Tag Archives: sustainable

Sustainable Family: Starting out the way I mean to continue

01 Aug 17
Megan
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Our focus here at LiveKen is on living simple, sustainable and meaningful lives. As we begin this next stage in our life, we need to consider how we can continue to live by our values and become a sustainable family.

What is a Sustainable Family?

As we defined our values clearly, we need to define what we mean by a sustainable family before we can become one. A sustainable family may be something different for you than it is for me.

Even within a family, each person’s definition may be different. I am keen to minimise the impact we have on the environment. E is more interested in how we will manage physically and mentally as a family. Obviously, both of these are important aspects of sustainable living. However, sometimes an action that achieves one of these goals may clash with the other. As with any joint decision, it’s important to find balance. Compromises can allow everyone to be happy.

Having said that, here is my definition of a sustainable family:

A sustainable family is one that minimises their negative impact on the environment, while building strong community ties and maintaining their mental, physical and financial health.

For us this has meant:

  • agreeing that we will try the ‘environmentally friendly or sustainable’ options but will stop if they negatively impact my health in any way. An example of this is cloth nappies. We are starting with them, but if we find it’s too much work we’ll look at alternatives.
  • taking time for ourselves before the baby arrives to go out for a nice meal, a movie, or some other event.
  • accepting hand-me-downs or buying things secondhand.
  • asking for gift vouchers for a nappy wash service if people want to get us gifts. This allows us to minimise the impact of using cloth during the early weeks when I’m recovering.

Taking Stock and a No Buy Challenge Update

01 Mar 16
Megan
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4 comments

The No Buy Challenge is going reasonably well, there was one purchase this week which I’m unsure if it was breaking my own guidelines or not… It fits into being social but is something we could probably have held off on… New additions to one of our games (card based two player Lord of the Rings Game). It was a joint purchase by both E and me but E says it counts as my purchase because I made the final decision. Apart from that I’ve been going well. I’ve also decided to start a regular (maybe monthly or quarterly) series inspired by Pip at meet me at mikes… Taking Stock

Taking Stock – March 2016

The concept is really simple, a snapshot of where you are, who you are spending time with, how you are feeling and much more. To create it just add a sentence or two next to each category below…

Making : Napkins and placemats. My most recent, simple sewing projects have included napkins and placemats. I’ve been making sets as housewarming gifts and birthday presents and I’m also making some to hopefully sell at a local market.

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Cooking : Stuffed Chicken Breast… This simple meal has been a regular addition to our dinner rotation over the last few months. Chicken stuffed with mushroom, baby spinach and hummus served with mashed potato and steamed greens.
Drinking : Water. My regular go to drink.
Reading: Dr Seuss.
Wanting: A simple, sustainable and meaningful lifestyle. I’m definitely on the path towards it but life is starting to get complicated again so it’s time to step back again and reassess my priorities.
Looking: Watching nature as the seasons change.
Playing: Lord of the Rings the card game with E.
Deciding: To slow down and add more white space in my life.
Wishing: My health would improve enough to consider starting a family.
Enjoying: Sewing and creating.
Waiting: To meet the newest addition to our friendship group. Our friend’s second child is due 10 March, so any day now.
Liking: The wonderful weather at the moment. It is heating up again but still quite nice outside right now.
Wondering: When we should plan our next weekend getaway for.
Loving: Having enough energy to spend time with family and friends.
Pondering: How long to give new drugs to settle before making a decision about the balance of side effects vs benefits.
Considering: How lucky I am to have E in my life.
Buying: Nothing much, I’ve got 7 weeks left of my No Buy Challenge so purchases at the moment are mainly groceries, and purchases for E or social activities.
Watching: The West Wing. E and I have only recently started watching it and we’re thoroughly enjoying it.
Hoping: 
That I can maintain my current progress in regards to health. I’ve been slowly increasing my step count and adding in more social activities.
Marvelling: At the generosity of our friends, family and neighbours.
Cringing: At how self absorbed people can be.
Needing: A clearer head.
Questioning: My current workload.
Smelling: Freshly cut grass.
Wearing: Maternity Jeans and a loose fitting top (comfort clothes).
Following: Rach’s progress with the No Buy Challenge.
Noticing: The benefits of saying NO.
Knowing: That life is good at the moment.
Thinking: I need to move.
Admiring: The simplicity of a cats life.
Sorting: The spare room. It’s now set up to be my sewing room as well.

