Minimalism

minimalist wardrobe p.1 – the bare essentials

Psst – read to the end for something exciting!

I’ve discussed a lot about minimalism here at Happiness Is Natural. I especially love writing about minimalist fashion and clothing – so much that I’ve I decided to turn this all into a series. I’ll be writing several posts on creating the perfect minimalist wardrobe – through staples, accessories, advice and tips.

For part one, today’s post, I’ll be talking about curating the minimalist’s essentials wardrobe; a collection of seven pieces and outfits that I think every minimalist should have in their wardrobe!

Note: “piece” refers to a single item of clothing/shoes, and “outfit” refers to a whole ensemble. And the “For me:” part showcases my own examples of these essentials.


1: Not much effort [piece]

I created this so-called piece because it’s perfect for anything that’s not too fancy – meeting a friend, getting groceries, dropping your kids to school, etc. Something simple, that doesn’t require a lot of thought or effort.

For me: a pair of dark blue jeans. They’re my favourite – I know they fit well, I love the colour, they match with about 80% of my clothes, and they’re fairly comfortable.

2: Go-to shoes [piece]

This will be a pair of shoes you know are awesome – they’re comfortable, match with most of your clothing, and best of all, look great. Mind you, these can’t be your Nike trainers; at the very least go for some decent Converse-type shoes.

For me: a pair black ballet flats – I can wear them with virtually everything in my closet.

3: Date night [outfit]

This isn’t necessarily for a date – whether you’re single, in a relationship, etc. This is the outfit you would wear if you were on a date – it makes you feel gorgeous, confident, and you feel like it shows people who you truly are.

For me: navy v-neck top, and floor-length red skirt with a blue butterfly print. The essence of my style.

4: Fabulous outerwear [piece]

No matter how bad your outfit may be, all you need to do is throw on a gorgeous piece of outerwear an you’re good to go. I would recommend something like a classic trench coat, or for a more casual look, a good denim jacket.

For me: I have two of these items – one is a more casual, lighter, brown summer jacket that I love to wear with jeans. The other is a checked trench coat, better for colder days and more formal occasions.

5: Throw on [piece/outfit]

For those moments where you need to look fabulous in a minute – basically, the little black dress or your own equivalent. It’s your go-to option you know that you throw on and still look fabulous. For the last-minute dinner invites, dates, hen parties… no matter the occasion, it’s good enough.

For me: a simple dress; black top with black-and-white-patterned skirt.

6: Family event [piece/outfit]

This is also the ideal time to crank out a little black dress (only, don’t make it too little). Your aim here is to have a piece/outfit for a family event – whether it be a wedding, funeral, or family reunion. For women, this would probably be a dress, and men, think suits.

For me: I have two pieces – a pink/green rose-patterned dress [think wedding] and a short-sleeved, knee-length black dress with a rose pattern and black belt [think funeral].

7: The morning after [outfit]

This final essential veers away from classy and presentable. Comfort is key. This outfit is your go-to for the morning after – whether it was a wedding, long conversations with your friend, a party where you drank a little too much… this is what you wear the next morning, when you’re exhausted and need to relax.

For me: a crew-neck longsleeved shirt, my snuggly grey hoodie and navy leggings. I feel like I’m wrapped in a blanket.


I hope you enjoyed this first part to Minimalist Wardrobe. Next week, we’ll be talking accessories – what you do/don’t need, how to mix and match… make sure to click subscribe (sidebar, top) so you don’t miss out!

P.S. I’m 1 subscriber away from 200, and it’s not long until July, my blog’s two-year anniversary. When I hit 200 subscribers, and it’s July, I’ll be doing a fun Q & A. You can send me your questions by commenting below, or emailing happinessisnaturalblog@gmail.com.

P.P.S. Since you’ve read this far, like I promised, here’s something exciting: anyone who sends in a question may or may not be entered into a giveaway 😉

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Food

my favourite rice recipes (vegan & not)

I eat a lot of rice. I mean, a lot. Generally it’ll be in my lunch or dinner, or maybe somewhere in between. And recently I’ve been experimenting with new recipes to find out what works well – I’ve decided to show you five of these today.

Please note I never really give specific measurements e.g. 500 grams. I normally just dump a bit of rice in a pot (enough for me, and then sometimes my sisters), and add in things as I see fit.

