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 🙂

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:

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 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 🙂