Blogging: Why it took me so long to start!

(I’ve always loved this photo. It’s of these meringues my family ate years ago in Paris, and I’ve always just loved their bright colours. I wish we had meringues like this in Sydney or there was a recipe for them!)

As many of you already know, I’m fairly new to blogging.

I’ve never kept a consistent diary or journal and have often struggled to even keep daily log books for my assignments (oops). For years, friends and family have encouraged me to write more regularly, take up writing competitions or even consider written-based professions. So why didn’t I?

Well the problem isn’t that I didn’t have anything to say, it was just that didn’t know how ‘best’ to say it. I thought than rather enter a writing comp today, it was better to wait until I had a perfect idea, and then once it’s fantastic I’ll write it. The problem: I had many great ideas but I was too fixated on how to start them. I have spent, and will continue to spend countless hours fiddling and rewriting the first sentence of an essay opening before I feel like I can write anything else, and if I can’t find that perfect one sentence opening, become very disheartened and sometimes give up.

It’s so silly how whether or not my first sentence is amazing can determine if I continue writing that essay or story, when in fact, it’s the other 2490 words which are probably the most important. Yeah, a great opening is important, but not to the detriment of what you’re actually writing about. This is why it took me so long to start a blog. I felt like I needed to have a perfect plan, and some grand idea about where it was going to go. I needed to have a topic and a particular ‘image’ which I could never ever stray from. If I was going to write about design then I can’t write about beauty, if I’m going to write about my life, then I can’t write about tech and so on, and I actually wholeheartedly believed this, worried that if I ever strayed from my blogging ‘box’ that something bad would happen, which is surreal, it’s my blog and my thoughts after all.

It wasn’t until I was sitting down and explaining to my friend over coffee that I didn’t know what was the ‘best’ thing I should write about. I have so many interests and so choosing one category that I was constrained to for the rest of my blogging life seemed unrealistic and daunting. Her response: “Just start. Your writing and blog will change over time and that’s expected because you’re changing over time, so don’t worry about it, just start already“, and so I did. I decided that I wanted to make some changes to my life, the number one being: adopting a more minimalistic lifestyle and the second being: to write more and actually pursue my passion for writing. I have no idea where that will take me, and all I can do is share my experiences of where I end up.

When asked by friends, what specifically I write about, I say, “this, that and everything“, because it’s true. Some days my focus is on de-cluttering my room, (which I do have a few more interesting posts coming soon on), and on other days I’m exploring art, design, time management, university, cooking, my relationships or even the beauty products I use. These things all play a role in my life and are things that are all slowly changing as I progressively move to a more minimalistic lifestyle. I would like to save more, help the environment more, try more things, learn more and ultimately, get more enjoyment out of my life. For me, minimalism is all about having more, by having less.

For example, I have recently done a massive cull of my clothes and I am already starting to get more enjoyment out of the ones I have left. I spend less time worrying about what I’m going to wear and can use that extra 10 or so minutes on reading a bit more of my uni work. The time I save worrying about my skin significantly reduced the time wasted in the bathroom, worrying. I’m not saying this approach works for everyone, but for someone like me who tends to worry a lot, doing these little things helps me get more out of my day, because worrying makes it harder to start and easier to procrastinate.

So, rather than agonising over what box my blog fits into or if my opening sentence of my essay is perfect, I’m just going to write, and I’ll worry about the ‘category’ later.

Also, for those of you who have been following my de-cluttering journey, I’ll be putting up a post this week all about my clothing cull. Oh my goodness, did it take a loooong time!

Alana 🙂

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Mimspo Monday: The Art of Patience

“First you have to learn to do something, then you can go out and do it.”

– Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

If someone asked me to describe my traits, self-patience would not be one of the first things that come to mind. I like to be able to do things, and to be able to do them now.

Throughout school, I had so many hobbies and took up multiple co-curricular activities, all of which at the time I was determined to be amazing at. I would hours the first few weeks practising this new hobby to the extent that I wouldn’t much of any else, until one day, I get frustrated that I still wasn’t very good and then I’d stop. A great example of this is my relationship with musical instruments.

I spent around 5 years learning the piano. I had lessons once a week and used to practice every morning, until one day at my new school we we’re all choosing instruments for the band and the piano was already taken. So I had to choose another instrument; I had a choice of the clarinet, trumpet or the French horn, all of which I had no experience with. I tried each one out and eventually settled on the French horn. At first I loved it, I was the only French horn player in the band and I thought give it a few weeks and I’d sound great. A few weeks went by and I still sounded awful, a year went by and I still sounded awful. So I decided that perhaps the French horn wasn’t for me, and a year later in music class decided to try something different, and so I picked up the flute. Again, I played for about a year and still sounded terrible, so I joined the choir, and again, after a few years, I was still as un-musical as I was when I started.