Featured recipe in header: #2 → egg fried rice

1: Very basic rice 

(Vegan)

If you don’t feel like having a proper rice dish, you can make this. Alternatively you can use this as a base for a more elaborate dish with herbs & spices, or as a small side to a main course.

You will need

  • Any amount of rice*, depending on how many people you’re feeding
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil (depending on how much rice you have)
  • Salt (I use Himalayan salt)

*Basmati rice is the best type for this, but I use brown or long grain white rice too. Whatever you prefer.

Method

  • Put the rice into a pot, and pour boiled water over it (enough so that the rice is fully covered with a tiny bit of room to spare)
  • Place a lid on the pot, and allow the rice to boil for about five minutes, or until it starts to bubble over.
  • Turn the heat down little, and continue to boil the rice. Taste it every minute or so to check if it’s your preferred texture.
  • When it’s done, drain the water and put the rice into a bowl.
  • Pour the olive oil onto the rice, and mix it.
  • Sprinkle a little salt* over it, and mix again.
  • Serve.

*You literally need a pinch (or two, if making for more than two people) of salt. Ensure it’s mixed well into the rice.

2: Egg fried rice {featured in header}

(not vegan) 

I try to steer clear of this recipe when I can, but since I’m not (yet!!) vegan, I do eat it occasionally. It can be a great lunch recipe, or if you’re not feeling like a big dinner, try this.

You will need

  • Rice (you can use the basic rice from above if you want)
  • Thyme*
  • 1 egg

*I find fresh thyme complements the overall taste of this dish perfectly, but it’s up to you if you want to use something else.

Method

  • Boil your rice four about five minutes until it starts to bubble.
  • Turn down the heat a little, and add in your thyme.
  • Mix the rice so that the thyme is evenly distributed.
  • Allow the rice to simmer for another minute or two.
  • In the meantime, heat up a saucepan.
  • Crack your egg onto it, and allow it to fry for about fifteen seconds.
  • Then pour the rice* into the saucepan and mix with the egg.
  • Allow to fry for about two to three minutes, or until the egg is done.
  • Serve.

*Don’t worry if the rice still has some water in it. It’s actually better, as the rice won’t stick to the pan as easily, or burn.

3: Sautéed vegatable rice

(Vegan)

This is a recipe I use when I’m craving a more strong, sharp taste. You can add in any vegetables you want, but the onion and mushroom are what really make the dish.

You will need

  • Quarter of an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 mushroom, finely chopped
  • Half a scallion, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Rice
  • Any dried herbs of your choice*

*I usually sprinkle some dried oregano, rosemary and basil, but you can use anything you want.

Method

  • Put the onion/mushroom/scallion/your vegetables into a pot.
  • Pour the olive oil in too.
  • Stir so that every vegetable is oily.
  • Turn on the heat and allow vegetables to simmer until golden.
  • Pour in your rice and cover with boiling water.
  • Boil for about five minutes, turn down the heat a little and add in your herbs.
  • Stir everything and allow to simmer for another couple of minutes until you feel it’s ready.
  • Serve.

4: Risotto rice

(Vegan)

I only discovered earlier today that what I’m making isn’t actually a proper risotto. You’re supposed to use butter and cheese, neither of which I do. But then again, my recipe tastes fine, so I don’t really care. And this way it’s vegan!

You will need

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Risotto rice
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Basil

The herbs can be changed up if you want, although I personally find that this is what works best. Also, I used dried herbs, but you can use fresh if you want.

Method

  • Put the risotto rice on to boil
  • After it’s boiled, sprinkle in your herbs, and stir.
  • Simmer for two minutes and then take off the lid and simmer for another minute.
  • There shouldn’t be too much water left in the pot, so add in 2 tablespoons of the oil.
  • Mix well, and allow to simmer for another 40 seconds or so.
  • Pour into the serving vessel, and sprinkle the rest of the oil in. Mix well.
  • Serve.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. Please, please let me know if you try any of the recipes – I’d really love to know  how they turned out! You can email me pictures at happinessisnaturalblog@gmail.com, and I might edit this post and display your pictures (with permission). Thanks!

Witchy Things

spell planning – what, why + how

Hello again, everyone! Welcome back to another witchcraft post. Today I’m discussing spell planning – what it is, why you should do it, and how to do it.

I’ll be honest: up until a few days ago, it never really occurred to me that I could plan my spells. However, as I was watching a video by Harmony Nice (popular Wiccan YouTuber) she mentioned in passing that she had been planning [her] Samhain ritual for like the whole entire month of October.”

