The Flossing Habit

One of the things that most fascinates about the building habits world is how much of it is based around really boring things. ‘I want to floss more’ / ‘I want to exercise more’ / ‘I want to eat more vegetables’ / ‘I want to be tidier’/ ‘I want a clean kitchen’ / ‘I want to put the washing away’/ ‘I want to be more frugal’. Etcetera, etcetera. Yawn.

All of these things kind of suck. They are things we don’t want to do. Obviously. That is why we currently don’t do them. So what interests me is why despite not wanting to do them, we actually really want to do them: in fact, people are desperately searching for ways to take this thing they don’t currently do, and despise doing, and making it an integral part of their day.

It’s strange, and feels counter-intuitive. If the idea of doing something just this once is so repulsive that we go many years not doing it (for example, flossing), why on earth are we looking for ways to make this thing a habit? If I detest flossing so much, or am simply so apathetic that I never get off my butt to actually do it, then why am I trying to rehaul and redefine my life and my daily routine specifically to include this thing?

It must come back to the inherently automated nature of habits; that it is the very fact we do the act without thinking that is appealing, so that it removes the agonising decision process of saying I will floss! / but I don’t have any floss / okay I’ll buy floss! / damn I forgot to buy floss again / okay I bought floss for $6 from the convenience store because I’m going to floss! / brushing my teeth, having a great time / in bed, and realising that I forgot to floss?? / do I get out of bed? / yes, you bought the floss! / no, it’s warm and cosy here, you can floss tomorrow … play that on repeat, and honestly, who would voluntarily put themselves through that exhausting merry-go-round for each and every virtuous yet hated task in their day?

Once you have automated the process, you take away all of those thought processes above. That greatly unburdens the mind, and frees it up to think of wonderful things like unicorns and rainbows instead of the great debate of should I or should I not floss my teeth tonight? And somehow, magically, those teeth are still flossed! You are a better human, friend, child and lover; you are stronger than your desires and capable of doing that which must be done rather than what sounds fun to do. And very importantly, you learn that the thing itself is not so bad.

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So creating a habit is a magical way of taking a shortcut through the mental clutter and anguish to the actual doing of the thing. No frills, no fuss, no tears. The action is done, you’ve paid it no thought, you no longer wrestle with ‘but it’s boring’ or ‘I don’t want to’. However, to get to this magical stage, we gotta work. I’m sorry. But I speak as someone early in this very interesting process for many a boring task: it is so worth the work. I started the practice of habit with flossing (that little merry-go-around of thoughts above is effectively an extract of the transcript of my insane mind). It’s been the foundation for automating activities I decided I hated or sounded hard, but ended up being the cornerstones to a happier and more fulfilling kind of life, as it provided me a strategy for tackling procrastination, and removing the guilt associated with procrastination. So behold: my little story of the flossing habit.

I never ever flossed. Flossing was something I very successfully ignored for the better part of 25 years. Aside from the occasional visit to the dentist and firm reminder of flossing benefits, accompanied with a few half-hearted attempts to keep up the good work at home that died within a week, I merrily lived my life with nice teeth and no floss. It was a beautiful time. Until it wasn’t anymore. I created

I procrastinated the dentist for three years, for no reason other than I thought going would hurt and I didn’t really want to (did I mention I’m secretly still a teenager?). When I finally forced myself through the door in October of last year, I was faced with the miserable reality of needing three fillings, meaning a subsequent two trips to the dentist. This tragically turned into three trips when one of the fillings didn’t quite work. One of the key messages the dentist gave me, in his mellifluous Irish accent and granddad eyes was ‘for goodness’ sake woman, floss your damn teeth.’

I really took that message to heart. This dentist saga (okay it wasn’t that bad, but it was bad to me) was my trigger to floss every single day. I’ve become so addicted to flossing that sometimes I randomly floss throughout the day, and before and after I brush my teeth, just to catch any rogue food and avoid ever getting another filling. I know. It’s a fascinating tale. I’m in talks for the movie rights. But seriously – I created a flossing habit out of nothing. And you can too. How?

Just do it. Every single day after you brush your teeth, floss your teeth. This is commonly referred to as habit stacking: take one habit you already practice, and tack a new one on the end. Of course, you may not have the habit of brushing your teeth in the morning, in which case, let’s get on that first. But, I challenge you: floss your teeth every single day for one month. Just do it. Every time you start the bargaining cycle above, short cut or karate chop your way through it and refuse to engage. Then floss your teeth. When the month is up, you’ll go beyond the pain of habit creation to getting joy out of flossing. There’s tips and tricks on this too: for example, zen habits advocates starting small. Start with flossing just one tooth. Anyone can do that. Then build your way slowly to two teeth, and so on. But it doesn’t matter how you do it. Just do it. Every day, brush your teeth, floss, and go about your day.

