘busy’ life. Ensuring you are ticking off all the widely accepted milestones of success we aspire towards as a society.

The perfect home that looks like it could feature in an interiors glossy magazine. The job title and promotion you’ve worked towards for years. Pristine clean housekeeping skills, a fantastic and full social life. No time for anything because you’re so ‘busy’. The list goes on.

I know when I have been falling into the trap of trying to live perfectly instead of authentically when I start to feel detached from doing the things I really love. The things that enrich my life and make me truly happy. Not the material things which bring status, a short-lived burst of happiness and can easily be one-upped by the next person living more perfectly than you.

When I actually start to feel too busy, too stressed or too overwhelmed.

If you take five minutes to reflect over the last week, do you feel that you have been filling each moment of your days with things you truly enjoy? Things that really make you happy?

I have been so detached from living authentically recently I have not written a blog, article or content in over three weeks. I know my day to day priorities are not right when I can’t find time to do the things I enjoy the most.

I can sense if a person is living authentically because from the moment I meet them, listen to them, follow their updates on social media, they all feel so happy, true and refreshingly real.

You know the kind of person I am talking about. The person who knows what they enjoy in life, and they live with these priorities in mind.

If you are feeling that you are a little overwhelmed, too busy to fill your days with the things that matter to you, or in a bit of a rut, the steps below might help you get back on track.

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Work out what your five main priorities are

You can’t make sure you dedicate your time and energy to the things that matter if you don’t know what they are. Take ten minutes to list everything that makes you seriously happy. I am talking huge grin, gets you out of bed in the morning, contagiously happy.

To help you out, I have listed my top five:

  • Spending quality time and making memories with my husband, cats, family and friends
  • Having time to write
  • Travelling and seeing as much of the world as possible
  • Reading
  • Putting my health first

Ensure you put in time to work towards these priorities each and every day

I know you’re busy. We all are. But we should never be too busy to fill our lives with the things that truly matter to us. Imagine looking back over the last month and not being able to pick out ten key moments you really enjoyed. You won’t get that time again. So make sure you’re putting aside time for the things which really matter to you. If you don’t have the time to do that, look at what you’re doing instead and see if it really needs your focus.

I feel happier, more content and more wholesome when my days are spent on my priorities. So I need to make sure I spend more time doing just that. If reading a book for twenty minutes a day comes over a perfectly clean house that actually, people don’t really care too much about, I am happy with that.

Realise it’s okay to do nothing

Too often when we are feeling overwhelmed or a little burnt out, it’s because we haven’t actually taken any time for ourselves. Time to just be. Time to do nothing.

If you are feeling that you haven’t had the time to do the things you love recently, take a reset day. I still struggle with this concept, it feels wrong to nap, read when there’s decorating to be done, or just go away for an evening when I have a mountain on my to-do list. But I am getting better at it.

Review your goals and what you really want

Regularly we don’t feel like we are achieving in life because we haven’t ticked off an impressive goal recently, or invested in something to show and share with others.

It’s too easy to fall into the trap of creating false expectations for yourself. The need for a new promotion at work, not because you want it, but because you think that’s a sign of success. The need for the latest model of car even though yours works perfectly. Don’t look back in twenty years’ time and wish you’d spent your money, or your time differently. Get rid of false expectations, live only in a way that makes you happy.

At the end of the day, we are all too worried about how other people perceive us, when in reality, we should just be focusing on how we perceive ourselves.

If you can say that you make conscious choices each day which allow you to get the most out of life, make you happy and allow you to work towards your main priorities, that’s all that matters.

Where your weeks are filled with more memories, moments and experiences than ‘must-do’s, checklists and chores’.

And that’s living more authentically, rather than a standard tick all the boxes perfect life.

And that leaves me with one of my favourite quotes:

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How Successful Are You?

Take a minute to think about three people in your immediate life who you view as successful.

People you interact with and hear from on a regular basis.

What would you say defines their success?

