Tuesday, 9 March 2021

my hair is getting long : a new approach

 yep, that's right, another YouTube video about my hair! some of you have been waiting a really long time for an update on this, and i know you've all been patient. so scroll down to watch...

i wanted to do a little update blog here too, to go with it, so i can chat about things you should be looking out for from the channel, a bit about where i've been, and chat about zero waste / products etc... so read on if you're interested.

the footage i filmed on the weekend, on a day where i only had a short space of time to film, i was headed out for a socially distanced walk with a friend and wanted to make sure mostly that my hair was as dry as possible, so it is by no means as perfect or perfectly curly as it could be, but it is fast! 20 minutes! and i'm so grateful, because if any of you saw the 8 things i hate about the curly girl method video, you'll know my biggest frustration was how long it would take, so now i've figured a few shortcuts i'm happy with, and it does involve a little give and take with my quest for perfection.

of course, as any curly girl knows, if your hair isn't perfectly dry before you head out the door, the curl will drop, and i even usually really like to make sure that i don't scrunch too much gel out my hair before i go outdoors, because it will naturally loosen with the wind/air (especially around here, lol).

i'm still growing out my hair, trying to see how long i can go, but at the moment it's in need of some more layers put back in. it's also starting to really grow back after the birth of my daughter and i have lots of wispy bits at the front. i keep eating my good fats (thanks almond butter blondies!) to make sure my hormones are in check on that one! anyhow, when i was looking back at the footage i realised that i wasn't loving on my hair very well, being pretty vigorous with the brushing :( so i need to do a mask day soon.

i'm also working my way through lots of products i bought two years ago when i started out the CG method. so the products i use here aren't my favourite but they do work, if not as brilliantly. i do believe each product can serve a purpose, and i'm determined to not throw any of my products away, unless i feel like they're actually damaging my hair.

eventually i hope to start afresh, get only my favourite on my beauty shelf, and try more zero waste ideas - i loved my rye flour hair wash, but i want to try chickpea and fenugreek. and i want to make my own aloe conditioner. i do believe the way forward isn't to have loads of products but just one of each. simplify, simplify, simplify! if you want to see my reviews of every product i've tested, click here. and if you have any requests let me know :) i hope reading my reviews saves you some money!

for now, i hope you enjoy the video, and i hope you don't feel the need to go out and buy any new products after watching, i've learnt that it's about 80% technique and 20% the right products for your hair type, you can make most products work, you just need to apply the right amount in the right way for your curl pattern...

anyhow, grab a cuppa tea and relax...


thank you so much for reading and watching, it's great to be back sharing my more relaxed approach to my hair with you, and i would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or on the YouTube watch page. over and out x

ps. if you didn't read my latest post about 'my sustainable wardrobe', i would encourage you to check it out.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

my sustainable wardrobe, part 1

hey all, i feel like today's post is a looooong time coming, and also, i feel like i'm majorly behind on the times. suddenly i'm out of the haze of baby #2 and it seems like "everyone" is sewing their own clothes, repurposing and mending things, buying only from sustainable brands and having smaller capsule wardrobes...

today i'm going to share where i stand on sustainability as it pertains to my wardrobe. it's actually my one and only "resolution" for 2021, because i figured 'sorting out my wardrobe' was an achievable goal for the mum of 2 littles.

and i apologise for how shallow and unimportant this post is truly, and how for some, dressing is just formulaic and not a creative expression, and that's totally cool (and i'm a little bit jealous). but for me, i understand getting dressed as a chance to express a little of me to the outside world, as well as a little window of opportunity to create that i have every day. also, i'd much rather spend time with my kids, cooking, journaling, walking, gardening, etc, rather than spend my time choosing an outfit - so i figure if i put in the thought process now, i can save time in the future. and hopefully stop me looking at photos of myself and saying "what was i wearing?!"

so, apologies over, let's start with where i am starting from...