So, I eventually wrote music off all together, no matter what I did, I wasn’t good at it. The thing was, it’s not what I did, it’s what I didn’t do. I never practiced. I thought my one or two music lessons a week was enough ,and that I should just be able to go out and do it without really putting in the hard yards. When I look back at the things, I thought I wasn’t good at, it’s not because I was bad at them, it was because I didn’t take the time to properly learn them. I struggled all the time with Maths at school, but always felt that English came to me naturally, when in fact, there was a time when I was in a lower graded class for English than for Maths, the difference was: I spent hours reading and inadvertently ‘studying’ English, determined to do well in that subject and so it wasn’t surprising that as the years went by I excelled in writing-based subjects compared to numerical ones. I highly doubt, that I just woke up one day and was able to form cohesive, well-written and persuasive arguments for my essays even though till this day, it still feels like I did.

I think the major difference between the subjects and activities I stuck to and did well at was the fact that I had the patience to learn and to fail. I failed French for years consistently, to the point that all my teachers recommend that I discontinue the subject. Me, being, me and 16 and ‘rebellious’ decided I would take in for my HSC anyway, and I did and I well. I made it into the top stream at university. How? I busted a gut. But then I got to uni and thought, ‘I’ll be fine, I’ll pick it up. No worries!’ And what did I discover? French at university is really hard, and that if I want to keep doing well at French, I have to keep practicing. I can’t just work hard for a year and then know it all for life, if I want to go out and work in France, I’ve got to continually practice it whether it’s through university or not.

So, I was sitting around last week, kinda feeling a frustrated with myself, and it kind of went along like this: “How come, virtually all my assignments take so much work just to do decently at, but I could write an essay last-minute, off the top of my head, for a book I kind of skimmed and a subject I don’t study for, and bam, here’s 85%?”

The answer: I read and write all the time and I don’t think of it as study. If actually counted the amount of time I spent doing English related activities, it’d be more than the amount of time I put into everything else, so of course it’s ‘easy’ for me. If I put that time into my maths, my french, my skateboard, I would be equally as good at those things. So why do I struggle to put time into them, is it because I don’t like them? No. It’s because it requires a lot of patience to work at things you’re not familiar with and it’s hard to be patient with yourself when it feels like ‘you just don’t get it’.

So what’s all this got to do with the architect? Well, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is a famous German-American minimalist architect who much of Chicago’s great skyline is attributed to. He’s renowned world-wide for his skill as a designer, architect, philosopher and educator, yet did not receive any formal training but was able to achieve so much. I’ve been reading and researching his biography and he’s the type of person who did the hard yards, and someone, I hope to emulate ideologically. He’s also the man the popularised the phrase and idea ‘less is more’, which is one of the main tenants of the minimalism community and hence why I started looking into him.

So, as I work through my first ever unit of design at university, I’m going to embrace his principles on learning. I’m not going to master adobe creative collections in one day, let alone the duration of this subject, but hopefully, in a few months time, I will have the understanding and knowledge to start creating interesting graphics and apply it my other subjects and interests. Who knows, if I become good enough, I might even be able to make some swift pictures for my blog, eventually of course, I’m still trying to get my head around Photoshop haha!

Alana 🙂

If you’d like to read more about Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, click here, here and here. If you’d like to see photos of his buildings, click here and here.

Feature image sourceMuseum for a Small City Project, Interior perspective. 1941-1943. MoMA Mies van der Rohe Archive. © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.
(Day 8- for those of you keeping count.)

Days 6&7: My Weekend + Paramount Cafe

(A charcoal bun burger. Great burger, but the charcoal in my food is slightly ominous) 

Hooray! Finally, it has stopped raining in Sydney!

These last few weeks we’ve had some horrendous storms, to the point that it has been virtually impossible to go outside. So, it’s about time that we had a weekend with some decent weather. I was starting to feel like Sydney was going to permanently look like this:

GALLERY_slideshow_sydney_harbour
Don’t worry, this picture is 100% fake…for now

Fortunately, this weekend we’ve lucked out with some great weather; sun both Saturday and Sunday, as well as being warm enough that I could get away without 10 layers of clothing…Okay, so Sydney actually doesn’t get that cold, but for someone who’s a bit of a chicken about the cold, it feels that way.

