Self care, skin care,
& nurturing Mother Nature.

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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

April 20, 2020

Tips & Tricks for Buying Secondhand Fashion on eBay and Apps

A few weeks ago now, I posted a poll on Twitter and asked over on Instagram if any of you would be interested in the ways I use the likes of eBay, Depop, and Vinted to snag those secondhand fashion items to add to my wardrobe and a lot of you said yes. It's also Fashion Revolution Week this week (20th April - 26th April 2020) so this is a fitting time to share how to shop secondhand instead of buying new - especially boycotting those fast fashion brands. I've blogged about Fashion Revolution Week for the past two years so check out those posts if you want a little more of an idea of what it is and what it involves!

Before we get into it properly, I'm going to pop a little disclaimer here on my attitude towards sourcing fast fashion secondhand: I can be influenced by trends just as much as the next person. I still check fast fashion sites and stores to see what new things are in - particularly when my wardrobe is lacking something. I use them as inspiration for what I want to find secondhand. I have no issues with giving fast fashion a place in my wardrobe. To me, it's better off in my wardrobe where it will be well worn and well loved than going to landfill. It's that simple. So if I know there's a certain brand who are smashing the styles I like currently or someone I follow on Instagram has recently worn something that is exactly what I've been looking for, I will 100% search for that brand or item.

I have massively downsized my wardrobe over the last few years but I am in no way a minimalist with it. And that's okay, as long as everything is being worn. So enough of this; let's get into how I find what I'm looking for:

Know what you're searching for
That might sound obvious but, knowing different phrases and words to search for when looking for something specific really helps. If it's something that's been incredibly popular on the high street for instance, knowing what it was called on it's original place of sale will help, along with descriptive words. For example, the Zara "poplin" dress was extremely popular last summer. If you were to search for it, it would narrow your search if you include "poplin" in your search words.

Also knowing things such as the fabric, colour, and season can help boost your search results. If it's an item that you've seen all over your Instagram feed or all over your favourite fashion blogs, add "blogger favourite" or "on trend" or "this season" or "sold out" into the mix - it will definitely boost your chances of finding it! Is it something a celebrity has had on on TV? Searching that person's name will also help (think things like "Holly Willoughby" or "Made in Chelsea" and you might find what you're looking for.

Know what you're happy to overlook
Another thing to bear in mind when you're searching for a particular item is to know what elements of it you're not so bothered about being perfect. For instance, if you're searching for an oversized dress or you're in-between sizes, are you happy to get the next size up or down from your ideal size?

If so, search for those sizes too! Another great way to find something similar to what you're looking for is adding the word "style" to your search. Many items sold with a brand name and "style" added after it means that it is a dupe of that popular sell out item. It might be slightly different in colour, size, style, etc. but if you're happy to compromise, you can potentially find something equally as nice that ticks the box.

Get ready for auctions
Okay so, eBay has been around for some time but, it's always good to know how to fight those auctions in the right way. When you're searching for something, sort your search into "ending soonest" and the auctions which are soon to end will be listed first. This is especially helpful if you're searching during the day. I have found that some complete gems have gone under other people's radars because their sale ends at an awkward time (e.g. at 2pm on a weekday afternoon when a lot of people are at work). This means you can slide on in there with not a lot of chance of being outbid.

If you miss an auction and the item didn't sell - contact the seller! I've done this a couple of times with both clothing and toys for Teddy and it's usually worked in my favour. If you offer to take an item off a seller's hands at a reasonable price you both agree on, both parties are happy.

Use your watchlist effectively
So, you've been searching the auctions and the exact item you want is on there but it's auction doesn't finish for another 6 days. Add it to your watchlist and keep an eye on it! If you have the eBay app, you can set up notifications so the app will remind you when an auction listing is about to end if you have it in your watchlist. Think of your watchlist as a curated pinterest board or the same as a wishlist on a fast fashion site. Use it to your advantage to collect the items you want to bid on and let eBay keep an eye on it all for you.

If you're using the likes of Depop or Vinted to find items, the same principle applies. "Like" the item and often sellers will be notified of this. They then might make you an offer to try and get a quick sale (I know I always do when I'm selling on Vinted). Not only does this help you keep track of what you've got your eye on but it means you might save a few quid too!

Can't find what you're looking for? No problem...
... Set up search notifications! You can do this for search terms on eBay or even particular sellers. When I was pregnant for example, there was a darling granny who sold her hand-knitted creations on eBay as a little hobby. I had her shop/user name saved as an alert so every time she put something new on for sale, I would get an alert notification on my phone. If you're trying to get your hands on something that's really popular, this is a great way to keep tabs on everything that is being added for sale that is similar to or exactly what you're looking for.

