Gratuitous Gratitude Time

I’ve been doing some writing recently for a great little startup that involved creating a series of emails to guide their customers through a very basic mindfulness practice. The most recent dispatch introduced the idea of gratitude and the importance of acknowledging the great things in life as you look back (or forward) over the day. It was only as I sat down to write this post that I realised that’s not something I’ve been practicing regularly in my own life! So here they are, the three things I’m grateful for today:

  1. That the $13 I have left in my wallet to last the weekend just means that I’m sticking to my budget and watching my savings grow
  2. That I can afford to rent my beautiful little apartment to share with my sassy little fluffball and no-one else (introverts unite!). It’s been 18 months now and I still get an overwhelming sense of peace every time I put my key in the front door.
  3. That I have a week in Tasmania coming up with a bunch of amazing girls! Two weeks to go until whiskey tours, endless cheese and late nights around a fire with the best company a gal could ask for.

You know what? It felt really great to write that list! I think it’s so easy to get swept up in what I still need to achieve, that it’s nice to sit back and look at what I’ve already got.

What are you grateful for this week? Let me know in the comments below!

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Gratuitous Gratitude Time

It’s about the little things

Ever since I stumbled across the low-waste community on Instagram, it’s a concept that’s been slowly eating away at my brain. So many of the things that I took for granted before (takeaway coffee cups, plastic produce bags, on-trend clothing) are now little guilt-points on my purchase pathway.

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And sometimes it’s hard! There are days I wish I could just throw my food scraps into the bin without that little voice reminding me that if I just emptied my little apartment compost, I could compose them instead. And why is it so impossible to find ethical clothing in a style I actually want to wear!?

With the weather getting all gray and gloomy here, I’ve been slipping back into the habit of doing what’s easy, as opposed to what’s right (sad face). So brace yourself for a completely self-indulgent post to get myself back into the swing of things -hopefully some of you will get something from it too.

Without further ado- a list of zero waste moments that bring me joy

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  • French press coffee on the couch in my little apartment, where I can’t see the carpark below me but I can enjoy the wind in the trees above it. My cat likes to sit within stroking-range on the back of the couch, and it feels like the world stops for a moment
  • Eating a flaky croissant from a soft cotton bag and pretending I’m actually bustling through the streets of Paris or somewhere equally as exotic
  • Ignoring the shower walls that need scrubbing and instead focusing on the one bar of (amazing) soap, my solid shampoo, a bad-ass safety razor, and that one potplant that for some reason is happiest perched in the corner there. Yes, the walls need a wipe, but at least I don’t have to fight through a half-dozen plastic bottles to do it.
  • Coming home from the supermarket and being able to unpack everything without having to bundle a bunch of plastic together to take down to the bins.
  • Opening my pantry and seeing a sleek lineup of tidy jars, all neatly labeled and awaiting my next baking adventure

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…yes. It is impossible. That last point is a big ol’ lie. Despite everything the interwebs promised me, my low-waste pantry is definitely not a minimalist paradise. It’s an overflowing mess of tea, spices and at least three different jars of the same brown rice. Still, at least a girl can dream.

So what about you? Are you trying to cut down waste in your life? Or is there another habit you’ve been letting slide? I would love to hear the tactics you’re using to get back on track.


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for updates, and if you want to see more of me, come say hello on my Instagram or Twitter, I would love to see you there!

It’s about the little things

Ideas for a no-spend weekend! (That I would actually want to do)

Everywhere you look on the ‘frugal’ side of the interwebs, you’re going to stumble across a bazillion list-oids for great ways to save money. I love saving money! Count me in.

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Hello darkness my old friend…

One of the more popular lists seems to be ideas for things to do on a no-spend day/week/weekend/life. Again, I’m so on board with this. It’s easy to look at the day off looming ahead and start to wonder what you’re going to do with all of that spare time- maybe the movies? Brunch? Dinner with friends? Or perhaps you should go and check out that sale, just in case…

I am a huge fan of all of these things, but if you’re trying to save money for something special, weekend spending can really derail your efforts. The only problem is that a lot of these lists are full of things that don’t really appeal (or apply) to someone like me:

Meet the neighbours (you mean, talk to people?)

Join an organized sport (nope)

Hold a baby (could be creepy)

Window shop (you think I have that much self-control?)

So without further ado, I present my abridged list of things to do on a no-spend weekend! To keep it short, I haven’t included anything that I would do anyway (going for a run and meal prepping both seemed to crop up a lot). Nossir, these are all activities that I don’t normally participate in, but would definitely consider a fun or productive way to spend a day off.