i had (and still have) a bulging wardrobe full of too many clothes and shoes. most of which don't go together. i don't really know what 'my style' is these days. i haven't stopped to consider what suits me in my current lifestyle or what looks good on my post-two-babies body. i still buy too many things (even if the majority are thrifted). i know a little about sustainable fashion, but it feels like a minefield.

at least if i have on thing going for me, it's an organised wardrobe...


so, onto my plan, how i've already been tackling it, and how i plan to proceed. also i want to share helpful and inspiring resources with you, in case you're in the same boat as me and ready to make some changes.

purge

so, already i've been really ruthless with my wardrobe, i've cut it in almost a half, and i'm still going. i've got a whole bunch of things waiting to list on ebay in the spring. 

i have previously found it really hard to get rid of things, thinking maybe one day i might "need" it, but after watching a whole bunch of capsule wardrobe videos on YouTube i was like, hmm, i really don't need most things that i keep for that one occasion. 

if something is still in my wardrobe i have to LOVE it, it has to make me feel good when i wear it, it has to be comfortable and practical, it has to be in good condition. i got rid of lots of things i used to love, things that have memories. i got rid of lots of things that were for my old job, or my life before parenthood. i got rid of things that were expensive when i bought them but never wore them. i got rid of "trendy" things too, the ones that really didn't look like "me" at all.

one cautionary word here though: the most sustainable clothing you can add to your wardrobe are the ones you already own, or in other words, getting rid of stuff is really costly to the planet, so be careful how you do it. start by seeing if you can make it into anything else/adjust the length/reuse the fabric, then see if family want it or swap with a friend, then consider selling specific items on ebay (branded things sell well), donate to a good cause, or retire to the fabric recycling banks.

vision

the next thing i've spent time thinking about is what i want to look like. this is the area i most struggle with, and probably is the reason lots of wardrobe/fashion books recommend taking daily outfit photos, because knowing what cuts, fabrics, colours, shapes, etc, work on you, and look most like you is really tricky. though a daily photo would be hard for me, i might try a little morning photo shoot try-on with my mum in the spring, so we can assess what works and establish some "go-to looks" for me.

i've found 'The Curated Closet' (US/UK) by Anuschka Rees a really useful resource for helping figure out where i want my wardrobe to go. it's got some helpful tips in it, if you're interested into digging a little deeper.

i've also been really guilty of just copying other people, and their style, trying things out, but not pulling it off. why? because it wasn't really me, and then i looked way too try-hard. so, i have at least worked out some words to keep in mind if i'm buying a new piece or putting a look together. 

  • soft
  • feminine
  • comfortable
  • timeless
i also found using these words as i was/am purging my closet to be really helpful - shiny fabrics had to go, as well as things that were too masculine, or things that were too tight, or too trendy.

quality over quantity - reduce

now i'm moving into the next level of my sustainable fashion journey, i think the key thing is to assess my wardrobe each season and ask if there are any pieces that are missing or need replacing. cardigans is the first place i've started, because i wear them all the time, they get worn through almost every year. so i've tried to work out which colours would suit and then i've tried to source quality ones - it's taken a LOT of time to find quality sustainable brands at a good price. 

quality and thought is so important when it comes to sustainability, because if you can buy fewer items of clothing and make them last much longer then you save the environment in the long run. in fact, even if you bought one well made natural fibre piece from a high street chain that you kept for a long time it would be a massive improvement. the amount we throw away is a huge environmental issue, so i want to make sure i reduce this as much as possible by making sure each piece is really thought through and i don't ever impulse buy.

mending & sewing - reuse

i've been patching my sons trousers for the last year, and it feels so good to get a few more months of wear out of them. i even then take the trousers with completely irreparable knee areas and chop them and sew them up into shorts. so easy and quick and gets another life out of the trousers. so, i want to start doing more of this for myself. 