If you are only just embarking on simplifying and routinising your life so that you may make space in your mind for the important things, flossing is an excellent habit to start with. Start up costs are around $1 for floss. Flossing barely takes any time. There’s no real cravings to contend with or fight off, or triggers for bad behaviour, except maybe the continue watching feature on Netflix. And from this simple habit, you will experience great health benefits, and great disciplinary benefits: you will begin to learn how it feels to short cut the bargaining, and exercise your discipline muscle. As that muscle gets stronger, it will be able to bear the weight of new habits, and continue to grow and develop to hold up a life of simple steps. But for now, nurture it with one small action, every day, day in and day out, and watch your simplified life blossom into greatness.

[Eat] Chicken Chorizo Casserole 

Part of my quest of being a grownup is to develop a set of recipes I can cook, from scratch and from memory, on those nights where it’s all a bit much but you’re feeling too self righteous for takeaway. I got this idea from perusing a Nigella cookbook during one of my heinous part-time retail jobs, and the concept really appealed to the image of adulthood I’ve been working to create.

I stumbled across this casserole by accident, and it’s definitely become a staple in our winter diet. It’s warm, filling, easy, and most importantly contains chorizo. It also keeps well in the fridge and makes a great leftover lunch that makes your colleagues jealous (maybe the greatest benefit).

So, to start, the ingredients (to make sure you don’t accidentally buy too much chicken, the quantities below serve 4. I usually double the batch and we scarf it for lunch and dinner the next day too).

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I wish I had a more photogenic kitchen, but alas, the cheap rent outweighed the beauty of a modern white workspace

500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
150g chorizo
1 tbsp mild olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 red capsicum
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
3 tbsp dry sherry or white wine
1 x 400g chopped tomatoes
200ml chicken stock
1 x 400g can chickpeas in water, drained
1 small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley

What next?

Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces (my concept of bite size varies depending on how patient I’m feeling that evening), and cut the chorizo into thin slices. Put a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat and add olive oil, then add the chorizo. Fry the chorizo for 3 minutes, or until it is starting to crisp and has released some of its red oil.

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I have to make double the chorizo because the boyf eats most of it while the rest of the meal is cooking

Lift the chorizo out of the pan and set it aside on a plate. Try not to eat all of it while continuing with the rest of this recipe. Add the chicken to the pan, season with salt and pepper, then fry for 5 minutes, stirring as required until golden.

Thinly slice the onion and garlic, and de-seed the capsicum, cutting it into chunky strips. Add the veggies to the pan and turn the heat down. Allow everything to cook for 10 minutes until the onions, pepper and garlic have softened, stirring only occasionally.

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Chicken sure is an ugly meat

Stir in the cinnamon, paprika and thyme, and fry for 1 minute until fragrant. This is like magic to me – the fragrancy is actually apparent!

Turn the heat to medium. Splash in the wine (take a swig from the bottle) then add the tomatoes and stock. Stir, then allow to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is tender.

Add the chickpeas and chorizo to the pan, stir well, and simmer for 2 more minutes.

Your food is done now, but if you want it to look like adult food, roughly chop the parsley leaves then stir them through the pan. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with some oil and serve with crusty bread.

By the time we got to eating this, I’d had a few wines and forgot to take a final serving photo. But I promise you, it’s delicious, and it looks as delightful as it tastes.

Fund-Free Weekend Activities

One particularly interesting thing that has stood out to me over the course of tracking my personal spending is the deep pit of despair that the weekend brings. Don’t get me wrong; I live for the weekend. It’s the most magical, wonderful time of the week, where the time is yours to do as you please: solely and completely yours. With that comes the freedom to sleep in, to read, to bingewatch TV, to shop and go out and live (kind of) consequence-free.

Except for the money. Them dolla dolla billz find it a lot easier to depart from your wallet on weekends. There’s brunches to be had, stores to be browsed, alcohol to be drunk, coffees to be collected and basically credit cards to be lit on fire. I often find that once I’ve lost that structure that comes with the work week of packing lunch and being organised and being too busy with work to consider the fun parts of life, it’s not a slippery slope to spending, but more like that heinous looking ride where you’re dropped really suddenly from a really big height. One second you’re on top the world, on top of your finances, feeling like a total legend. The next second you’re slammed back down to the ground of reality, with only receipts and a few random things you can no longer name scattered around you. It kinda sucks.

