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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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:

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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:

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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:

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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 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.