Category Archives: Thoughtful Living

Have a very indie Christmas!

Have a very indie Christmas

Next time you do some Christmas shopping, go independent. Head to your local town, or simply open up your laptop, and discover a whole world of innovative and inspirational small businesses.

I’ve gathered together some wonderful online independent stores. Make yourself a coffee, grab a mince pie and prepare to be inspired…

Ohh Deer. I recently visited their bricks and mortar shop in Loughborough and came away with a big bag of goodies. They do wonderful stationery, like this fabulous diary, featuring the work of wonderful designers. Also check our their fun greetings cards, cushions and homewares.

The Botanical Candle Co. Amalia and her small team produce the most beautifully scented soy wax candles. Everything is made by hand in their studio and shop in Shaftesbury, Dorset. The candles look and smell amazing, especially the festive range.

Cissy Wears. A lifestyle store that sells beautiful and well priced gifts for all ages. The simple wooden toys are lovely for little people. I particularly loved the stacking tree. For grown-ups, the selection of simple mugs, bold prints and quirky jewellery are fabulous.

The Alex Edit. Alex is a lifestyle blogger and this is her online store. I love the mix of pretty (and affordable) gold-plated jewellery, scarves, bags and cashmere. Quick delivery and I can vouch for the quality of the earrings!

Lovely Lydia. Lydia prints her own beautiful fabrics and turns them into lovely wash bags, cushions and accessories. One of her little bags would be a perfect secret Santa gift and I’ve got one of her mini bee cushions on my wish list!

Soapfolk. For thoughtful stocking fillers choose some soap or lip balm from Soapfolk. Everything is handmade in the Gloucestershire countryside. I can never resist a prettily packaged soap and love giving them as gifts.

Persephone Books. My favourite publisher. They produce beautiful editions of forgotten classics.  The pale grey bindings look lovely on your bookshelves too… Treat someone to one of their book subscriptions!

Persephone Books

Ely Gin. James and Nancy make their flavoured gin right here in the Fens. They have some wonderful flavours that are just perfect for talking along to a festive party – or pop one of their mini-bottles in a stocking. On a recent visit to Ely, Prince Charles described their Sloe Gin with Cherries as as, “absolutely irresistible!”

Happy Christmas shopping! 

Think twice about fast fashion

Think twice about fast fashion

Have you seen Stacey Dooley’s documentary, Fashion’s Dirty Secrets? It’s an important reminder of the human and environmental costs of our obsession with cheap clothes.

Before I go on, I want to make one thing clear. This post isn’t designed to preach to you, or to patronise you. It’s actually more of an admission of my own guilt: I get a buzz from buying cheap clothes and I don’t think hard enough about the true costs.

Here’s the problem: we produce too many new clothes. Most of them are made of cotton. Growing cotton uses a lot of water, and processing it uses huge quantities of pesticides and toxic dyes. In the UK we’re physically removed from this brutal and damaging process. Out of sight, out of mind. But the countries that produce our clothes pay the price. Watch Stacey’s documentary footage of the heavily polluted Citarum River in Indonesia and you won’t be able to bury your head in the sand any longer. Add to this the horrible working conditions and things are looking very dark

Think twice about fast fashion

What’s the solution?

The problem is overwhelming. How do you turn back the tide of cheap fashion? The answer is you can’t. Not on your own. But if we all make some small changes together, then change is possible.

For now, for me, the answer is simple: THINK TWICE.

Think twice before I indulging the LIKE, WANT, BUY impulse. I’m addicted to the buzz of buying new clothes. A decade ago, I’d think long and hard before buying a couple of new pieces each season, like a wool coat or an expensive cardigan from Boden. Now, my inbox and Instagram feed is full of cheap must-haves screaming buy me now. Before I buy anything new I’m going to check in with conscience and ask myself who really wants the new dress. Is it me, or is the clothing addiction?

Think twice about fast fashion

Think twice about whether it’s needed. Is it offering something new, or is just a repeat? Or is it a one-off piece you won’t wear again? Remember those old-fashioned ‘fashion maths’ posts you used to get in magazines? You need to think like that about every purchase – will it be versatile, good value and have a life beyond one season?

Think twice about the ethics behind your favourite brands. Do some research. What’s their position on the dark side of fashion? And how does that make you feel?

Think twice about fast fashion

Think twice about quality. Buy cheap, buy twice. That’s what your granny probably said. And she was right. I know that there are certain shops that produce clothes which last for years, and others that don’t. If a company’s clothes always go baggy or shrink after one wash then don’t buy them any more. No matter how cute they look.

Think twice about how you invest your money. Ethical clothing is relatively expensive. My purse is limited, and find it painful to spend too much on one item. However, now is the time to be 100% honest with myself. If I add up all the money I spent on fast fashion in a year, then I could  buy myself a nice capsule wardrobe of ethical clothes. It’s about spending my money more wisely.

Think twice about fast fashion

Think twice about buying new. Before fashion got so damn cheap, I used to buy a lot of things off ebay. I’d choose a trend, or my favourite brand, and search for second-hand bargains. I took pride in it. I want to show you more of this. I’m also giving away more of my good quality clothes to charity shops for others to enjoy wearing, rather than hoarding them under my bed.

We can’t cure our addiction to cheap clothes overnight. It’s going to take time. I will almost certainly slip up and appear intensely hypocritical at times. I want to keep writing about this, but I also want to keep writing about nice clothes. The key is acknowledge that things need to change.

This post is my first step in a better direction, will you join me? And if you’re still not convinced this is relevant to you, then watch Stacey’s documentary.

Milk bottle tops and paper bags

Milk in glass bottles

Milk bottle tops and paper bags…iron bedsteads, dirty old rags… Anyone else remember sitting crossed legged on the floor at primary school and singing that song? 

There’s nothing dirty about milk bottle tops these days. In fact, they’re a welcome sign that kerbside deliveries in glass bottles are on the up. We recently signed up, and haven’t looked back.

Milk in glass bottles

There’s something so simple and satisfying about milk in glass bottles. Pressing in the foil tops gives me a nice little reminder of being a child in the 80s, and knowing that the bottles will be trundled back to the depot to be refilled makes me happy.

Yes, it’s a little bit more expensive than walking to the shop to buy it yourself. And, yes, transporting and washing out bottles uses energy too. But surely it’s got to make more sense than single use plastic.

I’m using a local firm, Plumb’s Dairy, who deliver my milk in time for breakfast, three times a week. And get this, they also do orange juice in glass bottles too.

Milk in glass bottles

Paper bags. There’s nothing bad about those either. When I can I like to shop at the local market for my fruit and veg. But when that’s not possible, I’ve taken to using the mushroom bags at the supermarkets for my apples, tomatoes and other loose produce. No one’s told me off yet. It gives me a quiet sense of satisfaction, and stops my peaches getting squished in my bag.

Little by little, I’m trying to live more thoughtfully. How about you?

Milk in glass bottles