Friday, 30 August 2013

Food delivery...

I mentioned here that we have started using Auchan drive recently. For anyone who lives in the UK or USA or similar and has never been 'abroad' on a Sunday, you won't understand the significance and excitement of this for me...

Ok, in the UK all shops are open most of the time. Yes, there are Sunday opening hours law but the shops are all pretty much all still open. Here (& I know in France) this isn't the case. Banks aren't open on a Saturday and you can forget any of these shops being open on a Sunday. Sunday is considered the day of rest in this Catholic country. As someone who previously did a lot of customer service related jobs I actually appreciate this a lot more than DP. A few years back I had to work in a shop on Boxing Day, for nearly a normal working day but as it was about 15 minutes less I was only eligible for a short break. I started at 8am so didn't have time to eat before I left and people were queueing outside - this was a 'normal' supermarket! I also had a delightful lady shout at me when her sweets wouldn't scan, that she knew how these stupid tills worked, it was the tills and me that were the problem. I didn't get a chance to explain that she needed to turn the packet the other way round (it helps to scan the bar code rather than have the bar code facing upwards! ;)). Anyway I digress, that was years ago, I'm over it, honest ;) 

What I do recognise is that having shops not open on a Sunday when you're used to that can be a bit of a pain. They do change this I think in the run up to Christmas & possibly over Summer. 

The other thing that not all supermarkets will do here is deliver shopping. As I'm sure a lot of you are thinking, one of the first good things a new mum and/or someone striving for minimalism does is check their shopping budget and see what they can do about it. Well we were spending ridiculous amounts and not wasting masses but we could do a lot better. 

So I moaned to some other mum's that I couldn't get food delivered easily... And one of them mentioned Auchan Drive. We were shopping at a place called 'Cora' that we liked. Auchan is a well known supermarket and the one nearest is a short walk from where DP works. But. We went there on a Saturday evening when we first moved. Big mistake. It is RIDICULOUSLY busy and my blood pressure must have gone through the roof. It's good for all sorts of things, like baby items at a good price but we couldn't repeat the initial experience - buying a few items to keep us going when we first moved took us 3 HOURS once we'd located them, translated them and then got everything to the till. It took DP half an hour to work out the right cat litter and when we started we intended to have a quick coffee at the end, when we actually finished the coffee shops were shut! So although Auchan is one of the lowest cost supermarkets we didn't go there much. 

Then I checked out Auchan Drive. It's a service where you choose your items on line, you can have it translated into English. Pay as normal. You pick your slot in half an hour time scales (but the first time we used it we were 10 minutes late and they didn't bat an eye lid). Then you got to the depot and collect your shopping, including on a Sunday morning! For us at the moment this is perfect. We get the benefits of reducing our food bills hopefully, It's not an issue for me during the day time or DP at weekends to go and collect the food, he can take IP if he needs to and most importantly IP was really beginning to have tantrums so it eliminates that.

Negatives are that it's not delivered but DP pointed out that you have to stay in the house over a much larger time frame for the delivery service so for us this isn't really an issue. And you don't seem to collect loyalty card points. We still need to go shopping occasionally for a few fresh bits so we can collect points on those purchases and DP also gets 'vouchers' as part of a salary scheme here (most employees I think get it here) and we can't use those online but we will use those on the weekly purchases... Frankly, right now, this is a small 'price to pay' for the service! :)

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Hair cuts...

Hair cuts in Luxembourg seem to cost a lot more money than where we went in the UK. So I had already decided to grow my hair, though we have been to our hairdresser in the UK when we've returned a few times. We are also letting IP's hair just grow.

DP on the other hand...

Took the plunge and bought some hair clippers recently and asked me to cut his hair...

^ He desperately needed his hair cut! 

I've now cut his hair twice and the latter of those times I had a large bump which I remember got in the way! ;) Anyway the first time I think I went a bit too short but I did say it'll grow back. The second time it didn't need cutting as much so was a bit odd as there didn't seem to be any difference initially! But I like that we're doing this and I've told DP that... 

