Share The Love October 2017 edition

What’s this; a post on a Monday? I can’t even remember the last time I posted on a Monday. I had this post all written, but forgot to sort a photo and schedule it for last Thursday. So here it is; my belated October edition of Share The Love. 

I had a lightbulb moment about my thesis idea a couple of weeks ago and I’m really excited about where it might lead me. While juggling everything else, I’ve also started looking into PhDs because it turns out I need to apply pretty damn soon. On the theme of university, we took a field trip to a nearby wind farm which was really fun. Ironically, it was not very windy so the turbines weren’t moving but I kinda love wind turbines so it was nice to get up close to one. I’m pretty sure that could be the geekiest thing I’ve ever said on this blog but, idk; I love me some renewable energy. No, that’s the geekiest thing I’ve ever said. 

Daz and I also had a few local adventures and have discovered some wonderful beaches nearby – and visited one of them three times in just as many weeks. 

My Mum and Nan came to visit for a couple of days which was lovely because it had been two months since we last saw my Nan. Daz’s Mum and partner came up over the weekend and we had a lovely, relaxing couple of days. It was nice to catch up in person and spend some time relaxing and exploring the city more. It’s been a good couple of weeks for that. 

Towards the end of October, I decided I needed to start doing yoga again because I haven’t really done any exercise (apart from walking) since we moved. I know how good yoga is for keeping my stress levels down so I’m scheduling time in to get some done, and I’m noticing an improvement in my stress levels already. 

 

Blog – My Lovelier Days

I found My Lovelier Days two or three months ago, and it’s a brilliant mix of travel posts and inspiring and thoughtful posts. Diana has a wonderfully inspiring way of writing and her recent post about trusting yourself is one of my favourites. Her photography is brilliant as well; the travel photos are stunning and her other photos have such a nice, cosy vibe. 

 

Links 

 

Listening 

The music I’ve been listening to this month isn’t much different to September’s, to be honest. I’m still hooked on everything that came out a few weeks ago. I put together a playlist for when I’m doing university work or when I want to get stuff done and I love it. If you want to listen to it, here’s my autumn bop playlist

 

Watching

Since university work is ramping up, I’ve managed to be fairly disciplined at not watching quite so many Friends re-runs. We’ve been watching the IT Crowd (never gets old), The Little Mermaid, and I’ve even had the chance to actually watch some Formula One; it’s been so long since either one of us felt some kind of up to date with F1. I find that somewhat bittersweet as two and a half years ago, it was my life and wanted I wanted to do. 

 

Goals

I thought it would be fun to add in a goals section so we can talk about the goals we want to achieve in the next month, talk about how we’re progressing with our goals, and help each other. Sound good? 

Since this is the first month I’m doing it, I’m not going to include a goals progress section, but I will do next month. 

November goals

  • Finish my masters thesis plan; I need to start contacting potential PhD supervisors if I want to start one next September, so I need to nail down my masters thesis plan and outline what I could expand upon during a PhD. 
  • Do yoga at least three times a week; As I mentioned in the intro, I’m feeling the benefits of doing yoga again so I want to try and do it at least three times a week. I’ve decided that if I can keep that up for a couple of months, I’ll reward myself with a new pair of yoga pants (how beautiful are they?) but only if I keep it up for two months. No slacking allowed. 
  • Read more; I took part in Cosy Reading Night a couple of weeks ago and it was so nice to dedicate three hours to reading something that wasn’t a journal article. It’s something I spoke about in my self-care post and it makes my mind feel so much more open and free – maybe that sounds weird, but it makes sense to me. 

Ok, definitely let me know what your goals are for November too!

Popular posts on Girl In Awe

What did you enjoy in October? Tell me about your goals; let’s help each other and hold each other accountable 🙂 

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Fruit and veg stall - zero waste

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying hard to reduce my waste significantly and move towards zero waste.

I have always strived to recycle and thought I was pretty good at living fairly sustainably. The more I learn about zero waste and being sustainable, the more I realise there’s still a lot more I can do. Daz and I certainly don’t have a zero waste household, we are slowly reducing the amount of rubbish we send to landfill though. Moving house created a whole load of rubbish and we did donate or sell whatever we could, and only send to landfill what we had to.

Rubbish and waste is something we all have in our homes and trying to reduce it can seem really daunting. We’ve been trying to move towards zero waste for a few months now, so I wanted to share some of the biggest things we’ve learned.

 

What is zero waste?

If this is the first time you’ve heard of zero waste, here’s a brief introduction for you. The basic idea is that you produce no waste. Nothing in your refuse bin. Nothing. Nada. Zero waste is bigger than not producing waste though, it’s about buying products and food with less packaging, reducing the amount of plastic and waste you bring into your home, buying more thoughtfully and so much more.