So, taking advantage of this lovely weather, I decided to not only continue de-cluttering my room but also catch up with a few friends. On Saturday we ended up going to this great cafe in Surry Hills called Paramount Coffee Project which is where Paramount Cinema’s head office used to be. It’s a really funky looking building. Although Paramount Pictures is gone, it’s been replaced with a vintage-style cinema and bar, called Golden Age, as well as this groovy cafe. I’m hoping that if I have time in the next few weeks, I can catch a film there since they show a lot of old cult films and the vintage aesthetic of the cinema looks like it would be a fun experience. If you’d like to see some photos and read more about the history and design of Paramount House, you can check them out here. It’s a really interesting read.

Back to the cafe. Again, like the rest of the building, it’s groovy as. It has typical modern white and light wood minimalist decor and a really refreshing feel. It pretty much looks exactly like I’d like my room to look like if I lived in a room big enough to be a café haha. Lots of space and light – two things I don’t have enough of in my room, but I’m looking to move some of my furniture around this break to make it a bit more spacious and functional; putting my desk in the spot with the least amount of light and then bed in the spot with the most light was not the smartest idea, I’ve realised.

Food wise, I wasn’t that fussed. I was more interested in catching up with people I haven’t seen for yonks than with  what I was eating. The coffee was great, and I was tired from a late Friday night that any coffee I had that day was amazing, but I wasn’t that stoked with the food. It seemed overly healthy. There were things in it that made me feel as if I was eating my five a day in the form of a breakfast muesli bar. I consider myself to be a fairly healthy person (unless there’s Tim Tams in the fridge) and I love a good porridge, but I prefer my porridge to be creamy with lots of banana, honey, nuts, sugar and all that fun stuff. This was nice, but it didn’t give me the warm cuddly feeling I want my food in winter to give me.  If you’re interested in checking the place out, this blog does a great write-up here.

I feel I’m just not catching onto this brown rice & rhubarb compote porridge trend that’s appearing in Sydney. This is the third time this season I’ve ordered porridge and been presented with rice instead of oatmeal. Any day now I’m expecting to order a fried rice that comes with oatmeal.  Hey, with all the weird food trends I see on Instagram these days, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Speaking of Instagram and the weekend, I often wonder, with all the food photos I see when I look through my feed, if people actually eat the food, or just take photos of it. I know how long it takes to get a decent shot of your food. By the time you’ve done that it’s cold and ugh. It often feels like the flavour and taste of many of the things we eat is being sacrificed for ‘looks’. Brown rice oatmeal with all these condiments looks great compared to traditional oats but it certainly doesn’t taste any better, and, for me, so-so food is not worth an instagramable pic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally a victim of instagraming my food too, (who doesn’t love pictures of food) but are we getting to the point that we’re making food for the purpose of being instagramable?

I’ve had many stunning-looking gourmet sandwiches and burgers in my life  that haven’t tasted that great. One of my favourite things that my dad makes is simple old spagbol. It isn’t one of the most attractive looking things but boy it tastes great. I feel instagrammability vs taste is even more of an issue when it comes to dessert. Massive, extravagant desserts generally don’t taste that good.

How have I come to this realisation you may ask? Well, I have a lot of friends who have turned 21 this year, so I’ve gone to a lot of 21sts. This means I have seen many extra-large, extravagant cakes which are stunning to look at. All the cake-cutting photos and whatnot are gorgeous and highly instagramable. But, most people leave their piece pretty much untouched, and that’s because a majority of the time these fancy cakes don’t taste great. Now, I love dessert and will always choose the sweet over the savoury, but I’d rather have an average, normal looking cake or pudding that tastes bomb than some sort of eatable thing that resembles a hat from the races or something like this:

f2500101-4261-4c52-870d-61577cb3ddde
Betty Crocker, why?????

This bread is from an exhibition at the New South Wales Art I went to last year. It’s bright, colourful and incredibhotographic – I didn’t have to edit the photos for this – the colours are so bright, which is exactly like the rainbow cake trend. The only difference is this bread is 44 years old. Yum. Now, I’m all for art, art is great, but if my 21st birthday cake looks this good after 44 years, I’m going to be concerned about what’s in that cake.

My point is that this trend of ‘photographic’ food often leads us to us buy food which doesn’t taste good and is more expensive than the less instragramable versions. There’s nothing wrong with basic poached eggs on toast, porridge with oats and cakes that don’t have 7 different coloured layers.