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Getting: Tea? I’ve been slowly using up our tea bags so that I can move to loose tea (less waste)
Bookmarking: The Down To Earth blog. A reasonably local source of inspiration (Australian) for simple, sustainable and meaningful living.
Coveting: This white linen smock from Bohemian Traders.
Disliking: My current inability to focus clearly, an exacerbation of my usual brain fog thanks to drug side effects.
Opening: The worm farm to check on our worms (We inherited/adopted a worm farm from some friends moving interstate).
Giggling: At DeadPool, we saw it last night in the movies. Not my normal choice of movie, and quite a rude sense of humour, but I enjoyed it.
Feeling: Exhausted! I’ve been struggling to sleep on top of my normal symptoms lately.
Snacking: On dried apricots and almonds.
Helping: Out friends who are moving interstate. As well as adopting the worm farm from one set of friends, we’re looking after another friend’s fish while he sets himself up.
Hearing: The cats fighting for position in their comfy chair behind me.

Zero Waste Purchases: No Buy Challenge Update Week 11

16 Feb 16
Megan
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I did some shopping this week…

There, I got that off my chest. I didn’t break my rules for the 20 week no buy challenge, but I did buy things I wouldn’t normally buy (they were on my to-buy list a long time.

If you’re a regular reader you’d be aware that I’ve yet again been trialling new drugs and suffering from very frustrating side effects that are impacting on my quality of life.

In particular, the brain fog (which I had got to manageable levels) has been so bad I’ve pretty much been unable to do any work for the last few weeks apart from attending meetings (listening but not contributing as much as I usually would) and writing here on the blog.

Yesterday, when I came onto the computer to do some work (I didn’t manage to actually do any work in the end)* I got completely distracted. Don’t ask me what distracted me because I honestly don’t know but somehow I ended up looking at sustainable living/baby related sites.

Our kitchen has several plastic and glass (pyrex) storage containers but as part of my journey towards zero waste I’ve been wanting to get my hands on some leak proof stainless steel containers for getting meat from the butcher. I also wanted to get my own spork to go into my zero waste eating out kit instead of transporting a cutlery set (i.e. cut my kit back to a spork, straw and napkin, along with my sandwich wrap, jar of snacks and stainless steel drink bottle for longer trips out and about.

My original zero waste eat out kit... spoon, chopsticks, straw and napkin. I want to replace the normal sized spoon and chopsticks with a reasonable sized spork (a more flexible tool with less to carry around)

My original zero waste eat out kit… spoon, chopsticks, straw and napkin. I want to replace the normal sized spoon and chopsticks with a reasonable sized spork (a more flexible tool with less to carry around)

On one of the sites I ended up on I found a good special on both of these items so jumped in and bought myself 2 stainless steel containers (with BPA free lids that seal and a removable divider inside) and a bamboo spork.

My zero waste purchases

My zero waste purchases

I also bought my supplements online for the first time (calcium and folate), so now I’m waiting excitedly for my packages to arrive!

I’ve also started a list of things that I will need to consider buying in the near future. Because my wardrobe is now so minimal and I wear my favourite things most days, I’ve reached the point where things are starting to wear out.

Some of these things won’t be replaced, like the 2 dresses that reached the “I can see my undies through them” point in the last few weeks, because I have already decided I had more than I actually needed of these items.

I’m now down to 7 dresses. I wear dresses almost every day, all year round. Seven is probably still more than I need but as things wear out I consider whether I need to replace it or if something else I already own fills the same niche. I’m getting closer to the magical 33 Items recommended by Courtney Carver from Be More with Less in her Project 333 (I’m down to 36 items, excluding underwear, shoes, and accessories – scarves, jewellery, hats, etc).

Other things will need to be replaced, like undies. I bought 4 new pairs of undies from the local shops in July last year (bonds brand). These are already reaching the point where they’re starting to go see-through or holey. They’re also not very comfortable to wear anymore, riding up or falling down regularly.