And I – well, my mind = blown.

I have to admit; for the past six months or so, I haven’t been as practicing my craft as much as I’d like to be. However, that was mainly because of school, so now that summer’s back, I can do do more ritual and spellwork.

Anyway! I usually decide to do ritual/spellwork in a very impromptu way. Usually it comes as a result of either (a) me needing something e.g. guidance, protection or (b) me remembering when I wake up “Oh yes, today is [pagan holiday]” and hurriedly doing a quick offering/thanks ritual.

However, what Harmony said has really prompted me to try it out. I’m intending to do some spellwork on June 13th, as it’s the New Moon and I urgently need to do some magick related to it. And so yesterday I was busy crafting a chant, creating a potion in advance and preparing. There are a few little things I need to do, but after that, I’ll be ready for my work.

Why spell planning?

Here are a few reasons to consider spell planning:

Spells will be smoother. By planning out exactly what you’ll be doing, everything will run seamlessly – you’ll have a chant prepared, your tools/herbs/oils/etc. will be all there and ready, you’ll know what movement/voice you’ll be incorporating, etc. There will be no moments when you’re stumped as to what to do next.

You can work more efficiently. Instead of standing dumbly in the center of your circle, thinking about what to do next, you can simply get straight to your next task. This will be especially helpful for those of you on a time crunch!

Chants will be done for you. I’m no poet, and so when crafting spells it takes me a few minutes to come up with some suitable words for my spells. For those of us who can’t gabble a rhyme off pat, preparing your chants or calls in advance will prevent those moments of harsh silence as you try to find suitable words that rhyme with “spirit.”

It’ll already be done out for you. If you’re someone who records their rituals and spells, spell planning is a great two-in-one option- you can record your spell in your Book Of Shadows/Grimoire, while also being prepared for your workings and have a place to reference.

So… how do I do it?

Spell planning is very simple. I liken it to a recipe:

  • Write out your ingredients (i.e. oils, herbs, etc. that you’ll need)
  • Write out exactly what you want to do (e.g. cast circle, invoke the Goddess)
  • Prepare your ingredients (have all your tools, etc. laid out and ready to use)

And that’s pretty much it! There isn’t really any other advice I can give you – just go get your Book Of Shadows/Grimoire, pen and brain – then you’re good to go.


I would urge every witch or Wiccan to give spell planning a try – if you give it a go, do leave me a comment and tell me how it went. Or are you someone who prefers the route of I-can-write-a-spell-in-three-seconds? Let me know!

Beauty, Minimalism

my minimalist beauty products + trying a bamboo toothbrush

EXCITING NEWS: I’ve created a Snapchat account for Happiness Is Natural! Username → hinblog. More details in the sidebar!

In today’s post I’m going to be showing you my minimalist beauty products, in the hopes of inspiring you to cull your products. And if you’d like to see what I bring when I travel you can click here!

This doesn’t really need an introduction, but what I will say is this: items written in italics are items that I use on a daily basis. Everything else is used about two/three times a week, sometimes less.


General

  • Deodorant
  • Stylfile (brilliant nail file)
  • Cotton pads (using them up and then I’ll go back to cotton wool)
  • Comb
  • Menstrual products – prototype reusable pad that I always wear as backup, and disposable pads as I try figure out how to make good reusable ones

Skincare

Skincare is a huge thing for me. I struggle with breakouts all the time, and even though the problems are in my diet, I still use a few topical treatments. These consist of:

  • Witch hazel toner
  • Rose water for hydration
  • Bio-Oil for scars (it causes my face to break out, so I only use it on my body)
  • Cream – got this recently in the bargain shelves of Penneys. Does the job!
  • Face wash – my mother picked this one up when she was in the pharmacy, by the brand Kelkin

Beauty

  • Lip colour-thing I made myself
  • Lip balm from Burt’s Bees
  • Old lip gloss I’ve had for ages and crank out occasionally

Dental

Special

I wear a functional appliance and so I need a few items for it. One thing is a cleanser (don’t laugh, but I use denture cleanser, as it’s fairly cheap + available), which comes in tablet form. I also have a small metal thing for tightening it, and keep all of this in a small box I can store the appliance in if need be.

Everyday

I’ve been using an electric toothbrush from AliExpress, but I’ve been wanting to try out a bamboo toothbrush, simply because it’s so much more sustainable. Brush Naked stepped up and sent me a few of their products – toothbrushes, paste and a travel tube.

