... to the "Fluffy Little Idiot's" blog! Here I yadder about life in general, self-development, downscaling and working towards a more minimalist lifestyle, my many interests and so on. The header photo is a collection of my stuff that I arranged in late May 2010 whilst in Taiwan. It represents about three quarters of my current interests - please also add veganism, stately homes, hiking and nature. There will be others though....many, no doubt! Enjoy your stay, leave a comment and come back soon!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Make Up Inventory - mid year count 2016

I thought I'd start doing counts every 6 months, not just annually, to help keep me focused and have more of an interim goal to work towards.  May not be terribly interesting to anyone other than me!!!

Here are the figures from the last count on 1 Jan this year, the current numbers and the current goal.

* Eye shadows (individual shades, not palettes/trios etc): Last count 64, now 60.  Haven't used any up, but put 4 more singles on one side to give away.  Unsure of goal on this one at the mo.  Originally it was 75, which I passed a while ago, but my current piece of paper says 50, a number I no longer really care about.

* Lipsticks: Last count 13, now 10. I used one up and there are 2 with the 4 single eye colours ready to be offered to a friend.  They're warm colours that no longer suit me.  Goal: 6

After a bit of working out which fell into which category:

* Lip colours (mostly liquid lipsticks or well pigmented colours in palettes): Last count 14, now 14.  Odd thing is, I used 2 up and have bought none.  Must have miscounted at some point.  Ditto with the next line!  Goal: 6-8, although my current list says 10-12.  I think that's probably too many at one go.

* Lip glosses (low pigmented colours): Last count 20, now 19, but have finished up 2 and bought none, so must have gaffed it at some point.  That's not like me as I'm normally so precise.  Hmmmmm! =(  Goal: 3 or 4 - just a clear, a clear sparkle, a golden sparkle and maybe one more.

Moving on....

* Blusher: Last count 9, now 9.  I'm plugging away day in day out at the bright pink one, with occasional use of the lilac-pink and even more sparing use of the red (all from my school days in the 80s), but no discernible progress.  This one's going to take literally decades to go all the way down!!!  Goal: 3 or 4

* Foundation: Last count 4, moved 1 to the 'Primer' category (a CC cream) and used 1 up, so now 2.  Goal: 1 or 2 I'll get a Lush Colour Supplement one day, but not until the CC primer has gone.  May also keep an all in one in stock.  We'll see.

* Powder: Last count 2, and still now 2.  Again, working away on one I remember having in high school (yes, it's still fine, although the mirror is broken), but although the dip seems to have deepened a bit, it's going to be a long job.  Goal: 1, but I'm not expecting to reach this for a few years yet.....

* Primer: Last count 1, now 2 following the re-classification of my Bourjois CC cream as a primer and not a foundation.  I'm working on this one daily one way or another.  I either mix it with the foundation I'm using up, or just with some moisturiser and use as a CC tinted moisturiser.  I like the effect of a little of this product, but it's not cruelty free, so I won't be replacing it when it's finally finished, which I estimate to happen in 2/3 more years' time.  Goal: 1 - just an eye primer, when I find one that's any good.  The E.L.F. one was a total disappointment.  I was told it was great by more than one source, but it's exactly the same as using none - I trialled it by priming one eye and not the other.  =(

* Perfumes: Last count 12, now 19.  Yes, I've bought some.  Actually, the reason for that was that I genuinely thought that Soap and Glory's Orangeasm was going off the market, but later on I found out that they were just dumping the whole tonic spray range and that the body sprays appear to be staying.  Not before I'd sourced 3 body sprays on e-bay and 1 in Boots, plus 2 tonic sprays on e-bay.  I was also given 5 old Yves Rocher perfumes by my mum in 2 different scents, so that made 11 items in. That means that I've used up 3 so far this year and I'm working on 2 more at the mo.  Goal: 6-ish

So, that's it for the last half year.  I've used up 8 things, (more if you count mascara, which I've dropped as a counting category as I reached goal) and worked intensively on another 11 so far, but with little impact, except on perfumes.  I've also been using eye shadow more often and getting a feel for what suits me better these days and what colours, combos and 'sparkliness' level I like.  That means that I may lift the No Buy on this category and get one or two carefully considered products to supplement what I have left.  Only eye shadow though and even then, only a few!

Hope to finish up my current foundation and another 5 or 6 lippies of varying types and 2 or 3 perfumes by the end of this year.  I'll still be working on the powder things too, but am not expecting anything to be finished off.

Next update: 1 Jan 2017, complete with photos.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Friday, 15 April 2016

How to succeed on a No Buy

Whilst I've been watching some YouTube videos, looking at some Instagram posts and reading some forum discussions on not buying any more make up or toiletries or craft supplies etc over recent months, I've noticed that many people are experiencing something noteworthy: It's not working.  They're still buying the things they pledged not to and their collections are not only not decreasing much, they are often actually increasing.  If you're on a No Buy of something and having some trouble or are afraid the same will happen to you if you embark on a No Buy, then I hope the following will be of help to you.

To be honest, I'm quite lucky in that, once I've decided I'm not buying something, I'm just not buying it - period.  I have pretty decent spending willpower and can resist the temptation to get something quite well.  However, I'm still human and find that these tips help me along my way.

First of all you need to be very clear about what you're hoping to achieve and why.

