Spring cleaning out my closet

I am taking part in a No New Clothes challenge for 2016. I am not buying any brand new clothes but am allowing myself to buy second hand from charity and vintage shops.

I don’t buy a lot of clothes and am quite careful about the things I do buy. Where I have seen others taking part in the challenge cleaning out bundles and bundles of clothes I thought I really don’t have that much! My problem is that although I don’t buy much I also don’t throw anything anyway! I like to wear my clothes until they are literally falling apart. However throughout the years this has left me with some good quality clothes that I don’t wear for various reasons clogging up my wardrobe.

I have had a clear out and thought I’d show you some of my pieces and use this post as a cathartic exercise. All these clothes are heading for the charity shop so if you are based in the UK and see anything you might be interested in let me know. Most items are a UK size 12 and properly creased as they have been stored in bags in the bottom of my wardrobe.

First off are some clothes I bought in online sales. They never fitted me nicely but as they were sale items I didn’t want to return them for store credit. I thought they would do for target clothes as I was losing weight, but as I have lost and gained weight over the years I think these were more wishful thinking than achievable targets! Now its a few years since I bought them they aren’t clothes I think I would choose to wear now.

This is a dress from Next which I wore a couple of times for work. I really love the colours and detailing but as I have learnt, fitted Next dresses don’t work well with my figure and sitting down can sometimes be difficult!

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I really like this dress (yes it is a dress not a top!) I haven’t worn it many times as I haven’t had the occasions to and now I am in my 30’s feel it is definitely too short for me! Here I am wearing it on a night out for a friend’s birthday about 5 years ago.

This dress I haven’t owned too long, another online purchase. I like the colour, the detailing and the shape but the bodice is too tight and as I’m quite slim on top unless I get a couple of ribs removed I don’t think this will fit comfortably on me!

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I bought this dress from Oasis when I was on a trip to Dublin with my Mum in 2012. Again I like this dress but just feel its a bit too short now.

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I wore this dress to my eldest Goddaughter’s baptism, the only issue I have with it, is that is can create static when worn with tights so I have to wear a slip with it and even then it sometimes annoys me!

I have had this skirt longer than I have been with my Husband so its getting on for 10 years! We’ve been through a lot together I just don’t wear it anymore.

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Another couple of skirts. I really like the pattern on the left one but again just feel its too short for me now. I love the brocade pattern on the right one but as its puffball its more of a clubbing/party skirt and I don’t go to many of those nowadays!

A puffball dress this time, which I bought from my friend Michelle, so will be third hand now! This is a hell kitty dress with some lovely details, the straps are adjustable with buttons and there are darts throughout the skirt. This is another one from my party days where I just don’t have the right events for it anymore.

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I bought this puffball dress for a holiday to Greece in 2011 with my cousin. I love this for the memories but haven’t worn it in years.

These last two pieces as a couple of my favourites and the hardest to give away! This skirt I bought to wear at Christmas, I do like a Christmas day outfit! I have worn this at work Christmas parties too. I haven’t worn it in recent years due to the length (quite short again!) and as it is wool it doesn’t fit in with my vegan sensibilities. Here I am wearing it at my in-laws for Christmas day 2010.

Women of a certain age will instantly recognise the design on this corset top. Jane Norman was the shop of choice for many of us, even if it was just get our hands on their posh carrier bags to put our P.E. kits in! I used to shop for my Jane Norman fix in their concession in Debenhams rather than the Jane Norman shop as Debenhams tended to have bigger sizes (of which I mean 10 – 12!) I bought this top when I was about 20 and it has made me feel fabulous. I love the embroidery on it but it does look a bit 00’s to me now! The last time I wore it was in 2012 for my work Christmas meal.

What are your shopping habits with regards to clothes? Do you want to change them? Would you consider doing a no new clothes challenge?

Plumes x

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Spring cleaning out my closet

My Journey to Veganism

A lot of vegans are asked why they choose the vegan lifestyle and I thought I’d use this post to tell you about how I ended up becoming vegan.