WIN_20180528_17_05_13_Pro_LI
Their brushes and travel tube are made from bamboo, so they’re completely biodegradable, and the toothpaste tube is recyclable!

 

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I wasn’t disappointed with the bamboo toothbrush – it feels so natural, and is just as good as a regular toothbrush. Paired with the natural toothpaste, overall I didn’t have any horrible, strong fake-mint chemical taste in my mouth. Highly recommend the company (and natural dental products in general)!

 

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The travel tube is also great – it’s made of bamboo, fairly sturdy, and is big enough to store any toothbrush (no matter the size) while still being travel-friendly.


So, what do you think? I hope my post inspired you to at least consider culling your makeup/beauty products. By the way, my next post is going to be on why I don’t wear makeup – definitely subscribe (sidebar, top) so you don’t miss it!

Also, consider trying a bamboo toothbrush! A big thank you to Brush Naked for sending me their products, which I would definitely recommend for those interested in natural dental care – make sure to check them out here.

{Please note that although Brush Naked sent me their products for review, it does not affect my opinion of them.}

Feminism

how to feel confident without a bra

I’ve discussed the fact that I often don’t wear a bra in this post. And I also voiced my opinions on #freethenipple here. But what about your side to it? How can you feel confident without “support”? In this post I’m giving you a few tips, plus something things to keep in mind for your first time without a bra.

(I’m going to assume that you always wear a bra, just for the sake of convenience, so this is my advice for new bra-ditchers!)


So, you’re thinking about ditching your bra for a day. Good for you! Are you nervous? Worried if people can see, never mind what they’ll think?! Don’t worry.

First off, the most important piece of advice I can give you: breasts are normal. As are nipples. We all have them (with the exception of any special cases).

For too long breasts have been sexualized, and women shamed for going without bras – but it’s enough. It’s time for change. If nobody starts change, nothing will ever happen. You must make a move and people will follow when they see that others are doing it. Marianne Williamson said: “As you let your own light shine, you unconsciously give others permission to do so.” Many people need assurance before taking new ventures, and by seeing people doing something, then they will do it too. Start the change.

Now that the emotional part is out, it’s time to sort physical aspects. While I may have confidence about displaying everything, you may feel a little worried. And it’s completely normal! One simple solution is not to wear a tight top. I never wear a bra with loose/flowy clothing. Veer towards blouses, dresses and off-the-shoulder tops, as these tend to be more loose and flowy.

Something else to try is wearing layers. I never wear a bra to school (apart from P.E. – gym – day), as for our uniform we have a shirt underneath a jumper. I generally don’t take off my jumper as the shirt is a ridiculous yellow colour, and so nothing gets exposed through my jumper. Try typing layered outfits for summer into Google, and you can get some ideas for styling your outfits. Or replace “summer” with whatever season it currently is in your country.

Overall, you just need to act confident. Even if you aren’t. That’s how I get away with being confident even when I’m not – stand up straight and act like you know what you’re doing (even if you don’t). And if anyone objects to your new bra-ditch:

  • First of all, explain to them why you’re doing it e.g. bras are too uncomfortable.
  • If they still object, explain that breasts/nipples are completely normal, and there is really no reason why you should hide yours.
  • If that still doesn’t work, tell them to bog off and start thinking outside societal “norms.”

People worth your time shouldn’t care whether you wear a bra or not. And if anyone stares in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable: ask them what they’re staring at, tell them “yes, those are my breasts”, or just walk away.

I know it can see uncomfortable and exposing to go without a bra, but really, ask yourself, why are you wearing a bra? Because I can guarantee there’s a 90% chance it’s not for comfort.

If you want any more advice, or have questions, do let me know in the comments! I’m always here for support (ayy!) – I know going braless can seem daunting, but trust me, once you try it, you’ll realize how comfortable and freeing it is.

Food

becoming vegan: stage one (months 1 to 2)

If you read my previous post you’ll know that I’m transitioning to veganism, and should be fully vegan by the start of January 2019. In that post I promised I would give you all a three-part series on how I’m transitioning to veganism. So today I present stage one!

Please note that this is the way that I think will work best for me. I am by no means a dietitian, and therefore before you decide to do anything I suggest, it’s best check with your doctor. I also am not responsible for any illness/health conditions/injuries caused by anything that I suggest.


Wait… what’s stage one?