My other 3 pairs of undies I bought online in March (2 months earlier) and they’re still going strong with no sign of being even close to worn out. They’re extremely comfy and actually function as pads (just add inserts) by themselves if you want them to. Last time I bought 3 pairs of the charcoal grey colour.

I want to keep some colour in my collection so I’m considering replacing the most uncomfortable ones I’ve got with more of the Maia Hipster Lunapanties but in other colours (one pair each of aquamarine, festival pink, and royal stripe).

The more uncomfortable ones are still ok at the moment, and the ones I want are reasonably expensive for underwear, so I’m going to hold off as long as I can (hopefully until the end of the challenge in 9 weeks).

I’m also going to need to replace my sandals at the end of summer. The inner lining tore the other week and although we have attempted to fix it the patch is already tearing as well so they’ll need to be replaced. I have worn them pretty much every hot day since October 2014 so I guess they’ve done their stint (probably equivalent to almost a year of daily wear).

I’m considering Birkenstock sandals like this or this because they’re meant to be long lasting, and sustainably and ethically made.

How do you decide when it’s time to let go of your favourite items?

*I have managed to do some work today which is great! I’ve been really stressed about how bad my ability to get things done has been, especially given I have commitments to meet.

Week 8 No Buy Challenge: swaps and give aways

26 Jan 16
Megan
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We’re quickly approaching the half way point in our 20 Week No Buy Challenge and so far there haven’t been too many difficult decisions I’ve needed to make.

Over the last week in fact, I’ve given away a lot more items then we’ve had come into the house which feels great. On the weekend Rach (who’s doing this challenge with me) brought over a top she no longer needed/wanted. It fits with my colour scheme (greens and pinks) and is made of cotton so we traded. In exchange for the top I gave her some material to use in her conversion of one of her dresses to a skirt.

On the same day I also had one of my other friends over and let her go through the big bag of clothes I had taken out of my wardrobe over the last few months. Most of the clothes were things I’d either not worn in over 12 months or I’d gotten something that does the same job (little black dress for example) but fit better with my wardrobe guidelines (the new little black dress is cotton and has pockets). From this process, Janelle (my friend), received a few short sleeved shirts for work and a couple of dresses and a beautiful leather bag with matching belt. She described it as:

“shopping without actually spending money”

E has mentioned that he thinks I’m getting a bit obsessive with the decluttering but I don’t see it that way. Yes, the process seems to have some level of inbuilt momentum… the more I do it, the more I want to reduce… but I’m not thinking about it 24/7 like I tend to do when I get obsessed with a topic.

I’ve seen so many great benefits from reducing the amount of stuff I own. I have always struggled with keeping the house clean and often became overwhelmed by tasks that need doing but lately that’s started to change. Now that most things have a home, and one that isn’t stuffed so full it’s difficult to fit everything in, it’s generally very easy for me to put things away as soon as they’ve been used. This means keeping the house clean is much easier. I find that my stress levels are much lower now that there are generally clear shelves and counter tops. I know what I own and I’m not tempted as often by impulse purchases.

Have you been on a decluttering journey? What benefits have you found?

Have you ever swapped items with friends instead of buying new?

Week 7 No Buy Challenge: Celebrations, side effects and PEM

19 Jan 16
Megan
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Another successful week for the No Buy Challenge. I’ve been so busy dealing with health related activities and issues that I haven’t had a chance to do any shopping at all. 🙂

There were a few things I was tempted by, but I managed to either find alternatives or get past the temptation.

On Sunday we spent the afternoon down at the beach. We went for a swim, I floated in the water, and then went to a friends birthday/promotion party in the surf club. It was a wonderful afternoon, but as you’d expect it was way too much for me in one day. I’m still dealing with PEM (Post Exertional Malaise) today and it’ll probably take another day or two at least to get back to my ‘normal’.

Warning: The rest of this post may be TMI (Too much information) for those who know me closely, read on at your own discretion….

Set up for a day on the couch... Water and tea, tablet and headphones, tv controller...