So, whilst brown rice porridge is an interesting experience, I think I’m going to settle this winter for having my non-fancy, non-adulterated oatmeal like this:

IMG_6983.JPG
As I was taking this photo, she kept trying to drink my coffee, sniff it, then look at me disparagingly for not having something more appealing in there for her.

 

How has everyone else’s weekend been?

Alana 🙂

Day 5: A quick update on my decluttering

(I may not have perfect skin, but these lemons do. I also just felt like I had to find a refreshing image to match my refreshing feeling after all the tidying up and since it’s pouring and flooding like no tomorrow in Sydney, I was not going outside to buy some.)

Cleaning out my room has never felt so good.

I have found so many things that I didn’t even realise I owned and got rid of so many seriously outdated products. So far, I’ve cleaned out all my makeup, skincare and two of my old “stuff drawers”- which were absolutely chock-a-block full of random stuff. I’m never going to need to buy a pen for the rest of my life, I have that many.

So, because whilst it’s fun telling you about my cleaning up process and the joys I’m getting out of it, I thought, why not take a few pictures so you can see what I have left and what I think I still need…just a warning, if you are not that interested in makeup or skincare, this is probably a tad boring for you and don’t worry I will have many more storage tips for all different things  in the coming weeks!

Numero Uno: Makeup

IMG_6855.png

As you can see, I really don’t have that much makeup. I’ve got a few concealers, nail polishes, lip glosses, blush and a range of eye products. I tend to go for neutral colours with a bit of pink/orange because that’s what I think looks best on me. Then again, the only lipstick I seem to have and always wear is a bright red Bobbi Brown one, which definitely is not au naturel looking! Also, I just realised, that I don’t even have a foundation in here. Well, considering I’ll need one at some point before I go to another 21st, which trust me is probably in a day or two time since everyone I know seems to be turning 21 at the moment (except me!), if you have any recommendations for a good foundation, please let me know! 🙂

Also, if you’re wondering where I got these makeup dividers from, I bought them from a place called Howard’s Storage World ages ago, but I imagine you could get them from any Target or equivalent. I personally love them because I can put them in a drawer (like I have here) and still see everything, and if I spill something I can just take everything out and wash the divider in the sink because it’s plastic. Before anyone asks, I prefer to put my makeup in a drawer so it doesn’t get dusty. When you live in the city, everything gets dusty so quickly and I’d rather that the stuff I put on my face stays as clean as possible!

Also if you don’t want to buy a specific makeup storing divider, just use a cutlery or stationary divider- it does virtually the same thing and it is much cheaper! Anything that’s marketed towards makeup or “women” always happens to be much more expensive. Before I got the divider, I used to just use a variety of different sized cardboard boxes which I stuck together to have my own sort of DIY divider. 🙂

Numero Duo: Skincare

IMG_6856.png

This is all my skincare, no more, no less!

I am in love with everything Aesop’s products. They works great with my skin, they don’t cause me to break-out or anything and I have super sensitive skin so something gentle that doesn’t result in a strange rash or sea of pimples is a win win in my books. If I do have a break-out then there’s always some good old benzoyl peroxide haha!

Storage wise, I have a few of these tubs from Ikea, which are fantastic. Just like my makeup dividers, they’re hard plastic, so if I spill anything it’s super easy to clean up. If you haven’t noticed already, something that’s easy to clean is super important to me because I spill lots of things. The other great thing about these tubs is that they have cut-out handles which makes it easy for me to pick up since I put the whole tub under the sink. So, all I need to do is just grab the tub and everything is at my disposal, there’s no search through drawers. I can’t find the exact tub on the Ikea website, but it’s pretty similar to the one here, if any one is looking for it.

I also have a metal stationary thing (no idea what it’s called), to put some of my smaller tube shipped products in and tools like tweezers, which I didn’t need for all my 100s of pens and so repurposed for here. I’m pretty certain I bought it from Office Works, where I get most of my stationary.

If you don’t know much about Aesop, then you might be wondering why I don’t just keep them in the shower? Well, nearly everything Aesop (except shampoo and some creams) come in glass, which means if you’re a bit clumsy like me, having wet glass bottles in the shower is a bad idea- I haven’t smashed one yet, but I’m not taking any chances! Especially when you’re paying $40-60 a bottle which is a lot, but it lasts a long time.

So that’s some of the stuff that I have been doing with my makeup. I’ve also been selling some jewellery online which has gone fairly well and I’ll write a post about that shortly because I feel like it’s one of those things where there isn’t that much information about selling mid-range jewellery, most of the articles I read were all about selling high end pieces, which is not me!

So I hope this gives you a few storage ideas or some inspiration to part with a lot of your old and never used products as well as show that you don’t need a lot of makeup to get by, unless you love makeup in which case as I always say, “you do you”. I was thinking of maybe doing a post running through my skincare/makeup routine, so if you’d like to see that or if you have any cool storage ideas that you use, please leave a comment down below!! 

Alana 🙂

Today’s Mimspo- Yves Klein

Blue has no dimensions, it is beyond dimensions, whereas the other colours are not. They are pre-psychological expanses, red, for example, presupposing a site radiating heat. All colours arouse specific associative ideas, psychologically material or tangible, while blue suggests at most the sea and sky, and they, after all, are in actual, visible nature what is most abstract.

Yves Klein

Want to learn more about Yves Klein’s life and works, click me!

I’ve decided that I’ve love to start a regular short and sweet kind of a minimalist inspiration trend on my blog. There’s so many different elements to Minimalism be it artistic or lifestyle that people (including myself) don’t know about. So, why not feature an interesting image and quote or idea by a day. I know Mimspo is 100% not a word, but I think it’s fun, so humour me haha!

Let me know what you think about this idea?

Alana 🙂

 

Image source: Yves Klein Archives

Quote source: Christie’s

Day 4: “You don’t look like a Minimalist”- Oh Sorry, let me get my White Shirt

(It’s okay guys, I finally found my white shirt. It’s 100% definitely not my dad’s business shirt. Can I please join the minimalist club now?)

Have you heard of the minimalist look, or should I say…aesthetic?

Well, apparently it’s a thing now. I was recently chatting with a few friends and one of them commented that they had seen my blog but that I just didn’t look like a minimalist, and being the adept student I am (sometimes), I thought, “well, I better find out what all these minimalists look like”.

I’ve studied a fair amount of modern art at university and have quite a few architect friends. So, I thought I already had a good understanding of Minimalism as an art and design movement, and then spending quite a bit of time reading about Minimalism as lifestyle, I felt like I connected with the basic principle of having less, but appreciating it more. I started applying these ideas to my life and have so far been really enjoying letting go of a lot of the physical and mental clutter I’ve been collecting for god knows how many years. It started to help me to let go of a lot things I was really attached to for no good reason, to realise passions that I wasn’t sure about before, to learn to be a bit less materialistic and environmentally aware of waste, and overall to try to be a more appreciative person.

The fact that I connected with all of these ideas as well as enjoying the design and art side of Minimalism made me start to think of myself as slowly becoming a ‘Minimalist’ and be comfortable wanting to be a ‘Minimalist’. What I didn’t realise was to be that person I had to have the ‘look’, otherwise, no one would take me seriously. What look are we talking about?

Well, from my research it’s something like this: monochrome and geometric clothing (no colour whatsoever), minimal silver, again geometric, preferably triangular jewellery, a neutral makeup palette and lip and then of course dead straight slicked back hair. So, in a nutshell, according to ‘catwalk-fashun’, because that’s where the ‘cool’ things come from, we’re looking at something like this:

minimalism-gareth-pugh

(Is it bad that the first thing that concerned me about these outfits was that you may not get past airport security with those edgy edges?)

Now, I’m all for self expression – you do you buzzfeed, but sometimes I go places, and I feel like these outfits would be a tad inconvenient. For starters, I live in Australia and here summer gets pretty hot so those two black leather outfits are probably a no go. So, whats my point here?

Well, it’s pretty simple: you don’t have to have the look to be part of be part of a community. One of my goals is to learn to be less materialistic and waste less when it comes to clothing. Now, if I just threw all the clothes I own, which are win perfect condition out and then bought a whole need monochrome wardrobe I’d look like a minimalist, but would I be living a minimalistic lifestyle? I personally don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong things get thrown out all the time and it’s not the end of the world when you throw something out, but throwing perfectly fine things out just to fit to an ‘image’ seems a little rich in my books. Also, who said minimalism was all about monochrome? One of the most famous Minimalists is Yves Klein, and he only painted his art in blue, even looking at geometric Scandinavian designs, there’s quite a bit of colour in them.

ikb_191

(There is no monochrome here, it is literally just a blue rectangle.) 