 

What our zero waste journey has taught us so far

Over the past few months we have noticed a decrease in how full our refuse bin is come collection day. Up here in Edinburgh, in addition to a general waste bin and recycling bin, they also have food waste caddys and a glass recycling box. That means our recycling bin is pretty much plastic, paper, and cans. And boy, is there a lot of plastic. Too much plastic. 

 

Packaging – y u no use eco-friendly packaging?

My biggest recycling peeve is packaging. I think Daz kind of dreads going shopping with me because I go off on a rant every time I see “not currently recyclable” on packaging. There are so many recyclable and biodegradable packaging options that I cannot comprehend why a manufacturer would choose to use something that isn’t recyclable. Actually, I can; I suspect it’s to do with money.

When it comes to skincare, cosmetics, and vegan / dairy free food items, it’s really easy to find products in minimalist and recyclable packaging. The brand is well aware of their impact on the environment and usually uses packaging which is environmentally friendly.

It’s when you come to other items or food products that aren’t associated with the environment or special dietary needs that it gets trickier. It’s not impossible, but it does mean you might have to do some research and maybe stop buying a product you loved. If that’s the case though, I would definitely recommend emailing them and asking why they’re using non-recyclable packaging. You might think that one email might not make a difference, but if enough people tell a company they aren’t buying their products because of their packaging choices they will make a change.

A Plastic Planet are running a really interesting campaign and are trying to encourage supermarkets to offer a plastic free aisle. How wonderful would that be?

 

Plastic bags – learn to juggle or forward plan

By this point, I think we can all agree that plastic bags are bad. I’m slowly getting better at remembering to take reusable bags to the supermarket with me. Daz is much better than me, and remembers to keep some in the car.

 

Chemicals & microbeads

I stopped buying products with microbeads in last year when I read about how rubbish (excuse the pun) they are for the environment and marine life. Microbeads are used in a lot of exfoliating cosmetics and are small plastic balls that are absolutely pointless because there are so many natural exfoliants, like; rice, charcoal, coffee, sugar, oats, bamboo, walnut shells, the list is very long.

Being a science student I have always enjoyed reading the ingredients list on products, and it always scares me when I see something and think “hmmm, I feel like I used that in the lab and needed to wear gloves…” The long and short of it is that harmful and unnecessary products are causing damage in two ways.

  1. Your body is absorbing all those nasties, and they’re not good for you.
  2. All those nasties are ending up in the water supply when they get washed down the drain.

I’m sure they’re also causing damage in other ways as well, such as the manufacturing process. I’ve not really had to buy many skincare products recently but when I do I’m going for natural and sustainable products. It is my goal to now only buy natural and sustainable products; which means saying “bye bye” to some LUSH stuff. Le sigh. Since the start of the year, I think the only places I’ve purchased skin / hair care and beauty products from are Holland & Barrett , 100% Pure, and Antipodes

If you want to learn more about being eco-friendly in your bathroom, check out my updated 8 tips for being more eco-friendly in the bathroom

 

Don’t just throw stuff out

While we were relocating, we noticed there are a load of things we didn’t use or need. Some of it we sold on eBay, a load of it was donated or given to friends, and what was of no use went to the tip. 

 

Forward planning

The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is that I need to plan. Living in Edinburgh means we have access to a couple of stores that have bulk options – something we definitely didn’t have before. We haven’t needed to use them yet because we have so much flour, sugar, and oats, it’s ridiculous. At some point soon we’ll get through them all and I’m looking forward to bulk buying – that’s kind of sad, isn’t it?

  • By forward planning, we reduce our food waste by buying what we need and using things up.
  • I remember to take some suitable bags for putting loose produce in.
  • I can go a little out of my way to get something without packaging or with packaging that’s actually recyclable.  

 

We have a long way to go on our quest for zero waste, and maybe we won’t ever truly reach zero. We’re really happy with where we’re at so far. It was bin day a couple of days ago and our waste bin was less than half full.

If you want to cut down on your waste to landfill, here are a few blog posts that I found helpful:

 

If you’ve got any tips or want to share a useful blog post / blog, please do 🙂

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The view of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Today marks two weeks since we moved up to Edinburgh and it still doesn’t feel entirely real; it feels like we’re on the laziest holiday ever and might return to our “old lives” at some point.

It’s been just over four months since we found out we were moving up to Edinburgh and it has gone so fast. Thankfully the move, sorting out a flat, and getting jobs went very smoothly. Both of us have just started work but I don’t think it’s going to feel like this is our actual life until we settle into a work and university routine.