What is meant by a No Buy?  It's a no brainer really.  Being on a No Buy, means you're plain and simply not to buy that thing.  If you're on a make up No Buy, then you don't buy make up.  If yours is a book No Buy, you buy zero books.  It's that simple.

Problems can start when 'No Buy' gets confused with the following

- Low Buy - where you're trying to buy less, but are still shopping

- Being 'aware of what one is spending' - which could mean anything from just keeping a note of how much is spent on a certain type of thing to consciously challenging oneself when on the point of purchase, 'Do I need this?  Should I get it?'

- Saving up for a splurge at some forthcoming special event or sale when people who've declared themselves on a No Buy for a set period of time until the next VIP sale or some show where they will, basically, go and spend all the money they've not spent on their No Buy category items and stock up as much, or even more than they would have done had they been shopping as usual.  This is also one to watch out for when specifying exceptions to a genuine No Buy (more on that later).

Can you see the traps here?  All these fake No Buys still equate to adding to the stuff you already have and may even want to reduce.

You also want to be very clear on just why you're wanting to be on a No Buy.  Some common reasons are:

- Overstock - you already have way, WAY too much stuff, be it make-up, craft stuff, whatever.  You have enough for years and years and your collection is getting embarrassing.  Even though some people may congratulate you (as one lady did on hearing I had over 1600 items of embroidery thread) and envy your hoard, you know you have enough already.  Far more than enough really!

- Financial reasons - you want to save money for something special, such as a trip somewhere or a wedding.  Maybe you need to spend less in order to get out of debt or to make ends meet.

- Interest in a more minimalist way of life - simplicity has begun to appeal to you.

- Pressure from family/partner to stop buying a certain thing which they see as unbalanced and maybe your storage is driving them mad or taking up space needed for other things etc.

It may be a combination of all of the above.  For me embarking on my make up, book and art & crafts supplies No Buy it was a combination of already having more than enough, being attracted to a minimalist lifestyle and an impending home move.  What are your reasons?  Sit down and really think about them.  Let the reason(s) really resonate with you and make a list of why the reason(s) are important.

Once you've clarified your reasons and your definitions, it's time to think about taking practical steps to avoid failure.  Here are some ideas:

- Avoid temptation.  Do you really need to go around the shops in your lunch break?  Or do you need to surf tempting websites?  What and where do you need to physically avoid in order to make it harder to spend money?  Where were you and what were you doing the last five times you bought something you shouldn't have?  Analyse the answers and take evasive action.  Go somewhere else for lunch. Find something else to do.

- Unsubscribe, unfollow.  If you're like most people, you're on e-mail mailing lists and/or follow Instagrammers, bloggers and YouTubers who buy and review the kind of products you like, but are trying not to buy.  Unsub.  It's that simple.  Unsub from all the mailing lists that send you tempting offers, unfollow all the companies who promote their products on social networks in order to make you buy them.  Just go cold turkey on any and all enablers.  That can also include people you might go shopping with and who persuade you to buy.  See them in other situations, but don't let them influence your shopping habits!

- Boycott all special sales events at tempting shops.  Is it the Sephora or Ulta VIP sale event?  A retail craft show?  A massive sale at the bookshop?  Plan something else instead - preferably somewhere right out of the way.  If the Sew and So Bank Holiday 15% off event is coming up, organise a distraction.

- Plan in advance how to treat youself and what you're going to do if you ever feel the need to indulge in retail therapy.  It happens to us all.  We need a treat and, before we know it, we've bought something and blotted our copybook badly.  So, make up a list of treats that you can indulge in without breaking your No Buy.

- Take great care when specifying exceptions.  The most common pitfall I've seen here is to specify the special sale/event as an exception.  You're doing so well on your No Buy and then up comes the event you've given yourself permish to splash out at and - BANG - up goes all your hard work and self control in smoke.  Not only have you splurged badly and bought all the things you wanted all through your No Buy (thus nullifying the whole thing), but you've very possibly also bought even more as 'a treat for having done so well for 3 months' or as a release for all the pent up frustration of not being able to buy.  Your collection and/or finances are then in the exact same state as they would have been had you never been on the No Buy, or maybe worse!  Again, don't confuse a No Buy with saving up to spend at a special event or sale.

Allowing a certain amount/quantity at a special event is a possibility.  Only you know how reasonable or feasible this is in your case.  I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show in November last year having already decided that I was only going to buy the specialist goldwork thread I needed for a Craftsy class I'd bought access to and that I would join in a certain 'make and take' activity with one designer I like very much.  I stuck to that 100%, although I did deliberate for quite some time over some metal organza fabric at the Stef Francis stand.  In the end, what clinched it was, not only would it almost certainly be available again next year, but I knew I wasn't planning to do projects that needed it in the meantime.  I walked away without the fabric.

My only exceptions are: 1) When I genuinely run out of a product as I did last year with the one make up item I bought - an eye primer. 2) When I really have nothing that will do, then I can buy it.  Recently I've made a couple of baby knits which needed buttons.  I don't stock buttons, so I always need to buy those specially for each completion.  Something similar may happen with a zip or something like that,

- Plan rewards in advance for succeeding, but DON'T make them a violation of your No Buy!  If you're on a make up No Buy, don't make your reward the latest Too Faced palette.  Make it something else that you'll enjoy.

