2017 Autumn Bucket List

I always get a thrill when the season changes, and in the UK this year it feels as though as soon as we hit September the temperature plummeted and we could start hauling out the jumpers.

Although I always love feeling the weather change (especially when Autumn comes around – I can’t cope with heat) I feel like I never fully make the most of seasonal activities, especially as I work weekends so it can be quite difficult to cram things into my week.

After seeing some of these floating around the internet, I thought it would be helpful to create a small Autumn Bucket List, as it won’t only get me excited about the next few months but also gives me a little motivation to get out and do something other than sit in an armchair under a blanket.

Without further ado, here it is (and in cute graphic format, no less)!

 

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Do you have any plans for this autumn?

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Why I’m not buying clothes for a year.

This September marks the start of my masters degree, which although is really exciting, also marks the start of a year where I’m going to have some huge financial changes.

Due to the number of hours I can work at my part time job without burning out alongside the very low student loan I receive from the government, although I have some family help to get me through the degree I will be living on less than the UK minimum wage until next September. I’ve already got plans to drastically reduce my food and transport spending for this year (more about that in another blog post), but it never seems to be the essentials that leave me with pennies in my account at the end of the month – rather, it’s the non-essentials that I somehow keep justifying to myself that add up.

It’s for this reason that I’m targeting clothes specifically. Most of the clothing I do buy is either from eBay or charity shops, so it’s not like I’m splashing major cash around to fill my wardrobe, but the fact is, I don’t need more clothes. However limited or unfashionable, I do technically have enough items of clothing to see myself through the seasons without too much of a hassle. The reason I keep buying them, despite having more at home, is because I’m a very self-conscious person. I’m a chronic over-thinker and a plus-sized person, so I use clothes as a substitute for confidence. I somehow convince myself that if I just buy the right outfit, or have the perfect wardrobe, no-one will notice that I have awful social skills or think that I’m actually much thinner and prettier than I actually am.

So, the things I’m hoping to get out of this challenge are this:

  1. To save money. If I’m not spending it on clothes, it can go into savings to help me pay off my student overdraft.
  2. To appreciate what I already own. If I’m not buying anything new I can lose interest in what I already have, plus I will be much more likely to take care of my clothing.
  3. To become more confident. I’m hoping that by wearing the same things over and over again, my thought will be less focused on my appearance and on more important things – namely, my masters degree.

 

Like most challenges, there will be a few rules that I’m going to stick to:

  1. I can buy socks and underwear if the situation gets desperate. I don’t think this one needs too much explaining, plus it would be good to use the money saved from clothes shopping to invest in some more expensive and hardwearing items if needed.
  2. I can get things tailored. I am in the process of losing weight, but I don’t want that to give me an excuse to run out and splurge if I do end up ultimately going down a dress size. I can get some pieces taken if if needed, which is not only cheaper than buying something new, but still means I’m appreciating and caring for things I already own.
  3. I can borrow items from other people/ accept hand-me-downs. In case of emergency (like halloween costumes or cocktail parties) I will be able to borrow items from other people, and if someone (like my mum, who is the same size as me) offers me some of their old clothes, I can accept them, but only if I know I will actually wear them and they will add something to my wardrobe that I didn’t already have.

 

I will hopefully be posting some updates over the next few months about how I’m getting on, possibly alongside some of the outfits that I’ve been putting together with what I already owned. Wish me luck!

7 Things You Will Actually Need at University

It’s that time of year again when hundreds of posts are circulated around university age people, listing everything from bedding your mum picked out to a colander that your flatmate will definitely steal three weeks into first term. When lists try to tell you absolutely everything you might possibly need, they get overwhelming and (for the most part) unnecessary.

So, as someone who graduated this summer and is heading back to uni next month, here is a no bullshit guide to what things are actually useful at university, plus a few things that really, really aren’t.

 

A damn good water bottle.

A water bottle is one of the best things to have on you at university. Almost every building will have a water fountain, staying hydrated is obviously good for your health (and your hangover), plus taking a tactical sip during a seminar means you won’t get asked to answer a hard question. Get a decent one that won’t crack in your bag (and definitely do not just reuse one from some bottled water you got a few weeks ago). This is the one that I’ve used for the past year, and it’s leakproof, lightweight, and has taken some serious beating from me throwing my backpack around.

 

Comfortable shoes.

If you are a person who wears high heels, trust me, you will not wear them as often as you think you will. Generally if you’re a student you will be walking everywhere, and you do not want to be the one friend limping behind when you’re already late to a lecture. Save yourself from carrying your shoes and stepping on some definitely not hygienic roads on a night out, and pack your trainers. Your toes will thank you.

 

A coat with a hood.