Set up for a day on the couch… Water and tea, tablet and headphones, tv controller…

As I mentioned last week I’ve been trialling Cymbalta (only at 10 mg a day) at the recommendation of my Pelvic Pain Specialist. It’s now been just over a week since I started it and I’ve been struggling with quite a few side effects even though I’m on such a low dose!

Of the common side effects I’ve been dealing with dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, low energy, and nausea (to the point of feeling like throwing up).

In addition to that:

  • I’ve felt like there are little electric shocks going all the way through my body and causing me to be very light headed and shaky.
  • High levels of pain down the inside of my limbs (especially my left leg).
  • Painful, tingly breasts with milky discharge from both. This is listed as a RARE side effect on WebMD but it came as a big surprise to me.

I’ve got an appointment with my GP on Thursday to get the results to the blood tests taken last week and will be asking his opinion. At this point I’m going to give the drug at least another week but I’m not sure if it’s worth continuing long term with this drug, it has reduced the general aching but there are so many other pains and side effects that I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Have you had any strange or rare side effects from any medications you’ve tried?

How long do you give drugs before you decide if they’re working or not?

Week 6 No Buy Challenge: A New Year

12 Jan 16
Megan
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Over the last week I’ve done well with the No Buy Challenge and haven’t spent any money (on myself – my husband and I bought a few things together for the house but that is outside of my challenge as I’m doing this as an individual challenge).

There were a few times when I felt the urge to go shopping (especially for junk food when my energy levels were very low) but I managed to avoid that.

How?

I found other things to focus my time on.

I did more decluttering and now have a pile of things I want to give away. I’ve put together a few presents for people I know I will be needing presents for in the next few months and I’ve asked a friend over to go through the rest of the stuff before I donate it to charity.

I played games with my husband… we’re playing through the Lord of the Rings card game at the moment.

I napped… My energy levels have been very low, especially over the weekend, so I’ve spent a lot of time napping.

I worked… I had a meeting during the week and worked on the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang picture book. I also went for a walk with my mum to check out one of the sites for the Biodiversity trails I’m developing.

I read and wrote… I spent time reading blog posts each day as well as writing my own posts.

I meditated… I have an app on my phone that has a lot of guided meditations. One of the things I’m doing in my aim to balance this year is to do at least 2 guided meditations a day… one on waking and one at bed time… most days I’m also doing one mid-day as well. Each is between 3 – 13 minutes long.

These activities were not only to distract me from buying but (probably more importantly) distracting me from the pain I live with on a daily basis. For the last 3 months my pain levels have been slightly higher than average so it has been important for me to find ways to distract myself from it.

What do you do to distract yourself? – from pain, from impulse shopping, from anything…

Week 4 & 5 No Buy Update: Revising the rules…

05 Jan 16
Megan
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5 comments

It’s been 2 weeks since my last update for the No Buy Challenge.

During that time we’ve had lots of time with family and friends celebrating Christmas and the New Year. This kept purchasing to a minimum but there were Boxing Day Sales (and Closing Down Sales) in a few places that we checked out.

At one of these sales I picked up a new washing basket (ours was falling to pieces) and a wicker basket for my bike… Although I haven’t used my normal bike in a while because of my health, we’re planning to get me an electric bike in the next few months and the basket will allow me to carry around the things I need without getting hot and sticky with a bag on my back. (It’s also something i’ve always wanted – a nice wicker basket on my bike).

2015-12-28 12.52.00 2015-12-28 12.52.04

It slips off easily to be carried when you reach your destination. The only reason I got it now (before the bike) is the shop was closing down and it was over 50% off.

So, as you’ve probably guessed by now the basket (and the new bike to come soon) were not on my original exemption list but have been on my to purchase list for a few years now.