I was expecting to come up here and end up writing a really deep or meaningful post about what it’s like to move 270 miles away from the place you lived your entire life but I can’t. At the moment, it just hasn’t sunk in yet, so instead I’m going to talk about some of the things I’ve learned since being up here.

 

There is so much going on & to see

Neither of us are big city people, but I don’t feel like Edinburgh is a big city; geographically, sure it is, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming or stressful. I think the old buildings make it feel a little cosier and less imposing too.

We arrived at the end of the Fringe Festival and managed to see Thrones! The Musical Parody which had us all in stitches – GoT fans, if you ever have chance, see it. We spent a couple of days walking around the city and making mental lists of the museums and exhibits we want to see, and record stores we need to keep out of because money.

 

Bands don’t play Edinburgh

WHY?! Why don’t bands play big venues in Edinburgh? I have three gigs booked over the next few months and they are all in Glasgow.

Buses are cheap as

Where we used to live, public transport was a bit of a nightmare and was pretty impractical the majority of the time. Around here, it’s easier to hop on a bus than to try and drive around and park in the city; buses are £1.60. ONE. POUND. SIXTY. Damn, that is cheap.

Is it really sad that I’m excited about that?

 

Damn, Scotland is beautiful

Edinburgh is a beautiful city itself, and wherever you seem to look you can see mountains in the distance and you can be up in those mountains in no time at all. Last weekend, Daz and I took a drive around the Highlands and I was reminded of how stunning Scotland is. And, in case you’d missed it, Scotland has just been voted the most beautiful country in the world, and Canada came in second – can you believe that? Am I going to end up in love with Scotland more than Canada? Perish the thought.

 

We can’t understand everyone – and they can’t understand us

You never think you have an accent until you’re surrounded by people with completely different accents. A chap came out from OpenReach to sort our internet out last week and when he started talking fast we were not entirely sure what he was saying.

On the other hand, people haven’t always been able to understand us either. We went out for dinner last week and I ordered macaroni cheese but ended up with a beef burger…

 

Veggie haggis might become 70% of my diet

I’ve tried vegetarian haggis before (it’s delicious) but now I’m living here and I can buy it in Tesco I’m becoming a little bit obsessed with it. Most restaurants or cafes you go to have some kind of veggie haggis on the menu too; it is a delightful change from the standard tomato sauce and pasta.

 

It’s nice having a smaller place

One of the biggest things I was worried about was downsizing. We moved from a good sized two-bed terrace to a two-bed flat. While I’m still trying not to walk into the corners of the bed when I walk around it, it’s nice to have a more compact space. Truth be told, we didn’t need all the space we had before and cleaning is easier and faster – go, lazy me!

What did you learn when you moved to a new place?

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Four tips for refreshing your blog

Like every other blog (or so it seems) at the moment, the time has come for Girl In Awe to have a little refresh and update.

There aren’t any major changes here, just a shiny new theme and I’m refocusing my content a little more. I began planning this refresh a few weeks ago and September always feels like the perfect time to start fresh. After we’d settled in to our new home (more on that later this week) I turned my attention back to blogging and felt like I needed to refresh Girl In Awe before I could begin posting again.

My aim is to post at least twice a week between Tuesday and Thursday, and hopefully three times if I have time. I’m refocusing my content a little, so this is what you can expect:

  • Travel; you know the drill – I fangirl about Canada, and some other places
  • Lifestyle; my life, minimalism, books, university / organisation tips
  • Ethical and sustainable living; zero waste, environmental issues, and ethical issues, how tos, and guides

One of the biggest changes you’re going to notice is the introduction of environmental posts. I will be starting my masters the week after next and as I learn more about our environment and how we affect it, I know I will be wanting to write about what we can do to limit the impact we have on the environment.

I’m feeling really excited and enthusiastic about Girl In Awe and I can’t wait to get back at it.

 

4 tips for refreshing your blog

Every blog needs a refresh and an update occasionally, so here are a few tips to help you get the best out of your blog refresh or rebrand.

Before we get into my tips, I highly recommend reading ‘The First Three Steps to Branding Your Business‘ on Small Talk Social. The entire thing won’t directly apply to blogging, but you can take the overall themes and advice when auditing your blog and this is a step you really need to do. Do not do it in your head, because it isn’t quite the same. Take the time to sit down with a pen and piece of paper, or a document on your laptop / tablet / whatever; I promise, it will benefit your blog, direction and motivation so much.

What do you like or not like about your blog at the moment?

What is it that you feel is holding your blog back at the moment? Is there anything you can’t do with your platform or theme? What do you enjoy as a blog reader that you want to be able to do with your blog? Do you want to stop posting about a certain topic? Do you want to begin posting about a certain topic?

Perform a content audit

What content is performing well? Is there a particular type of blog posts that are receiving lots of comments or views? And, how do you think about that; do you enjoy posting that type of content? Remember that this is your blog after all and there’s no point working on something you don’t really enjoy just because it gets a lot of engagement? Learn from your popular content and think about what you can take from that when you’re creating new content.

Is it time to update some content?

Some content is evergreen and will keep forever, but some posts don’t age as well. In addition to that, you might also learn something new about a topic and have something else to say about it. Have a look through your archives and identify any blog posts that could do with an update – this is especially important for content that is getting a lot of views.

There are a number of ways you can handle re-publishing blog posts, as outlined in this Moz blog post; grab a cuppa and have a read (or listen, I love Whiteboard Friday videos) and decide which option is best for you.

So what?

When I used to work in marketing, my boss would always ask “so what?” What does your blog mean to you? What do you want out of it? Why do you do it? Blogging is something we do because we enjoy it; of course that isn’t to say that it’s never hard or exhausting, but your blog is about you, your interests and your readers.

What have you been up to lately?

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Four tips for refreshing and updating your blog

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Fresh cherries on a fruit stand at Granville Island, Vancouver
Since the start of 2017, I have been making a conscious effort to live more consciously and ethically. The two biggest things I have discovered since then are; 1) it feels overwhelming a.f, 2) it’s expensive. The first one is understandable but the second is not ok.

If you live in a modern country, you can walk into any town or city and find pretty much anything you want or need. Try doing that when you’re trying to only buy ethical, cruelty free, animal product free, and horrible chemical free products. It is hard. Luckily, my town has a Holland & Barrett, so at least I don’t have to buy my toothpaste online. I couldn’t even find a wooden toothbrush in any physical stores in my town. You can buy plastic toothbrushes in every shape and colour imaginable, but you want an eco-friendly alternative? Sorry, no chance.

Isn’t it ridiculous that it’s so hard to find highstreet stores that pay their workers fair wages and don’t damage the environment?

Some supermarkets in my area sell some Ecover and Method products (environmentally friendly cleaning), they sell soil association approved organic fruit, and handmade soap in zero waste packaging. But, they are more expensive than their commercial or non-organic counterparts.

There are good reasons for that, though:

  • Companies are not just using cheap chemicals or materials, they’re using more expensive, organic ingredients.
  • These products might take more man hours.
  • People are being paid fairly.

Those are all huge positives, until it comes down to the customers wallet. You can want to support all the ethical companies in the world but being able to do it isn’t always possible. Not everyone can justify an extra quid or two on every ethical item they buy, because that quickly adds up and eats away at your budget.

Surprisingly, shopping more ethically for clothing was the easiest part for me. Ethical clothing is vastly more expensive than highstreet garments and that truly demonstrates the problem with fast fashion. You don’t have to actually buy from ethical clothing companies to shop more ethically because there are plenty of second hand options available if you give yourself time to plan and search for what you need. But you can’t do that with your food shop, cosmetics or hygiene products.

This doesn’t just come down to me, or you, wanting to make an ethical choice, it’s also about our health. Organic, pesticide free fruit and vegetables are more expensive than non-organic produce. As I’ve already said, that’s because of the time and skill needed but being able to provide a healthy diet for our families should not be a privilege.

I’m not really sure what the solution is, but I do know that living ethically, healthily, and consciously should be available for everyone regardless of their budget.

The world has changed a lot since our grandparents were kids. While the technological age makes us more connected globally, I think it has made us disconnected locally; life seems to run at a faster pace and less thought is given to our communities and environment. In an ideal world, we could adopt a slower lifestyle, learn to make some of our own clothes, make our own cleaning products, and only buy from local farmers and growers. Unfortunately, that’s not possible for the majority of people.

I’m fairly certain that the solution to this problem is a huge overhaul in society but how likely is that? When your own government have to be forced by courts to do something about pollution problems in the capital city and publish a half assed, weak response that passes the responsibility, how does that kind of change happen? The public can have their say all they want but if the government don’t care then nothing will change. We need to encourage the people in power to make a change because it is unlikely to happen otherwise.

Maybe I am being unnecessarily pessimistic, but when you hear that climate change isn’t in your prime ministers top list of things to focus on, it’s easy to be disheartened. What does it matter if you or I change our habits if the government don’t care (about a lot of things concering most people)?

What on earth have we done to get to the point where living ethically, fairly, and healthily is a privilege?