Since you’re probably going to be walking everywhere (see above), a coat designed to withstand shitty weather is a must. Sometimes it’s just gonna be too windy for an umbrella or you left it in a pub in freshers week and you’re going to wish you’d let your dad talk you into that sensible raincoat. You will be at university for the coldest and wettest parts of the year. Love yourself. Bring a sensible coat.

 

Storage boxes and box files.

Even if you start the year with the best intentions, you will undoubtably accumulate a large amount of crap. Some of this will be important crap (like university documents or the syllabus for your course), or not important crap (like the free lanyard you got from Megabus during freshers or a stack of dominoes vouchers), but they both will look ugly stacked on your bedside table. Shove them in a pretty pastel box from Ikea. Et Voila! A less crap university room.

 

USB drive and an external hard drive.

You will need a USB drive all the damn time. Whether for presentations, printing off essays, or getting some episodes of Game of Thrones from your flatmate in a definitely legal way, it will definitely come in handy. Get one with a decent amount of storage, and keep it plugged into your computer at all times. The external hard drive can be used in a similar way, but has the added benefit of being able to store absolutely everything of use from your laptop. I have seen too many friends get everything wiped from a dodgy laptop days before an essay was due in. Get a damn hard drive and back up your files.

 

A backpack.

If you’re gonna carry more than one notebook and textbook around at any one time, get yourself a backpack. Messenger bags kill your shoulders, and tote bags just won’t hold everything you need them to. Make sure you get one that fastens properly (not one of those drawstring ones that mean all of your library books get soaked by the rain) and preferably one with fairly thick straps. Brands like Jansport and Kånken are really hardwearing, and you can pick them up fairly cheaply on eBay.

 

Colour Catchers.

Universities over charge for laundry facilities, and colour catcher sheets are the best way to get the most out of one wash. If you don’t have to separate your colours and whites you’ll save yourself a butt-load of money, plus a lot of brands are starting to make cheaper alternatives to the original brand.

 

Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list, but a lot of these are things either myself or flatmates didn’t think about until much too far into our first year at uni. Let me know if you think there’s anything you disagree with or missed off!

 

 

 

 

Battle of the TBR: My Book Buying Ban

So, as of today, after going through every book in the house that wasn’t my boyfriends (and some that were that I want to read eventually), I have 95 books on my physical TBR. 95. That’s actually insane. This is also not counting some books I’m waiting on from a book-swap, which will take the total to 102.

I argue it’s because I love books. I love shiny new hardbacks of recent releases, I love battered paperbacks from charity shops, I love a cart full of 1p secondhand titles on Amazon, I love buying books as a treat, buying them when I’m sad, buying books recommended by friends, and stocking up on a new author I’ve discovered.

But it’s ridiculous. I keep buying books faster than I can read them – and I read them fast. And the sad thing is that I hardly even feel excited about them anymore – books that I was so desperate to buy now sit forgotten on my shelf as I bring more and more into the house. I needed an intervention, and since all bookish areas of social media are filled with adverts, promos, reviews, and endless jokes about people not controlling themselves in bookshops, the intervention needed to come from me.

So here it is – I will stop buying books. Period. Until my TBR is down to 10 books (which I feel is a reasonable number to have waiting in the wings for my attention) I will not be buying books. There will, of course, be some exceptions: books from author events (I have one that I’ve already bought a ticket for in July), gifts, and book swaps (just because I’d rather trade with someone than donate them to somewhere they might never made it onto the shelves).

Given that I read anywhere from 50-70 books a year when I’m studying, it’ll take me around 2 years to get through it – not including any gifts and swaps, of course, which will make it even longer to get through.

I’ll try and do a monthly update on how I’m doing, which books I’ve received from my rule exception, and how I’ve felt going through backlist books rather than newer (more exciting?) ones.

Have any of you been on a book buying ban before? How did it go?

Spending Diet

Today I’m going to talk about something that I haven’t before on this blog, and that topic is money.

Since the beginning of the year especially, and after reading The No Spend Year, I’ve been attempting to become more conscious with where my money is going and what I’m putting into savings every month. In the last week, I’ve accepted an offer for a masters degree, which although is a really exciting opportunity, comes with a whole host of new financial worries. With my fees for one year of study coming to just over £6k, and the government loan for postgraduates stuck at £10k, there will have to be some serious lifestyle changes that come with my next round of studies. That’s not even including this summer, where I will be getting no support from student finance, and even with working extra hours will have nothing left over once the essentials have been paid.

I will be keeping my current part time job in order to help pay the bills, and luckily with the loan and my income combined, all the basics will be covered during term time, leaving about £60 a month spare. Although this is much more than I ever had ‘spare’ for the majority of my life (and even the majority of my degree), since having a little extra income my spending choices have adapted to meet my disposable income.