So, I kinda thought about this whole ‘look’ business in my life and it reminded me of a conversation I jokingly had with my dad. I recently bought a skateboard, which has been great- minus ripping holes in my jeans, being chased by skateboard-hating dogs and spraining my ankle for a week…oops, but apart from that it’s so much fun. One day, before I went to go skate in my casual jeans and t-shirt, my dad commented that all I needed was an open flannel shirt and look like a skater chick. An open flannel shirt makes me a skater? Okey doke. So it’s not the skateboard that is the discerning feature of a skater, but the shirt they’re wearing….riiiight. Finally, this all makes sense now, everyone who was looking at me cautiously when I rode by, were doing so not because I had terrible control of my board and they were afraid of being potentially impaled by it, but because of my lack of flannel shirt. Obviously.

It’s not just minimalism or skateboarding that have their ‘aesthetics’, everything does and we’re all unintentionally (or intentionally if you’re the kinda person that sucks) making judgements on what labels fit what person based on the clothing they wear. That’s life. Whilst we could argue that we should ban all the labels, it’s probably never going to happen, what we can do, is try to think a bit more before with make that judgement, especially if you’re making it vocally. You’re going to think the thoughts you think, but it doesn’t mean you have to share them. Now on the other side, just because everyone in a movement or activity that you enjoy ‘looks’ a certain way, it doesn’t mean you have to as well.

Whilst, I’d love to believe that wearing monochrome 24/7 will make my room tidier and a that flannel shirt will instantly teach me how to ollie like Tony Hawk, I unfortunately know that that is not the case.

Then again, I totally believe that when I wear my glasses I’m just so much smarter…they say it’s the whole reading-prescription thing, but I’m sure it’s all in the frames. Trust me, even KK & Kayne wear glasses.

Hope you enjoyed reading this! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the whole minimalist ‘aesthetic’ or just the how ‘look’ club in general?

Alana 🙂

 

Please not that I have nothing against monochrome fashion, it looks great but it shouldn’t be the single defining trait of a minimalism enthusiast in my opinion. 

Fashion image source
Yves Klein painting source

Day 3: Why I’m terrible at using a diary and what I plan to do about it!

(I tried to model my cat for this photo. What did I learn? Some things you just can’t ‘organise’, cats being one of them, even with bribery.)

I have a lot of diaries.

I have so many diaries in fact that one would assume that I was so organised that I organised my organisation.

Unfortunately, that just not the case. Here’s the usual example: it’s the beginning of the year or semester and I decide, ‘Alana, you can’t remember every single thing in your head, so get a journal and write it down. You’re going to be more organised than you were last semester!‘ So, I go out and buy a diary, which is usually the biggest, most-detailed diary I can find, come home, spend hours putting it all together and then spend the evening feeling pretty impressed with myself because I’m now, all of a sudden, an organisational genius. Does it work?

HAHA…no. What usually happens: I spend a week pedantically carrying around this oversized journal and meticulously writing down every possible commitment I may have, until one day I decide it’s too big or too heavy to fit in my bag and so leave it at home. One day diary free becomes 2 days and so on until I eventually stop using it and it gets abandoned in some pile of university work which is called the ‘to-do’ pile, which is in fact the, ‘I don’t feel like doing it now and will probably never do later’ pile. If my parents are reading this, don’t judge, I know you have exact the same piles…we all do. Anyway, that’s a story for another day.

Back to the diary situation. So, once I’ve abandoned my diary, my organisation and record keeping becomes a series of writing things down on whatever piece of paper I happen to have at the time, until I lose them all, forget something and then once again I eventually decide I need another diary, make up another set of excuses and the cycle starts again…Oooft, try saying that sentence all in one breath!

So, what am I doing about it? Well for starters, I’ve moved to an electronic diary. Why? Because I’m 20 and addicted to my phone – trust me, it’s probably an addiction when you respond to your whilst in the shower rather than wait 2 minutes until you’re out like a normal person…I guess I’m not perfect after all. The current diary app I use is the simple, basic apple iCalendar and the free app Wunderlist for all my to-do stuff.

Why these two? I’ve spent more than enough money on my ‘organisation’ and it’s easy and convenient for me and what I do, which is study and keep up with work, university societies and friends, and you can’t exactly get behind in iCalendar, it’s always there. I’ve considered other calendar apps, like Fantastical 2, but for around $80AUD, there’s just no way I can justify spending that much money on something I may never use, but that’s just my opinion! If you have experience with Fantastical 2 or any other great calendar/daily planner tools, please let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts about them?