Depop and Vinted also keep track of what you've recently searched for so you can check back again and again.

Make sure you're misspelling things too
Yep, you read me right. If you're looking for a specific item, think about how some of the words could be spelt differently or what spelling mistakes could have been made. Simple silly things like "white" being spelt "qhite" because it's next to it on the keyboard could make your perfect item go under your search bar radar.

Another "spelling error" to keep in mind is autocorrect. Say you're looking for something from the Topshop Moto collection: type "moto" on your phone and see what autocorrect might try and change it to. That same thing could have happened to the seller who listed said item and they may not have realised! Searching for these errors can help you find gems that no one else is aware of because they might not come up in a search.

Searching for similar brands is also a good idea - especially on Depop. Often sellers will state similar brands in terms of style/price bracket etc. in their listings so say for example you searched "& Other Stories", you may get items pop up from Cos, H&M etc. because they're similar.

Tailor your searches to fit you
On the likes of Depop and Vinted, you can set up your searches to only include your sizes so you don't get your hopes up and find your dream shoes in a size 8 when you're a size 3 (story of my life). I like Vinted a lot for this as the "feed" only shows me items that are in the sizes I want to look for. It can make browsing much easier and more streamline.

Use the change of seasons to your advantage
If you're looking for summer dresses or things to wear for you next beach getaway, start searching for these things in spring. Many sellers will wait until the weather starts to warm up to list these sorts of items and again, may choose to list things like big coats and chunky jumpers at the end of summer/start of autumn as the weather starts to change. If you're not looking for any specifics or you don't *need* to find something by a certain deadline, search out of season too. I've sometimes made the mistake of selling summery items during the middle of winter and it's meant they've sold for next to nothing because they're out of season so not many people are looking for them.

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April 08, 2020

The Best Montessori Toys: 0-6 Months

One of the philosophies of Montessori play is that toys shouldn't do the entertaining for the child - the child should be able to use them to entertain themselves and have open-ended play meaning that they can be used in a multitude of ways. When we first started implementing the Montessori lifestyle into our home, I couldn't think of how a baby could have such toys. I'd been used to younger relatives having flashy lights, things that sung if you pressed a button, and things that provided the entertainment for you. After doing a bit of reading and research, I started to find things that suited us and suited my baby and I'm pleased to say he's gotten so much use out of everything he's gotten so far.

Most toys he has haven't just suddenly become null and void now that he's 8 months old - he's still actively playing with everything on this list and that's how I know they're good! That's not to say any other type of toys aren't - as long as your baby is stimulated and happy, anything will do (I mean, we all know they seem to enjoy playing with cardboard boxes and kitchen utensils more than any *actual* toys anyway!). So now that we are at the 7 month mark, I thought I'd share with you all the Montessori or Montessori-inspired toys that Teddy has loved using during his first 6 months so if Montessori is something you're interested in for your own baby or need some gift ideas for a newborn of a family member or friend, hopefully this post will help:

Manhattan Toy Skwish Activity Toy | £14.00
This toy is one of Teddy's favourites and has been since he was around 4 months old. It's quite a big size but is lightweight enough for even a young baby to pick up and hold. Due to the shape, it helps teach little ones how to grasp and also has a rattle element to it so they can enjoy giving it a good shake! Teddy also likes to use it as a teether so it's an all-round great product as it's so versatile! You can get it in a range of colourways too and it's made from durable wood.

Manhattan Toy Baby Beads | £12.99
Another great toy from Manhattan Toy. These wooden beads are pretty hefty - they're quite a big size so there's no chance of choking and are made from solid wood so they have a great weight to them. Teddy only really started to take a proper interest in these when he was around 5.5 months because of this. Again, they come in a range of colour ways and the ones which are painted (like ours) are still absolutely safe for teething babies to lick and chop on! Due to the shape, these are great for further developing a baby's grasping skills.

Wooden Interlocking Discs | £10+
One of Teddy's most simple toys but that has seen him through the months as he develops has been this wooden interlocking double disc toy. This very simple toy (which I bought from an Etsy seller here) has helped with his hand-eye coordination, his grasping, teething, and is fantastic for tummy time and encouraging babies to start to crawl. Due to the shape, when a baby knocks the discs, they will roll in an unusual way which is very stimulating for a baby. They're a good size for babies to hold too!