- Pal up with genuinely supportive people.  We all have a friend who says, 'Why don't you buy it, Elizabeth??' and they are best seen away from the shops or computer.  It's like being on a diet.  Some people will kindly help you to avoid temptation and support you and others will, in mistaken kindness, encourage you to 'treat yourself'.  Well, if you're needing to be on a No Buy, you've been treating yourself to quite a degree already and now it's time to stop.  So, enlist the help of people who are reliably able to help you and to give you some accountability.

- Make a really unpleasant forfeit for failure and hold yourself to it.  The supportive friend is useful here too as they can be someone who can keep an eye on you.  Don't make your forfeit something that you really don't mind so very much or that you will feel good about, such as making a donation to a good cause.  Make it something you really, really don't want to do and do NOT make excuses or let yourself off 'this once'.  One easy failure leads to another and another and another.  It gets easier to excuse yourself every time, so start in right from the start on being tough about it.  You may even want to consider passing this task to someone else to punish you when needed!!!

- Keep a note of what you're trying to achieve and why with you.  It could be a photo on your phone of your massive lipstick collection that you can get out and look at when you find yourself wandering into unsafe areas and facing temptation to buy.  Maybe it's a list of reasons to resist, an inventory of what you already own in bald figures, a photo of a person you want to please (or even a nay-sayer you want to prove wrong - that can be quite a strong impetus!), or a monetary figure you want to save up for that special trip.  Keep motivation to hand.  The last few years, I've spent some time looking through my needlework stash the night before the Knitting and Stitching Show just to remind myself what and how much I already own.  It really helped.

Well, I hope that's been helpful to some who are struggling out there.  Remember, if you're on a No Buy then DON'T BUY ANY and get tough with yourself to keep yourself on track.  Recently I saw a make up No Buy-er post on Instagram that she was packing for her trip to Paris and asking what products should she bring back?  My suggestion was perhaps predictable: "None. You're on a No Buy."

What do you think?  Will these suggestions help you?  Can you add anything to them?

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Friday, 1 January 2016

Make Up Inventory and Project Pan update 2016

As you may remember from my Shopping Inventory post, I didn't buy any make-up beyond one eye primer, which I needed, this year, so I fulfilled my no-buy to the letter [stands up very straight and proud of self!!!]  I also sold some items, threw out others that were past it and gave away loads more, so my whole collection has decreased quite a lot over the year from this, where the back of the organiser was packed full:

To this, where the back of the organiser is empty and you can see everything except my foundation sponge:

The current photo is just missing the four small lip products loose on the dressing table top (middle right of first photo), as I forgot to get them out of my handbag.  The top picture wasn't even the whole lot at its zenith as I took it after I'd begun to do big give-aways and sales!  There were 5 more big palettes and a whole number of small ones....

Here are the current numbers, with the 'inventoried' number coming from the last post of this type back in February of last year:

* Eye shadow shades - Originally had well over 700, started the year with about 300, inventoried 103, now: 63  goal of 75 reached and passed
* Lipsticks - Inventoried: 15, now:13, goal: 6
* Lip colours (mostly highly pigmented gloss type products) - Inventoried 25, now: 14, goal: 8
* Lip glosses Inventoried: 24, now 20, goal: 3
* Blushers - Started year with 10, inventoried: 6, used up: 1, collected from mum's (my own stuff from years ago!!): 4, now: 9, goal: unsure, but no more than 4.
* Mascaras - Inventoried: 5, finished with: 3, now 2, goal reached
* Foundations (inc BB & CC) - Inventoried: 6, used up 2, now: 4, goal: 1 or 2
* Powders - Inventoried: 3, used up: 1, now: 2, goal 1
* Highlighter - Inventoried: 1, now: 0 Goal reached. I don't use it, so category to be dropped. (Ditto bronzer, eyeliner, lipliner, false lashes, nail polish, brow products.... I don't use any of these.)
* Concealer - Inventoried: 1, now: 1 goal reached
* Primers - Inventoried: 4, cleared out: 4, bought: 1, now: 1  goal reached
* Perfumes - Started year with: 26, Inventoried: 24, given by mum: 1, used up: 15, now: 12, goal: 4

So those goals are well in hand - some reached, the eyeshadow one passed and others getting closer.  Only blusher went up, but not because I bought anything new - just took back some of my old stuff that I'd given my mum many years before and she'd never used, nor is likely to now, bless her!  I've been wearing blusher a lot more over the last year and even learned to be brave enough to put more on than the tiniest dusting, so I have hopes of using all those old shades up some time before I draw my old age pension!!

Perfumery is working down particularly well and there are two more products with only a little left, once should be finished up within the week and the other a couple of weeks later, I should think.  The next two are poised ready to move into active use.