I have considered in the coming weeks getting my hair cut but then I checked it this morning & my aim is that it'll all be a similar length and long enough to put in a pony tail which it isn't at the moment - I can get it in a pony tail but have to use hair 'grips' and I am more than a little concerned that too much will get chopped off if I get it cut too soon... 

And yeah, IP had a fringe cut that we're now letting grow out as well as the rest of her hair for ease... She randomly has blonde curls compared to her father who has short dark hair and I who have mostly brown straight hair. I did have similar hair when I was her age but it's really bizarre! :) I am hoping to dye my hair soon though, so we'll see...

Saturday, 24 August 2013

To do?

I mentioned in my declutter post update that there was various other things still to do:

  • I still have a pile of scanning to do, probably the more important document scanning as well. I had a bit of a hitch when I did the scanning and ended up with the equivalent of a day wasted. However, I have also scanned all of IP's artwork from the last 2 years. I have already started using some of it as wrapping paper, some was on scrap paper so will probably be binned. In the future I have created a document and we plan to get her to colour in a different document each time. We're also hoping to send family members artwork every few months.
  • I have decluttered a lot of art supplies but am going to see how things go as to whether I do more. I am hoping to get more creative and then try to sell bits locally but I plan to worry about that when Munchkin's born and we've settled a bit. So I have saved the bits I'd need BUT have put some vague deadlines on it. If I find that life is too busy and I don't have time I will just have to take the plunge and get rid of it all. 
  • And the same goes for all the baby items, we've kept pretty much everything we bought for IP so as Munchkin grows in and out of items we'll get rid of them. 
  • I still need to go through our filing folders, label things and check we actually need everything but for now the important thing is that it takes up a lot less space than the filing trolley! ;)
  • Looking at our bookshelves there's probably a lot more folders and 'things' we could get rid of, plus I haven't gone through any of the children's books - we have hard books in the living room and the 'soft' books in IP's bedroom. Again this is something I plan to deal with when Munchkin's born... Having said that, I have noticed today that IP only really reads the same books repeatedly so we'll see how things go...
  • I also noticed that various clothes, tops mostly, I haven't been wearing because I wear the same tops, wash and then rewear them before I've got through the tops in the drawer. I could have done with more 'bottoms' but as I'm wearing maternity clothes and only have a few more months left, I will worry about that in the future. I just found it interesting that I thought it would be really easy reducing to 33 items, then found it hard and now I have barely even worn said items anyway!? 
  • I have cleared off the chest of drawers several times and I really wanted it to stay empty but at the moment it hasn't. There's baby bits that I don't think we'll use but I can't be sure, there's the duvet we're not currently using cos it's warm and an empty box to put donation items in when I next want to... Oh well!
  • In order to write this post I walked round the apartment looking and making notes. DP mentioned the other day that he felt IP's room was fine. Well I doubt I'll ever agree. She plays with the same toys most of the time or follows me, so it seems a bit crazy that she's got a massive 6 part toy box! She also has a toy chest of toys to 'grow into'. I have already dramatically reduced her teddies. Basically to teddies she has, rather than my old teddies. I suppose in this respect I am looking forward to Munchkin arriving so I can get rid of stuff as it's outgrown... 
  • I stored some of my sandals that I wasn't wearing which means we now have a lovely empty shoe stand. And we were using an old bin for cloth nappies but have started using a 'wet bag' due to the change in layout of IP's bedroom so the old bin is currently in the corner as I was planning to reuse it but now am not so sure. 

What I did forget to mention in my update of decluttering is we went through a box that just had 'board' games in it. Well firstly the box handle had broken. But unexpectedly to me, between us we managed to reduce it to a few games that fitted elsewhere! We had just bought an electric cool box so DP decided to store it where the games box had been... (which also reminds me that I got rid of some old cool bags as we've got bags for shopping AND this cool box)

Oh yes, I also 'decluttered' our First Aid box. I needed to go to our local pharmacy so asked if they accept the bag of 'old' medicines - I knew they do in England and they do here too! :) So all our medicines now fit in the box or 1 small corner of the shelf I can reach (that IP can't).

Oh and I have deleted things like the text messages that were saved on my mobile. 