HABA Fabric Rainbow Ball | £17.99-£24.99
Not all of Teddy's toys are wooden! One that has again been a firm favourite for him since he was 4 months (and is being used more and more now that he is 7 months and trying to crawl!) is this fabric ball from HABA. Not only is it interesting for a baby to look at due to the patterns and contrasting colours but, it's great for tactile play. Teddy loves textures and likes to have a scratch of everything so the fact that this ball has velvet-style fabric, corduroy, crinkle sounds, a squeaker - it's got a bit of everything. It's quite a large size but due to the ridged style, it's easy for baby to handle even when they're small. It also comes in handy for tummy time and encouraging them to crawl after something!

Ikea LEKA Wooden Baby Gym | £19
One of the best and most affordable baby gyms out there. This solid birch play gym is aesthetically pleasing to a baby due to the bright contrasting colours but it also is using some more natural materials than many other play gyms out there. This one is great because it's not too big so if you're limited on space, this one will suit you. As it doesn't have an attached mat for the baby to lie on, it can be used on the floor, on a bed (when baby is very small and obviously supervised), or over a baby chair etc. It's really versatile and Teddy has played with it far more than he played with the one he had before this one. It also has some spinning discs on the sides which he's showing a growing interest in the older he gets!

Wooden Bell Rattle | £3+
A really inexpensive option that has honestly been one of his most used toys during these first 6 months has been a simple wooden bell rattle. You can get a variety of different shapes and styles and some are as little as £2-£3 so if you're on a tight budget, this is a great one! Teddy has liked using this one from around 3 months as it's slim design made it very easy to grasp and then of course, he realised if he gave it a shake or smacked it off something it would make a lot of noise! The bells are nice and large so there's no worries of a choking hazard (of course babies should still be supervised) and its the one toy that I would say is a must-have for this age range.

Rainbow Ribbon Ring | £2+
The other inexpensive "must-have" is a ribbon ring. These are fab for sensory play and can be bought for very cheap or you can make your own! They just consist of a wooden teether ring with ribbons tied to it. Teddy enjoyed having this attached to his Ikea LEKA play gym (as the wooden ring fits well over the top of the gym parts!) but also has just enjoyed having a good chew on it and feeling the ribbons - a great one for when babies go through the stage of touching tags!

Infantino Sensory Ball Set |£9.99
Lastly, sensory balls are so so good for babies aged 0-6 months (and beyond!). These packs of rubberised balls help develop baby grasping and clutching techniques but also just let them explore textures both with their hands and their mouths. The variety in shape and colour helps keep a baby entertained but also learning. I typically let Teddy play with 3 balls at any given time just so he doesn't get overwhelmed with choice but, they can obviously be used in a variety of ways and could be used for tummy time (storing them in shallow basket or bowl is very interesting to a tummy time tot!) or could even be popped in the bath with a little one.

Hopefully this post has helped you get some ideas of what make some great simple Montessori toys for newborns. Other toys that are also good options are different types of wooden rattles, different shaped teethers, and child-safe mirrors as babies do love to look at faces! I'll be sharing some DIY Montessori toys soon so if you need super budget options, make sure you keep an eye out for that post! I'll also be sharing our favourite 6-12 month toys just as soon as we reach that point (he's growing up too fast and I hate it).

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April 04, 2020

Self-isolation Self Care

(T-shirt and briefs: previously gifted from Organic Basics)

Hey, how are you doing? This isolation/social distancing stuff sucks, huh? I feel like a bit of a "pro" at it at this point due to maternity leave. I've been somewhat social distancing (unintentionally) for around 8 months. Living at the other end of the country from your family and not living close to friends will do that to you but, it's made me really think about what I've done over these past months to make it not feel so lonely and what coping mechanisms I've developed or let fall into place.

With what's going on at moment, I thought I'd share a (hopefully) helpful post on how to take care of yourself if you're isolating or social distancing and it's drastically different from your usual life, you struggle spending time on your own, or you're just simply find this whole thing bloody difficult!

Years ago (I really mean years ago!) I blogged about how it's okay to be an introvert, enjoy your own company, and like spending time at home so I mean, you could say that self-isolating would be easier for me but, as someone who craves the outdoors and likes having the autonomy to do what I want (y'know, like all of us do), it's been something I've had to adjust to just as much as anyone else. So here's some ways I feel make the whole thing feel less daunting, more rewarding, and most importantly - relaxing!