Now onto the Project Pan section, and these were the products I included in my original Project 50 Pan goal:

After selling the Chanel quad, giving away the Lancome primer and the Bourjois single eyeshadow, throwing out the two Barry M lipglosses and using up some other stuff, here's how it stands today (awful photo - I should have used flash!):

A total of only 15 items/shades actually panned or else cleared out (not including the Chanel quad and Bourjois single eyeshadow that I sold as I'd already replaced them with my handbag stuff).  Useful progress on almost everything, just not as much as I would have liked.  Still, I'm keeping going and here's what I'm working on this year:

I'd cottoned on and used the flash this time, so you can see some of the progress more clearly, although I forgot to get the lippies out of my handbag again.  There are three columns of products here, each under a Too Faced palette (of which only the lip glosses count in as I'm planning to de-pot the blushers and eyeshadows and put them in one of those nice custom palettes eventually).  The stuff on the left is what I expect to definitely finish this year.  The middle selection are shades I'll be working hard towards using up, but may not manage and the right hand lot are things that I'll be using, but only expect to have time to use some of.  It's quite hard to use up make up when you're at home most of the time!  I've also just realised that I meant to use up a Dior natural pink lippie instead of that Bourjois one, as the packaging is a mess, so please sub that in your minds. =)

I'm still on a full no-buy, except for the things I'll run out of, such as the mascaras that need replacing very soon and I may need some sort of foundation product (to be Lush's Colour Supplement in Light Pink) and possibly a clear lip gloss to help 'dilute' the lower 2 lip colours in the central Too Faced Palette and that absolutely everlasting pink lipstick pencil.  I'll finish up the clear sparkle one first though.

To be updated early 2017.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 Shopping Inventory and 2016 shopping 'plans'

So, here we are at the conclusion of the year and it's time for some inventory and forward planning type posts.  First up is the general shopping inventory for the year past.

If you've been reading this blog this year, you might remember that I wrote a 'Five Year Shopping Inventory' post detailing all the, frankly, unnecessary stuff I'd bought over the previous five years.  It was a lot more than I'd expected it to be as is often the case when one stops and actually counts things.  It's rare that we find less than expected - except cash, of course!!  I decided that it had to stop right then and there.  And it did!  I'm pleased to say that, with the exception of one category, I've been very restrained in buying things and even lost the actual desire to most of the time, which is a great help.

Just a quick clarification that I haven't been reducing buying for strictly financial reasons, although it has been a bonus knowing that I wasn't spending much.  We have no debts, credit cards, loans or anything like that, I'm happy to say.   No, the reason for the shopping clamp-down is that I'm making definite moves towards a more minimalist, simple lifestyle.  By 'minimalist' I don't mean the "I own 80 items and live out of a backpack" sort of lifestyle (although there's nothing wrong with that for those who are free to enjoy it, if they want to), I just mean one free of clutter, duplicated items, broken stuff, things I've finished with, books I've either read or am never going to as well as other unnecessary stuff and shopping.  Having something in that would serve the purpose perfectly well, but always buying something else anyway.  As some of you will know, I've done a lot of clearing out of things I no longer need or want already and am moving ahead on some longer term cutting down goals.  These days, with few exceptions, I stick to a Buy When Needed policy.

On with the list, using the same headings as for the last one:

* Books  I've been given three books, (one of which is already on my 'out' shelves) and got another three free, but I haven't bought one single, physical book this year!  That must be a first for the last 30 years, as I've always been very keen on books and reading.  I've bought two hefty cross stitch magazines, but no actual print books.

Why specify print or physical books?  Well, as my goal is to cut down on the amount of stuff I own (and therefore have to pack, move and unpack when we move in the future), and isn't anything to do with money spent, Kindle books didn't count.  I've bought a huge library of those as my hubby gave me a Kindle for this year's anniversary present and I've stocked it up well with those wonderful Delphi Complete Works downloads which are usually £2 or less each!  I've been able to grow my library exponentially whilst cutting down enormously on physical books.  This counts as a major victory and I'm just loving my Kindle!

On the flipside, I've given away, sold or recycled at least 300 books this year and there are 200-300 on the shelves to go as soon as possible.  So far, I've culled from approx 1050 to 480, a 55% reduction.

* Cosmetic Items  This year I bought only two items - two eyeshadow primers.  One was so bad that I returned it to Superdrug for a refund, so really only one counts. (Don't buy the MUA one.  It's cheap, yes, but contains parafin etc, which is a cheap and very effective moisturiser!  As if more oil were needed on already oily eyelids to keep eye make-up in place.  Duhhhh!)  I got this only because the two I already owned were past it and so I got rid of them.

Other than that, I haven't bought any make-up, but I have got rid of a great deal this year.  More on that in the forthcoming make-up inventory update.

* Art Materials  I'd forgotten about them (which shows how much I needed them.....gr!), but I bought a set of Derwent Onyx black graphite drawing pencils in the middle of the year.  That's it for this category though.  Phew!  A couple of pencils isn't too bad.  It was a set of four, and I'm not sure if I didn't give the duplicate pair to someone.  I'd have to check.

I gave away an enormous amount of stationery and art items, including coloured pens, pencils, some oil pastels and paints and even some paper, so it's not half bad on balance.

* Embroidery Supplies  Now this is, unsurprisingly, where the deviation from the policy has come in.  I have bought 61 threads - 37 skeins of DMC Coton a Broder in various gauges, 19 balls of Anchor Pearl Cotton #12, 1 skein of Anchor stranded cotton to replace one that I used up, 3 spools of Kreinik cord and some Smooth Purl goldwork 'thread'.  All of this, except the goldwork purl, which is for a Craftsy goldwork course project and the replacement Anchor stranded, is just plain, wanton stash building.  I've used only one or two of the threads so far,  and none of the 23 packs of Mill Hill beads I bought.

There was really only one reason for these purchases and that was the old accumulation trap: Sales.  Sew-and-So did 10% off offers three times during the year and I took them up on it twice (April and May Bank Holiday events - I managed to resist the siren call of the August Bank Holiday discount).  Also, Hobbycraft stopped selling Mill Hill beads and sold off their stock at an excellent price, so I grabbed quite a few.  Thankfully, I'd made a list of all the colours I already owned and was able to use that to guard against duplication.

I bought one piece of linen that I needed for a show entry project and which I did use, along with the fineweave linen I bought from a cheap bookshop.  One piece I used for the cross stitch and the other for the backing.  Neither piece was used up, but they were used, so that was good.

I was proud that I only got the goldwork Purl at the Harrogate Show in November as there was stuff galore available to buy.  Having said that, the prices are very off-putting these days.  Many things, esp. kits, seem to have doubled in price in recent years.  Makes me think that maybe I should go more out for design and selling!!

Anyway, that wasn't such a good section and was rather in line with an average for the previous five years when I'd bought 355 lots of embroidery thread - i.e. 71 per year.  Anyway, I'm now really trying to use my stash up and am even considering selling some of it if it turns out that I'm really not going to use that type of thread.  Three sets are in the 'holding area' under threat of the chop.  That would take my collection down from over 1600 to under 1300.  I'm quite unsure that this will happen though, but just musn't get any more!

So that's it for 2015!  I only got one item of clothing - a warm, yellow polo-neck jumper from a charity shop, and the toiletry items I got were to meet needs, not just to stock up.  No CDs or DVDs or anything like that, although I have bought 3 flash drives (one was faulty and was returned) for my computer files to keep my stuff separate from my laptop and also to store the scans of photos and other stuff that I've been making in order to get rid of boxes and folders full of paperwork etc.  So, necessary for Project Minimalism.

What about you?  Did you splurge during this last year?  Or have you managed to rein in the spending?

And what do I expect to shop for in 2016?

The main aim is to continue minimizing and buying only when needed.  There'll be some make-up items running out soon (more on that tomorrow), and I really do need quite a number of new clothes and shoes as almost my entire wardrobe contents are so shabby!  My plans are to get a reasonable number of key, core pieces and then clear out something like two items for each new one bought.  I have a lot of stuff I just wear because I don't really have anything else at the moment.

I've also decided to get a decent external hard drive for file storage (one of the two functional flash drives is now corrupting photos and needs replacing with something reliable), and I plan to get a decent tablet computer to replace the cheap, unreliable one I've been fighting with all year.  I plan to use that, partly, for Kindle items where colour is a bonus and to get magazine on Zinio instead of print ones when I decide I want them (rare).

I'm not likely to need any perfumery, books, art, craft and stitching items, so I'm hoping to continue the general 'no buy' and 'use up/clear out' policy.  Let's see how we get on....

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Do I *actually* care about reading this?

This awful photo taken on my phone and then further decayed by editing software is of the five remaining titles in the 'Literature' section of my Read Up List, but I got to thinking yesterday about how keen I really was to read through them all.

I'd already read the prose section of the Aphra Benn collection and the first play, then realized that that was enough for me. I then picked up the Byron anthology and thought about starting in on that. It then finally sank in that I really wasn't interested in either it or the Coleridge anymore.  Sorry chaps, but I'm just not that fussed about poetry etc! I wondered why I'd even bought them and think it was at the time when I was quite into literature and wanted to have read all the major works. I've long since ceased to be bothered about that. Deciding to roll with that is quite a release!

Next I moved on to looking at the 16th and 17th century fiction anthologies. I did start the 17C one a while ago, but got so bogged down in the first story that I gave up. It was over 200 pages without any sort of break or division whatsoever and incredibly hard to follow into the bargain! Anyway, I've decided to give that volume a second chance, but to start on the second story and then try out the Elizabethan/16C one.

I also got to thinking that, as I am realistically never going to learn New Testament Greek or Biblical Hebrew (I have a huge enough challenge ahead getting through the living language texts I own), I could safely give up those volumes too. I feel certain there'll be online resources if I get back into that sometime, to say nothing of more up to date textbooks available.

So, that's another five books already shifted and two more 'de-pressured', so that I feel quite free to dump them if I find them a chore to read.  The current inventory is now down to about 484, although I haven't updated the original inventory blog page yet, and probably won't until we move.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Book Inventory update.

Yay! I made it to below 500 books! Can you believe it? I'm not sure I can and am afraid of finding out that I miscounted and skipped back a hundred somewhere...  But no, I do seriously think it's for real.

I started out with a count of 1119 back when I first created an inventory before the book cull began. That included a few dozen that I considered my hubby's books (probably about 50 or even more) and around 150 that I felt were shared (journal bound volumes and about 70 or more Chinese textbooks! ). When I recounted yesterday there were more or less 490.

The total of 490 doesn't include any books that have been separated out to be given away, just the ones to keep for now. It also doesn't include 6 or 7 map books and several dozen travel and attraction guidebooks as they are almost all bought by my husband and so I have decided that, as he won't agree to getting rid of them, he'll have to take sole responsibility for them. The total also excludes about 20 A4 sized music learning booklets, but I realized that I never actually included them in the initial count. I've added most of them to the Read Up page along with a number of art and embroidery/textile titles that I want to finish with.

My Read Up page now consists of about 230 entries and I've put a timescale to it - October 2021 when I turn 50!! That list was originally created in early February this year and I've completed 32 of the books already (one finished just this morning -hurrah!) with 9 more in progress and 5 that are part done, but that I'm not on with just now. That means that I'll need to complete an average of 2.8 books per month in order to polish off the whole lot and get my book collection down to around 300.