Okay, so having the apps and whatnot is one thing, but how am I actually making it work? Well I’m doing 4 basic things:

  1. As soon as I make a plan, I just put it in my phone. I don’t wait till I get home or do it later. I just try and do it asap- because I will forget.
  2. I don’t make exceptionally long and unrealistic to-do lists. I try to focus on doing only 1-2 things daily, so whatever else I do on top of those feels like a bonus rather than a failure.
  3. I don’t beat myself up about forgetting something. Okay, so I forgot to write something down, or I got the time wrong, or the place wrong…these things happen and that’s life. C’est la vie!
  4. I don’t let my diary rule my life. I don’t need a plan for every day, nor do I want to spend a considerable amount of time planning when I can be doing. Also, plans can change and mine often do.

So that’s how I’m trying to improve my organisational and time management skills! Don’t worry, I’m far from perfect and do love my procrastination. In my opinion, embracing a more minimalistic lifestyle isn’t necessarily about cutting heaps of things out of your life and becoming this super organised well-oiled machine, but more about trying to reduce clutter. In this case, it’s not physical clutter I struggle with but mental clutter. Trying to remember everything in your head is hard and stressful and so I’ve found that writing events down in a calendar and having short 1-2 thing to-do lists has really helped me!

Hope you found this interesting, and let me know if you have any organisational tips too!

Alana 🙂

 

 

Day 2: My skin’s not perfect and that’s okay – skincare clean out.

(They say money doesn’t grow on trees, but if skincare did, I’d save a lot of money. Don’t worry Dad; I didn’t damage your spring onions.)
“Did you just look at yourself in the window?”
“No, of course not…”

Okay. Admit it. You were 100% definitely checking yourself out. Don’t worry, I do it too, we all do. I can’t count the times my parents have accused me of ‘being vain’ and it’s not because I think I’m hot stuff, but because I’m a little bit insecure about what I look like

I’ve always been a bit so-so about my appearance, particularly my skin. When ‘makeup’ and ‘skincare’ hit school, I was all over that stuff, trying to cover blemishes I didn’t even have or reduce the appearance of my freckles or even try to look a little tanner. I remember some of my “friends” pointing out the occasional pimple or spot there that I had never before even noticed and being so embarrassed and trying to cover up my chin for the rest of the day. Then, once I started using makeup I was criticised for using it, being told I was doing it wrong and I shouldn’t be so vain blah blah blah. Puh-lease, we all know most of this criticism came from the girls who had that trendy dark foundation line for a necklace and raccoon eyes for school photos.

So, I guess that’s where my slight skincare addiction began. It wasn’t necessarily because I enjoyed skincare products or had an interest in them, it was because I was incessantly fixated with every single potential flaw on my face. I’ve tried everything from basics like cetaphil to high end brands Clarins and YSL and then everything in between to try and ‘fix’ these non-noticeable flaws. Even worse, is the amount of nutritional condiments that have gone on my face, including staples such as: eggs, avocado, oatmeal, honey, lemons, gelatin, yogurt, milk, toothpaste and vegemite (once and it was awful, please don’t ever attempt). I gave up certain food groups, like dairy and sweets and then coffee and pretty much anything worth eating. I drank excessive amounts of water and regularly ‘steamed’ my face in an attempt to ‘clarify’ my complexion.

And you know what? None these remedies made any difference to the way I looked, they did not obliterate my pimples, clear out my blackheads or unclog my pores…all they did was shatter my self-confidence, confirming in my mind that I had a problem that cannot be cured.

So what changed? Well for starters, university did. I left the hypercritical environment of an all-girls school and made a whole lot of great friends at university, many of them guys, who 100% did not notice or care how my skin looked. But I still had meh skin, I started drinking, having late nights, eating a bit more junk and occasionally sleeping in my makeup which made my skin flair up a bit more.

But this time, I was working. So it wasn’t a problem, I had the money to spend on virtually every skincare product available and when one didn’t work, I’d buy another. This was just a never ending cycle, if the product I’d just bought didn’t work immediately then it was back to Myers to try another brand, and eventually, I just ended up with all these really expensive products that I don’t use, as well as wasting a lot of money as many of these items are $50+, and you need multiple.

So what did I do? I stopped buying more products. I decided one morning enough was enough, and stopped poking and picking my face. I went back to a medium-high end organic, hypoallergenic, natural brand that I used often throughout school. I bought a basic set of skincare: cleanser, toner, moisturiser, a scrub for my dry skin in winter and a mask for my oil skin in summer. That’s it, no more, no pimple cream, no eye cream, no night and day creams, none of that extra additional stuff. And I told myself, ‘you are not buying any more products until you have used up the ones you have’, and eventually my skin calmed down a little and I felt confident enough to wear makeup a little less often, which in turn improved my skin even more.

