My minimalist uniform; an unexpected side effect. 

In one of my first posts I talked about my misguided purchases post pregnancy as I tried to craft this perfect yummy mummy image. The result was a mismatched wardrobe of impractical and largely unworn clothes. Getting dressed was a small and personal hell, full of self-loathing and low self-esteem.
Following my declutter I initially looked at my wardrobe and wondered what on earth I was going to wear. I had very little left, maybe 25% of the previous volume and I was surprisingly lacking in staples. When confronted with this, it became really clear why I struggled to dress every morning, it’s all well and good having the statement chartreuse skirt, but if all of my tops and shorts are in clashing colours and prints its hello clown town and hello tears.

I’ve set to work rebuilding my wardrobe with different goals in mind;

·         Minimalist

·         Low environmental impact ( Organic, recycled, second hand etc)

·         Ethical

·         Stress free

Now minimalist has a twofold meaning in this context, not only is less definitely more, but minimalism promotes making intentional, high quality purchases; and like a capsule wardrobe encourages you to make classic purchases that will last. Low environmental impact is a huge personal value of mine, I try where possible to buy clothes second hand, I am a huge Ebay fan, but organic and recycled fabrics are relatively new to me. As is ethical fashion; something I largely hadn’t considered but apply to other areas in my life. I like to shop at farmers markets, the quality is great and I like to know that the farmer is receiving a fair price for the food they grow, but somehow I hadn’t given this same consideration to the clothes I wear. With all things in life if it’s too good to be true it is. And you can’t have ethically made, organic t-shirts from Primark for £2 a pop. 

Once all of these fashion values had been applied to my purchasing the result was stress free dressing. I have a very simple wardrobe now, made up of quality staples like boots, jeans and black/white t-shirts. I am still working on upgrading some items like my leather jacket which I bought as a stop gap for £40 from Zara, I just didn’t have the £400 sat to buy the real deal, and I don’t do debt these days. But in general I dress with ease, I don’t have to struggle with putting together a “look”. My whole wardrobe is focused on me, my needs, my comfort and my lifestyle. 

The unexpected side effect of this has been an increase in my confidence. I don’t beat myself up when I dress, I slip comfortably into well-fitting clothes that flatter my body, I don’t spend all day pulling at things or worrying about yoghurty toddler fingers, or getting dirty playing and the result is I feel great. I have actually achieved that yummy mummy image I set out to find in all the wrong places, I found it through my intuition, by listening to myself and my needs.

What I was yearning for wasn’t in a label or a trend, or immaculate hair and make-up, it was a sense of confidence that I envied in the “yummy mummy” brigade. I still have some work to do to find a better harmony with my post baby body, but I am proud of the progress I have made in a relatively short time.

What a difference a uniform makes.

Me x

 

Value: My Grandmothers best fashion advice.

 My Grandmother gave me the best piece of advice for deciding if a purchase is “worth it”. 

She took the total purchase price and divided it by the number of wears, working out the true cost per wear. 

As an example my beloved Dr. Martens. I think I managed to catch them in a rare sale but I would have paid full price for them and they are currently retailing for £150. I wear these almost every day, as a conservative estimate I would say they get 250 outings per year, and my current pair are roughly two years old and still in near perfect condition. This is where buying quality items really counts. 

So this far I have worn my boots 500 times.  

£150 / 500 wears = 30p per wear

I reckon these boots are halfway through their potential life so I have half the cost per wear for their full lifetime to 15p per wear (ppw). That’s a bargain!

My sister on the other heads to the high street and picks up a £30 pair of boots each winter. She maybe wears them 90 times making it a 33ppw. 

Her boots are a bargain in the instant sense, while mine offer better value. 

I am using this ethos a great deal lately while I explore a more intentional lifestyle and try to move away from fast disposable fashion like Primark. 

While sadly my Grandmother is no longer with me, the values she instilled in me are helping me live a happier life every day. 

Me x

Paris and Pâtisseries: A review of Helmut Newcake a gluten free pâtisserie. 

Paris for me is a painful pleasure. In 24 hours I covered almost 30 miles, my feet have still not forgiven me. The rest of my body may never forgive me for how much wheat I ate when I was away. I normally follow a gluten free diet (for medical reasons, though I am angry at myself for writing this justification!) but with the help of some dietary prep and medication I can fall off the wagon for a meal or two without suffering too badly.

In every day life, it’s simply not worth it. I would rather live life without good bread than live with the pain and fatigue that follows. But pâtisserie is a genuine passion of mine, so its worth a little suffering for my art.

My first trip to Paris involved a huge amount of research to find safe food to eat. It was not a perfect trip, we were on a budget, and sometimes I simply went hungry. Times have changed now though and even the open air market stalls had organic gluten free bread!

I however, had set my sights on Helmut Newcake. Opened in 2011 I am not sure how I missed it last time I visited Paris. Luckily David Leboitz wrote a blog post on gluten free eating in Paris and covered the now closed Helmut Newcake cafe. If David Leboitz tells me this is one of the best canelé in Paris, I believe him. He is right by the way. Not far from Madeleine station on Rue Vignon, Newcake is a gluten free paradise, they don’t just have a gluten free offering, everything they offer is gluten free.

That’s a kind of gastronomic freedom I really appreciate.

I went twice during my short trip having missed the bread on my first visit. If you want the full Helmut Newcake experience I recommend being there very shortly after they open at 11.30am. You will have the pick of their cakes, breads and you might even pick up a GF quiche and salad to picnic with later. If you arrive before 11.30am, wait to be invited in, as they open the door before officially opening to customers. Parisians are big on manners.

My first purchases were a chocolate fondant, a coffee religeuse and two of the fables canelé one of which was greedily devoured before I reached the end of the street. Eating as you walk is also considered rude, but I couldn’t help myself. The fondant was wonderfully chocolatey but a little dry, the coffee religeuse had a great texture, the choice pastry wasn’t quite crisp, but considering it is gluten free it was excellent. The coffee creme pâtissiere filling for me was too rich and dense, I couldn’t finish the whole cake which is just sad.

The canelé were divine, crisp caramelised shells filled with a chewy and custards interior lightly scented with orange, heavenly.

These little bordelaise treats were a highlight of my trip, so much so I returned the next day and bought 3 more! I should have bought a dozen. I also picked up two baguettes. In hindsight I wish I had picked up a country loaf, but as I was flying home that afternoon u choose what I thought would pack best.


The bread was denser than I would have liked, but quite expected with GF bread. It had a wonderful crispy crust and due to being packed with seeds a moist, nutty flavour to it. I often find seeded breads to be moister and hold their structure better, I also enjoy the added texture.


I took my bread and made my way to the market at Place Monge for some extra picnic provision; real French butter, rich and creamy with plenty of salt, a perfect accompaniment to the bread and some sweet raspberries. The plan was to pick up some fresh goats cheese, however it was around 25c and climbing so I thought it best to avoid I bag full of melted chèvre.


A simple but delicious lunch, devoured in the Jardin du plants

Me x