Here we go!

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Volunteer There are so many places that are always looking for helping hands to support their daily running- it’s just a matter of finding one that aligns with your interests. For example, I would definitely be on board with gathering some friends and going to volunteer at the guide-dog HQ in exchange for wriggly puppy playtime! Maybe you love sports or get joy from being up to your elbows in dirt (me). I can promise you there’s someone out there just waiting to put those urges to good use.

Visit a Library  Apparently libraries are something that still exist? Who knew. The library used to be my absolute happy place when I was a kid- I would always leave with more books than I could carry, and could easily burn through one a day. I even remember a period where I would get my ‘quality time’ with Dad by going to the library and then out for takeways on a Thursday night.

So many great library memories! I don’t know why I ever stopped going.

– yes I do. Because I grew up, and grown up Abbie likes excuses to spend money.

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But in a library, there’s never any pressure to pick a book you’re definitely going to enjoy, or that you’re even going to read. Apparently libraries these days are also full of other great things like DVDs, audiobooks, movie nights, craft clubs and laugh clubs (maybe that’s just mine?). Channel eight year old me and head to your local library for so many books they make your arms hurt, and then head home to binge on your new (free) treasures. Can’t be bothered signing up at your local? Dig out that book you’ve been swearing you’ll read ‘one day’ and make it today.

Play tourist in your own city When you’re travelling, it’s normal to walk out your front door with a to-do list bulging with great activities for the day ahead. But be honest here- how many great activities in your own town will you ‘get around to doing one day’, or dismiss as ‘just for the tourists’? Time to play make believe! Write a list, grab your map, and try to tick off as many spots as you can on your tourist adventure. You may need the help of google beforehand to get a complete list of museums, art galleries, tourist sights and fun free activities to cram in- the friendly people at your local Visitor Information will be a wealth of information as well. Throw on a fake moustache and your very best foreign accent, it’s time to explore your home town like you’re not a local (bonus points if you find a Gallery opening with some free bubbles).

Host a Film Festival So what if all you’re playing is the first three seasons of Breaking Bad, or if you’re the only attendee. You are a classy individual and the sole curator of the latest entry on the festival circuit- Cannes, eat your heart out! If you feel like socializing, invite some friends over to join and really turn it into an event. Pick a theme (maybe every film with Jennifer Aniston ever, terrible horror films,  the most obscure 80s DVDs you found during your earlier library visit, or each person’s favourite childhood movie) and binge your heart out.

Crank out the board games or cards  Those pesky friends still hanging around from your film festival? Time to bring out those dusty old board games! I secretly love game nights- a group of my friends have co-ownership in the Firelfly boardgame and get together regularly to try and finish it (we have- once). And who doesn’t like Monopoly? Everyone apparently, but I’m going to make you play it anyway. If you really want to make it interesting, you can always play by my family rules- winner does the dishes, loser gets first go at the dessert.

Deep clean the house I know, this one doesn’t sound that fun. But how great will you feel at the end of the day when that one nagging corner of clutter isn’t glaring at you anymore? Ideas to get you started – the patch of mould in the bathroom, the expired goods in your pantry, that overflowing cupboard, or that task that came into your head as soon as I said ‘that one nagging thing’. Find a playlist or audiobook that is going to make this less painful for you, and get to it!

Bake One way to really clean out the kitchen is to use up all of those half-empty treats in a delicious experiment. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got a few boxes of pre-mix that are waiting for the apocalypse. Now is the time! That warm, gooey brownie is going to taste a lot better fresh from your oven than it would on an afternoon coffee date. If sweets aren’t your thing, why not try your hand at a loaf of home-made bread?

Learn a new skill The more ridiculous, the better. Always wanted to know how to juggle? This is the day. Or how about knitting or origami?  Or those crosswords that apparently make you really smart. Even learning a new language is easy to get started in this technological age- free programmes like Duolingo can get you on the right road.  Just be sure not to rush out and spend all your moolah getting set up for your new skill- if you’re anything like me, there are probably more than enough resources lying around the house.

Review your budget Yaaasssss, Abbie’s favourite thing. Pour yourself a nice cup of tea and clear a space, it’s time to brush up on your finances! Look over your spendings for the past few months- anything you can cut back on? Anything you need to start setting more money aside for? Now is also a good time to call up your suppliers and try your luck at getting your bills reduced- most companies have a surprising amount of wriggle room once you break the news that you’re considering changing suppliers. Make sure to check for any subscriptions that you’re no longer using (do you really need that Audible subscription now that you’ve discovered all the audiobooks available through your library’s website?). While you’re at it, why not set some financial goals for the rest of the year? Look at what you want to achieve and then work backwards to find a way to squeeze it into your budget.