Growing up my Mum had always had an interest in vegetarian cooking and we had a couple of vegetarian cookbooks at home. (Good old fashioned 70s/80s style!) We ate Quorn probably about once a week, either as mince in a bolognese/chilli or pieces in a stir fry. Talking to my Mum about this she said the reasons were mainly health ones but also it was convenient and it gave us another option food wise. We also had a number of vegetarians/pescatarians in the family so my Mum was used to catering for them when they visited.

I had never been a great lover of meat. I didn’t eat pork or ham and I couldn’t stand bacon. I think this was somewhat influenced by having to walk behind the kitchens when I went into school every morning and the smell of bacon frying at that time of the morning just turned my stomach. I wasn’t particularly fond of beef and found chicken boring/bland.

I started drinking soya milk when I was at uni in 2003/4 again as I wasn’t particularly fond of cows milk and I’m glad to see the dairy free milk industry has come on leaps and bounds in terms of products and availability since I shunned dairy milk.

I decided to go vegan at the end of 2009. I had been eating less and less meat throughout the year and it just seemed right. My reasons were more environmental at first and it just seemed so unnecessary to use all these resources to produce food I wasn’t particularly enjoying when I could eat a wholesome vegan diet. In November 2009 my Mum and I went on holiday to Vienna and we came across a lovely vegetarian restaurant and my eyes were opened to high end vegetarian catering!

I had decided the last meat I was going to eat was at my work team’s Christmas meal. I had steak and it was alright but it didn’t make me doubt my decision at all. I went into plant based eating full on and although I had read a lot I did find it quite difficult and limiting at first. After about 9 months I faltered and decided it would be easier to be vegetarian. I was still drinking soya milk but introduced cheese/eggs etc back into my diet. I had also had a flair up of anxiety following buying my flat and as I was getting a lot of help from my now husband and family I didn’t think it was fair to expect them to cook fully vegan meals for me. I was still drinking dairy free milk and all the baking I did was still completely vegan.

I was vegetarian for about 18 months after that but it still didn’t sit right with me. I continued to educate myself online about the dairy and egg industry and joined a couple of groups on Facebook. In 2012 I decided to transition to veganism but this time I was going to do it differently. I started eliminating the animal products I still ate slowly one by one and not beating myself up if I accidentally ate something or gave in to temptation. This started with not buying or cooking eggs, but I would still eat products that contained eggs. This took the pressure off as I didn’t have to frantically scan every packet I was buying. I then stopped eating cheese on weekdays, allowing it only at weekends as a treat. Then it easily became none at the weekends either. I replaced products I used regularly containing milk/egg/honey with animal free alternatives and then checking new products didn’t seem so overwhelming. I would say by May 2012 I had fully transitioned to a vegan diet and I have assigned May 15th as my veganniversary!

“But, Plumes” I hear you cry! “veganism isn’t just a diet! What about other lifestyle changes?”

Well in terms of clothes I didn’t own much leather/wool/silk to begin with but equally I didn’t throw anything out as I didn’t want to create waste. I just started checking any new items I bought and investigated vegan brands. (I’ll have to do a whole other post on my fave vegan retailers!)

By joining communities on Facebook and in real life (!) via the London Vegan Meetup Group I found my knowledge expanding through word of mouth and lots of my questions were answered in passing. I found this a lot less isolating then when I had initially tried veganism on my own.

I don’t wear a lot of makeup but again like clothes I didn’t have a huge clear out either. I just replaced my items as they ran out with vegan alternatives. Like many I was naive regarding animal testing in the beauty industry and as it seemed such an antiquated idea to me I couldn’t believe it was still so widespread!

Again I didn’t beat myself up as I learnt new things. I particularly remember someone asking a group for vegan toothpaste recommendations and thinking to myself “What?! Toothpaste’s not vegan either?” But you just adapt as you go along.

I have already blogged about my preferred cleaning products here, but this was another learning process of asking what other people used and recommended and trying things out for myself.