I still have various craft related things to do, soft folders to go through, sort through the 'craft' cupboard, filing and normal house hold maintenance. Buttt I feel we're getting there a lot more than before! :)

Update on decluttering.

I keep meaning to update on this and by now I probably could have done several updates! Oh well, better late than never:
  • I read through some posts on storage of photos by Minimalist Mom. This turned out to be a blessing and a bit of a curse. Why? Well DP and I have always said we'd not bother so much with paring down digital photo's as we didn't need to worry about computer space. But this didn't seem to be very accurate for minimalism and I needed to reorganise my photo's so I started the long old process of deleting ones that were either duplicates or not interesting. I am definitely still working on this. I have reorganised most of my photo's but am nowhere near finished (& it is definitely worthy of a whole new post!).
  • In terms of hard copies Minimalist Mom mentions that she didn't have many photo albums prior to this activity. Well I love paper crafts so unfortunately I used to do scrap booking/ photo albums along the lines of my mum. I had no intentions of getting rid of them. But I have moved them to our storage room because unless we have a book shelf for them, they will probably stay there for children to look through when they're older. I have got rid of one album that was just a 'slide in' album that I already had copies on the computer of the actual photo's so it doesn't really add anything (I confess I have taken this album out because I am considering doing a nice photo album of it later. But I have put some stipulations on that for myself so we'll see).
  • I have started going through my documents on my laptop but haven't finished this. 
  • I have also spoken to DP and we've/he's bought a back up 'system'. It's still going through both our laptops backing files up! It says it'll take weeks... 
  • I have gone through all my email folders and sorted them/ deleted anything I don't need. So far although the inbox isn't empty, it's below one page which is a far cry from a few years ago when it was about 15 pages in my inbox!
  • I have also gone through a document I keep that had passwords I needed to remember... Including for a car insurance that expired in 2010 for a car I no longer own! 
  • Around the house... I  need to take photo's (which is why I hadn't finished this yet) but we have taken several lots of 'donations' to the local recycling centre including a filing trolley and a shelf set thingy.
  • I am slightly frustrated at the moment because there is more that I would like to sort out but it's things that we may or may not need for Munchkin so as the arrival could be fairly imminent I have put them to one side in one area for now.
  • I have spent several hours scanning A LOT of paperwork after we sorted our filing trolley (it is now 2 lever arch folders!) after a few mishaps.
  • Sippy cups. I don't know if it's the weather here, the dishwasher or if it's IP teething but I think this is now all of her sippy cup teats that are 'broken' so this lot is being binned and we bought... Drum roll please... TWO, yes, just TWO replacements! Andddd in green. Yes I was nervous about agreeing to go to just 2 but we bought this lot when IP was still having at least 3 'milks' a day and water bottles/ cups weren't even a consideration. More on the logic of this a bit later...

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Changing my mindset to minimalism...

At the weekend, my mother in law visited. We decided to go to Brussels on Sunday. It was hard but I think I just about vaguely stuck to minimalism. I guess remembering how much stuff I have got rid of and how much I can still get rid of AND most importantly that it has been hard at times, helps. So instead of buying lots of handmade, gorgeous but expensive wooden toys, or purses for other people that they probably wouldn't actually use...

I bought one present for IP. The smaller wooden horse is the present. My mother has a version of the larger wooden horse that I remember seeing throughout my childhood. The tail comes out. Then suddenly one year she gave me the wooden horse in the picture, whose tail also comes out - I do have the tail but with small children around it was safer to put it elsewhere. So when I saw this tiny replica I couldn't resist. IP then dropped it. DP suggested we don't worry about it - I walked back looking for it and found it at the cafe, a few minutes walk. DP definitely isn't worried about saving money, etc! ;)

My mother in law had also prewarned DP that she had presents for IP. I have to be honest, I was a little worried that she may have bought a lot of stuff. Thankfully, she not only hadn't but what she had bought I am happy to add to IP's collection:

The yellow doll's jumper NOT the doll! ;)