So, I’ve been collecting ways to spend weekends money-free (or as much money-free as possible, as we do our grocery shopping on the weekend). I don’t imagine many of these are new, or revolutionary, but they’ve really helped me when I find myself on the couch on Saturday wondering what I should do, and stopping myself from walking down to the outlets. I’ve only listed 10 ideas here, with the view to continually updating this post and also not overwhelming you with options.

1. Netflix and chill

Oh heyyyy. The most obvious answer in the world, but take some time out for yourself. Put on your season of choice, get out a blanket, sludge in to a day of quiet and let your friends be the friends on the screen.

2. Use what you have

Sometimes you sit around at a total loss of what to do (or what to wear, or where to go, or what to do with your entire life). This is a really good opportunity to get a grip on what you do have. Have a gym membership? Great, go to the gym. Have a half-finished project (crochet blanket, knitted jumper, DIY wedding album, book you’re writing)? Awesome. Get it out, and work on it. Have a fridge full of food that needs transforming to a delicious meal? Excellent timing, get cooking. Have a soccer ball floating around the house that you’re unsure how it was acquired, but nevertheless trip over it daily? What a delightful coincidence, time to go kick it around at the park. Have a game console you rarely use? Get your competitive streak on and play it. When you take on this perspective in your home, you’ll get very overwhelmed at all the options you have at your fingertips. The money was spent at one point, the novelty wore off and it got forgotten…now is your chance to re-enliven that novelty!

3. Get your money in order

Sorting out your finances is a really important project, but one that is easily put off because, like, it’s hard. To avoid spending all your money on a Saturday, spend the day getting that budget nailed down, reviewing your progress and making a goal and a plan for the future. It’s an extremely gratifying and satisfying project, and one that will only benefit you in the future.

4. Explore

Weekends are an excellent opportunity to get out for a good long walk. No matter where you live, it’s possible to find great walking or hiking trails. You only need your shoes, a friend (or a podcast or excellent playlist) and the desire to be lost for a little while.

5. Rearrange the furniture

This is one of my favourite free ways to pass the time. We have exactly two walls on which we can put our living room furniture, and one day we were bored, and swapped the furniture on each wall around. The whole day and a few Dominos pizzas later, we had moved everything and completely refreshed our whole space. It was great for livening up our small apartment without spending any cash, and was a great bit of screen-free time too.

6. Set a three hour time limit on deep-cleaning the house

The time limit makes it a game, but the actual job makes it beneficial!

7. Read an old classic

Plenty of the classics are available for free on Kindle. It’s a good chance to learn some of the literary references made in the texts of today.

8. Learn something

Get on the free university courses and listen to a lecture on a topic you’re interested in. I love random topics like behavioural economics, productivity, human movement, english literature and philosophy. Instead of incurring debt doing a degree, I’ll just jump on to a free university course and have a listen. Other ways of learning include finding great podcasts, reading articles online, watching Ted talks… people are so keen to share their knowledge over the internet, all you need to do is be a sponge.

9. Journal

There are so many recorded benefits from journaling, but it’s often a very popular habit to fall by the wayside. Take some time to write down how you’re feeling, what you’ve been doing, your goals, hopes, irritations, frustrations, plans, favourite people and points of gratitude. It can bring you some great perspective on where you’re at and where you’re heading, and it can be really calming to connect with paper instead of your phone. Of course, there’s great journalling apps across iOS and Android devices if you prefer, and they are probably more secure. But there’s a lot to be said for writing with a favourite pen on high quality paper.

10. Deep clean yourself

Take the time for the self-care you normally can’t be bothered doing in your day to day life. Give yourself a face-mask (if you’re low on options, vegemite will do!). Take a long bath. Give yourself a foot scrub. Do a hair treatment.Remove your old nail polish. Reapply some new polish. Moisturise your elbows. Exfoliate. Shave. Whatever you gotta do, get it done and take the time to enjoy it by lighting a candle or getting out some bath salts.

If you’re feeling lost one weekend between wanting to do stuff, but feeling poor, hopefully this list provides you some inspiration. If you have any other favourite fund-free hobbies, please share in the comments 🙂

Everyday with Emily: now on Etsy!


Just stopping by the blog quickly on this delightful long weekend to let you know that Everyday with Emily is now an etsy store! The store focusses on icon and quirky word stickers, with the goal of maximum versatility and maximum fun. Each sticker sheet contains a minimum 45 stickers, which are perfectly sized to be used in any medium: Kikki K, Erin Condren, Plum Planner, Happy Planner, Midori, Bullet journal, your standard wall calendar … anything!