Is that a feasible goal? Could be. Some books I really only need to take a few notes from and I'm finished with and some others are just general reading or quick to study/revise. Others, however, will need more time and brain power, or are long reads such as a few Bible translations. The Bible's a great read, but it's a bit too intense to read through like a novel!  Having said that, I'll be working on as many as 10 books at any one time (9 just now), so, mathematically speaking,  I could work through that sort of pile over 3 months each time and be home and dry by 49!! There are a LOT of language learning textbooks in my collection and a fair few science texts too, which'll take time and brain...

Some of the arts titles are going to be trickier to estimate timewise as, whilst I can read stuff like Helen M Stevens' inspiration titles and Betty Edwards' "Color" relatively freely, a number of the others require me to work through painting and stitching skills.

So, it's a challenge, but I'm up for it!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Looking forward to 'World's End' series two!

This is SOOOO unlike me as we don't even have a TV and I just watch the occasional thing on the iPlayer - usually the BBC one.  However, I've really enjoyed a couple of series on CBBC (Children's BBC) recently, especially an intriguing teenage sci-fi called 'World's End'.

As most readers here won't have watched it (but do, if you see it available on the iPlayer and you can watch that where you live - or it comes on your local kid's TV service), the following will make zero sense to most.  However, I wanted to write this post as the BBC website won't allow me to comment on the CBBC site - I'm too old!!!

Anyway, here are my thoughts on some of the yet unanswered questions and mysteries left over from series 1 that should be addressed in series 2:

- That stone circle in the hidden cave is a sort of wormhole where two versions/parallel worlds meet.  Thus the 'same worlds meet' code.  At certain times, transport between these is possible.  That will be where the missing people disappeared and the 'prophets' who foresaw the asteroid came through.

- Yup, Lexy is definitely a clobot and fully clobot, not half-human.  There are clues on this right from the very first episode where Lena says she's already holding Cat responsible for everything.  Why else would she do that if she wasn't resentful at Cat being left behind when Lexy disappeared in the cave along with Cat's parents?  Why take the clobot Alexa to replace the real Lexy?  Well, the whole operation at World's End castle is top secret and letting anyone know about Lexy's disappearance would put their operation at risk.  Lena had to hush it up and take Alexa to pose as her daughter indefinitely.  This is the memory dream that Lexy tells Cat about - her being removed from the Secret Zone.  As well as being painfully aware that Alexa is not her real daughter, Lena also thinks that clobots have no rights or feelings.  Therefore she is both inhuman to her and completely unconcerned about her being hurt should the real Lexy show back up at some point.

- Lexy (and the other clobots) are not made of mirror matter as one commenter suggested.  If she were, we wouldn't be able to see her.  Remember the scientists explaining that mirror matter was invisible to the naked eye and having to run special tests to detect it??  I think Lexy's face may have melted owing to all the cosmetics she's been using over the years weakening the synthetic cells she's made of which then broke down when combined with tears (which would be relatively unusual given Lexy's former unpleasant nature and her not having normal parents around to compare Lena's horrible treatment of her with).  There really is some awful muck in most skincare and make-up, (parrafin and other petrochemicals for a start!) so it wouldn't surprise me that her 'skin' integrity gave up.  It'll be interesting to see how the script writers explain that one.

- I'm expecting that, during series 2, the wormhole in the cave will reveal its secrets and all the missing people will reappear, including Alice and Henry Carter who disappeared there in the 60's, although it is possible that some of those who disappeared may have made lives in the other world and prefer to stay there.  The teenagers will go looking for the clobots to tell them the Earth is safe and, at some point, will go back into the cave and discover the necklace Caitlin dropped there when she was transported through the wormhole.  That will spark off a more intensive exploration into the cave phenomena and, no doubt against the advice of their various parents, the teens will get to the truth of the matter.  (Parents and other adults are usually portrayed as stupid and/or untrustworthy in kids' shows - a really helpful idea for them to grow up with - NOT!)

- No, Casey won't be back.  His rocket was blown to bits when it hit the asteroid, so there's no way he both survived and got back to Earth safely.

- Some of the kids on the CBBC site and YouTube talked about the characters' relationships etc.  Well, Gaia and Gregor are a cert of course, but I feel uncertain that Cat would really want to get fully involved with a clobot.  She may be quite happy to accept them as her sister and/or friend, but not as a boyfriend.  My guess is that she'll go for Luke in the long run and that this will cause more friction between him and Noah.  Other than AJ having fun and games explaining himself to Mackenzie, (which, given her passion for all things weird and wonderful, I expect he'll be able to do in the end), I don't see any other romances.  Oh yes I do.  I can see Stephanie and Duncan getting back together and the Morelles becoming a real family, including Duncan accepting Noah to a degree.  He has too much history with clobots to accept him fully, but, as they all know the truth now, it won't matter as much as when Noah thought Duncan was his dad and couldn't see why he was rejected on sight.  I also think that Lena will become somewhat more human during series 2, especially when the truth about the disappearance of her real daughter comes out.