Before I get into my advice for stage one, let’s have a quick recap on what it is: stage one is the first phase to veganism. You’re cutting out all forms of red meat, but you can still eat chicken and fish.

Now that’s cleared up, I’m dividing this post into three sections:

  • Getting comfortable – how to adjust to not eating red meat, supplements, etc.
  • Tackling meals – create nutritious meals without red meat & derivatives, and incorporating more plants
  • Extra tips

Getting comfortable

Since you’re only cutting out red meat, stage one is not that difficult. The key is just to avoid it. If you live by yourself, don’t buy it, simple as that. If you live with your family like I do, and there are family meals, cook for yourself. I started doing that a while ago – if my family is having a red-meat-based dinner I usually just eat whatever’s not red meat, and cook myself some extra vegetables (but more on that later).

As far as supplements go – since you’ve probably never cut out red meat before, your body needs to adjust to this sudden loss of iron. Now is a good time to start on a supplement – again, consult your doctor and do your research for what will work best for you. I currently take this, which I get in the local pharmacy.

I know vegans are also recommended to take a B12 supplement. I have not started taking this, as B12 is found in all animal products, so I’m still getting it from dairy. However, this is something all vegans need to take, so definitely when you’re at stage three (cutting out dairy) it would be worthwhile to consult a pharmacist, or even just get a B12 supply and start taking it.

When I was initially trying to cut red meat from my diet, I kept giving in and eating salami, beef, here and there. If you’re having this problem, I highly recommend that you either watch some documentaries (personally, I watched Cowspiracy, but Earthlings is also on my to-watch list) or simply type into Google “inside a slaughterhouse” – you’ll never recover from watching the results on YouTube. Or at least I haven’t.

Tackling meals

Meals without red meat are a lot easier than you’d think. If you’re using food already in packages, I advise to only consume what’s marked as vegetarian. The basis of your meals should be plants and grains. Well, breakfast is another matter, so let’s start with lunches and dinners.

Lunch – this isn’t your main meal of the day, but it’s still fairly important. I would recommend soup, salad, yogurt… definitely try to get in some fruit.

Dinner – focus on vegetables at this meal to make up for what nutrients you’re losing without meat. Typically I would make a rice dish (recipes coming soon!) and then take a good portion of vegetables, favouring broccoli and raw carrots. Potatoes would be a good source of carbs and then fill up on vegetables.

Snacks – berries, nuts, a muffin, oatmeal cookies… really whatever in a small portion. It’s not a meal.

Breakfast – natural yogurt with honey/chia seeds/berries/fruit is definitely a win/win: tasty, nutritious, and filling enough. Of course, this is my personal preference, so experiment and see what works for you.

Extra tips

  • Only buy packaged things that are vegetarian. Don’t worry, the majority of things are!
  • Like I said in my previous post, try to cut out little non-vegan “extras” – marshmallows, chocolate, honey, gelatin, etc. Foods you don’t need, and aren’t really affecting your diet.
  • Fruit and vegetables have fewer calories than meat, so don’t be surprised if you eat your normal portions and still come away hungry. Eat more, but of the right foods.
  • Now is the time to start experimenting – see what vegan meals you can try out and start making them. That way, when you are fully vegan, you won’t get a nasty shock and realize you have no clue what meals are vegan!
  • If you live with your family/partner, why not try cooking your meals for them! Obviously try not to preach, or you’ll advert them from becoming vegetarian/vegan, but broadening their minds with what great foods are available is sure-fire way to get them interested.

I’ve been thinking, and I’ve decided to only publish posts about transitioning to veganism when I’m changing stages. i.e. You’ll read my post about vegetarianism in August, and my post about veganism in December/January.

Also, feel free to share recipes of your own in the comments, or just have a general support/chit-chat discussion – I’d love to see your thoughts, advice and questions!

Food, Health & Wellness

i’m going vegan + how i got my mother to let me

IMPORTANT: I am not a medical professional, and this post is not intended to replace medical advice. Therefore, I do not bear responsibility for any illness.


It’s official: I’m going vegan.

A couple of months I ago I went through a phase where I was doing all I could to persuade my parents (well, more specifically my mother) to let me go vegan. Believe me, If it was entirely up to me, by now I would have been vegan for at least a few months. But unfortunately, it wasn’t.

So then about a month or two after that stage, when I was on the verge of giving up, I agreed with my mother that if I got over 95% in all of my summer exams, I would go vegan. Naturally, my first exam has come back and I got 84, but my mother hasn’t made any big protests against me going vegan.