Write down some goals While you’re planning ahead with your budget, why not think about what else you want to achieve in the next six months?

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It’s proven that writing your goals down makes you much likely to achieve them and even the most overwhelming goal can seem a little more possible if you break it down into baby steps. Use your no-spend day to get on course for the rest of the year or if you’re really artistic (which I am not), you could use the day to make one of those fancy vision boards.

Have a pamper day I guess? I’m as much of a sucker for a newly painted set of nails as the next gal so team this with a movie & a steaming cup of tea (can you tell it’s winter here at the moment?) and that sounds like a good avo in.

Host a clean-out potluck with friends Round up a bunch of friends, forbid them to spend a penny, and watch what everyone tries to create from the depth of their pantry. Edible? Maybe not. Hilarious? Hells yeah. I’m going to give it a go and report back!

Reach out to someone Be it that parent that you really should call, or that high school friend that you haven’t seen in years. Pick up the phone, or even better- send a letter! Channel your primary school crafter and make it a work of art. Make sure to put some glitter in that envelope as well- just so they never forget you.

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Rearrange your room Because nothing makes a fun day off like lugging heavy furniture! But seriously, changing things up is a great way to make you look at your room with fresh eyes, and maybe you would like to try the bed on the other wall for a bit?

Start a journal Is it just me or is journaling back in style? It feels like I’m seeing amazing layouts everywhere these days. You can use a journal to clear your head, tidy your thoughts, or record your daily life. It may feel dippy to be recording your deepest dreams and fears or who you saw for coffee yesterday, but as someone who has found diaries from eight year old Abbie, I swear that you’ll be happy you wrote it all down later!

Do any of the above in a blanket fort Because blanket fort, obviously

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Ideas for a no-spend weekend! (That I would actually want to do)

Have you embraced your Freebie? (Tom Hiddleston has)

While enjoying my morning routine of interwebs and procrastination – yes, I know I’m trying to cut down, but sometimes a gal has a moment of weakness and that moment is every morning ever.

Anyway, while browsing I came across this fun nugget of trivia that I’m sure everyone but me has probably already stumbled across. Apparently Kingofthebritishgentlemen Tom Hiddleston originally wanted to audition for the role of Thor in the Marvel Universe.

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Oh, darling

According to rumours, he actually got close to the final audition rounds before director/Shakespeare God Kenneth Branagh pulled him aside to gently break the news that they weren’t going to be offering him the part-

“Ken told me that every actor has something for free. Jack Nicholson has an irreverence for free, Anthony Hopkins has a majesty and gravitas for free. Idris Elba, who plays Heimdall in Thor – and, by the way, anyone who’s been complaining about a black actor being cast as a Norse god is just crazy; this is a fantasy world, for goodness sake – has a watchful gravitas for free. He explained that what I have for free is that I can’t turn off my intelligence. Therefore Loki would be much more up my street.”

How cool is that thought? That there’s some trait that’s so inherently you, that it’s just suffused into every role you’ll ever play- no need to work for it, it’s always just there. And the more I think of it, the more I can list actors and their ‘freebies’. Morgan Freeman has that playful God vibe, Helen Mirran (my queen) has that edge of ‘don’t mess with me bitch’- And Hugh Grant? Floppy fringe. I don’t think he can act without it

Acting world aside, I got to thinking of my own Freebie in the real world- the part of my personality that is just waiting to burst out. I would say that mine is enthusiasm. Push the right buttons and I will gush at a hundred words a minute about something I’m passionate about (you don’t want to be near me when you’re complaining about an unexpected bill, or how you don’t have any savings). The same will happen if anyone even breathes about a theatre piece I love, or some passing obsession that I currently have. It’s like my brain is wired to thrive on that endorphin kick I get from being ridiculously over-excited about anything.

I think I look like this…

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But I really look like this…

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For so long I’ve spent time apologising for my random outbursts, or trying to pretend that I am waaaay cooler than I actually am by moderating my responses (sound familiar?).

Recently I’ve started to wonder if maybe it isn’t just better to embrace that side of myself. And if I come off a little manic (and maybe a little ax-murdery, as has been mentioned in the past) then phooey- playing a serial killer is definitely on my to-do list anyway.

