Cashmere Wrap & Macadamia Nuts

On Fashion, Travel and Lifestyle.

From the Bookshelf. “No More Dirty Looks.” by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt.

NO MORE DIRTY LOOKS

I can almost promise you that you will have more than one panic reaction when reading “No More Dirty Looks. The Truth about Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics” by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt. I did and on one occasion it lead to an emergency label reading in an attempt to detox my cosmetic cabinet. This is a shocking material and the only thing more scary than reading it is not reading it.

I was petrified to see how many dirty ingredients polluted my beauty products, and this after I already decided to pay more attention and select better, having read a similar position from my bookshelf. To find out more please refer to “Skin Cleanse. The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clean, Calm, Happy Skin.” by Adina Grigore.  Clearly I was fooled by so called “natural brands” and less than honest recommendations from magazines and bloggers who swore by certain products. “No More Dirty Looks.” tells a lot about ingredients and ways to substitute products filled with harmful, dangerous (to the point of being carcinogenic and toxic) ingredients with safe, clean alternatives that are available on the market. Will you be surprised to hear that I started to research, checked availability and already swapped some of the bad stuff with healthier, more reliable alternatives?

What is also important to mention is that the book refers to practices and legislations from the United States of America, but regardless of the fact, it is universal enough to give you plenty food for thought no matter where you leave. After all, cosmetics are a global commodity and they cross borders all the time. As a consolation for some, EU regulations are quoted as much more restrictive and controlling than American, but nonetheless I was shocked with my discoveries. I definitely recommend the lecture of “No More Dirty Looks.”, it is an eye opening book.

Endless Summer with Sézane.

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Summer can be a bohemian affair with embroidery, peasant blouses, flower prints and frills, like in the lookbook by Sézane, the first French online fashion brand. I like the romantic twist and the youthful appeal of their designs, a perfect inspiration for a summer wardrobe.

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Photos: sezane.com

A Year of Frugal Thinking.

A YEAR OF FRUGAL THINKING

Perhaps you know a sensation when being on a market for a new place, you find a house or an apartment that instantly feels like home, but after an initial euphoria you realise that buying the property means you have to stretch financially, getting a mortgage and putting in all the money you have saved, leaving the balance at zero.

That is where a found myself a year ago, buying the perfect apartment I had envisioned in my dreams and getting myself into a financial rock bottom, getting indebted even beyond the mortgage. The first reaction was “don’t panic”, it will be all right if you live frugally over the next months. And take my word for it, frugality was never my middle name. Even after I became a newly converted minimalist and “qualitist”, I still enjoyed finer things in life that came in the form of travels, books, beauty products, gourmet food, cashmere and merino wool, niche perfumes, Diptyque candles, lifestyle magazines, etc. In my new reality something had to give and I decided to prioritise regaining financial stability by having more than one zero on my savings account rather than spending money on short term gratifications. With best intentions and a much limited budget, I started my year of frugal thinking.

I won’t say it was easy, because it wasn’t really. I was tempted to keep on buying my old time favourites, but I knew this was a short sighted solution and at the end of a month would lead to more stress and even more financial pressure that I didn’t wish for. So I was very strict with myself and thought twice (or more) before I used my card on things that were my wants, not needs. But not to deprive myself of all small joys and occasional gratifications, I engaged in different ways of making it work.

The first big undertaking was selling clothes and accessories on the internet, rather than donating them to charity. It proved to be a great way of getting some extra cash that I could chose to save, put away for holiday fund or use to buy something that I wanted to have. If I decided to buy something with the money, I would start searching on the second hand market first. To my great surprise, there are so many fantastic pieces in great condition that you can buy for a fraction of an original price. It is good for the wallet and the environment alike, you save some cash and reuse a garment that will last for a long time, providing you choose quality and something that was well taken care of. I also started to swap clothes with friends, giving away some of the things I didn’t wear any more and in return getting nice garments that would bring some more variety to my wardrobe. On several occasions I was astonished by how many new pieces still bearing labels my friends were able to produce when going through their closets. The usual comment was “I have no idea why did I buy it, it is totally not my style/size/colour”. As proved, one woman’s mistake can be another’s treasure.

Maintaining beauty routines I was used to proved to be the biggest challenge, because I didn’t want to compromise on the quality, as I knew my face wouldn’t face it very well. I decided not to cut cost on face care, but try to reduce expenses on body care, searching for cheaper yet still reliable replacements to products I was using before. I was attentive to special offers and price reductions in pharmacies, using discount codes shopping online, buying duty free or abroad and for more expensive items (can’t live without my Aesop), asked for them in connection with celebrations and anniversaries.

As a keen reader, I often spend money on books and magazines, but this infatuation with a written word can prove to be a costly hobby, so I would either ask my husband to bring my favourite magazines from London for a fraction of an imported press price (thank you!) or not buy them at all. I made an exception for two magazines I really like, all others I simply stopped buying. When it comes to books, I made a commitment that I will not buy more until I read each and every book that I have in my own library. Even a keen reader has some lectures sitting on bookshelves forever, so now came the time to read them. I am almost done and believe me, they were fantastic, after all I bought them for a reason in the first place.

Socialising and entertaining can pose a challenge when being on a budget, but on the other side, if your friends cannot understand, who else will? On several occasions I made no secret that the money is tight right now and I cannot join for a round of drinks in town, so we took a coffee instead or met at home. More than once the honesty was received with a similar confession, and this is how I found my new favourite Thai food restaurant where the food is amazing and so budget friendly, that even a limited budget can take it once in a while. Other than spending time with friends, I set of for some solo excursions into city areas that I hardly ever went to before. I took some nice long walks and enjoyed coffee breaks, feeling a little bit like a tourist in my own town.

Today, more than a year after we bought the apartment, my budget is in much better condition, the emergency loan was paid off and the saving account shows growing numbers. I love the apartment that we live in and in hindsight am happy with the decision of going beyond limits to buy it, especially that it proved to be a good investment. In the process I learned some important lessons that will resonate with me for a long time.

It is not necessary to keep on spending money and you can control the urge even if something seems to be a great deal and in line with your taste. Not getting a new coat is no tragedy if you already own two (or more). Every saving matters even if alone it seems insignificant, but if you multiply by 10, it is not so trivial any more. Going for quality is really the best way, and quality also comes in second hand forms, not every piece has to be off the shelf and from the shop. Sales and discounts are a great way to buy things and spend less, buy only if you buy what you really need and what you would pay for even if it wasn’t discounted. Finally, being honest about your financial situation with friends and family is no shame, for there are so many ways to spend the time together and being more creative is never a bad idea.

LifeStyle Mix. June.

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I don’t think I have ever posted so few Instagram snaps as I did this June. The reason is quite simple, when life gets busy, I dedicate little time to my virtual presence being too occupied with the day to day reality. A recent project at work keeps me very occupied and outside office hours I try to be offline as much as I can, especially when spending time with people who are important to me. A long awaited visit from a good friend was simply wonderful, with long heart to heart talks and time spent out and about in town. We loved it so much that I have already decided to take a trip in the opposite direction and visit Amsterdam later this summer. I look forward to it and to all other adventures that will happen in the coming weeks.

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For more captions, visit Instagram profile @cashmerewrap_and_macadamianuts

Suddenly Last Summer… Magda Butrym.

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Magda Butrym is a Polish designer, who having established her ready-to-wear brand in 2014, received an international acclaim for her luxury designs inspired by modern femininity and best traditions of craftsmanship. I love her recent look book, the mistery and romance set in an atmosphere worthy of film noir.

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Photos: magdabutrym.com

From the Bookshelf. “L’Art de la Simplicite. How to Live More With Less.” by Dominique Loreau.

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I intended to read “L’Art de la Simplicite.” by Dominique Loreau to broaden my minimalist mindset and gain more insight into how to live more with less. I was also curious about the Japanese influence that the author is mentioning, having lived in Japan for many years and adopting Asian mindset into his thought.

The book is divided into three parts related to different spheres of existence, from materialistic, through physical closing with notes on spiritual life. The first part was very interesting, although did not surprise me with anything new, it was more of a repetition of what I already knew or read about before. It wasn’t boring though, because many subjects and suggestions were presented in a simple and straightforward way. The second part related to body was more of a challenge, as I did not agree with some suggestions. In addition, it seems that the author believes in “one size fits all” solution and is not afraid to say how many meals one should eat or how many beauty products to own. For me it is more of an individual choice and not wanting to fast regularly or eat my meals from a wooden bowl doesn’t mean I am not taking the minimalistic approach seriously enough. Finally, the last part related to mind made me very disappointed. I quickly lost interest to go through more chapters and put the unfinished book  down. It has been some weeks since I did that and I still feel no urge nor motivation to read its final pages.

Overall I was less than impressed, the book started well but after a while reading it became more and more tiresome, to the point of getting irritating. For me it turned out to be a self help book more than anything else and this type of literature is never my choice. Finally, it hardly ever happens that I do not finish my reading and with this in mind, I wouldn’t recommend the lecture.

The Spirit of Summer.

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There is something romantic in beach life, a certain freedom and joie de vivre, an atmosphere of a carefree youthful summer. I love images from the latest Broochini lookbook that captured so well the beauty and longing for the summertime seaside nostalgia, the true spirit of summer.

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Photos: broochini.com

LifeStyle Mix. May.

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Days fly by and a May calendar page is already replaced with June. I cannot say that the weather lived up to expectations, but even despite cold mornings and too many rainy days I was still trying to find that carefree Spring feeling whenever and wherever possible. I am a year older and some experiences wiser. At the moment I am looking forward to June adventures, especially that a dear friend is about to visit very soon, which makes me incredibly happy and very excited. Wish you all a wonderful month!

LifeStyle Mix May_2LifeStyle Mix May_3LifeStyle Mix May_4For more captions, visit Instagram profile @cashmerewrap_and_macadamianuts

On My Birthday Wishlist.

This year I decided to share some of my small and practical, as well as big and rather unattainable birthday wishes. So if I could reach for the stars and consult my internal maximalist, I would buy a British Shorthair cat, book a trip to Tokyo and make an appointment with an Audi car dealer, not necessarily in that order. But if I am to remain with both feet firmly on the ground and true to my minimalistic sense, I would be very happy with restocking some of my favourite beauty products, getting framed prints to hang on my apartment walls and perhaps replacing my somewhat worn out New Balance shoes. But no matter if dreaming big or small, at the end of the day it is all about people and moments to remember, not about things.

Photos: aesop.com; guerlain.com; fregrantica.com; audi.com; desenio.no; shop.garancedore.fr; pinterest.com; newbalance.com

Summer Mood with Protagonist.

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May is my favourite month and this year it feels as if it has been stolen, for I still cannot believe that less than 5 days ago it was snowing, heavily! I am so keen to leave my wool coat and gloves behind, changing into new outfits – simple, uncomplicated and elegant, like in the resort lookbook from Protagonist. Clear and refined lines, classic colours and perfect fit is my plan for this spring.

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Photos: protagonist.com