i've had a sewing basket and sewing machine for over a decade and i'd say i'm only a 'confident beginner' when it comes to actually sewing. i don't know many techniques, but i'd be happy to give anything a shot. so i've started reading and watching a bit about #memade wardrobes and saving patterns i like to a list. i've even bought two, but i'm waiting for the charity shops to open again post-lockdown to look for some vintage linens/fabric to use to make them.

if you're interested in sewing patterns but not sure where to start, check out Birgitta HelmerssonBy Hand LondonMerchant and MillsPeppermint Mag (for free patterns), Made My WardrobeAnna Allen Clothing - they're all modern patterns and they look fabulous!

mostly i've been mending my clothes the last couple of months, adding elastic waists, taking in denim jeans (easier than i thought it would be), seam ripping ruffles and taking up hemlines. it's really satisfying to keep my favourite fabrics in my wardrobe but give them a new lease of life. i've also started back up crochet - so i can make cardigans for me and my girl (there are some lovely modern crochet patterns out there).

in the past i've made great use of my local tailor, altering things to make them fit perfectly always makes things look more expensive and helps you get more wear out of them. so if you're not interested in owning or using a sewing machine, this is still a fabulous option for reusing your clothes.

thrifting - recycle

i've been thrifting / charity shopping for probably about a decade now, and the number of gems i've found is always amazing! i even did a YouTube video about my top tips for charity shopping. i cannot wait to get back out in the charity shops, simply because i find it really good relaxing and inexpensive "me-time". i do think it's the cheapest sustainable option out there if you do need something else in your wardrobe - but to find the things you are after you might have to make it a few visits to different stores. 

making sure items i buy are made of natural materials is really important to me. not simply because i think they look better on me because they're usually softer and less 'shiny', but because i know that eventually once they're worn beyond repair that the fibres will naturally biodegrade right back from where it started from. so i look for 100% cotton, linen, 100% wool - they're usually easy to spot and there're plenty of them. i also check for quality of construction - some items are made to last, and some literally made for a few wears - i check its washing instructions too, as that's a good indication of how sturdy the fabric is and how well it will wash.

plan

so, having said a little photoshoot to establish some good "go-to looks" for me would be good, the other thing i plan to do is upload my wardrobe in chunks to the Stylebook app so that i can see my wardrobe, track what i wear, and geek out like the little statistician i am. this also means i can sit and put looks together the night before, a week in advance, plan for trips (if Covid ever lets up!) and just generally know what i wear on a regular basis. 

i've also started a Word doc where i keep all the links to clothing i'd like to buy, so i have links to brands i love, things i think my wardrobe could do with. that way i can keep coming back and editing it, adding and removing pieces, feeling out my style. but mostly, it's so that if something has been on the list for a really long time, and i still love it, it probably is a piece i'll love for a long time. it eliminates impulse shopping completely. it also means i give it a good clean through at sale time, and check for sales on the styles i'm after. actually i say this is a list, but it's pretty short - i hope it stays that way!


anyhow, that's all for today! i hope it's interesting if you're also starting on this journey, and if you've already got a wardrobe you love, i'd love to hear thoughts and tips on this too.

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

faith journal flip through 2020

 hi all, today i wanted to encourage and inspire you with some photos (and a video - scroll to the end) of my 2020 faith journal, kept from march to july. 

it's a bit of a mish-mash of faith journaling and memory keeping, so there are photos of my family in there - but they're such a big part of what i'm learning about in my faith journey anyway, it sort of seems fitting.

although i've done a video so you can see all the pages and all the detail, i wanted to use this space here to chat through some of the pages, and add in some of the links to useful resources.

first off, let me mention, lots of the artwork is via my Pinterest. so pop over there if you see something and you'd like it for your own journal. i get so inspired by quotes and art there, it's a great place to start if you're new.


most of this journal is "junk", and there's quite a lot of "art" too. the above piece for example, there's a fresh photo, a print out from Pinterest, a piece of a magazine photo, and then on the other side is a stapled piece of scrap fabric art i made with my son, that we thought was too pretty to throw away.