I said at the beginning that my initial reasons for going vegan were environmental but as I’ve learnt more about production methods in the agriculture industry I feel like I have become more compassionate towards animals and by not causing them pain, suffering or death I feel a closer affinity with them. I have also seen health benefits since turning vegan. I used to suffer from bacterial ear infections frequently as a child and into my mid-twenties. I also found I took a  long time to recover from colds and had a lot of mucus (gross right?) as well as what I call an itchy inner ear which caused me to do this weird thing with my throat to try and scratch it. I have heard this referred to as clucking but my brother named it goomping due to the noise it makes! Since I have been vegan I have not had a bacterial ear infection and I definitely have a lot less mucus. I do still goomp occasionally, but I think this is usually when I am dehydrated and it is a lot less than I used to!

The support I have received has also really helped me. My Mum is a total star and if you are a regular visitor to my blog you will know I go swimming and have dinner with her every week and she is forever coming up with new meals from recipes she has researched  online or looked up in her now growing vegan cookbook collection! She has been really responsive to all the information I have given her and in January I challenged her and her partner to go vegetarian for a month. She really enjoyed it and both of them have to decided to no longer eat meat although they will eat fish. My Sister-in-law has been vegetarian for over 20 years and transitioned to veganism over the last couple of years, its great to have a partner in crime at family events and I love discovering new vegan eats with her. My husband is not at all vegetarian but he eats mainly vegetarian at home and is becoming more and more willing to try new things. My Mother-in-law also goes to a great effort to cater for me when we frequently visit her home and she also introduces me to new products I haven’t been aware of before. I also love the online vegan community, especially on Twitter. I have chatted with so many great people and its great to share recipes, ideas and tips with other like-minded people. #veganhour is Tuesdays 7pm – 8pm UK time and is great place to chat to vegan peeps.

At my 30th birthday I decided to offer a totally vegan buffet. It was my party and I wanted to be able to eat everything! Some people had asked me prior to the event whether it would be fully vegan and I think they were pleasantly surprised (or they just ate before they came!) My vegetarian great-aunt sent me card after saying how much she enjoyed the party and how lovely it was for her to be able to eat everything. Something she had never experienced at a party.

Veganism moves more and more into the mainstream as time goes on. There is a lot more exposure of the lifestyle in the media and supermarkets and restaurants are offering more and more options to our growing demographic. Part of the reason I started this blog was to show people what vegans eat and how its not all weird ingredients you can only get in specialist health food shops. The feedback I have received has all been positive. I try to share information in an encouraging, non-judgemental way and although I don’t claim to be an expert I’m happy to try and answer any questions or let you know where you can find the answers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and learning a bit more about me!

Plumes x

 

My Journey to Veganism

Shopping in Bournemouth

I went shopping this morning in Bournemouth with my friend Karen who I’m staying with this weekend.

First stop for me was Sunrise Organics which I had found online when I was looking up vegan options. They had a great selection of products, including fresh vegetables, perishables, dried foods, snacks and chocolate and beauty products.

First I picked up a breakfast sandwich from Amy’s Kitchen to have tomorrow before my long journey home. I love these and their great if your missing a “McBreakfast”.

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I then saw this blue cheese from Risella. I hadn’t seen it before and I really like their smoked mozzarella so thought I’d give it a go. The proprietor was also singing it’s praises so I’m looking forward to trying it.

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I then saw something I was really excited by! Vegan Egg from American company, Follow Your Heart. I have seem so rave reviews online about this product, previously unavailable in the UK. I have also tried their vegan mayonnaise which is so good! I know a couple of stores in London are stocking it, but I’m glad I’ve saved myself a trip as I expect they’ll sell out fast as the man in Sunrise Organics also said.

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After our lunch at Mad Cucumber (see my review here) we headed over to Molly’s Den to get our vintage shop on!

Molly’s Den is an emporium made up of lots of different stalls under one roof selling everything from furniture to crockery to toys to clothes.