Persuading parents

I know there are a lot of people in the same boat as me, and when you want advice, it’s usually all the generic stuff like “give your parents a plan” “show them the benefits” “watch documentaries” and so forth.

But realistically, for my parents that didn’t entirely work. And I know that your parents are probably the same – they’re too busy to watch documentaries that are at least over an hour long; and my mother already knows the benefits, only she chooses to focus more on the drawbacks.

I suppose that to a degree, you can’t blame her. I’m her daughter, after all, and she wants what’s best for me. But I knew that a vegan diet is what will be best for both myself and the planet, and I wanted her to see that.

So here’s my advice for you all with parents who won’t let you go vegan: bargain. For instance, do what I did and promise good grades, or you’ll do more chores, etc. If that works, then you go to step 2 and present them with a plan.

For me, this plan is going to be a several-month-long transitional phase. It will be a bit dragged out, but to be honest, I’d rather that than not go vegan at all. This is the mindset you need: don’t worry how long it’s taking, just focus on the end goal.

After all, I know that the fact I’m not just rushing into things, and “depriving” myself of everything, is doing a good bit for my mother’s peace of mind. This is probably better for my health as well, as a year or two ago when I tried to go vegetarian I had low iron levels, as I just dove in headfirst and cut out all meat. I don’t want that to happen again, as it will put my mother off veganism completely.

Do whatever it takes to give your parents peace of mind. If they want you to spend a year transitioning, so be it. It’ll make them less worried for you, as you’ll be just slowly cutting everything out.

Work out a plan. I’ve agreed with my mother that I’ll just slowly cut things out. Here’s my plan – but note that this is what I’m doing, and it may not work for everyone, so feel free to customize or make an entirely new one for yourself.

STAGE 1 – Month 1 to 2 – two months

Cut out red meat (you’ll eat chicken & fish)

STAGE 2 – Month 3 to 7 – five months

Cut out all meat (adopt a vegetarian diet)

STAGE 3: Month 7 to 12 – five months

Cut out all dairy (vegan diet)


The reason this is so spaced out is to (a) reassure your parents you’re not “depriving” yourself of everything in one go and (b) so that your body can adapt and get used to not eating certain foods. In the long term run, this will be better for your health, so don’t worry if it seems a little dragged out.

Also, as each stage finishes, if your parents want you to get blood tests or anything done to check you’re not low in certain nutrients e.g. iron, you can get those tests done before you move onto a new stage. That way, if you’re low on something, you know what caused it.

I’m intending to do an entire blog post dedicated to each stage of the transition – I’ll be publishing the post for stage one in a day or two, so make sure to check back!

Another thing you should definitely do: if you eat out as a family (restaurants, Chinese takeaway, pizza, etc.) it’s worthwhile to start ordering at least vegetarian options. For instance, my family and I go to a restaurant about once every two/three months, and in that restaurant I usually get lamb shish. But now, I’ve been assessing other options, and the last time we went I ordered the falafel, which was vegetarian, and I think it was also vegan.

By doing this, you’ll get your parents/family used to what it’ll be like when you’re vegan. And not just for them, but for yourself too – at least when you’re vegan you won’t get a shock that your favourite Chinese takeaway has no vegan options, or you mess up because you didn’t realize.

I’m not one to advocate sneaking around behind your parents’ back, but if you’re not with them, try to eat vegan. For instance, make your school lunches vegan, or if you’re out with friends, order vegan options.

Even if you’re only in stage one of the transition, there’s one very important thing you can do: cut out non-vegan “extras.” These are what I call things such as sweets, honey, marshmallows… i.e. foods that you don’t need to be consuming and are probably worse than better for you. Little things that your parents should actually advocate that you cut out.

It’s also worthwhile considering the snacks and drinks you’re consuming. Instead of a yogurt mid-morning, could you replace it with some nuts or fruit instead? And as for your daily coffees – unless you have a plant-based/vegan milk, it’s better to cut it out, since caffeine isn’t good for you. Try replacing it with a herbal tea, such as peppermint, instead.

Where I am in my vegan transition

I’m currently on stage one, and have been for about two weeks now. I’ve cut out red meat, but am still eat dairy, fish, chicken and eggs.

I’m hoping to become fully vegetarian by August; if things go to plan after that, I’ll be vegan at the start of 2019. Yes, it will be slow, but again, I want to keep my parents in peace of mind and do this carefully for my own health.