journaling through the time of COVID-19 brought many consistent themes: 'Lord, help me to be brave, help me to have more capacity, give me strength, let me not be judgemental, Lord show me who you want me to be'. i've talked about the weight of my thought processes over the last few months, and it's not only good, but essential, to creatively interpret them. it's been a heavy year for everyone in different ways.



one thing i love to do in my journals is make it really tactile, adding different elements, like stitching, tape, penwork, photos, card, fabric, old papers, new papers - i definitely don't conform to one specific style! i also love to collect and press flowers and leaves from our garden and from walks, and i pop those through my laminator to staple in also.



i often save screengrabs of things from instagram as well, that i might want to use in my journal, or ideas on layouts, anything that might spark some sort of idea that i can quickly go and stick down or write out.



i use the journal to record things that i feel God says to me, but also to allow Him to speak - that probably sounds a bit weird. but often when i sit down to journal i am creating a space for Him to speak, through reading the bible to seek a verse to journal, to listening to a podcast or to worship music. it's such a lovely relaxing time, and it's great to rest in His presence.



one of my favourite things about the whole journal is the cover, which was a vintage book i found on ebay. it wasn't cheap, but i just knew i'd always look at it and remember the time i made it. i also felt it was so appropriate given we were at home a whole lot!


here's the flip through video if you're interested...

thank you all for reading, i hope this blesses you and i hope you have a great day! let me know any thoughts or questions in the comments here or on YouTube. 

PS. Our YouTube family is now 14,000 strong! Thank you all for your support and all those lovely shares and likes x

Friday, 15 January 2021

my easy, no-fuss sourdough recipe (with a 'dry' starter)

hey all. so, today i'm bringing to you all the tips i've learnt about making and keeping a dry sourdough starter, as well as my foolproof recipe for a loaf. why? because this blog is a great personal journal for me, so i want to store this recipe somewhere safe i can always find it. and as we kick off 2021, in another lockdown, i know at least some of you will be starting or wanting to improve on your attempts at sourdough last year.

so let me start by saying that this method is the only one that's ever worked for me - i love a "dry" starter because it needs very minimal maintenance, and you keep it in the fridge. you simply have to remember the night before you want a loaf to make your levain, and then you'll have a loaf within 24 hrs.


about a decade ago i tried my first attempt at making sourdough, and it was an utter fail, nothing happened when i mixed the water and the flour. nothing. then i tried a couple of years later and this time, initially something happened, but then it seemed to die, and it smelt funny. 

turns out, years later, now homemade sourdough is much more popular, and the resources explain things more, that using tap water was a complete no-no. and that's why it basically killed my attempts each time i tried. now i use as fresh flour as i can, and ALWAYS bottled spring water. also, i store it in glass, that's pretty important too.

this time, i followed The Elliott Homestead recipe for making a starter, only instead of the einkorn that she uses i used what i had on hand, which was just all-purpose wheat flour. i love her video that shows all the different stages, it's brilliant, and simple. and it WORKS. (i do love the Elliott Homestead - such trustworthy recipes). i use the exact ratios she does for creating and maintaining it, except i don't use einkorn - and therefore i use a different recipe for the actual loaf.

so here's my starter, straight from the fridge, there's about enough left there for one more loaf and to refresh the starter...


so, step one, turn the dry starter into a wet one (or a "levain"). in the evening, simply take a 30g chunk of starter and pop it in a glass bowl. add in 130g bottled spring water, at room temperature, combine with a fork until smooth. then add 120g all-purpose organic flour. combine with a fork until smooth. cover and leave overnight. then in the morning it should look like this...


at this point you have a regular sourdough starter which you can make into bagels, pancakes, cookies, cake, or just a regular daily bread...

the following recipe has gone through lots of trial and error and is perfect for the loaf i love. it comes easily out the banneton and has great structure and flavour. you can see my hand-scrawled notes, lol. it's a very well-used recipe.