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Watching the sun set at Moraine Lake, Alberta

In the past 12 months, Daz and I have had our fair share of adventures; we’ve been to Wales, Canada, Edinburgh, and Canada again. Though all of those places are beautiful, it’s the people you’re with that make it the best adventure.

I booked my first trip to Canada before I really knew Daz; I might have known him as “the grumpy pastry chef”. After a few weeks of being together, it became pretty clear to me that I would be moping around Canada on my own, missing him like hell if he didn’t come. In fact, I actually told him that if he didn’t come to Canada, he would ruin my trip to Canada because I would miss him too much. (Soppy, awh.) It’s kinda funny because this time last year he was moping on holiday in Ibiza with his family, and I was being a serious grouch at work.

The fates aligned because he was able to get it off work too, and we found the perfect flight for him which landed just before my flight into Calgary from San Francisco.

During our first trip to Alberta, we felt so at home. We got so much done in seven days (here’s our 7-day Banff & Jasper itinerary), and we were planning our return trip before we’d got to the airport to go home.

We spent months thinking about and planning the trip; whenever one of us was annoyed or stressed, we would remind each other of being back there together. And boy, did that thought get us through a lot of frustrating times.

Our trip was incredible. Even better than we thought it would be, not least because Daz proposed to me at Moraine Lake, our favourite spot (more on that soon). And it definitely sucked more when we had to fly home, though we are now definitely determined to call Canada home one day. 

If either of us had experienced the hammering rain, the chilled out vibes of Tofino, the sounds of Vancouver Island’s rainforests, Vancouver at night, the beauty of the Rockies, or seeing an avalanche on our own, it would have been pretty cool. But to do, see, and experience all of that next to your best friend, is the best feeling in the world.

Sure, travelling with someone isn’t always 100% rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies (I’m really not gonna pretend it is). I’m a miserable moose when I’m tired at the best of times, tired and annoyed at road closures is not a great combination and unfortunate for anyone around me. I’m also always convinced I know the right way (spoiler alert: I almost never do) and am a frustrating co-pilot because I say right when I mean left, and left when I mean right. But then again, nothing is ever 100% rainbows, butterflies, it’s compromise that moves us along (shout out to anyone who gets the Maroon 5 reference – from when they were good).

Daz is my favourite adventure buddy and I’m looking forward to so many more adventures with him and giving him the wrong directions, forever.

Happy birthday, Dazzle.

Who is your favourite adventure buddy?

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Edinburgh Princes Street Gardens

Captain Obvious Award of the year goes to me for that title; I’d like to thank myself for being so oblivious to the hassle involved in moving over 270 miles away. 

When we got the news that I’d been accepted into the University of Edinburgh, we found ourselves stressing about this huge list of things we needed to do. We made a start on a good chunk of them and began putting things into place. After we got back from Canada, we headed up to Edinburgh for a few days; Daz got a job and we tried to look at a few flats.

Tried is the key word in that sentence because despite wanting to look at around 10 places, we only saw one. Now, a lot of that is down to our naivety; places go in Edinburgh fast and we thought the best thing to do was to try and book viewings when we were up there, rather than a week or so in advance. The one place we did see, we fell in love with and we’re waiting on references to come back, so hopefully we have somewhere to live!

We’re trying to get things organised but without knowing 100% whether or not we have this place, we can’t change details or do super important stuff like telling Sky to sort our internet out so we can watch Game of Thrones the day it comes out. (You know, important first world stuff.) It feels like living in limbo a little bit.

The biggest surprise by far is how little time we have. Like most people, we get two days off a week (which clearly is not enough time to ever get things done – I want to adopt the Netherlands’ 29-hour work week.) but damn they are flying by. On top of that, we’re trying to organise seeing people before we move, which leaves so little time to get things done, especially as we both work weekends. 

Stress aside, we are very lucky because we have family and friends who offered to help us immediately, which has relieved some of the hassle. These are some of the people we’re going to miss the most and will happily accept into our spare room whenever they can get up to Scotland. 

When we are settled in Edinburgh I might do a blog post on “x dumb things you shouldn’t do when you’re relocating”. I don’t know about anyone else, but as I’ve lived in the same town for almost 25 years, I had no idea what to expect about moving to the other side of town, let alone another country.

Anyway, that’s just a little update on how the Edinburgh situation is going. I will be joyous when I attend my first day of my masters and will breath a huge sigh of relief because things will pretty much all be sorted. (Apart from my degree certificate because the University of Wolverhampton are incapable of doing anything that actually makes any sense to the rest of the educational world.)

Have you ever moved far? How did you find it?

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