It's very unminimalist but I have started a collection of rubber ducks, rather randomly, for IP so the duck fits in perfectly and she doesn't have many dolls clothes yet so to almost certainly be the only little girl in Luxembourg that has an 'I <3 Cornwall' doll's jumper I think we can allow! ;)


And then lastly, DP bought himself some beers. The reasoning behind this... It was our wedding anniversary (which has reminded me of another decluttering post! ;)) last week and was meant to be leather. Neither of us wanted anything in leather and I'm not really earning any money so I suggested we don't worry about it... But DP does like ales. I had also read this post on clutter free gifts so I initially suggested that DP could buy himself some ales and the glasses to go with them (he wanted to get them previously but there wasn't any left) but it was actually DP that said he'd only drink that particular ale out of that 'tankard' so he chose not to buy the tankards but did buy these ales (on offer)- I also suggested they could be a present from me if he liked... 

Sooooo as we walked back DP mentioned that he likes me in a minimalist mindset even more because I don't buy lots of random rubbish. I'll be honest, it wasn't easy and I'm sure in years to come I may regret even buying the little horse for IP but I felt pleased with myself for most of it...

Zero Waste - Part 2...

I like lists. I like to be able to add stuff to my 'to do' list and tick it off as I do it. Or better yet, already know I've done it.

So when I stumbled across zero waste home I thought I'd have a look and maybe follow some of it. Unfortunately as you may have read, I don't feel that zero waste will really work for us or fit with our aims at the moment. However, I thought I'd look down the list anyway and see what we can and can't achieve:

Taken from I have taken some of the points out so please do read the 'site if this interests you! :)


Here are my Top 10 tips in eight categories to help you lower your waste at home. Each section is a condensed version of a posting on the subject, so please follow title links for more information on each section. For product recommendations, please visit the store or follow the links.

Before you start:

Arm yourself with a reusable water bottle, a couple grocery totes, a few cloth bags and reusable jars and bottles. ~ I have started trying to use my water bottle a lot more and we already have the other items...

Get your 5Rs right: Refuse what you do not need, Reduce what you do need, Reuse what you consume, Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse, and Rot (Compost) the rest. ~ My biggest frustration at the moment is that we have a patio & a balcony so I would have to pay for the privilege of a compost bin that is collected. I hope in the future this will change though, maybe next year?


Welcome alternatives to disposables (paper towels ~ I have started but need to speak to DP about things like this, garbage liners, wax paper, aluminum sheets, disposable plates, cups, etc....): Swap paper towels for reusable rags, swap sandwich baggies for kitchen towels or stainless containers, drop garbage liners all together (wet waste is mostly compostable anyways). ~ We do currently use lunch boxes but they are plastic. However I am not about to go out and buy stainless steel bottles etc, or ask DP to use cloth to wrap his sandwiches. I can just imagine the response. This is a prime example of something we could do, but I choose not to bother suggesting to DP...

Buy in bulk or at the counter (see Zero Waste Grocery Shopping), bring reusable bags (dry goods), jars (wet items such as meat, deli, fish, cheese, oil, peanut butter) and bottles (liquids: oil, soy sauce, shampoo, conditioner). ~ We don't speak fluent French so I'm content to use reusable bags and buy refills of shampoo etc but I would struggle in the UK to do the other suggestions so it's going to have to wait (if ever) here...
If you cannot find it in bulk, find a supplier (bring your jar to the ice cream shop, a pillow case to the bakery for your bread, or your bottles to the winery/brewery)... or make it (mustard, salad dressing, hot sauce, jams, OJ, hummus, cookies, canned tomatoes). ~ We are trying to make our own bread more often.
Shop the farmer's market: they'll take the egg carton and the berries baskets back for reuse. Your veggies will also most likely be free of plastic and stickers. ~ I love this idea but it's just not practical for us to have to go to the market every Saturday morning.

Learn to love your tap water. ~ I assume this means don't buy bottled, which we don't...
Use bulk liquid castile soap as a dish/hand cleaner, baking soda as a scrubber (in stainless Parmesan dispenser) with a compostable cleaning brush (a wooden one with natural hair). Purchase dishwasher detergent in bulk. ~ I think we can/ do all of this?