Have a loose routine
I'm not saying you have to have a regimented, hour by hour, structure to your day but, having some sort of routine can be handy. Whether you're someone who is currently working from home for the first time or someone who can't work right now, giving your day some structure can help you feel more in control and also stop you from sinking into those "I've achieved nothing" thoughts.

Although my morning routine has changed somewhat since having a baby, having one in place every morning really helps me not feel like I'm stuck in a slump - both mentally and physically. Even if I plan on having a lazy day, I stick to my morning routine just to stop myself from slipping into days blurring into each other and feeling down about it. As for an evening bedtime routine, I also think it's great to have a handle on this. As these days can blur into each other, making sure you don't mess up your sleeping pattern will help you keep a handle on your "regular" lifestyle and ensure you get enough rest!

It's okay to do absolutely nothing
Fellow millennials - this is especially for you: stop putting pressure on yourself to *do* something! I'm guilty of doing this myself but I cannot stress enough how important it is to not feel like you have to achieve a lot during this time. I know I've just said it's good to have a routine but, it's also good to throw that to the wind sometimes. If you wake up and you're feeling shit and just want to lie on the sofa all day watching movies - do it. If you wake up okay but by midday you feel like everything has been going wrong and just want to play video games for the rest of the day - do it!

Something a lot of us have on our hands right now is time and that doesn't need to be daunting. It can be used for leisure and recuperation just as much for productivity and getting shit done.

Plan and prep some food
If you're anything like me, when everything is getting a bit much or you're not feeling motivated/you're feeling down, eating and eating well/actual meals in particular can become a second thought. When you're feeling motivated or when it's your day off, try checking what food you have in your cupboards/fridge and see what you can make from it. Batch cooking can ensure that you don't skip meals or just eat rubbish (she says, eating a whole pack of biscuits at 11am but I digress). Having tupperware or sachets of food stored in the fridge or freezer that can just be heated up on the hob or in the microwave makes it really easy for when you've got some mental fatigue and just don't want to deal with cooking. It also means you can get the most out of what you have and not waste any food!

Embrace what comforts you
Self care looks different for everyone. For one person it might be a hot bath with a face mask, for someone else it might be an hour of intense cardio, and someone else might just want an hour or two with a good book! Whatever it is that is bringing you comfort during this time, actively do it. For me, working on my embroidery and fibre art, playing video games, and reading are really helping me chill out.

Of course, if you have been wanting to do something new and you're not pressuring yourself, now is a great time to explore it! Whether it's been learning a new language, starting a blog, or learning to watercolour paint - give yourself the opportunity to try new things and be comfortable in the knowledge that it doesn't matter if it doesn't go to plan!

Separate life and work spaces
If you're working from home, it can be hard to separate your work and life balance a little bit, especially if you're not used to it. If you have the space, dedicating a room or an area of a room as your "work" or "office" space can be really helpful. Whenever you're sat there, it's work mode. If you're blessed with even more space, having a space or room dedicated for working out/exercise can help too. Having some segregation can help you get into the right frame of mind for work and for switching off. If it hits 5pm and that's the end of your usual work day, you can just leave that area/space and go back to it the next morning.

Doing this can also help you make sure you're not trying to do things at 10pm at night because your laptop is *right there* so you could just get it done now. Give yourself clear boundaries and give yourself time to chill out. We all need time to switch off right now whether you're working or not.

(T-shirt and briefs: gifted from Organic Basics)

Get yourself moving
Something that I feel is the most important form of self care, no matter the circumstances, is to get some form of exercise. I've talked about the benefits of the likes of yoga and getting outside into the fresh air can have on our health before but obviously, during lockdown we're somewhat limited as to what we can do. If you're comfortable with going out for a run, walk, bike ride etc. then absolutely do it. The fresh air is an added bonus alongside the exercise. If you're staying more housebound like myself however, doing some exercise indoors can still keep you healthy and keep your mood on the up.

I've personally been enjoying doing a mix of yoga (see this post for my favourite videos to follow!), just daily stretches, and also The Body Coach Joe Wick's PE lessons on YouTube (don't be fooled - they're actually pretty tiring and hard in a good way!). We all know that exercise can help give you that boost in mood and especially when a lot of us are feeling the days drag, a distraction from that is more than welcomed.

If you'd like some more "tips" for effective self care and also how to spend time alone without feeling lonely, check out these posts:
- A Self Care Routine You Can Stick To
- 5 Ways to Relax
- Fighting Feeling Lonely
- It's Okay to Have a Bad Day
- 5 Daily Self Care Tips
- "Have You Tried Doing Yoga?"

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