And if I know what makes me a little more ‘me’, then maybe that will help me pinpoint when I’m losing myself a little. If I can’t be bothered to muster a kitten scratch or a suggestion than an actor should roll their fifteen super funds into one account, then something is wrong in my life and I need to identify it. Because not having the time to scratch a kitten? Definitely not me.

So what would your freebie be? Is it something that you’re happy to indulge in, or something that only your nearest & dearest get to see? Maybe you have the dryest sense of humour, or you can’t help working to turn any room you walk into into a place of calm. Maybe you don’t even know what yours is yet (Hiddles clearly needed some help). Or am I raving (with enthusiasm) on a topic that isn’t really applicable in the real world?

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Have you embraced your Freebie? (Tom Hiddleston has)

When it’s time to say No

We live in a world that places value on Yes. Yes to staying late at work, Yes to the third girls night out in a month, Yes to that upsize.

Yes means that you’re a team player, a go-getter, someone who’s seizing every opportunity that life throws your way. But do you also sometimes feel trapped by the big Y-E-S?

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(Gratuitous Hiddles GIF because we’re getting deep)

As I’ve detailed before, when I’m not able to make ends meet with acting gigs, I cover my bills with a variety of casual jobs. These all dove-tail nicely and usually mean that I’m able to earn more than I need to to keep afloat. And I mean way more. It’s completely normal to get a ‘By the way, are you free on…’ every time I’m in an office. My knee-jerk reaction is always to say yes, because who’s going to turn down extra money? If I don’t practice my No muscle, there are times when I can look at my diary and realise that I’ve worked 50-60 hours in a week. My workplaces are probably grateful to have an extra set of hands available and I know that my bank account always sure appreciates the extra boost, but how is any of that helping me move towards what I actually want in life? Looked at objectively, my Yes is serving everyone but me.

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The self-sacrificing Yes can disguise itself in a number of ways.

Online sales are my weaknesssss- I’m the person that will open a dozen tabs and add hundreds of dollars of items to my cart before coming to my senses and leaving everything behind. So where has my Yes to their emailed invitation gotten me? I’ve probably wasted a few hours of work time and decided that I need to completely overhaul my wardrobe, browsing the sale was really only the good little capitalist in me trying to burn my hard earned money on some low-cost, sweatshop clothing. Is that really what I’m working for?

The real irony is, the more I’ve been working in a day-job, the harder it is for me to resist the chance to throw my money away. I’ll find myself engaging in hard-core research for products I don’t even need, because deep down I’m trying to justify the overwork. I’m working so hard so I deserve to spend money on the things I want – or the things they tell me I want. And then what do I have to do to replace the money I spent?

Bingo. I say yes to overtime again.

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Sometimes not using your Yes won’t make sense to the rest of the world.

This whole blog post started in my head last night when I went to grab a burger on the run for dinner. At the end of my order, I was offered sauce for an extra 50c and obviously said yes because aoli is life.

And then I got ‘and what drink would you like?’

The options on offer were canned soft drink (which I’m avoiding because I’m trying to deny that it’s time for a visit to the dentist) or bottled water (see here and here for the back story on that one).

‘None, thank you’.

‘None?’

‘No thanks’

‘Are you sure? It’s free with the sauce.’

‘I’m good, but thanks’

‘Not even a water?’

‘No thank you.’

I had to turn down a free drink four times before she would accept my answer.

Because who doesn’t say yes to free? Crazy people, that’s who!

Saying Yes would sure have ended the conversation sooner. But then where would I have been? Technically I would have been up the cost of a water, but why do I need it? I had a bottle in my bag, and if I had taken the plastic bottle it would have lurked on my conscience all night.

No matter how badly the lovely woman wanted me to follow the purchase path (probably making her till order easier) and take the ferdydurking free water, withholding my Yes was what was better for me. (Okay, technically it was more of a series of very polite No’s, but you get the point. I’ll write on the power of a good No another day.)

Treasure your Yes-es as if you had a finite amount to give- because you do! How many times can you say Yes to everyone before you suffer a complete breakdown?

Save them for the things that will bring you joy. Say Yes to that movie with friends, that extra-nice bottle of wine, or that short film that you really don’t have time to do but the script is just so.damned.good (guilty). Save your Yes-es for the things that will feed your soul, because at the end of the day, you’re the only one who has to live in the life you’re creating.

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PSA: This post is written from the perspective of a compulsive Yes-er. If you think that mayyybe you’re a compulsive No-er, you go and sprinkle those Yes-es like stardust, you beautiful little nay-sayer!


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for updates, and if you want to see more of me, come say hello on my Instagram or Twitter, I would love to see you there!

When it’s time to say No