If you had asked me this question four years ago I would have said the below:

  • Doing well in their respective careers, climbing that job ladder to the very top.
  • Financially successful with a beautiful big home, new executive car, flash gadgets and designer clothes.
  • Those who looked ‘perfect’
  • Regular exotic holidays.
  • Popular, influential and inspiring.

Looking back now, I feel a little ashamed that I used this kind of criteria to judge a person’s success in life.

However it’s hardly surprising that I had this view when I lived in a society where media, publications and entertainment have subscribed and represented these values as the ideal standard.

Today I did a quick internet search for tips on how to be successful.

The number of female magazine websites which appeared telling me how to buy this, wear that, say this, do that, in order to be a success is shocking. Not one said spend the time doing what makes you happy. It was material, aesthetic, career and relationship based.

Now let me ask you another question.

 Do you feel successful?

If the answer is yes, go you.

If you answered no, is it a true reflection of the reality, or because of the expectations you’ve set for yourself that you’re not meeting?

How many of your negative feelings come from false expectations of yourself?

Expectations of what a good job, true happiness, and real success looks like. Expectations you’ve repeatedly told yourself. Always wishing you were doing something differently.

You’d be successful if you could just get up at 6am each day. You’d be successful if you could get that next promotion. You’d be successful if you could just stop eating so much sugar. You’d be successful if you had that new flash car.

These are all things you’ve convinced yourself are necessary. Requirements you have created for yourself to achieve before you can feel successful.

However the reality is, if we always strive for expectation. If we aim to meet the false cultural ideas of success. If we compare ourselves to others. We will never feel successful. We will never be truly happy. It’s a trap, and it’s never ending.

Now there’s nothing wrong with having material items you truly enjoy. But buying things mindlessly to show you (and let’s be honest, others) your success will not make you happy. You’ll always want the next best thing.

There’s nothing wrong with climbing the corporate career, as long as you are not doing it at the expense of long hours in the office instead of hobbies and experiences that truly make you feel fantastic.

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If you ask me now what I define as being successful I would simply say:

  • Happiness
  • Ticking off the long term goals and experiences that matter to you
  • Doing what you love

For me, the people I see as successful are those who are happy. Those who spend their time doing things that make them happy. Things they will look back on when old and be glad they spent their time doing it.

Spend your time doing what you value, doing what you enjoy, and developing yourself. Spend your time with loved ones, with friends and family.

Take a moment to appreciate everything you’ve already done. Write it all down. Embrace it.

Discard the false expectations of success.

Then I can guarantee you will feel successful.

Stop Being Defined By Your Things

If I asked you to think of two to three material items on your wish list right now, which you think would make your life a little bit better for one reason or another, could you?

A luxury watch, a designer handbag, a new television.

Now think how or why you think they’d enrich your life.

That new designer watch. Thinking honestly, what makes it different from a well-crafted non-luxury timepiece? It’s the branding. The lifestyle associations which come alongside it.

A bigger television. Is it to enjoy your films in better quality, or just because when it comes to TV’s, we’ve been repeatedly told bigger is better? It becomes a home status symbol, a ‘keeping up with the Jones’ mentality.

A luxury branded handbag. Probably as well-made as a hand stitched leather bag you could find for a third of the price. However they come without the logo. So how would people know that you’ve got THE coveted bag of the season if it’s non-recognizable? How do people know you’re doing well in life without the branding?

I have been guilty of this thinking. If we’re being honest, you may have been too.

However if we started to see material goods for what they really are. Tools to help us in our daily activities. Things. Stuff. We stop coveting them all so much.

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Seeing Things For What They Really Are

We need to realise that those designer shoes might bring with them a certain lifestyle association and may impress our friends, but they won’t bring true happiness. Unless you’re enriching your life and focusing on the things that truly matter to you, you will always be wanting more. As soon as you have those shoes, you’ll be coveting the next bigger and better thing.

Trust me, I subscribed to this lifestyle choice and getting the material things I thought I wanted never actually resulted in lasting happiness. I just kept on living a cycle of comparing myself to others.

I now buy only out of need rather than want, and before purchasing I always ask myself three questions.

Am I buying this because it is necessary and has a purpose in my life?

Have I chosen this particular item for it’s quality, or for the status it provides?