The first thing I liked was this dress for £7. I love the colour and I really like this style of dress that ties up at the back.

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I then tried on this fabulous coat. It was a bit snug, but as my parka is on its last legs with a rip near the hood and a zip that pinged off when it caught in an escalator a couple of weeks ago I thought that would see me out until the spring and this could be my target coat for next winter.The tag inside says “made in Paris” and I don’t think I’d find a coat of this quality for £28 brand new.

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The last clothing item I picked up was this 60’s dress. It didn’t have a size on it but for £5 I thought you can’t go wrong! It just needs a bit of sewing on one side where the tie goes round.

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I also bought a couple of presents so won’t post them here. I’m glad I’m travelling home by train and could only buy what I can carry else I might have spent a lot more!

Plumes x

Shopping in Bournemouth

Cleaning Products

When I first went vegan I did it gradually. First tackling the food by slowly reducing the animal products I ate one by one, then I moved on to my toiletries and cosmetics everytime I finished a product I would replace it with a cruelty free one (see my post here). Clothes weren’t too much of an issue as I didn’t buy much leather/wool/silk in the first place. The last area I had to tackle were my cleaning products.

Cleaning products are regularly tested on animals. I know many people who wouldn’t dream of using non cruelty-free make up and toiletries but this idea does not extent to their laundry detergent or their washing up liquid.

There are some great companies out there that wear their credentials on their sleeves.

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I use ecozone for my dishwasher tablets/rinse aid and laundry detergent/fabric conditioner. Their eco balls are great, you just put them in the drum with your washing and they last 240 washes, then you can just purchase refill pellets to go in the balls. I usually order online when I’m running low on anything. They are  Cruelty free International (formerly BUAV) approved and carry the Vegan Society logo.

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Another company I love is Astonish. I generally use their spray cleaners for the kitchen and bathroom. They too are Vegan Society and Cruelty free International approved. They are also very reasonably priced and available from a wide variety of retailers. Check out their website to see your local stockists.

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I’m also interested in trying out more homemade and natural cleaners like lemon, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda but I think that’s more of a work in progress!

What are your go to cruelty free cleaning products? Do you have any tips for making your own products? Let me know!

Plumes x

 

Cleaning Products

Vegan Kind Beauty Box 6

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I was really excited to come home last night and find my Vegan Kind Beauty Box had arrived. It’s so nice to open a surprise box of treats every 3 months!

Starting with the bottom right we have Amie Morning Clear Purifying Facial Wash (RRP £4.95). I haven’t heard of this brand before but I’ve just run out of cleanser so this has come just in time! I tried this this morning and it’s really lovely and creamy and smells great! It left my skin feeling really soft.

Above that we have Barry M Radiant Rod Highlighter (RRP £3.99). I don’t usually use a highlighter but as it’s so cold at the moment I could probably do with looking a bit sun-kissed! You can use this on your cheek bones, as an eye shadow and even to exstensuate your cupid’s bow! I also love Barry M’s website as they clearly mark all their vegan products. Makes life so much easier!

On the bottom left we have a lipstick from Saturated Colour. This is another brand I hadn’t heard of before. I don’t often wear lipstick but when I do I go all out so I was glad to receive this bright lipstick called “First Kiss”. It feels really nice going onto your lips and they recommend using a lip brush to get the richest colour.

Lastly on the top left we have incense with a holder from Sacred Elephant Incense. I haven’t burned incense in a long time but I’m looking forward to trying this out. The incense I received was sandalwood and smelt great just through packet! If you saw my last post on Positive Thinking I spoke about breathing techniques and I think this’ll definitely get me in the mood for some meditation!

As always a donation from every box is made to the Dr Hadwen Trust which funds animal free testing research.

Have you tried any of these products before? Let me know what you think.

Plumes x

Vegan Kind Beauty Box 6

First Charity Shop Clothes Shopping of the Year!