Just to reiterate (for myself, as well as for you), my rules were:

Things I will not be buying:
  • Clothing – exceptions will be made if something I have only one of (e.g. leggings) completely die. Otherwise, make do with what I have.
  • Shoes and accessories (this should be easy, I haven’t bought anything new in this category for quite a while and have only just received a new pair of earrings from my husband as an anniversary gift).
  • Junk food (this will be a struggle for me, although not often I do find when I’m feeling at my worse I do tend to grab some apricot slices or chocolate).
  • Eating out or takeaway alone. I will still eat out with family and friends but try to make each outing meaningful and when I’m eating alone I will make my own food or eat leftovers from home.
  • Other Non-essentials – toys, games, fancy new gadgets… (I’m sure I’ll be tempted by some things but can’t think of them right now, so that’s what this category is meant to be covering).
Things I will still be buying:
  • Necessities – groceries, house related bills, etc.
  • Gifts for others – my focus will be on making sure gifts fit with Elena’s 5H Code of Holiday Giving. Where possible I will make gifts at home, if this isn’t possible I will aim for gifts to be at least 2 of the following – Handmade, Healthy, Helpful and from Here (local) – and will focus on experiences.
  • Experiences and events that fit with my values.
  • Work related expenses.
  • Things that have been on my to-buy list for over a year (especially if they come up on special)*
    • New electric bike and relevant equipment (basket, bell, bike lock, etc)
    • Winter hat (not wool) – struggling to find one that suits me and I’m not allergic to so if I find one I’ll get it.

*Newly added to cover the few things I’ve forgotten.

How have you been going with the challenge if you’re participating? Do you keep a to-buy list?

Week 3 No Buy Review: Christmas is coming

22 Dec 15
Megan
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10 comments

In regards to my health, I’ve struggled a lot again this last week thanks to the continued changes in weather. Pain and fatigue have been constant and the few days I’ve been a little better (and some of the bad days) have been busy thanks to appointments/social events. Given all of this it hasn’t been too difficult to stick with the no buy challenge but I was tempted by a couple of dresses that appeared on the Facebook page of my favourite vintage shop…

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Why was I tempted by these dresses?

Earlier this year, as part of my decluttering I decided to give away any clothes that were no longer comfortable for me to wear. I’m still working on this but I did donate my ‘Christmas dress’ (the dress I’ve worn for Christmas for the last 4 years) because the zip was just not comfortable for me any more.

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

Having a nap during Christmas 2013…

I loved that dress, it looked great and even had pockets, but I had got to the point that every time I wore it the zip felt like it was cutting my back open so it went… At least I know it went to a wonderful lady who will get great use out of it.

Now that Christmas is coming closer I realised I didn’t have my Christmas dress. The dresses from Push Pin look amazing and, apart from colour, they look like they fit my new guidelines for purchases (when the No Buy Challenge ends – I’ll explain these in a different post later).

How did I avoid the temptation?

Well, as I’ve already stated my health hasn’t been the best so even if I had been tempted enough I didn’t really have the energy or strength to head into the shop and try them on.

I also decided that my Christmas dress doesn’t have to be red…

One of my favourite dresses that I already own is a beautiful teal green colour that could be dressed up Christmassy.

The top of the dress...

The top of the dress…

During an interview earlier this year...

During an interview earlier this year…

The photos don’t really show me the colour properly…

I still have my Christmas earrings and wear the same Christmas hat (see photos above) each year at Christmas Eve dinner with the in-laws.

Do you have a specific outfit you wear for Christmas?

If you’ve joined in the challenge, how are you going?

A social weekend – Week 2 No Buy Review

15 Dec 15
Megan
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Another week has past and the No Buy challenge is going well. You can check out Rach’s week in review here.

Thanks to my energy being so low the majority of my week was spent at home either listening to audio books or reading. During the week, my only outings were dinner with my husband’s parents and an acupuncture appointment.

From Friday to Sunday were pretty full of social activities (at least for me). Even though my energy was still very low and pain higher than ‘normal’, I try and make an effort to have at least one or two social outings a week (usually visiting my mum and one other event).

I had visitors at our house on Friday. Morning tea with one of my friends who I enjoy spending time with but don’t get to see often enough. Lunch with my dad and his girlfriend. Generally I aim for only one catch up in a day but occasionally life gets in the way (it happened twice this weekend).

Saturday we went to a friends place for a bbq dinner. Again this was someone I hadn’t seen in a long time and it was great to catch up with everyone there. We stayed a few hours and then went home so I could rest.

Sunday we again had friends over for morning tea and then went to a friends house for lunch and a swim (they have a pool).

Over all, it was a very VERY busy weekend for me but every now and then I feel it’s important to go with the flow and deal with the effects afterwards.