Invest in a pressure cooker (halves the cooking time). ~ We rent so get what we're given.

YOU CAN ALSO... Reuse single-side printed paper for grocery shopping and errands list, use your lettuce cleaning water to water plants, open your oven after baking in the winter (cool your oven, warm your house)... ~ We either already do this or could do this :)


Use 100% recycled and unbleached toilet paper individually wrapped in paper (if you have solar you could install an electrical washlet to your toilet seat). ~ This is one that made me laugh - I mentioned this to DP who looked at me like I had gone mad. I guess that says it all!?
Use an alum stone or straight baking soda as antiperspirant. ~ I have recently read of various recipes to make deodorant that is better than shop bought so when I next run out I am planning on researching...
Any other ideas that were on the list we either do already or it's more hard work than I am prepared to try right now...

So actually I am pleased that we're not doing too badly. I thought there would be a lot more. However I am interested to know what you think?

Monday, 19 August 2013

National Day of Unplugging - 7th to 8th March 2014

I read about this on another blog (yes, you've guessed it, Minimalist Mom ;)) and googled it. I hope to take part next year. I have already started to close down my facebook profile and reduce my online time during the day. Today IP actually told me to put my phone down (when I was texting DP about her!) and later on to put my laptop down which says it all to me! ;)


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Following 5 tips to a simpler home...

One of the blogs on my list is loving simple living and I recently read the 'getting started' 5 simple tips so thought I'd give them a go -

  • Throw out dead plants. ~ I'm not great with plants so just had to persuade DP to do this at the weekend. Not done completely but getting there... (and they're on the balcony anyway).
  • Collect all visible paper and recycle, file, or put away out of sight.  Take a walk around the house. ~ Some of these options I hadn't thought of at all so it was a good eye opener. I haven't been able to completely finish this because we have a stack of paper to use for recycling on the sideboard but we are making progress and it did get me thinking about a lot of things. There's a massssssiivveeeeee bag of documents to be scanned (I am praying to get through some of it this weekend!), I've just thought of somewhere I can keep the paper to be recycled (it's put in the printer but there's too much right now) that's out of sight.
  • Underwear drawer. ~ Well I have sort of been doing this for months in line with being pregnant...
  • Pick a horizontal surface in your home.  I like the kitchen counters, but it might be a bit of an extreme start for you if you are just getting started.    Clear the space off entirely. ~ I may have first read this and it said something about the kitchen which we struggled with. I cleared a lot off but DP agreed it's impossible for us to clear everything off. However this did get me thinking and last weekend we put some photo's up so that we could clear more room on surfaces. We haven't totally emptied the top of our bookshelves but have made a lot of room, the top of the sewing machine cabinet is now empty & the sideboard is a lot clearer (my theory with this is also that it's much easier to clean and keep clean when I have a toddler & baby to deal with in a few months).
  • Find one thing you don’t like, one thing that is broken, and one thing you don’t use and remove it from the house. ~ broken = 2 things, my sunglasses were still wearable and I loved them but the 'plastic' was coming off the sides and I have numerous other pairs so I decided to bin them. The cat & myself also managed to break a glass. The latter I was gutted about because it was 1 of a set of 4 that we loved and can't get a replacement for but I'm hoping to get maybe 4 in total or something of a similar set... Amongst masses of other things, I bought an ice lollipop set a while ago and it's not very easy to use, I suspect as it was cheap. So that's going. Um something I don't like? Recipe books maybe? 

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Food Friday & an apology...

First the apology. It's not actually Friday AND I realised yesterday that I haven't done this for 2 weeks. I don't even know where the time has gone! So apologies...

Now onto Food Friday on Saturday (please note that I found the graphic below via google images & have posted the original source below. I DID NOT create it myself)!