I am quite proud of getting to the last weekend of January before buying any clothes for myself. So I am one twelfth through the year and I’ve kept to my new year’s resolution of not buying any brand new clothes!

I did buy a vintage jumper for my cousin Amanda when I went to a Pop-up Vintage Fair (you can read about it here) and I got a few non-clothes bits in my first charity shopping trip of the year.

My Husband and I visited my cousin Dan and his fiancee Amanda last weekend. On Saturday we left the guys with the PS4 and Rocket League whilst Amanda and I went into town.

Amanda is a lover of charity shop shopping so its great when we get together. We are the same size which has its positives in terms of borrowing clothes but sometimes I get quite jealous when she spots something we both love first when we’re on the charity shop trail!

I bought this skirt for work from Shelter for £3. The tag says “Epilogue” which is not a brand I have heard of. It’s a nice length and works really well with my ankle boots.

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I’ve been looking for some flat black shoes for a while. It is quite difficult finding shoes in charity shops, first you need a style and colour you like, then there’s the size and I have the additional requirement of no leather. I was very happy when I came across these in the Oxfam shop for £7. They were slightly big but I think this will be sorted with a couple of in-soles.

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I came up trumps in the Mind shop. There were quite a few things I liked the look of so was in the changing room for a while! Firstly this dress from Next for £5.50 I really like how the butterfly pattern covers the whole dress and the material felt lovely.

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I also bought this Next t-shirt for £2.75. It’s quite long, but not long enough to wear with leggings so I think I will keep this for when I can get back into my jeans! This, again, felt really soft and looks like it’s barely been worn.

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The third thing I bought in Mind (which I forgot to photograph!) was a London 2012 Paralympics DVD. My Husband and I were lucky enough to go and see some of the events in 2012. We saw Swimming, Table Tennis and my Mum joined us to see the athletics where we saw David Weir win Gold. He is from my Husband’s home town and we were so proud when we saw a local post box painted gold in his honour. I hope watching the DVD will bring back happy memories and get us in the mood for Rio in the summer!

Have you made any good charity shop finds recently? Let me know!

Plumes x

First Charity Shop Clothes Shopping of the Year!

Pop up Vintage Fair at Old Spitalfields Market

Yesterday before the theatre and food, Mum and I went to the Pop up Vintage Fair at Old Spitalfields Market near Liverpool Street. The Vintage Fair is there on the third Saturday of every month. I was interested to see what was available as part of my no new clothes challenge.

I wasn’t planning on buying anything due to the other things we were doing in the day but it was great to have a look around. There were a few jewelry stalls which had some nice pieces including Roccabella who are a natural jewelry company. They had real leaves which had electroformed and finished with precious metals. There was a card stall, ipapyrus who had gorgeous handmade pop up cards. You really must check out their amazing work on the website where they have cards for every occasion and even pop up London landmarks. There were also a couple of stalls with some lovely vintage crockery. My Mum said most of it was similar to what she used to have.

There were quite a few “vintage style” stalls which had lovely new clothes but of it was unfortunately do not fit into my remit. I can’t remember the name of the one stall I did actually buy something from and I forgot to pick up a card! The stall owner had some great looking pieces and I’ll be sure to seek her out next time I go to fair. I can’t show you what I bought as it’s a present for someone, but will do after I’ve given it to them!

The last stall I went to wasn’t part of the vintage fair and is there every Saturday and Sunday. Enienay had some lovely upcycled pieces including dresses and tops. From the website –

NINA DAVIES (née Dewey) HAS WORKED UNDER THE LABEL Enienay since graduating from her MA in 2003. Enienay spells out the letters in her name; n-i-n-a becomes EN-I-EN-AY.

Everything she makes previously existed as a forgotten something. Taking unloved garments, she drapes them round a mannequin, to cut and pin, twist and sculpt. Each piece is approached and reconstructed by Nina individually.

Nina also via her Etsy Shop be sure to check her out.

Plumes x

Pop up Vintage Fair at Old Spitalfields Market