Stickers can be purchased in transparent (my fave), glossy or matte, and colours as you preference. Each sheet retails for $1.50AUD, plus shipping – total bargain. Come stop by at http://www.everydaywithemily.etsy.com or click this link, pick up a collection of fun stickers and get organised 🙂

 

Behind the concept of routine

Habit making and breaking has gained some serious traction in popular culture. Books have been published looking into the hows and whys of habits: why we have them, how they work, how we get them and how we get rid of them. There’s been what feels like an explosion of interest in building beneficial morning routines, and evening routines, and lunch routines, to bring about the benefits of creating balance and reducing the mental stress of decision-making.

This exploration into human behaviour, how one unconsciously lives their life, and how one consciously changes their life, is fascinating and provides a really eye-opening insight into why we do things that just don’t make any sense. These little building blocks are what makes up a day, and then what builds a career, a future, a family and a life. And some consciousness and recognition of the cause and effect of those building blocks is key to creating a life I’m proud to live.

There is a wealth of knowledge exploring the science behind our brains and why we do things, behavioural economics and how to optimise our lives, and the psychological motivations for not doing what we know is good for us. I’ve become an addict of this space, and love writing about it and pondering and questioning my motivations and routines. And there’s so much to be said for writing about a topic; it makes you honest, and it makes you question your assumptions, often resulting in new perspective and a new approach.

So in reading about routine, I got a bit obsessed with the origin of the word. Where did it come from? Does it have any particular meaning or relevance that will make it resonate in a  new way? Is routine the same as habit? Is habit the same as routine?

Routine is defined as ‘a customary or regular course of procedure’. It originated in Old French, meaning  “usual course of action, beaten path” (16c.), coming from  the word route, meaning, “way, path, course”.

Habit is defined as ‘an action done on a regular basis’ or ‘an action performed repeatedly and automatically, usually without awareness’.  It can be traced back to the Latin habeo – meaning, ‘I have, hold, keep’.

These backgrounds just made so much sense to me. We hold or keep our habits; we can’t let go of them without a fight, or a real sense of loss. We follow a usual course of action in our routine, made up of those habits that we hold on to, that we do without knowing, that we can’t imagine living without. We automatically progress down a path, waking up each day, doing what we do, living how we do, speaking to who we speak to, and constantly defining and refining our lives until all those building blocks build us into ourselves.

With these concepts in mind, there can be beneficial introspection and growth. There’s so many things I view in myself and others and question why it is done; why it is the norm; should we change it; and how do we change it. And this project of reflection and improvement is one I see being beneficial for a long time to come.

 

Meal Planning 101

Okay. So. Being an adult is hard. Whatever. Everyone knows it. But I swear the hardest thing is grocery shopping and not throwing it all away a few days/weeks/months later. Try as I might, I will never ever obtain my mum’s secret power of not wasting a single piece of food and always being fed. It is some kind of insane superpower she caught from a spider bite many years ago, and rudely didn’t pass down by genetics or whatever. The closest I’ve ever gotten is when I embarked on a 4 week challenge where all I ate was chicken and vegetables (delicious), but even then, there was wilted broccoli in the back of the fridge because well, broccoli kind of sucks and I cannot manage to keep on top of all of the food I buy in a fit of inspiration on the weekend, only to bin it the following Thursday, followed by trying to remove the weird slime. Ew.

So I’ve been embarking on a project of meal prepping. It has involved much more planning than I anticipated, but it is very rewarding. And attempt one was very enlightening. I made many mistakes, and I thought you’d appreciate either laughing at them or learning from them. More likely the former than the latter, but that’s okay! These mistakes are so dumb that you wouldn’t have made them. But don’t you worry, I sure did! And here they are, in step-by-step form.

Step one: Get out the recipe books.

In order to properly meal prep, you need to actually know what you’re going to be making. So, get your recipes ready. I mostly stuck to old favourites, but I did introduce one new dish: a chicken and broccoli casserole in an attempt to prove to the boyf that I will not habitually throw away all broccoli.

Step Two: Set up your plan.

I just used some spare paper in my Kikki K planner for this purpose. However, there are some great printables available online: I like this one, this one or this one.

Or of course, Kikki K has got your back: check out this option, or this one.

As always, the real benefits come from nailing right down to the details. You typically eat breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. But if you’re anything like me, giving up snacks is unheard of, so those snacks should be accounted for. Then, assign what you’re eating for each meal.

Step Three: Work out how many serves of each recipe you need to make to fit in with your plan.

This is where I messed up. I’ll tell you about it in a minute. It’s hilarious. But, get an idea of this, because it’ll define your shopping list.

Step Four: Write a shopping list.

Have those recipes you picked ready, and know how many batches of each recipe you’ll be making. Then, write your list, and specify the quantities.

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Step Five: Get overwhelmed and lie on the floor for a while.

I’ve not written this step as often as I actually implemented it.

Step Six: To the shops!