I wrote a sort of food plan in this post on Food Week but we were in the process of changing how we plan food so what I had intended to do didn't really happen. Well having had a whole 2 weeks we've been able to try other options:

  • I never got round to making the fish cakes or mince mixture.
  • We still have some of the fish pie & salmon en croute. Both were ok but DP prefers the other fish pie that I was making.
  • Food & what IP eats is working better.
  • We placed our first order with Auchan Drive for some things to have at a picnic on Sunday and it was successful. I'll cover this in another post but we'll be using it for the forseeable future.
  • I have changed how I organise recipes. Again think it's big enough to cover in a separate post!
  • So I hope to switch to a Food Friday. However what I think I will probably do is a rolling menu plan for at least 2 weeks, maybe 4. So we'll see how that all works...

So for the last few weeks we have eaten:

Jamie Oliver fish pie & salmon en croute. Curry take away for our wedding anniversary (& that always does at least 2 meals). I had defrosted a chicken casserole on Tuesday but it was vile so we ate cheese on toast instead and on Thursday cheesy scrambled eggs with pasta!

The plan for this week is:

Ickle Pickle:
I have tried to remember much more this week that she should have some form of food every few hours (so breakfast, lunch before her nap a few hours later, a snack when she wakes up & then dinner) and she's loving babybel cheese & ham so that's been her lunch most days & then she's wanted it as a snack as well sometimes. I've also tried to stop forcing her to eat more, remembering an article that said a toddler's stomach is the size of their fist - her fist is probably the size of a babybel! And, I have to say, she seems happier with this arrangement. She's now eating more 'sugary naughty' snacks but she is also happy enough eating fruit - we tried to get her to have her fish & chips last night, she wouldn't but then ate a whole pear for desert! (along with other food I should add)

I have discovered cottage cheese is a nice easy lunch so have been eating that & generally mixing some ham in with it.

Monday  ~ fish ~ Jamie Oliver salmon en croute
Tuesday ~pasta bake
Wednesday ~fish ~Jamie Oliver salmon fish cake with sweet potato wedges
Thursday ~ Ikea meat balls with pasta
Friday ~ fish ~ fish & chips

I also plan to make jacket potatoes to freeze, our 'normal' fish pie, a pasta bake and chilli con carne. I guess I've got so used to bulk cooking that having a nearly empty freezer is making me nervous! ;) Having said that, this week has been a bit hard as I hadn't even realised I hadn't done a meal plan so have just 'winged' it. DP went out on Wednesday but by Thursday I was really stuck for what to cook... So I would rather bulk cook once and then if we need to do weekly shops it'll be less anyway.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Introducing a toddler to having a baby sibling ~ Part 1

So what have I been working on? Well as I've finished a box of 'quiet' activities for IP and I said I'd do a post on it, I thought now would be a good time! I saw this through a facebook friend and followed the ideas. She pointed me towards her board on Pinterest. I don't tend to look at Pinterest a lot although I do have a board on Pinterest but I have heard it's a good tool to use for blogs so I do plan to create a blog board on there...

The different things I have done I did find on a random blog post but I now can't find the actual link, sadly, so I will update if I find it...

I firstly made a note of the different games:

Paint bags - IP doesn't seem to like painting but I read this idea (sorry I have no idea where I found said suggestion) of putting paint into a ziplock style bag.
Pots and pipe cleaners - can put pipe cleaners into the pots...
Colour wheel and pegs - match the pegs to the colour on the wheel.
Washing line with clothes - peg the clothes to the line
Stickers and card - IP loves stickers!
Toilet roll cut up with pipe cleaners - for threading. She normally puts her wrist through toilet rolls but hopefully ribbon and pipe cleaners will be better! 
Pasta and thread - making a pasta necklace!
Hide & seek bag - list of items to find.
'Button' snake - the original had a button on the end of the ribbon but I'm not great with sewing so I super glued 2 shapes with ribbon in between and then cut a hole in the felt pieces to thread them onto the ribbon
Magnifier and pots - giant tweezers to move items between pots and a magnifying glass.
Shop bought puzzles - I saw a couple of things and decided to buy them.
Other bits- a few other random items.