Am I buying this to impress others?

It’s surprising how often just by asking those three simple statements, things get returned onto the hangers, or removed from my online basket.

Just last week I almost bought a blender costing five times as much as one with better reviews, because it’s currently seen as ‘the’ blender to have.

Thankfully I saw some sense before completing checkout.

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Try it yourself

A small exercise for you to do this evening could be to walk through your home and ask those questions retrospectively about what you own.

Here they are again:

  1. Did I buy this because it is necessary and has a purpose in my life?
  2. Have I chosen this particular item for it’s quality, or for the status it provides?
  3. Did I buy this to impress others?

See if you can learn anything about the reasons behind why you buy, and be honest with yourself.

Since I have placed less value on my things, the only change I have noticed is that I have more money, time and focus for the things which actually do truly make me happy.

Writing, travel and being with loved ones.

I might not buy bags with designer branding anymore, but I have a long-lasting leather satchel which has travelled with me to four countries from what I have saved by adopting this mindset.

I don’t have the biggest TV, best car, biggest house or biggest shoe collection compared to my friends and family.

But I am not defined by my things. Instead I define my success on two little questions.

Am I actually truly happy, and am I spending my time on money on the things which really matter to me, and me only?

 

 

 

Minimalist Insider: 4 Personal Questions About Appreciating Life’s Moments

Too often we let the day rush by without taking a moment to stop, think, unwind and appreciate the wonderful little things that it has contained.

At the end of 2016, I took part in this fantastic yearly review exercise published by one of my favourite bloggers, Anuschka Rees.

It is a really valuable collection of 50 questions to inspire you to appreciate all the big and little things that occur in twelve short months.

Though, by early Spring, I have found that I have slowly started slipping into a routine of letting Monday become Friday without much thought for the in between.

It was time to readdress, re-evaluate and remind myself of the discoveries, excitements and adventures of the first quarter of 2017. However rather than sitting down and bullet pointing it all like I did as a year-end project, I have decided to do a weekly series of four questions and answers.

I will post some of them online, if you enjoy reading them, in the hope that it inspires you to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember all the wonderful things that have happened in what, without reflection, seemed like a merely average week.

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Credit: anuschkarees.com

So, with the view of looking back across 2017 for the first post. Here we go:

  1. What one event are you going to tell your grandchildren about?

It would have to be our recent adventure across West Coast USA. We kept a diary each day to remind us of the stories behind the experiences we have in memory, and often captured on film and photos.

The warm desert sunrises, the fresh sea air of San Francisco and Lands’ End, the crisp wines of Napa Valley and the throbbing of our feet as we hiked, walked, ran and wandered through four different but incredible cities.

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  1. If I had to describe the start of 2017 in three words, what would they be?

 Warm, Rewarding & Mobile

Warm, because I have felt warm and content with our day to day life.

Rewarding, because so many wonderful things that I have been lucky to experience or worked hard for have occurred.

Mobile, because I have rarely spent one week in the same city since the start of the year due to work or travel, which is something new to embrace and understand.

  1. What new things did you discover about yourself?

I discovered that after years’ of being unable to sleep on transport, I could sleep like a baby on a long-haul flight thanks to the wonders of meditation, lavender spray and a hardy eye mask.

That I can suffer really terribly from writers block, which came out of nowhere at the start of the year, and disappeared again of it’s own accord.

Podcasts are something I can enjoy, I had just not found the right one. For anyone looking to get into them, I would wholeheartedly recommend Serial, The Black Tapes and Lore.

I love pomegranates

4. What single achievement are you most proud of?

Personally, it would have to be finally finishing my book (watch this space) but honestly, I am so proud of all that everyone around me is achieving at the moment. My husband, friends and family are all doing amazing things.

So there you have it, the first in a series. I would love to hear your reflections on 2017 and would find it so interesting if my fellow bloggers, writers and readers followed the same weekly challenge and shared their stories!

If you don’t feel like committing to sharing your thoughts regularly, instead just take the time to appreciate the big and little wonderful things that have made you happy in the last year, and be aware of the things that have detracted from this sense of wellbeing.