If there are any vegans, or anyone transitioning, I’d love if you could give me any tips you have! Send me a message via the contact page, or leave a comment. Please, thanks! ❤

natural living

ice cold and feeling alive

For those of you who are not Irish, we’ve been having a spell of good weather (for Ireland) in the past week. So yesterday I headed down to the pier – for my first time of pier jumping. If you’re not entirely sure what pier jumping is; well, it’s literally that. You jump off a pier into the sea, climb out and do it again. It may sound mindless, but it’s incredible.

Related image
(credits to owners for picture)

It took me a few minutes to get myself together, but then I jumped. And… WOW. The shock of the cold water when I hit it was indescribable. My senses were awakened to a height I never knew was possible – I’d had cold showers before, but nothing compared to the sheer freezing, wild water. And of course, I naturally swallowed a little seawater, so there was the strong salty taste as well.

There was also the wild sensation – I didn’t hit the seafloor because the water was fairly deep, so there was a momentary panic when I felt for the ground but there was nothing there. Then I resurfaced, and the panic was gone, replaced by sheer elation.

I couldn’t get out of the water fast enough, but I can tell you – I’ve never had so much fun. I’ve never felt so alive and truly… in nature. It took me another minute to do it again, but again the incredible feelings happened, and I couldn’t get enough.

This experience has reminded me of what it takes to really be at one with the universe. It may be uncomfortable, it may be scary, but in the end, it will be worth it.

I urge you all now – do something like this. You don’t necessarily need to pier jump, but get back with nature even for a little while. Eat all your meals outside, swim in a river, go camping or just sleep under the stars in your garden. Do what your ancestors did and become part of the world again.

Discussion

in which i discuss my past + future partnerships, collabs & sponsors

Before anything happens, I wanted to sit down and just talk to you. Yes, to you, whoever you are, whoever is reading my blog posts, follows my blog, or has just opened it up for the first time.

(To the new kids: hi, I’m Sophia. This is a sort of intermission post, so don’t base my content on this. You can scroll down to the other posts below this and see my usual content)

Sponsorship, and partnering, are everywhere. YouTube, blogs, Instagram… the list goes on. Often it starts out as a small review, but sometimes people escalate so far that they sign deals with brands and lie to their viewers just to make money.

I don’t want to do that.

Originally, when I started my blog back in 2016, it was just a place for me to copy my book reviews. But in two years, my blog has grown and changed so much. And I couldn’t be happier. I’ve created a name for myself here on WordPress, and while I’m not famous or anything I feel like I’ve started to create a little community of like-minded people who want to live free.

With growing my blog, I’ve worked with people. I reviewed books for several authors, and I also had the chance to review a pagan subscription box. And I’m actually partnering with another company in the next week or two (it’ll be a surprise).

But the main reason behind this post was that I wanted everyone who’s reading this to know something: I will never, ever, ever lie to you about a product, service or brand. I want to be honest with you so that you will truly know what you’re getting yourself into.

Actually, before I wrote this post, I was thinking, and then went back and edited the end of the post where I partnered with The Witches Moon:

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I just couldn’t go about my life knowing that on a degree, I had lied to you all. That box is expensive, but I choose to sort of overlook that before now, instead highlighting the best qualities of the subscription box. Well, not any more. And so the post is more honest now.

I also wanted to tell you all: I don’t know where my blog is going to be in three years. But I’m hoping that someday within the next five years I can start making profit from my content. Before that starts to happen, I want everyone to know that I will never turn my blog into an advertising platform where I feed you bullsh*t lies because I was paid money to show a product.

I will always, always, always speak the truth. You people, my readers, are too precious to me for me to allow that to happen. I created this blog with a sole purpose of helping everyone become free. I never want to take that away and become some money-driven liar who is never authentic. My blog is for passion, and love, and creativity, and not a Tesco store.

I feel like I owe it to you all to say that yes, in the future I will be partnering with bands and people. But let me tell you something: no company has ever reached out to me. Ever. I’m the one who sends messages and scours the internet looking for companies that I know fit in line with my beliefs, lifestyle and ethics. So please feel comfortable in the fact that I would never partner with a company that produces cheap crap, or things I don’t like. Oh, and I will always make sure that the products are cruelty-free.

There is nothing that pisses me off more than people who create for the sole intention of making money. Yes, I do want to earn a little profit, but ultimately my blog is a creative outlet for me to spread my message of freedom across the world. I will never be driven by money to create.