We happened to be returning to the UK the week after I found this so I tried to source some of the materials whilst we were there. We already had various sizes of Ikea bags so I put the different items into the bags and then started working out what I needed to add. So I put the pegs into the bag, made a note I needed to find other pegs & to print the colour wheel.
Colour wheel & pegs:

Hide & Seek bag + list:

Pots to push things into, pipe cleaners & pom poms to push:

'Washing line' & clothes. I also added some pegs:

Paint bags:

Pasta & thread:

Pipe cleaners & toilet rolls:

'Button' snake:

Stickers & card:

Magnifying glass, tweezers & pots with items:

Threads & card:

Shop bought puzzles:

Other items:

I was planning that IP would see it for the first time when Munchkin was born but she's already managed to open it and play with a few things as I was compiling it. At least I know she likes them!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Zero Waste?! Part 1

Having just retyped the title of this post I have just realised that it may well sound like I mean I don't intend to ever visit the toilet again. That is not the case, panic not! ;) The primary blog that I follow for ideas on minimalism and answers is The Minimalist Mom and no, I don't get anything for saying that. I do, however, read a lot of other sites and I stumbled across Zero Waste Home. It was something I had been intrigued by but then I came to a conclusion last weekend when we were shopping and I wanted to expand on it a bit further...

Something I read time and time again and have even been advised by blog writers is that minimalism is very individual. If you have more than 100 items that doesn't mean you can't be or aren't a minimalist. I am approaching this as if I own something, I want to be sure that I am actually using it and regularly, rather than just 'maintaining' it, mostly cleaning. So we have a set of shelves and the more of those that are empty, the easier they are for me to clean, for example. The fewer clothes I see when I open my drawer in the morning, the easier to quickly choose an outfit. The negative of that I have discovered today is that I do definitely have to do the washing more, but that may also be summer related and it's something I can live with. I also didn't get rid of clothes, I just packed them away (for now).

When I first became a parent and was at home, I started to hear about all the greener, healthier things I could do that weren't that hard work but were meant to benefit everyone. Great I thought. So we saw the cost of disposable nappies in Luxembourg and decided to use cloth instead. Especially as these days it doesn't involve a massive amount more work. Oh and despite being premature, IP was the first at creche to potty train which I believe is due to cloth nappies.

However, I have found a negative side:

'Remember the good old cake served on a ceramic plate with stainless forks? Forget about disposable plates, forks, glasses, napkins and cupcake wrappers.' ~

taken from via google

In my search around the Zero waste home site, I felt really sad when I read the above phrase. Why? Because I have waited approximately 28 years to become a mum and to have parties for my children and buy matching cute disposable plates, etc. Then I read 'don't use disposables they're bad'. And to top it all off, reading the book, my mother pointed out that my plans for IP's 2nd birthday party were kind of against what I had been saying regarding this book ~ too many branded toys etc overload a child. So inwardly I am wailing like a 2 year old:
'But I wannaaaaaa buy all the matching bad, for the environment stuff and I like the Very Hungry Caterpillar!'
*stomps foot*
'A ha', I hear you say, 'so she's going to give up!?' Nope, don't be silly! I have just come to a couple of conclusions:

IP watches very very little tv. I read recently that apparently under 7 years old a child should watch a maximum of 1 hour. It didn't say a week or a day but IP probably doesn't even watch an hour a week. And what she does watch is probably at weekends (with DP). She certainly doesn't watch the 101 kids tv programmes that give her the notion that she 'needs' Peppa Pig/ Dora the Explorer or whatever other expensive gimmick. We have recently been watching 'Peter Rabbit'. Prior to that we watched Little Einsteins and then ZingZilla's and she could say 'ZZ's'. But I've never found it an issue to get her away from the tv, she'll point and ask for it sometimes but I just distract her with something...

So we moved to Luxembourg, I got pregnant and then we were hosting a party at home for all of IP's friends before I'd heard of minimalism. And I saw on a website The Very Hungry Caterpillar party set and asked DP if I could get it as it made my life A LOT simpler. No faffing around spending hours like I normally do, hand making invitations etc. Yes The VHC is technically a 'brand' but IP is none the wiser as far as I am concerned.

Andddd I host a coffee morning with friends about once every 6 weeks so I decided to keep any left over disposable items (ie the VHC plates that weren't used, the Christmas napkins) and get them out each time until they're used up. We own a set of cloth napkins already so once the disposables are used up we'll use the cloth. What we do in terms of actually having a birthday party for her or her sibling will remain to be seen. But right now this works for us... It's not Zero Waste but it's as minimalist as I feel the need to be right now...