It will help you be mindful of what to prioritise, and what, if anything, to let go.

Minimalist Mothers’ Day Present & Gift Ideas

Too often we gift because we think we should, because there’s that obligatory expectation to deliver a hand-wrapped token of love for whatever occasion is marked on the calendar that day.

I used to gift without thinking. Sometimes, I hadn’t even considered what use the recipient would get from my present, or the meaning behind it.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, there comes another time where we will want to treat those we love to show our appreciation. However we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that an expensive material item is a fair exchange and demonstration of our love for one another.

Take this Mother’s Day as an opportunity to spend time and make memories that will last a lifetime. Much longer than a set of luxury bath bombs or overpriced flowers that won’t outlast the week.

If you are looking for minimalist gift-giving ideas but are unsure where to start, this list might give you some inspiration…

  1. Go on an adventure

Does your mum love to walk, explore and get lost in nature whilst on long peaceful rambles? Pack up a picnic, choose your trek, and go for a long wander together. This quality time together will give you chance to reconnect and really catch up.

  1. Take her for a meal

If your mum is perhaps not the outdoorsy type, or the forecast doesn’t look too great, why not take her for dinner. Book a table at her favourite restaurant and treat her to a course or three of her favourite cuisine!

  1. Bake her a hamper of goodies

If you are pretty handy in the kitchen, why not bake up a hamper of delicious goodies for your mum to enjoy. She will appreciate all the effort you have put in. Perhaps even more so if you add a bottle or two of gin to the wicker basket before tying with a ribbon!

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  1. Subscribe to a magazine or gifting service

Does she have a favourite hobby, or perhaps she loves trying new makeup or beauty products. Why not sign her up for a subscription to a home magazine, recipe collection or beauty delivery service? This way, it’s a gift she can keep enjoying for months after, and you can even talk about each month going forward.

Some options could include:

BirchBox – A monthly beauty subscription service that delivers beautifully designed little boxes of goodies to your doorstep and just £10 a month.

The Lifestyle Box – a collection of gorgeous vegan goodies, sent to you once a month for just £10 plus P&P

Pact Coffee – The name says it all, and great for caffeine lovers to try new flavours! Plus it starts at just £6.95

London Tea Club – If you know someone who likes a cup or two, this is a great gift that keeps giving and you can set up your own personal profile to get the tea you’d love to taste.

The Willoughby Book Club – If your mum loves nothing more than to escape into a good book, this could be the perfect gift for her this year!

  1. Take her to a show

Does she want to see a certain play? Or perhaps a band she loves will be touring soon? Mother’s Day is a great excuse for snapping up a couple of tickets and putting a date in the diary to spend some quality time doing the things she loves! Cinema, Ballet, Rugby…the options are pretty endless.

  1. Get creative

Use this opportunity to really get creative and express your inner talent. Is painting your natural talent? Paint her a canvas of somewhere you both love, or her favourite place in the world. If you are good with words, write her a note capturing all that you love about her and are grateful for.

  1. Take her away

If you are feeling very generous, why not take mum away for the weekend. Rent a cabin by the sea, or give her tickets for a spa hotel break. Somewhere you can both truly unwind, spend quality time together and make memories for years to come. A weekend away in Spain can cost the same as a quality pair of earrings thanks to budget airlines and AirBnB, and what do you think you will be talking about in five years time?

  1. Just be there

Too often we gift because it’s a way to show our love and appreciation, however most people will agree that on any occasion, being with the people you love trumps an expensive material item opened alone.

If you are low on funds, rather than posting a candle and card, grab some food to go and bottle of wine, and go spend an evening of quality time with mum watching her favourite films or just reading books in the company of each other.

Get out the old photos, have a laugh over memories, and make sure she knows how much you appreciate her!

If your mum would love a well-thought out material item, obviously don’t discredit that option either. However, make sure what you do is influenced by her and showcases your appreciation. Don’t be a victim to last minute panic buying and showing your love materially!

A gift that encompasses being there to share quality time together, with something she loves, will go down a treat!