in the morning, add 315g bottled spring water, at room temperature, mix with a fork until smooth. then add 430g organic white bread flour and 100g organic wholegrain rye flour. (you can use just 530g of bread flour, it doesn't even need to be organic, but i love the flavour i get from this combo). mix until no flour is visible. like this...


then autolyze - leave it for 40 minutes at room temperature, covered. i use either a plastic shower cap or a beeswax wrap.

once the timer is up, mix 8g salt and 20g water in a jar and pour that over the top of the dough. squeeze/squelch it in with your (super clean) hands. i always like the feel of this bit, and my son likes to help too.


now, leave it covered for 2 hours. you don't see a dramatic rise with this dough, like you would with dry yeast, but it will rise a little.

after the time is up, it's time for your first stretch and fold. simply google 'stretch and fold' if you're not sure what to do. i use a simple plastic dough scraper i got from amazon for this, and it's perfect. basically you take one part of the edge of the dough, lift it up and pull it over the top of the dough, and then go all around the edge of the bowl til you're done. i do it about 5-8 times each time. this activates the gluten, and it will help with even formation of the "bubbles" in the resulting loaf. so if your dough is too sticky, or the holes are uneven, chances are you need more stretch and folds.

i do stretch and folds 3 times in total. once after the 2 hour rest, then rest for 40 minutes covered, then another stretch and fold, then rest for 40 minutes and then another stretch and fold, then rest for 40 minutes. 


in the below photo you can see how the dough is less watery looking and starting to come together into a workable dough.


then, tip the dough out onto a clean, floured surface. using your dough scraper or clean hands, shape the dough. 

how you do this will depend on what tools you have available, as well as which shape you'd like your dough. i let my dough rise in an oval banneton, and then bake it in a dutch oven, i find this works well for me. but i used to simply round the dough and let it rise in the same glass bowl, lined with a floured tea towel, then i used to bake it straight on a baking tray. it worked beautifully. the only tip i have for you if you're doing it not in dutch oven is to throw some ice cubes in the base of your oven to create some steam as it cooks.

i do find i get a slightly better rise in my conventional oven with a cast iron pot with a lid, but it's honestly marginal. i got a red ProCook one for my birthday and i really enjoy using it (all the links to my favourite bits are at the end of this blog post). it's also a great place to store the bread after it's cooled.


so, back to the shaping. for my oval banneton, i spread the dough out to a large rectangle, you can be pretty tough with the dough at this stage. it will have lots of spring. then start rolling and pressing it down and then tucking the edges in. it's probably easier to watch a YouTube tutorial on this!


from here, leave it to rise in the banneton or bowl for 2 and a half hours. this usually takes me until about late afternoon. from here you can either bake it straight away, or you can pop it in the fridge until you're ready to bake. sometimes mine stays in for an hour, sometimes 24 hrs. it can help it form a stronger crust.

once you're ready to bake, turn the oven onto the hottest setting you've got, and place your dutch oven in too, with the lid. 

after 30 minutes of heating, turn your banneton or bowl upside down onto some baking paper. gently. then score it as deeply as you dare, i don't have a lame but i use a serrate steak knife that seems to glide through the bread well without tugging it. you can score it however you like.

then take out your pot and place it straight into the hot oven, with the lid on, for 25 minutes. after the time, take the lid off, and lower the temp to 220c and leave to cook for another 15 minutes.



leave it to cool for as long as you can be patient for or until completely cooled, as that makes it easier to slice nice and evenly.

links to the bits and bobs i love:
glass pot for storing dry starter - they're from ikea, and they're the perfect size 
plastic dough scraper - UK / US
pyrex bowl - UK / US
oval banneton - UK / US
banneton linen liner - UK / US
ProCook cast iron pot with lid - UK / US

so, there you have it. i hope you're all well! i hope this helps you in your journey with sourdough.

and here is the printable recipe... click to be taken to the Google Doc.