What made the difference to my skin was not some miraculous $100 cure, but consistency and patience. The consistency to: just use one product and stop jumping between things, and the patience to accept that yes this stuff takes time, it’s not magic. I just have to love what I’ve got because it’s really not that bad and I’m tired of wasting time and energy over something does not contribute to my wellbeing and just makes me unhappy. Don’t get me wrong, I still worry, just a little less now! (I think, or at least hope so).

I guess now you’re wondering what my cure for my teen acne was? Well, that’s easy, 5+ years of gruelling high school, bitchy comments and much staring in the bathroom mirror until I was no longer an oil-skinned teenager. Seriously, time has done so much more that any product I’ve ever bought. 

So, in celebration of my slight boost in skin confidence, I cleared out all my old and dead skincare products today in accordance with my new minimalistic approach to life, or what I like to call now, ‘not hoarding stuff I don’t need’. Adios you non-amigos and causers of pain, anguish and way way way too much money and hello fresh-faced, freckled and occasionally pimpled me.

Alana 🙂

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Here’s me with 0% makeup, 100% sunlight and about 10% actual sleep after submitting an assignment haha.

What to do with your old textbooks?

(just one of the piles of textbooks I’m getting rid out this semester)

I am a self-confessed textbook hoarder. 

I hold onto books from school and university with the belief that I may need them, again, one day, possibly, in the near foreseeable future…that does not actually exist.

They sit on your bookshelf collecting dust and forever taking up space. Then a few years later, you realise that they are so out of date not even a second hand bookshop will take them, so you think, “I’ll just throw them out…but it’s such a waste, what if I need them, what if someone I know needs them…etc etc etc” and so then end up back on your bookshelf for another few years.

So what to do with them? Well I’m doing a mini series all about textbooks! So here’s my rundown and tips for clearing out those old books:

Sell them!

For many students, like myself, textbooks and readers are a huge cost each semester, many of my textbooks coming up to $200, so parting with them for nothing can be really difficult. BUT, you’re going to have to lower your expectations price wise, they’re second hand so no matter how good condition they’re in, you’ll never get the price you paid for them!

So here’s a few places to help you out:

Facebook

Good old fb is a great place to sell your old books. You can sell them on your own profile, or even better join one of the textbook exchange groups for your university/institution. I’ve sold and given away textbooks to students who need them and many of my friends have done the same.

The way it works: you post a for sale ad in the group a photo and your suggested price and people will either comment or privately message you about it. You then organise a sale between yourself and the buyer. If you’re nervous about meeting strangers, take a friend and even better meet at a public place at your university, like your library.  Often you’ll need to include the publication dates, the course code/subject name the textbook is from and the condition of the book.

Whilst I can only talk about the Sydney based textbook exchanges, there are many that exist throughout Australia and even worldwide. Please remember that for some of these groups, you can only join with your university email! 🙂

Gumtree

Okay, so you don’t want to sell them on Facebook, your not part of a uni, or your not sure what course your textbook is from. Don’t worry; Gumtree is a great place to sell anything, especially textbooks.

The way it works: you make a Gumtree account, take a few photos of your books, post them online in your ad with some information about the price and condition and ta-da! Finito! All you need to do now is just wait for people to respond and then organise a sale between you and the buyer. Please make sure that you meet somewhere public or with a friend, because you are meeting strangers online, although, I’ve never had any issues with Gumtree ever. 🙂

(Another similar alternative to Gumtree is Ebay, which I don’t use for textbooks personally, but have heard other do!)

The Co-op Bookstore (if you’re in Australia)

Co-op is where you’ll buy most of your textbooks and they’re often located near your university!

The way it works: Check here to see which books and textbooks they are buying back, take your books into the store with some form of identification and they can give you up to 30% back on your books- which is great especially if you’re after something convenient and don’t want to meet strangers!

Donate them!

If you don’t need the money then given your books away is a great option! You can post a free ad online, give them to a friend’s sibling or your local library/school if they are accepting books. Here’s a list of some of the place in Sydney I have given free books and textbooks to:

For a list of other places Australia wide to donate books, click here!

…and if you can’t sell them or give them away, PLEASE RECYLE YOUR TEXTBOOKS!

Hope this little article helped. I’ll keep updating it the more things I think of as I’ve got a few more years of university and textbooks to go! Also please leave a comment of any ways clear out your textbooks!

Alana 🙂

If you’d like to find out what this blog is all about: CLICK ME! If you’d like to see me declutter other things, like makeup: CLICK ME!