* PS Apologies to anyone who's noticed how many times this has needed editing and formating since I first pressed 'publish'. My only excuse is pregnancy brain and quite frankly, it's a rubbish excuse!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Recycling... In Luxembourg.

Well I have always said I wouldn't name friends, etc, on here so I sadly can't do a massive 'shout out' but a particular friend here has been incredibly helpful (and she knows it) since we moved here and when I was struggling came with me to a local recycling centre so I could work out where I was going and communicate with the people who work there. The first time DP and I went there, it turned out it was the right place but the guy I spoke to only spoke Luxembourgish and a very small amount of other languages, no English. Which meant I couldn't ask what they recycle or where to take things, etc.

In the UK if I had anything I wanted to get rid of I tended to take it to a charity shop. Sometimes I'd do a car boot sale but I didn't tend to make a lot of money. So when we moved here I was very worried because we moved a 2 bedroom house, with garage, shed and loft's worth of contents, to a 2 bedroom apartment, with a small storage room downstairs (called a 'cave' here), communal laundry room + communal garage. We have a patio at the back of our apartment and we have a large balcony but it's a very different environment and set up to the UK. I then discovered there's no charity shops easily accessible here! For me this was a bit of a disaster for donating stuff.

I did a car boot sale in the summer during which I managed to make a fair bit of money and I had an aim in mind so that was good but I still had several boxes of 'junk' left over plus it was done before I started a true minimalist declutter. There's recycling at the end of our road for glass, paper and textiles and a collection for certain food containers but that doesn't answer what to do with general 'bric a brac' that is still very useable?

I had planned a while ago to keep the stuff in boxes for 3 months in case we needed anything but last week I got fed up of looking at it (it was a jumble of boxes on our chest of drawers in our bedroom!) and asked DP if he'd help me take it to the recyling centre today to the 'Second hand shop' as it's called there.

I won't lie, it wasn't easy for either of us. As usual there were various arguments. But the outcome is good:

1. We took all the stuff.
2. DP agreed with my theory on my time, inclination and making money from our belongings.

I feel bad and told him so, that some of the stuff is virtually new. I could spend hours listing items in our local shop and on Ebay. But DP agreed that sometimes the argument 'time is money' applies. I have recently listed a filing trolley at my local supermarket because it's a larger item. But I don't plan to waste lots of time listing item after item on Ebay when I would have to continually go to the post office, it would probably cost me a fortune in postage and frankly, I don't want to. If we were really struggling for money or if DP asked me to, I would do so. I'd even do so happily. But when I'm not asked to and don't want to, I'm not going to. So certain items are being posted to family in the UK. Certain items are being kept here for family when they visit. The rest is going to recycling.

Unfortunately I forgot in the haze of sorting and arguing to take photo's of the stuff leaving our apartment. But I can assure you our car was nearly full. We had 2 suitcases plus probably about 5 boxes full, DP took a rubbish sack straight down and we had probably 2 rubbish sacks of textiles.

So where the plastic boxes are was 2 massive suitcases and several rubbish sacks of 'textiles'.

And this was piled high with 'donations'.

We then went shopping. And I made another decision. I could go completely hippy and make my own hand wash, etc. It could be great. But I would also have to listen to DP moan about it not being the same, it would take a lot of my time and frankly, I don't really have the inclination. So a while ago I bought a large bottle of shampoo & a large packet of shampoo to refill it. I had hoped to post a picture here but this link seems to be the easiest option. I also love the ideas behind The Zero Waste Home but wondered how far we could go as a family. I don't think DP would support all of the ideas and I know I would need back up and support, if I even wanted to implement half the ideas. Buttttt when we were shopping I discovered they do refill packs like the one of the shampoo for hand wash. So DP agreed immediately with me that we can manage little things as a family. The recycling centre does seem to take a lot of items so I hope to recycle more things in the future and I've already started to think through what I buy. It's a step in the right direction...