Other than that, (and to say that I'm horrified at some of the terrible spelling of many of the youngsters who commented - the more I read on-line comments, the more I  understand why there's been so much outcry about education and literacy standards on both sides of the Pond), that's it and I hope that 'World's End' series 2 is aired next month, which may be possible as a treat from the BBC to gild the September return to school pill.  Here's hoping.....  I understand series 2 has already been filmed from the comments of one viewer who actually e-mailed the BBC about it.  I'm assuming that, given the international nature of the cast and the use of a place like Bamburgh Castle as a filming location, they'll have done the whole thing in one go.

I also hope it stays purely sci-fi and doesn't get genuinely occult.  It did look a bit 'weird' from some stuff in the first few episodes and, left to my own devices, I probably wouldn't have completed the series after about part 6 where Gaia moved away from looking at herself in a mirror, but another version appeared in it, but I discovered the series just after its first showing finished and so I was able to check on the website synopsis that it was OK.  On principle, I won't touch anything occult or the witches, wizards and fairies sort of fantasy with a barge pole.  Yes, that means 'Harry Potter' in which I have taken, and will continue to take precisely zero interest!

Series 1 is still on the CBBC iPlayer this week (as I write), but is 9 hours long (36 episodes of  14-15 minutes each), so be prepared for a marathon watch if you decide to have a look at it before it goes off-line again!  It will come back on though, I'm sure of that as I'm noticing a number of re-runs of good shows.  I've been watching the first series of 'The Next Step' these last couple of days.  Getting too much into telly.....  No wonder I lost most of the day today, although I really did need a down day to rest.=)

Update June 2016: I'm fearing that the show has been pulled. Not only has it been a lot longer than expected since the first season, but the show has disappeared from the CBBC Shows page. The Beeb are past masters at dropping popular series and rerunning other stuff ad nauseum. I mean, how many times does 'Lost and Found Studios' need to be replayed whilst still available on iPlayer??  Grrrr!! :(

Another update August 2016: Series 1 is replaying from Mon 5 September at 10:10am, so that suggest that series 2 might follow behind after all..... As it's just on in the mornings as what looks like a 15 minute gap filler and is the only one of old series that's not being re-run in the afternoons, I'm not very hopeful, but stranger things have happened. So: PLEASE WATCH IT ON THE IPLAYER AS MUCH AS YOU CAN AND GET YOUR FRIENDS TO WATCH TOO so that the watch stats will go up so high that CBBC will see that people DO want a second series.  Also, add it to your CBBC 'My Shows' thingy, even though the page content is sparse and can only be linked to from the iPlayer pages.  The more support the show gets, the more likely a second series will be. =)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015/6

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Done it!

After dealing with 60-odd items today, for the first time in something like four years, I have an empty in-box!  I took a screen shot of it in case I never see anything like it ever again! =)

There were a couple of messages in there that had been there since late 2011 - shame on me!  Most of the others were a good deal more recent, but it really feels good to have it emptied, regardless of how old stuff was.

I catch most things on my smart-phone first so that means that quite a large proportion of messages don't actually make it to my in-box.  That includes most blog comments, spam junk, promotions from things I am interested in (such as e-bay, Nectar and one or two others), craft newsletters and so on.  Only stuff I want to deal with gets through to my laptop most of the time.

Anyway, it's empty.  For now.....

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Thursday, 4 June 2015

A milestone and an oxymoron (of sorts)

And here we have the first ever blusher that I have used up completely!  I've finished a number of mascaras, a few under-eye lightening thingies, some face powders and a few lippies, but never a blusher.  Before, I've always sold or given them away long before they were finished, but this one is really and truly gone.

I bought it when I was about 21, so that means it's taken me about 22 years to use up this 2.5g product.  At this rate, I have enough blusher left in my collection to last another 330 years!!!


The oxymoron of sorts is that my Use-up list number of products keeps increasing.  No, I haven't been buying anything, but I have been getting some things that were originally mine and that she isn't going to use from my mum's place.  She also gave me two body lotions and a matching perfume spray which go with something I already have.  So, I'm helping use up her stuff too!!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015

Monday, 1 June 2015

Project Minimalist - Time for an update

And I went quiet again.  So, no major change in habits then, LOL!!!  So what?  There are much more important things in life than on-line activities, no?

Anyway, I thought it was about time for a Project Minimalism update, so I've just been around our home taking photos of the areas that I'm trying to work on/prepare for the big pre-move clear-out (I cannot WAIT for that!)

These first few shots are in my study and show the work I did both a few months ago and also this morning when I put books that were ready to go in certain sections of the shelves.

In this shot, alongside my jumper sleeve you can see that I've read through and cleared out a good few notebooks.  That brown box is currently empty, but will be my card-making supplies box.  What doesn't fit in there isn't being kept.  Some other things have been moved around either for ejection soon, or to be on the 'to read up' list.

In this second shot the movement is more obvious in many cases.  On the top shelf, I'm keeping (all in the 'to read/study up' category) the books on the left and everything from the small yellow book towards the right is going.

There's a little orange notebook towards the right of the second shelf and the few books on the right of that are in the imminent 'study up' section.

On the shelf below, the cluttered section on the left, up to (but not including) 'Complete French All-in-One' is to go.  Several of the titles on the right will be worked through and recycled over the next few years.

On the bottom shelf, which is double stocked, only the front row volumes on the right after the gap are staying, along with a few small scale embroidery books on the far left.

