Ode to my jeans

Oh! Jeans, you who swathe my legs on a daily basis,
My go to item of clothing for all occasions,
Including the theatre and opera.
And now you are gone.

Oh! Jeans. My reliable friend
Ethically made, and responsible,
Always relied upon to make me feel good.
And now you are gone.

Oh! Jeans. Why is it you can’t
Tell if you fit until you have
Had them three weeks.
And now you have gone.

Oh! Jeans. You have been worn most
Days for 5 years and now you are worn
Through crotch and bum, beyond repair.
And now you are gone.

I know, silly really, to write an ode to my jeans. Especially such a ghastly example of poetry (although it sounds rather comical out loud). But I have had them for over five years and pretty much worn them nearly every day, and since I have become self employed, almost all day too. And they have worn thin around the crotch, thigh and bum area to the extent that is it fraying, has holes and there will be more soon.

They are from Howies, and they were ethically made, as well as being low polluting and organic cotton. They were stretchy and started off as dark demin, but over the years have faded out to light. Admitedly, some of the fading included dying my purple trainers blue, rubbing onto my husband’s car seat and his hands where he would rest them on my thigh when watching tv or at the cinema. That didn’t go down too well.

But none the less, a go to pair of jeans which sat at the right hight, so as not to have my belly pob over the top, or to be so high as to be unflattering. And of course the biggest problem with jeans is you can’t really tell if they fit until you have had them about three weeks and they have broken in a little. This is what makes buying jeans so damn difficult.

But, it looks like I will have to go jean shopping soon enough. When Howies release their next lot of jeans I will buy a pair. The other problem is they don’t seem to make that many in my size, so I have to order as soon as they become available, otherwise I miss out.

Ah well, I know it is slightly daft to have an ode and an entire blog post dedicated to my dead jeans, but there you go! Did you know that they are good to put on your compost – not all at once, but cut up and layered between wetter layers. I will be doing this with my jeans.

I have started to post three times a week now, as I feel I have so much to say at the moment. This may change in the future, but for now I am going to give it a go!

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Belhus Beanpoles

I do like adventuring around my local woods with Buster. Indeed if I don’t take him out for long walks he quickly finds ways to create havoc in the house. To be honest this is one reason why I chose a Springer Spaniel, I have no choice in the matter, I have to go out for walks with him, regardless of the weather.

I am trying to extend off of the normal beaten path, as well as gently building up my stamina as I try to heal from damaging my knee, I suspect I did that while training for a marathon at the start of the year.

While wandering around Belhus Chase, I came across this sign.

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How fabulous! It is using the local woods, at the same time as making the woods more accesible to people and reaching out to them. Bamboo is horrible to have on allotments, you can quite easily end up with splinters from it as it rots or breaks. And they are nasty splinters too. Hazel is much, much nicer and practically zero travel miles!

Using local wood is a wonderful thing and this sort of enterprise from our local woods should be encouraged.

Beauty mishap

I mentioned in the 7ps post and the one product post that I was going back to making my own cleanser/moisturiser.

I have been happy with my recipe for a while now, since I accidentally made it when I was messing around with making a lip balm as presents a couple of years ago.

I really love honey, and I use beautiful raw honey from a local supplier when I am cooking or in my morning porridge. I have even washed my face with honey for a period, but I found it far too messy to do on a regular basis, particularly first thing in the morning when I am still half asleep.

So, when I needed to make up a new batch of my beauty product I thought I would experiment a bit and try to add some honey.

2013-11-04 10.59.08

This is a Marks and Spencer’s mint tin. The mints are lovely, but I can no longer eat them as they contain gelatine. I am very disappointed by this. But when I was talking to Gavin about what I could put my product in he suggested one of these. I quite like it.

The quantity in the tin is the whole batch, as you can see if I am just making for myself I only make a small amount, so that it never gets very old. So, adding a whole teaspoon of honey to this batch is possibly not the best idea in the world.

hmmm. not quite what I intended

hmmm. not quite what I intended

Mmmm, yummy I can’t wait to smear that into my face!

As you can see it hasn’t set and has separated. I was pondering this and chatting to Gavin about it and he quite rightly pointed out that honey is essentially sugar and water, so the heating process will have separated it further.

Oh yes!

So, I am going to make a much tiny batch, with a smaller percentage of honey and see if heating the honey for longer helps at all. We shall see.

Simplifying my wardrobe

I have written before about trying to simplify my life and I am continuing to do so, albeit in a gentle way.

To start with I have been focusing on my wardrobe. It is important to say that I never buy cheap clothes, with dubious origins and quality, and I don’t really buy many clothes at all, certainly not compared to a lot of people I know.

None the less there is quite a lot of stuff in there, including 2 three piece suits, 4 two piece suits, left over from my corporate marketing days. Working in the arts I am never going to need these again! There were also numerous shirts – not casual ones, but formal French cuffs needing cuff links.

So, I have been on a bit of a cleaning binge with my wardrobe. I have to admit to being inspired by Project 333. This is the idea that you create a wardrobe of 33 items (including jewellery, shoes, outerwear, but excluding items of jewellery you wear all the time, exercise wear, uniform, underwear, slobbing around at home and nightwear clothes). Which you then have for just three months. At the end of the three months you can swap them out again.

Looking at before photos from the site this is another area where the difference in size between America and England is very, very obvious. We have the smallest houses in Europe and compared to America the size is absolutely laughable. So I don’t have a big walk in wardrobe, like most English people my bedroom has a bed, chest of drawers, wardrobe and bed side table, no dressing table or lovely big separate wardrobe or a relaxing chair to sit in! For most of us we don’t have much space to store things away either.