So, in light of this, I’ve decided to put myself on a spending diet, from now until graduation. Instead of doing the tempting thing, which would be to ‘make the most’ of my spare money while I still have it, I will bring down my spending to what it will have to be over the next year. Everything that I have coming in that is ‘extra’ will go straight into my savings account, meaning that if I do desperately need more than what I have coming in next year, I can feel more comfortable dipping into what I’ve put aside.

I’m also hoping that choosing to reduce my spending now, as opposed to being forced to come September, will make the transition easier and that I won’t feel tempted to over spend or use up my savings.

I’m hoping to keep a mini weekly diary of my spending in order to keep track of it, as well as little ways that I’ve managed to save money on day to day costs.

My Capsule Wardrobe Inspiration

As part of my quest for less, I’ve started with culling my wardrobe with brute force. Three bin bags later and a lot of folding, I’m down to significantly less that 100 items of clothing, most of which are pieces I completely love. I’ve began to notice where I go wrong with shopping – impulse buys, trendy, and ‘not quite perfect but near enough’ pieces being the most discarded ones – so I’ve managed to narrow down exactly what works for me, and more importantly, the difference between what I find aesthetically pleasing and what I will actually wear day to day.

 

Things I’ve Learned:

  1. Most of my favourite items are navy, light blue, black, and grey, which for the longest time I’ve fought against and constantly attempted to add colour to no avail. I think I need to accept that I feel my best in neutrals, and that I feel more confident in mixing pattern and layering with items like these than I ever do in bright colours and prints.
  2. I have a uniform of flats, skinny jeans, and a loose button up shirt, and whenever I deviate from it is when I feel the most self-conscious. Being plus sized means that the oversized shirts hide my least favourite body parts (my breasts and my stomach), whereas the skinny jeans highlight my favourite (legs). I also love the effortless look, which can easily be altered by a blazer or jumper over the shirt, and can easily be dressed up or down.
  3. I love more masculine clothes when it comes to my casual outfits – aside from skinny jeans, most of my wardrobe is tailored items, smart flat shoes, and fitted jackets and plain jumpers.

 

Current Capsule Wishlist:

  1. Some LK Bennett ballet flats in black – my only black flats at the moment are some lovely but rather clumpy tassel loafers
  2. A navy silk shirt – I have my eye on a particular one from work with a delicate floral pattern
  3. A black/ herringbone unstructured blazer – I have a thrifted navy blazer that I live in during spring, but I think something more casual would go with even more in my wardrobe
  4. A white linen t-shirt – despite owning a lot of plain basics, I’m distinctly lacking in a good white t-shirt, and I think linen will be a great fabric to layer with in spring and keep me cool in summer

 

Style Inspiration:

  1. Clemence Poesy – fabulous boyish French chic. I can’t get enough of her outfits and natural make-up look.
  2. This blog – the blogger lives between Paris and Amsterdam, and shares my love for oversized shirts. I’ve read her blog from beginning to end several times.
  3. My own Pinterest board – I’ve finally started collecting all of my wardrobe basics inspiration in one place, and hey, I’m not afraid to say I’m occasionally inspired by myself.

 

If you have a capsule wardrobe, what are your inspirations and motivations? If not, would you ever try one?

Why We’re Not Buying Valentine’s Day Gifts This Year

As January is finally drawing to a close, almost every shop on the high street right now is filled with red and pink Valentine’s displays. With giant A3 cards, pointless teddy bears, flowers that won’t last the week, and ‘sexy’ lingerie being advertised to ‘give him a night to remember’ (don’t even get me started on how awful these campaigns are) staring out of shop windows, I suggested that this year, the boyfriend and I take a break from buying each other cards and presents.

Luckily this year, the boyfriend has been able to get the 14th off from work, and it falls on a day where I don’t need to be at university, so the fact that we’d already be spending the day together got me thinking about what I really want to spend my money on. We’ve planned a day out in Leeds to go to their Valentine’s Fair, with lunch at our favourite sushi place, then home to a bottle of wine and a film. In my head I had already started adding: with the cost of rides, a nice lunch, and petrol money, that’s already double what I would normally spend on a gift and card!

Not only that, neither myself nor the boyfriend has anything we particularly want at the moment – so not only is there the upfront cost on top of our day out, but also we’d just be bringing more clutter into the house for the sake of giving. After some thought (and I small initial protest of ‘but I like getting presents!’) we decided that the day would be much more enjoyable if we spent the money from presents and a card on food, activities, and a rare day off together.

Have you done anything to cut costs with your partner this Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments!