My zero waste/minimalist journey: an introduction

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Via Pinterest- Trade your plastic for mason jars !

I lost my glasses.

The good thing is that I know where they are: probably at home, because the case in which I carefully put them every time I take them off is still at my parents home. But I cant find them, and I know why. We have way too much stuff.

Back to my student life. Sometimes, I spend more time on cleaning instead of, like every student, being at my desk studying.

Because I have too much stuff in my apartment. My parents are overly generous and every time they come over, they bring bags of food, clothes I left at their home, cleaning supplies, new towels “just in case” and all sorts of gadgets. They are so kind. But though I was blessed during my student years to learn, by living on my own, how to be a homemaker and I learned lots of housekeeping skills, I’m still convinced that I have spent more time cleaning than the average student. Not only my parents, but my relatives never miss an occasion to give: you’ll probably see it in one of my future posts on the topic, but I lost track of the number of makeup palettes my aunt gave me as presents.

I am all for hospitality and generosity, but the strain I endured because of all that clutter in my life made me realize that it’s time to rethink the way our consumption.

There are plenty of posts on zero waste/minimalist post on the Internet if you are not familiar with that movement/trend yet. I probably won’t become as radical as Bea Johnson, whose lifestyle I love yet for lots of reasons I can’t get rid of everything I own so it will definitely be a long journey. However, I will try to document it, in pictures- and as I declutter my apartment, I hope to make more space in my life for other things…

Stayed tuned for the next post !

Stéphanie

 

 

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Do you capsule ?

The term “capsule wardrobe” was coined by Susie Faux, owner of the West End boutique “Wardrobe”, in the 1970s to refer to a collection of essential items of clothing that would not go out of fashion, and therefore could be worn for multiple seasons. The aim was to update this collection with seasonal pieces to provide something to wear for any occasion without buying many new items of clothing.” – Wikipedia (I know, not necessarily the best ressource but that definition is fine for my post 😉 )

Last week, I took advantage of my free afternoons to declutter my appartment before starting school. I was AMAZED at the amount of things- not only clothes in my wardrobe but plates in my kitchen, products in my makeup bag (I mean box) I had, most of them for YEARS and yet only using maybe 20-30 % of each category on a daily basis.

Not only there were here, useless, but clutter adds a lot of stress, and the “turnover” energy you have to put in daily when it comes to cleaning is important. What I mean by that is simple: the more stuff you have, the more cleaning you’ll have to do.

Which is sad because in the case of clothes, if you wear only your favorite items (20 %-30% of your cluttered wardrobe), you are allowing those you won’t wear to collect dust, eat a lot of space and eventually you will have to wash them and fold them again, over and over. I have folded TONS of clothes just because I had to and yet would never wear them.

That is how I came to get acquainted with the idea of a capsule wardrobe, and a capsule lifestyle as well. Some will take it to extreme lenghts, it’s true. Everyone will have his/her own definition of capsuling and for me, it was having the clothes I loved most and used most… without spending my whole life cleaning around ! Also, choosing carefully your items and getting creative with mixing/matching was an aspect I really wanted to integrate as a part of a frugal lifestyle where you spend more time doing things that count rather than spending lots of money on clothes/items.

I found some illustrations of capsules of Pinterest that I found useful.

If you don’t know how to “capsule”, here is a short article.

An example of an Audrey Hepburn inspired capsule wardrobe- It’s my style basically. I find that neutrals never go out of style (and pearls also, but that’s just a matter of personal taste 😉 )

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Mix and match and voilà !

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capsule

 

 

Back to the good ol’times: handwritten letters ! #1

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Pinterest

Hi readers ! It’s been a long time already and God willing I will maybe write a post or two on some reflections I had this summer. We were privileged to spend three beautiful weeks in USA, two at my aunt’s in Florida and another in Pennsylvania. Lots of happenings there led me to go back to my “first love”, writing. For years, I kept a diary, and every day after school, since the age of 16, I would let my thoughts ripe on the paper. Really, paper is my second brain and during the 4th year of universtiy, it happened for some reason I don’t quite remember that I stopped writing and it was a bad idea. A bad one. I thrive on writing.

During my stay in the USA, I talked to a relative and other girlfriends and realized something: we are in an age of rush. Of social media, of things-to-do lists. Some will be leaving for college and leave their parents behind, and sometimes, it can be quite overwhelming. They won’t always have the time for phone calls and answering emails and will be heavily disturbed when WhatsApp/Snapchat sends a “Ding !” while they are studying for their next quizz/test. Yet they need some presence. The warmth of those they love.

I wanted to stay in touch with these girls. Some of them cousins, some of them friends, sisters in Christ, older women at times. And yet, I, too, am getting crazy with the social media tornado that dominate our lives: you either choose to be an active member of it or, you socially die, forgotten of everyone !

It was upon these considerations that I have decided to buy a good, thick block of paper, a stash of envelopes and while decreasing my time on social media, to take the habit to write a letter once a day (while I am on vacations) but to have, at least, a special time, every week, to sit down with my tea on my little round table and to pen a few words.

The art of handwritten letters brings unique things…

The one who writes will see his/her thoughts unfold on the paper in a way that writing them on a computer won’t -there is no erase button after all… and it’s such a pleasure to go to the post office and print stamps to send your thick stash of letters. It’s usually hard to get me out of my appartment unless for shopping for groceries. My parents keep telling me, “Go out for a walk”- but this time I think going out on the Rue Nationale will be a much awaited time of the week !

The one who receives the letter will have the surprise of receiving something personal- all handwritings are different- and you get to have something that is specifically written for one person. And, unlike notifications, you get to have something that you can read at any time and requires your attention, yet is not as interrupting as those !

What’s not to love ? As I was sending an email a few minutes ago, I found, on my mom’s desk, a small adress book.*This is a siiiignnnn*. I just can’t wait ! And since I’m taking the train every Monday and Friday, I hope to, when I don’t want to study, to make it a tradition to write in the train.

Post #2 to follow !

Do you still write, or am I the only squealing Jane Austenish gal out there?

 

 

My frugal week

You know, far from being synonymous with a miserable life, I think frugality -making the most of what you have, learning skills in order to save- teaches you a lot. I think it taught me to pause, to stop, and no longer jump from one shopping spree to another. It taught me to work with my own hands, to be grateful for the clothes I had, to take care of them, to cook my own food and be grateful for it, to not take anything for granted… I am no longer in that rush that keeps me thinking, what should I buy next. I am learning to be content with what I have and I feel, honestly, richer that I have ever been, more that when I allowed myself to buy tons of stuff…

Also, I really think that as Christians, frugality is something we ought to aim for, in the sense, that we ought to be good stewards of what we have and not waste things. Think about what the Lord did with the loaves of bread…

Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. 12When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”  (John 6: 11-13)

 

Little steps I have been taking, and things I have been doing recently in order to save money, increase my creativity and take care of the environment…

 

  •  I started carrying a small fabric tote bag in my purse so I would be able to say “no” to another plastic bag when I buy something
  • I made sushi for my family last week-end.
  • I have started adopting the need it or not ? mentality. Last day, I was considering purchasing on Amazon a makeup palette and I gave myself a few days to think about it. Eventually, I realized that I had tons of makeup and that I actually did not need that palette at all.
  • I am learning to say “no, I’m good” when pressured to buy something.
  • I have started making my own bread. Bread was something I avoided trying as I thought it was something too fancy and that you could not do unless you had a bread making machine… But trust me, it is really easy ! I don’t eat a lot of bread so I thought making my own small breads would be a good alternative:

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  • I used what I have in the pantry to blend my own chai latte mix. In France, we don’t have that Starbucks/Tim Hortons culture so we don’t really have that budget hole due to Frappucinos and other drinks.

 

What frugal steps will you be taking this week ? I would love to hear your ideas !

 

Frugality and natural beauty: my favorite products

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Beauty best reviews

This year, as I began a journey toward frugality and buying less, I have learned that this new way of life did not have to be synonymous with cheapness and inferior quality.

At first, writing a post about beauty was not something I thought I would do since when it comes to that area, every lady is different: each one of us has a different budget, a different routine, a different skin type… Some ladies wear makeup, some don’t, some take five minutes to get ready while some will take a little longer.

I am just sharing here some beauty products that worked for me. Also, remember; if taking care of our outward appearance is nice and important… “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4). External beauty fades, but inner beauty is something that is precious, and is imperishable !

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When it comes to beauty products, they ideally have to as natural as possible (non-toxic, without ingredients that are impossible to read), versatile (i.e, ingredients that are multipurpose), and not overly expensive. If they can be reusable too, and environment-friendly, it’s even better !

HAIR PRODUCTS

I dye my hair with henna ! Henna is a powder that comes from a plant (or rather, from different plants). Henna comes in different shades: browns, black, differents shades of reds and copper and there is even a clear henna ! Henna makes your hair glossy,thick (you’ll notice it when you will tie your hair ! It definitely sheathes hair) and ultra-shiny… I love henna ! I buy mine from a French Website for only a few euros and dye my hair every 2 months. It fades gradually and is very subtle so I never had roots problems so far. However, if you buy it, make sure it is 100% pure, as it is important.

Apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse ! You probably have it in your kitchen, and mixed with water, apple cider vinegar makes your hair shiny.

-Coconut oil: or almost any oil/butter, used on your lengths before shampooing your hair, is like a pre-shampoo conditioner.

A lighter butter if you have long hair and you wish to apply, before leaving the house, a bit of it on your lenghts in order to protect them. I bought, for 1,25 euros, a small jar of mango butter and its non greasy finish makes it easy to apply without ending with greasy lengthts^^

Rice flour or corn starch as a dry shampoo. Because what is the main ingredient in those Batiste dry shampoos ? Rice flour. Apply it on your hair roots with an old makeup brush and it will absorb the excess of sebum on those days you have to skip shampoo time !

 

Skincare

 

Coconut oil as a makeup remover: it works even on waterproof mascara !

Vitamine E capsules: those caps you buy at your local pharmacy are actually a key ingredient you find in your store-bought eyecreams ! I apply it from time to times before going to sleep… However, used on its own, Vit.E is a bit greasy so I would suggest to mix it with a bit of coconut oil (here is one recipe) and voilà ! You have a chemical-free, homemade eyecream.

Shea butter ! This year, I made my mom a shea butter cream I made with shea butter of course ^^, a bit of beeswax to make it more “solid”, different oils I had at hand a lavender essential oil. Let me tell you, it’s the best cream I have used so far: creamy, chemical-free, with a wonderful scent of lavender… And packed with good stuff. It’s fun and easy to do, inexpensive compared to those creams you buy; you could also use shea butter on its own but I’d rather have it in a cream.

Jojoba oil: I love this oil because it is one of the oils that is the most similar to the ones that the skin naturally produces.

Oatmeal as a face scrub ! Take a spoon of oatmeal and grind it into a powder, add a bit of water and you have a soothing face scrub.

Honey as a face mask ! Honey has amazing antibacterial properties. Do a bit of research on the internet and you’ll see that lots of things you have in your pantry and fridge can be used as face masks: yogurt, tomatoes, cocoa powder with honey, avocado…

 

Essential oils

I am not going to go into detail here, but those I use the most are Tea Tree oil for blemishes and acne (it is a powerful antibacterial agent !), Ylang-Ylang for hair and lavender in face masks… Do a little research about it and be careful with essential oils ! However, when appropriately used, they might become your best friends when it comes to beauty and homemade cleaning products as they have wonderful properties.

 

Others:

Save money ! Instead of cotton pads and disposable makeup wipes, invest in reusable baby wipes, or, if you have sewing skills, use an old tee-shirt or whatever old fabric  and DIY your own makeup pads.

As you can see, most ingredients can be found in your kitchen and the others are not as much expensive as most beauty and skincare products and, at least in my case, they really work. I have been sticking to that routine since the beginning of the year and my skin and hair have really improved !

And some DIY’s…

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Here is an example of some DIY’s beauty product that I do. This super easy body butter took me less than 10 minutes to prepare, an old marmelade jar, a bain-marie= a pan on the stove filled with boiling water. In the jar, I have put beeswax, olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, vitamine E oil as a preservative and, a bit of thyme honey and a pinch of vanilla beans (can you see the brown beans in the jar ? It smells amazing as well 🙂 )The other jar is a tinted lipbalm, with basically the same formula colored with beetroot juice I bought from AromaZone. It gives a very natural hue to the lips…and doubles as a blush as well !

N.BHowever, be careful: natural does not equate innocuous (for example, the well-known cinammon mask you see on Pinterest is not something I would recommend as it is really dangerous !)