None the less, I have found this very useful. I wouldn’t say I am down to 3-33 as yet. But I am getting better. Not least letting go some of the clothes which I have had for 10 years and don’t fit me any more, but I use as a subtle way to beat myself up. Strangely I am not the same weight as I was when I was at uni, when I was running around stage managing three plays at once, holding down three jobs, doing uni work and having an eating disorder. And that is a good thing.

There is even an element of replacing things, so three pairs of boots have been replaced by one, which goes with trousers, skirts (on the rare occasions I wear them) and are suitable for work and home. I no longer have 6 pairs of jeans, none of which fit me, instead I have none. Well, to be fair that’s because my favourite pair of jeans which I have worn nearly continually for five years have given up the ghost. I do plan on replacing these – hopefully when Howies release the next lot of their jeans.

It has also helped me to be more creative in the way that I dress, I have chosen the colours (purple, black/grey, green, blue, rusty red/maroon) I wear, all of my clothes are in that colour. I am actually putting them together in different ways, and I only look at items to add to my wardrobe which go with everything and extend the amount of outfits I can wear from a small number of clothes. This has been stretching me in more ways you can imagine. Outside of work I am a jeans and very baggy hoody girl. That is changing and I feel much better about myself for it as well. I feel like I am developing my style, which is a little more sophisticated than it use to be, but it still very simple.

When clothes come out of the laundry I hang them on the left hand side of the wardrobe, so at the end of the three it is clear which of those I haven’t used at all. I can then think about if I send them to the charity shop, eBay them or maybe I have left them in the wrong season, and actually they are only summer clothes and not autumn ones. I also try to have clothes which cross seasons, rather than having a huge box of other clothes stored in the bottom of my wardrobe.

So there you go, a little peak at my simplified wardrobe. I have to say that taking a big box of STUFF to the charity shop is exhilarating and seeing a wardrobe where I can get to all of my clothes is wonderful. I won’t even tell you how great it is to have a sorted, organised underwear drawer with paired socks, tights in one place and knickers which aren’t trying to escape out of the drawer!

One Product

As part of continuing to simplify my life, have less things and to make life easier I have created a beauty product which has many uses.

Now, I would love to say that this was intentional, but actually it was the result of playing around when making a lip balm and realising that actually I was using it for various things other than a lip balm.

Because part of the recipe is making my own oil, which consists of calandular, St John’s Wort, chamomile, lavender and rose it is really good for healing skin.

So, this is what I use my little product for – although it is important to note that the quantity used is key, otherwise a small grease slick ensues which is horrible for all concerned:

* cleanser
* moisturiser
* lip balm
* sore nose balm
* first aid for small cuts and grazes ec
* hair tamer (REALLY important to only use a little bit at a time!!)
* Hand cream

I am also wondering if it would be good for protecting my leather shoes.

So there you go, one product to serve them all!

7Ps and the preparation of greening

When I worked in business as the Marketing Manager for a business to business company I was part of the sales team. This was difficult for me, because of the inherent clashes of personalities of those I was working with and me. Not to mention how I found it increasingly difficult to work in a way which didn’t match with my values.

One thing I remember is the Sales Director and his 7Ps sign. He even got it made as a wall board, branded and in company colours. Well, he asked me to do it anyway. It said this:

Proper
Preparation
Prevents
Piss
Poor
Performance

(Note to Americans and possibly other, piss in this case doesn’t mean angry. Piss means shit. For example – a ‘piss artist’ is someone who takes the micky and does a crap job, ‘taking the piss’ is someone mocking you or taking advantage, ‘on the piss’ is going out and getting drunk. ‘Pissed’ means drunk. End of the English slang lesson!).

This has been going through my head as I am renewing my commitment to head back to doing things in a greener manner than I have been. However, convenience rules at times.

I had planned to use my own cleaners when I ran out, but the last two times, rather than making some, I ordered some as it is quicker and easier. Same with shampoo/conditioner.

So, as I am only half way through my cleanser and moisturiser I have made my own and I am now testing it out, while continuing to use my shop bought (ethical, green, but still very packaged, more chemicals than I would use and very expensive) one.

This means I am happy when I run out to switch to using mine. In fact I like mine so much that I am going to have to make another batch as I am getting through it because I keep using it.

I am also going to mix up some bicarbonate of soda and some vinegar hair rinse as I start preparing to think about going back to no poo. You can read about my previous attempts at this here and here.

So, I think I am putting in the proper preparation in order to prevent piss poor performance in gradually going back to a greener life. Hopefully this will stand me in good stead.

School holiday woods activities

It is the summer holidays now and all of the woods, nature parks and everything else in the area is running school activities.

I love spotting the remains of these as I walk around the woods, natural ones (such as dens) stay up for a long time and they really make me smile.

My favourite woods in the area are Thorndon Woods, managed by Essex Wildlife Trust. It is in two parts – north and south and they really feel quite different. The north side is more wooded and the visitor centre is there, so it is very popular. In fact both parts are, on their Facebook feed at the weekends they quite often post not to come up as the car parks are full.

I have started to get cunning and tend to go first thing or early evening to avoid all the people. I like being alone in the woods with Buster.

As I said the activities have started up and this week I came across these two things pinned to trees.

Who lives in a house like this?

 

What school?

What school?

These too make me smile. I love the idea that the kids are encouraged to go exploring through the woods and I know that the rangers tidy everything up at the end of the day.

Thorndon holds a series of special surprises as you walk around and I love them, I am currently trying to photograph them all and I will share them with you when I do.