Just needed to share that all with you. If you have any questions for me as regards to my partnerships, please ask me in the comments! I want you all to feel secure in the knowledge that my content is authentic.

Header image sourced from here

Minimalism

decluttering your stationery

Stationery is something that can multiply even before you look. Pens are small, paper weighs literally nothing, notebooks seem to pile up of their own accord, and stacks of sticky notes seem everywhere. In this post, we’re going to ruthlessly cull your stationery to leave only what you absolutely need.

Step 1

As always, the most essential step to decluttering is to gather all the items in one place – i.e. your stationery. And this term is defined as your pens, pencils, erasers, rulers, scissors, hole punches, staplers, sticky tape, craft supplies, notebooks/journals, paper*, sticky notes, page markers and so forth.

*When I say paper I mean unused paper e.g. blank white A4 sheets. Used papers and documents are a whole other category.

Step 2

Once you’ve gathered everything together, sort them into three piles: Yes, No and Maybe.

Yes – these are items you know you’ll definitely keep, either because you have to, or because you really love these items and they make you happy.

No – these are items you definitely don’t want to keep. You don’t need them, you don’t like them, or they’re useless. Use your own common sense.

Maybe – these are items you’re unsure of. For example, a pretty notebook that has a few pages filled, or a really fancy pen you’ve never used but don’t know if you should get rid of.

Once each pile is sorted:

  • Get rid of the No pile – either trash things, or box them to be donated/given away.
  • Put the Yes pile aside for a bit.

Step 3

Now you’re going to sort the Maybe pile – pick up each item, and ask yourself, “Why am I not getting rid of this?” Then use the corresponding answer(s) to find out what to do with your things:

It’s pretty. Vanity alone is not an option. Be realistic – someone else could urgently need this item, and yet here you are holding onto it just because it’s “pretty.” Get rid of it. Or, if it’s absolutely gorgeous, why not use it for the next birthday among your family and friends?

(but don’t make this a habit – keep a maximum of three gift items at a time)

It’s not fully used. Half-filled notebooks, sticky notes with most of the note still unused, sheets of paper with a few sentences… unless you are 100% sure that you will use the item, get rid of it. Be content with the fact that it can be made into a new item, and serve a purpose, instead of just hanging around.

It was a gift. You’ve seen my mentality on gifts in this post. The person who gave you the item has probably forgotten they did. If you’re still unsure, just find the person and say “Hey, I appreciate your gift of x, but I just don’t need it. Is it alright if I pass it on?”

It was expensive. Let this be a lesson: never buy expensive items you won’t use.

I might need it someday. You’ve never needed it before now. I think it’s okay to get rid of it, darling.

Extra tips

  • Limit your notebooks. Yes, that one has a pretty cover, but realistically, are you actually using it?
  • I’ve never seen a person who needs more than two stacks of sticky notes. Really, donate them to a fellow student, school, office, etc.
  • Speaking of offices, if you have any surplus supplies, why not donate them to the nearest office or school? Or alternatively, if there are any local shelters with classes, donate them there.
  • If you’re a student, make sure to also go through any stationery in your backpack e.g. your pencil case.
  • And also, students, don’t forget to declutter your old schoolbooks, reports, tests, assignments, etc.
  • If you’re really unsure about whether to get rid of something, don’t worry. Stationery is something you can find anywhere for next to nothing.

And finally…

I just though I’d show you all my stationery on one shelf, so you can get an idea of what I own:

stationery.jpg

1 – A letter writing set; envelopes, paper, postcards, sealing wax, pens

2 – Six notebooks: morning pages, Italian learning, three empty, Book Of Shadows

3 – Small notebook holder containing an empty diary, three bookmarks, a todo list pad, and my travel notebook.

4 – Kept on the windowsill beside my desk. Contains highlighter, 2 markers, 4 pens, 2 pencils, scissors, glue, and a ruler.

5 – Jar with no lid, containing: several paperclips, USB, Blu Tack, eraser.

6 – Small notebook I use to write down random things. Wooden square is a pencil sharpener.

7 – Sticky notes; one stack, plus a tiny plastic box of page flags.

8 – Craft supplies; there are a few people in my house, so adding them together plus friends equals several birthdays which require cards (not to mention Christmas).

9 – Book stand (really useful for homework).


To conclude: less is more. Don’t be afraid to get rid of a few sheets of paper or pens.