Next photo shows the bottom of the shelves.  The embroidery bookshelf used to be literally jam-packed and there were a couple of extra volumes that didn't fit.  Now, they're all comfortably on there following the sale of a good number of unused titles on Amazon.  There are some that will go to friends or the library soon too.

I've got rid of one huge study file from the bottom right-hand shelf and emptied a fair amount of gunk out of the A4 folders.  Two more are up for 'read and recycle' and a number more will have the contents scanned and recycled.

The magazines I plan to at least halve in the near future.

This is the only photo that wasn't taken today and I used this one instead of the one I *did* take half an hour ago as the lighting is much better.

The blue basket in the foreground is all stuff to go (although the baby knit at the front has already gone).  The CD cases to the library and books to friends.

The blue craft tote I plan to empty and keep only selected items.  Again, aim to halve the contents.  I'm sure one of my more creative friends will like the bag.

A few months ago, there were two huge boxes of stationery and foreign language magazines.  The only things that remain of those now are a pile of mags on my desk to finish sorting and a few that you could see in the first photo on top of that brown box to consider keeping.

The green bag is our emergency bag (still in progress) and there's a small, white plastic bag with things for gadget recycling in between that and the blue one.  The art papers and cards are also to be sorted and dealt with.  Most of the contents of the other boxes will stay, although I am considering cutting down some of the stuff in the fabric colouring Really Useful Box and will need to re-look into that white, Ikea box there.

Moving on now to the living and dining room(s) and here you can see some decreasing in progress. I'll only be keeping about a shelf and a half of books on the right hand unit and several have gone already.  As you can see, there are gaps appearing and I think that all double rows have been singled down.  I've already cleared the top completely of a small pile of books and two small drawer sets - gave one to a little girl as a sewing set (which it was designed to be and I was given it as that when I was about 12), and the second is now my jewellery box (same little girl got my old one).

Almost all of the books in the left hand unit are going (some have already gone) and as many of the souvenirs and nick-naks as I can persuade Sir to part with.  I don't fancy my chances of great success there, but some I can manage to lose.  I also want to lose some of the pots and glassware that we simply don't use.

Most of the videos on this unit are going, as are most of the tapes in the five white and four blue containers you can see here.  We'll probably cut the games down by about two-thirds, and I plan to lose a goodly few CDs.  I may give myself a limit of CDs to keep and work it that way.  Some of the books will; go too - about a third of these here.

This last unit in the living room is real hotch-potch of subjects.  I've already got rid of the old toolbox that was on top and hope to lose about three-quarters of the books on this unit, although I think two-thirds may be more realistic this move.  Many volumes are on the 'read up' list and some I have to convince Sir we really do not need!

On the floor we have some stuff that I keep listing on e-bay and that is gradually selling, along with some special clothes that I hope to sell somewhere too.  There's also a bag of books that I hope to soon be able to return to Glenis. (Next Nottingham talk is 12 July, G!)

The plastic bag is sewing machine stuff and needs to be better stored.

Onto the bedroom and here are after and before (in that order) shots of some of this area.

The after shot shows what it looks like right now with a number of things used up, given away or sold. On the chest of drawers' top, you can also see the little, wooden drawer set I turned into a box for what remains of my jewellery.

The before shot was last July when I was about to do a big clothes and household linen clear-out (and most of Sir's t-shirts must have been in the washing or ironing pile!!)

As you can see, lots of surplus stuff has gone, including some things from the top. Some of the stuff that has since been sold or otherwise got rid of was already on one side for removal at this point, so this isn't even it at its worst.  Anyway, I've used up all but one of those sachets, many of the bottles, sold the hair colourant I wasn't going to use and also 4 big eyeshadow palettes (gave the remaining 3 away).

So, as you can see, there's plenty left to get rid of, but gaps are appearing on shelves, double stocked rows are almost all single rows now and a lot of clutter and junk has already gone.  Things are in hand, but will take just a teensy bit longer....  =)

The whole goal is to reduce my personal possessions by 50% and to cut down household items to the things we really use.  So far, so good.  I've dumped about a third of my clothes and, although I'm not sure I'll make a full 50% on this, I should at least hit 40%.  Hair stuff, jewellery and accessories are already down by about 70%, ditto make-up (depending on whether you count in products or shades).  Perfumery has gone from 26 items at the beginning of this year to about 15 now.  Stationery items are down about 75%, art materials only about 20%, if that, but something has gone at least.  Embroidery things I'll not be cutting down on, except to work up and then sell off the few remaining kits I have and to start to think of ways to use up fabrics.

Household linen I've got rid of about 60-70% of what could go and the rest will go soon.  I also want to get rid of some tableware and some novelty items that have no real use.  The cute cottage butter dish we got as an engagement present is lovely, but I dislike butter and we've never used it.  Nor the tiny individual casserole dishes or the plastic pasty moulds I got from Betterware!!  We no longer use the rice cooker and have never used the toasted sandwich maker, so they can all go too, and that's before we even begin on pesky ornaments!  Depart from my presence, oh dust magnets and shelf clutterers!  Books should also hit the 50% target this time (aiming for more like 75% in the long-term) and that is going to be a BIG relief as they're a nuisance to pack and deal with.  At least my embroidery supplies are ready stored in a box and two lots of drawers.=)

I really need to get back to the read up project though, as I've been shamefully lax with it over the past month or so.  Time to get myself back in minimising gear.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015