This close to Christmas there are usually a few Christmas get togethers. This year there aren’t as many but I still want to spend time with family and friends.

In the next week we’re going to the movies (tickets pre-bought by my husband before the challenge started), I have an exercise physio appointment and I get to pick up my new glasses.

How was your week? How are you feeling in the lead up to the Christmas Crazy period?

ps sorry no pictures this week…

A 20 Week No Buy Challenge

01 Dec 15
Megan
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Wow, I can’t believe it’s December already! I’m so happy that I managed to make it through the last month of daily posts for National Blog Posting Month. It was a struggle but I made it thanks to being able to schedule a few posts in advance each week to cover days that I would be busy or my energy was too low.

Now that NaBloPoMo is over for 2015, I’m going to cut back a bit on my posting and aim for 2 – 3 posts a week.

My friend Rach, from Around the World with Rachael, has invited me to join her in a 20 Week No Buy Challenge starting today, December 1. She will also be posting about this today so I’ll let her share her rules and reasons for participating in this challenge.

My reasons for participating in this 20 week challenge is not only to support Rachael as she does it but to continue my journey towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life now that the A-Z Guide has been completed.

I have previously stated on social media that I was going to attempt a full year of ‘No Buy’ in relation to clothing, however I didn’t succeed in that. When my leggings died a few months ago I held off but did end up buying a new pair of leggings, a top and a dress. I did make sure I removed at least one item (sometimes up to 3) from my wardrobe for each new thing I brought in.

I’m happy with my wardrobe as it is at the moment, so not buying clothes and jewellery should be easy for me; especially for 20 weeks. Given that, I’m expanding my rules (or modifying them) slightly from what Rachael is going to focus on (clothing, shoes, accessories).

Megan’s 20 Week No Buy Challenge Rules

Things I will not be buying:
  • Clothing – exceptions will be made if something I have only one of (e.g. leggings) completely die. Otherwise, make do with what I have.
  • Shoes and accessories (this should be easy, I haven’t bought anything new in this category for quite a while and have only just received a new pair of earrings from my husband as an anniversary gift).
  • Junk food (this will be a struggle for me, although not often I do find when I’m feeling at my worse I do tend to grab some apricot slices or chocolate).
  • Eating out or takeaway alone. I will still eat out with family and friends but try to make each outing meaningful and when I’m eating alone I will make my own food or eat leftovers from home.
  • Other Non-essentials – toys, games, fancy new gadgets… (I’m sure I’ll be tempted by some things but can’t think of them right now, so that’s what this category is meant to be covering).
Things I will still be buying:
  • Necessities – groceries, house related bills, etc.
  • Gifts for others – my focus will be on making sure gifts fit with Elena’s 5H Code of Holiday Giving. Where possible I will make gifts at home, if this isn’t possible I will aim for gifts to be at least 2 of the following – Handmade, Healthy, Helpful and from Here (local) – and will focus on experiences.
  • Experiences and events that fit with my values.
  • Work related expenses.

Rachael is planning to post a weekly update, so I will too. In her posts Rachael will be sharing an outfit from her own wardrobe (given her focus is on fashion related shopping). I might do the same thing to show you how my (almost) minimal wardrobe works for me.

The photos will be simple shots taken on my phone so won’t be the best quality but will share what I have in my wardrobe.

I’ll start with what I’m wearing today…

 

Maxi dress - crash day

It’s a crash day for me today with pain and fatigue quite high so I’m wearing my maxi dress (maternity dress from Target a few years ago). I may add a jumper later on if it cools down any more than it is right now.

So, what can you expect from me over the next few months?

I’m cutting back my posts from daily to something more sustainable (2-3 posts a week). One of those weekly posts will be (for the next 20 weeks at least) an update on how I’m going with our #nobuychallenge. The other posts will be either health or lifestyle related posts that I hope will continue to provide support and inspiration for you, my readers.

You can join in with our challenge by commenting on our posts (or writing your own) letting us all know about what you’re doing. Modify the rules to suit yourself. If you do share your challenge on social media, let’s use the hashtag #nobuychallenge so we can find posts easily.