With maybe a side of cajoling for company from the boyf. Anyway, we got there, used the list, got in and out, through the till, DONE.

Except for my minor mess up with how many serves my chicken & broccoli casserole makes, and how much Moroccan chicken I would need to make. Anyway, I walked out with 7.5kg of chicken breast. I was confident my numbers were correct (even though two people absolutely would not eat 7.5kg of chicken breast in a week). The boyf was very nice and didn’t say anything at the time. But he knew I stuffed up.

Step Seven: get home, almost fall over because you decided to unnecessarily carry all of your groceries up in one hit.

Step Eight: Leave everything on the floor for a while. I have a thing for the floor.

Step Nine: Start cooking that food. This is what I think is more important than anything. Don’t just put whole capsicums and bags of carrots into your fridge. Get out the peeler and your snap lock containers (man those things are amazing), and cut, chop, cook and cry until it’s all nicely sealed and tetris’d into your fridge. Put on Netflix, it’s much more fun that way. And this way, as the work days mount, you can quickly assemble a meal that has enough vegetables so you don’t die from malnutrition or scurvy. I think scurvy is still a thing.

Step Ten: Laugh at the fact you only used 3 of the 7.5kg of the chicken because you didn’t have room in the fridge to store too many large containers of pre-cooked meals.

The key things I learned from getting into the specifics of drafting a meal plan is to pay attention to the numbers. Check how many servings a recipe will yield and get your numbers right so there’s actually a point to writing out a comprehensive list.

I’m going to try again next week. I’ll give you an update on if we’ve managed to ever get through all of that bloody chicken. My freezer is looking very full.

 

KonMari in the bedroom

KonMari, that magical unicorn, has (slowly) breathed new life into my musty and messy apartment, and I’m thrilled to share that just a short eight and a half weeks after beginning, KonMari has firmly settled herself into my bedroom and I’m not letting her leave.

For the uninitiated, the KonMari method is a ‘method’ of tidying developed by the ubiquitous Marie Kondo. Kondo began her tidying business in Japan, and has published two books explaining her (very) unique method: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy (released in January 2016, this is the ‘illustrated companion’ to the first book). I’ve read the first, and have my name down at the library for the second.

The core premise of the KonMari method is to: 1. remove everything that doesn’t spark joy; 2. put everything that remains away in its place. Rinse and repeat, forever and ever and ever. It’s extremely simple, but the simplicity is what makes it so effective. You read the book and go ‘well, duh’. And that’s always a nice change to having to tunnel your way through complicated ideas and systems and programs to get to some kind of solution to your fear of facing overstuffed drawers, baskets and corners of your home.So the ‘well duh’ moment you have reading about life changing magic is a welcome experience.

I KonMari’d the bathroom, and remain thrilled at how effective the process has been. Seven weeks later, everything still lives nicely in its place. The drawers look as good as they did when I first cleaned them. Nothing manages to breed on the bathroom counter; in fact, the total number of items remaining continues to decline as I use things up because I actually know I have them, instead of buying eighteen of the same thing because I can’t locate it in overstuffed ‘storage drawers’ which I’m too scared to confront. The total percentage of items removed stays at 43%, and the aim is to work my way down to 60% by the end of 2016.

Thanks to the overwhelming success in the bathroom, I let KonMari into the bedroom. This ended up being a very long and tortuous process. Unlike the bathroom, which I smashed out in a jetlagged day, the bedroom involved a lot of emotion, frustration and laziness. I also cheated. Marie Kondo, the oracle of tidiness, says one must remove and reduce before one may purchase any form of storage. However, Ikea got the better of me, and I got some extra drawers for my existing Pax unit, in the dream of folding and storing my clothes like Marie does. Totally worth it, as I build the drawers myself (what a legend), and they did become an integral part of succeeding in this process. But I digress.

First, I took a good hard look at my wardrobe. Then I also looked at my floor, under my bed, and in some random wire baskets I have because my clothes lived everywhere. Embarrassingly, I also looked in the boyf’s section of clothing storage, because my clothes seem to wander off and hide under all kinds of glorious piles.

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Ermahgerd.

I’m getting heart palpitations just looking at those photos. In case you can’t tell, this level of total catastrophe was a cause of constant and significant stress. It was impossible to sleep well, and I was constantly overwhelmed at the sheer impossibility of addressing this disaster.

But not for long! Consistently with rule one, I made a tragic pile of all of my clothes on the bed (I couldn’t take a photo because the boyf and I got in a fight about the fact I was never going to deal with all of this mess [initiated by me] and that I was incapable of being tidy [also claimed by me] and that we were going to have to sleep on the floor [also initiated by me]). But I assure you, it was large enough to bury you.

I took a deep breath, looked to the sky, and summoned the power of Kondo to help me through this emotionally confronting moment of working out what of my clothes sparked joy. A deep breath later, a vast number of my clothes were in a garbage bag.

I ended up getting rid of 80 items of clothing. Many got donated to the Salvos. Quite a few became subject to my eBay experiments and have gone on to spark joy for others around the country thanks to the magic of eBay. And the rest were thanked for all they do for me, properly hung, or folded (in the tri-fold way), and put away. And finally, finally, some peace and order has been restored.

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Hooray!

What worked?

  • Being honest with myself. There were so many things I’d held on to over the years, such as shirts from my exchange program, and dresses I’d worn for a special occasion, that I just knew didn’t spark joy but I wasn’t ready to let go of. But once I’d delved in, you could feel it within seconds of picking up the item – it was time to say goodbye. And it was necessary to just do it, and move on.
  • Actually picking up each item. Something about picking up the item focusses you on the actual thing you’re holding, and you can ask some pretty tough questions.
  • Moving quickly in bagging up the ‘nos’ and getting them out of the house. The longer I looked at the goodbye items, the more those old connections came back and I was desperate to return it back to my wardrobe. But once they were out of sight, they were out of mind.
  • Having drawers before I finished my work (my personal piece of rebellion against the KonMari method). Knowing that my space was going to need to change to accommodate what I would keep meant I could make some smart decisions in advance so that I actually had somewhere to put all this crap.
  • The folding. I love the KonMari folding. I don’t know why because folding sucks, but for some reason, I’m totally hooked.

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What didn’t work?

  • Taking my time. I got really stressed out having piles of crap everywhere. And whenever I did the washing, I had nowhere to put the washing…and then nothing changed for a while. Set aside a weekend, tackle the job through the end and be able to enjoy the benefits.

So Marie Kondo remains my favourite person on the planet. I love her method, I love having an organised space, and I love actually living a bit like a grown up for once – as in, someone who puts things away and has drawer dividers and gets a thrill from folding and goes, ‘Saturday night! Perfect opportunity for laundry and tidying while thinking of organising and how to optimise my space!’

It’s awesome. I hope you find your own brand of awesome through the KonMari method too.

 

Building a Morning Routine

The start of a day is so ripe with potential. The sun is slowly making its ascent across the skyline, and through the shuttered windows of sleepy homes. The grass is slightly dewy. The water is still glass, and the birds begin a melodious chatter. A coffee aroma fills apartments, and slippered feet pad down the stairs.

The potential for greatness is all there, laid out for you every day. The difficult thing is harnessing that potential – soaking it in and letting it drive you through those days. There’s coffee to make, and emails to read, and facebook to check, and texts to reply to, and instagrams to heart, and dirty dishes to ignore… and then suddenly its homes to leave, and work to get to, and busses to catch, and people to call…and it’s lunch, and you skip it for take away to meet a new deadline, and reply to some emails, and watch some dumb youtube videos for half an hour because you’re ‘so busy you need a break’…then it’s 3pm and you slump hard against the relentlessness of your day, sneaking chocolate and gulping a coffee….and it’s 6.30 and you’re out the door again only to be looking for busses, and scrolling through facebook, and liking instagrams, and replying to texts…and eating dinner in front of netflix and complaining and desperately hoping that by some absolute miracle, tomorrow will be different. And after several more hours of ignoring yourself, immersed in small glowing screens, you slump into an exhausted sleep and…

This scary cycle can define me over and over… and I am aiming to stop it, by harnessing the mornings. There is magic in morning routines, I’m convinced of it. I found small magic in watering my small pot of succulents in the mornings. And I found small magic in drinking chai tea, alone, outside on the balcony before the roads fill with cars and commuters and chatter. There’s always magic in five minutes of writing, with pen and paper.

But I so quickly fall out of the habit of harnessing that magic. There’s sleep ins to have, and group fitness classes to get to, and phones to scroll through, and scroll through and scroll through. However – it is time to reintroduce some structure to my mornings. To harness the magic, one small burst of sunlight at a time.

My first baby step is to spend three minutes alone, outside, with no sound, no music, no conversation, no phone, and no distraction. In time, I intend to build in plant watering. And one page of journalling. Stretching. Meditation. But I want this to stick, and I only see it sticking by going one step at a time. So this first step of harnessing the morning is by just letting myself recognise and embrace the greatness of the moment I’m in.

[Review] Retreat Yourself Autumn Subscription Box

You know those inspiration memes that come up on instagram and pinterest? The ones that are full of broad sweeping views and beautiful people with their eyes closed taking in the world? The ones that make you want to just be that person so bad? The ones that kind of look like this?

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That is what getting the Retreat Yourself box is like. It is the best. Retreat Yourself is a health and wellness subscription box that aims to be more than a collection of products – it guides you on your journey to health and wellness. And it is fantastic.

To start with, the details:

The Box: Retreat Yourself, a collection of 10 – 15 products sample and full-time health and wellness products, with a focus particularly on Australian organic brands, which definitely has my support.

Cost: $49.99 + $9.99 shipping for an ongoing subscription, or $59.99 + $9.99 shipping for a one-off purchase.

Delivery: Every 3 months (not often enough!)

Delivery time: it took 8 days from delivery notification to delivery to my workplace, which is consistent with most Australia Post deliveries.

Each box is themed by season, and I subscribed in time for the Autumn box, which began delivery from the beginning of March, and is available all through (Australian) Autumn until sold out.

When this box arrived, I picked it up from the services department at work and high-tailed it home for lunch so I could take my time opening up all the products and enjoying all these treats immediately. This was such a fun process thanks to the beautiful packaging of the products, all of the fun items inside, and getting to peruse the Retreat Yourself Wellness Guide and Retreat Yourself Experience!

 

As you can see, the contents are beautifully wrapped with twine and some padding inside to keep the products nicely positioned (and not broken!). The Autumn box contained 12 items, and a collection of discount vouchers, so a great selection to keep you occupied for quite a while.

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I was really impressed with the array of items in this particular subscription box. As you can see, it includes some consumables such as delicious healthy hot chocolate and a paleo bar, some chill items like a candle and journal, which I’m dying to trial together, and beauty items. This varied collection results in a really exciting and fun box that lives up to the “health and wellness” branding. Set out below are the products, with links to where you can buy them individually and the price if you were to buy it as a stand alone product (and where the box item isn’t full-size, the price is estimated based on the advertised full-price item adjusted to the value of the item for sale).

  1. Coffee Not Coffee Hot Cacao Superblend (two sachets) ($3.46 value)
  2. MoveActive Non-slip Socks ($16.95)
  3. MoveActive Bag ($9.95)
  4. Skindles Skinefit Butter ($20)
  5. Love Ludie Fig Tree Candle (approx $7 value)
  6. Yoga Glow Detox Mask (approx $14.95 value)
  7. Retreat Yourself 100% recycled paper Journal ($12.95)
  8. Naked Seeds Pancake Mix with Maca & Chia ($14.99) (makes 10 – 12)
  9. Koja Fig and Hazelnut Breakfast Topper ($9.50)
  10. Blue Dinosaur Paleo Bar ($3.95)
  11. Harvest Bliss Vitamin C Bath Salts ($9.95)
  12. Pho Spice Bag (..don’t know, but smells amazing!)

 

Based on the above, the total value of this box is $123.65 – over double the cost of subscribing to the box itself, which I think is super impressive, and makes me feel my $50 was well-spent.

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I took a quiet Sunday afternoon to trial the Hot Cacao Superblend. I just blended the sachet with boiling water and let it sit for a while. The scent was a bit different – you naturally expect a chocolate aroma, but since this isn’t actually chocolate, it’s more of an earthy scent. But the drink itself really was delicious and felt indulgent, and I’d buy it again. If you wanted a more creamy hot chocolate experience I’d use heated milk and boiling water, but I was happy with the water.

The paleo bar was pretty delicious. The ginger and nut was good, and the ginger flavour wasn’t too strong which was great. The only reason I wouldn’t buy these is we don’t buy packaged snacks, in favour of stocking the fridge with fresh veg. But if you like to have packaged snacks around in an emergency, these bars are tasty and seem pretty healthy/legit.

The Skinefit butter is the smoothest, most delightful experience, and I’m so thrilled to have discovered this amazing product! It’s natural and has a really soft, delightful scent, and is great on my really dry elbows and rank wrists. This is probably my favourite product in this box.

Otherwise, everything else is in the process of being trialled – I’ve ear-marked the pancake mix for next Saturday morning, and am saving the candle for my next Sunday afternoon me-time session with the face mask and journal. But I should disclose that those socks have not been removed from my feet since being unwrapped. They’re fantastic. I’ll be trialling them at yoga next Friday night to see how grippy the grip really is, but they’re really cosy and the spots are fun.

The vouchers were for a variety of brands, and the discounts ranged from 10-25%. I’m not the biggest fan of just getting discount vouchers, especially when the discount is that minimal – it doesn’t really make me feel valued, or motivated enough to check out the store, since these discounts appear relatively regularly in this current retail market. Maybe a buy one get one free or an additional free gift with purchase  would be more motivating as a customer. Although the $1 boost juice voucher will be put to good use!

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The guide book is one of the best touches in this box. Not only does it contain the details of the products you’ve received in your box, it also has great articles that are relevant to the contents, and this one had some super cute recipes I’m looking forward to experimenting with. I love Pho, but I’ve never made it before, and this recipe is a great motivation to test my skills and try something new. The double chocolate brownies look absolutely divine, and the ingredients list is clean and fresh, my favourite kind! My favourite articles were the hip opening active stretch, with images to help you through, and the Power of Journalling article. Generally this mini magazine was a real little sample of self-love, and I felt a sense of calm and peace reading it – and the images inside are beautiful, I’ve stuck the opening autumn lives image on my wall at work to remind me to chill the eff out on those stressful afternoons. And the Retreat Yourself Day Plan is such a fun touch.

Overall, this box is really unique and feels luxurious and special. I loved the packaging, the contents, the booklet/mini magazine containing recipes and great articles about improving your life, and the retreat yourself day guide. Even though I didn’t follow it to the letter, I’ve stuck the guide up near my bed as a reminder for taking it a little easier on myself every day.

The price tag is a little hefty, clocking in at $60 including shipping. However, the box is only available every three months, so you can write it off as a rare self indulgence, and as demonstrated, it is great value for the array of full size products you get. Even if these aren’t products you’d typically purchase, I’d recommend the box – it has widened my knowledge of Australian-made products that prioritise sustainability, organic produce and ethical practices, all in addition to making really beautiful and thoughtful products.

Typically I’d cancel my subscription to free up my budget to trial other options, but this box was such a wonderful experience I’ll be keeping my subscription for winter – which is perfect timing, as it will be released in June, just in time for my birthday! And I see myself purchasing some one-off boxes for birthday gifts.

Overall rating: 5/5

 

 

[Review] Lust Have It! March

So I previously shared how I’d be reviewing a different subscription box each month, with the intention of getting more familiar with what all the subscriptions offer, the kind of products and variety you get, bang for your buck, and, of course, discovering new products. I have done a review of Lust Have It! and thought I’d cancelled the recurring subscription, but whoops! Turns out because I’d subscribed in the middle of February to the February box, and the billing for March was before the processing of my cancellation application, I have also ended up with the March box for reviewing. And I’m not going to lie – I am extremely tempted to just sign up for an ongoing subscription to this box, because it is so beautiful, and you get such fabulous products.

The Basics

So to recap, Lust Have It! is an Australian-based subscription box that sends out a collection of beauty, skin and hair products each month. Each “box” is actually a small zippered cosmetic bag, and contains 5 – 6 products depending on the month.

Cost: $19.95 / month, plus $2.95 shipping.

Delivery: Monthly

Delivery time: about a week between receiving a shipping notification and the box arriving on your doorstep.

What’s in the box?

  


Check out this month’s collection! Tucked in that bag of delightful treats are:

1. Full size Be A Bombshell Black Mascara ($15USD / approx $19.84AUD)

2. Body Shop Vitamin E moisturiser cream ($24.95 for a 50mL tub, so approx $7.48 for this 15mL tub)

3. Lanolips handcream ($15.99)

4. Mellow powder blush ($10USD / approx $13.22AUD)

5. Body Shop Oils of Life ($54.95 for a 30mL bottle, so approx $12.82 for this little 7mL sample)

6. Body Shop Italian Summer Fig 15ml sample spray ($36.95 for a 50mL bottle, so approx $0.77 for this 1.5mL sample)

7. Garnier Full & Luscious shampoo and conditioner ($5.95 for a 250mL bottle, so approx $0.24 per sample)

Total value: $70.60.

So in true girl shopping logic, we spent $20, but it was worth $70, so we made $50! Such a deal! But honestly, getting so many full size products that form part of my basic routine (particularly mascara), makes this feel like it’s worth it every time. And as I said in my previous post, I love the bags the subscription comes in – they can be multi-purposed for so many things, and are super sturdy.

So far I’ve experimented with the mascara and the fig perfume. The perfume has a gorgeous soft scent, and that tiny little spray bottle packed a punch. I would definitely buy a bottle of this to complement my more pricey perfume and make it last!

The mascara goes on nicely, and gave a nice black finish. I probably wouldn’t buy it, but only because I’m extremely partial to my Marc Jacobs mascara and don’t tend to waver from my favourites. However it is a great product and I’d recommend it to others.

The hand cream smells delightful, and is going to live with my mum, who loves rose-scented creams. I also gave the Vitamin E cream a quick trial; it is a really delicious smell, and has a thick, creamy texture and feels extremely hydrating as it goes on.

So, this delivery was so great I’m bumping my rating up to a 4.5/5. I may be renewing my subscription…