The 10 Women-to-women Commandments

We had a BIG focus on our relationships with men last week. You might not have noticed it as it was pretty low key – International Women’s Day? Haha.. of course you did ūüėČ

It goes without saying that days like this are really important and need to happen. I haven’t known one to date that was quite so noisy and full of ferocious feminism.

But it made me think that, while¬†a lot of things still need to be evened out in the men vs. women battle, there are other relationships that need just as much care.¬†When we finally hit that equal pay mark, or agree on what¬†anyone should and shouldn’t be told what to wear to work, we’ll still have our precious relationships with other women to watch. These relationships – some of¬†which rival relatives in terms of closeness, and others which are volatile and unpredictable but just right when you need each other – have just as much of an impact on us every day.

So, in honour of our complex female friendships, here are ten women-to-women commandments that we should all live by:

Thou shalt¬†not… express opinions on her boyfriend

The moment you express a stronger than average opinion on a friend’s significant other, you’re into hot-hot-hot danger territory. We all know this – she’ll love your foul-mouthed rant about what a loser he is and how you’ve always thought his bum/voice/facial hair¬†questionable when she’s fresh from a blazing row with him. But wait for it… … … wait for a call to say they’re back together. #FACEPALM. All of a sudden, you’re the bad guy, despite your good intentions. By all means, express opinions, but keep them to things he has done, rather than insulting him personally. Vague words like ‘may’, ‘seems like’ and ‘perhaps’ will also soften even the harshest insults you throw in the heat of the moment, giving you a little feminine wiggle room when he’s been (temporarily) forgiven for his sins.

Thou shalt¬†not… buy the same top

match dress
Pic: pasteldress.com

There are two levels with this one. If it’s a flimsy ¬£20 crop top that will go to shit the first time¬†it’s washed, it’s probably OK. But only if you point out in all photos for at least a month that your fabulous top was inspired by your right, honourable friend. And whoever had it first gets all the custody rights. You copy, and you’re the one sending the ‘what are you wearing?’ texts to avoid a twin situation. However, copy the expensive coat, boots or generally coveted, expensive item, and you’re treading on toes.


Thou shalt¬†not…
flaunt snacks during diet season
Whatever the time of year – #dechox, pre-holiday season, the day before you usually bump into the fit postman – there will always be someone on a diet. Male or female, show a bit of restraint and make it a bit easier for them. They will sense the second you walk in the room that you have a chocolate bar, they’ll be listening to the rustle of the packaging and they know how good it tastes.. but they don’t need your moans and gasps to tip them over the edge.

Thou shalt¬†not… bail on a gym class

BJBefore you even reach the worst part of this scenario – sweating it alone and turning into a shiny, purple mutant incapable of speech – there is the huge risk of saving gym equipment for your gym buddy. Like any good friend, you get your own space or mat, save one for your partner in crime, and stand guard. Ten minutes later,¬†after you’ve told 14 people that¬†this is your friend’s mat, actually, with a glare, and you’re left doing your workout alone, you become the dedicated class lunatic. There’s no going back from this. Smash your walkouts and plank for days, but your rep is down the drain.

Thou shalt¬†not… blank frazzled female drivers
Call me sexist, but I’ve never seen a man lose it at the wheel. I’ve seen them angry and aggressive but never emotional. I, on the other hand, have my moments of hand waving or angry pouting¬†if I’m under pressure and no-one in the world will help me out. This situation becomes instantly and significantly worse if the driver refusing to let you in is female and blatantly ignores you in your moment of need. Roads are dangerous and rage makes¬†them worse – back off and help a girl out.

Thou shalt not… ignore a make-up disaster
browsI’m not talking about the blatant, can’t-look-away-from-them eyebrow disasters on the Mail Online. There’s no excuse for these and the offenders should not need to be told what’s what. However, innocent women caught up in an early start, or suffering from lack of make-up application space on the train should always be told if foundation or eyeliner has gone rogue. The same goes for stray pen, spinach in teeth and bogies. I’m quite bad at this (telling people, not bogies), in that I’ll notice it and look at it but not think to actually mention it?! I’m due some bad karma at some point in life. But the long and short of it is, you’d want to be told, so go forth and break the news.

Thou shalt¬†not… share awful photos on Facebook
As long as you’re still open to the idea of¬†mixing beer, porn star martinis and Prosecco in one night – or in fact, an innocent but lengthy bottomless brunch – you’re at risk of questionable photos. The severity of the photos almost certainly improves with age – anyone under the age of 25 will do anything with a lamp post for a good shot – but merely blinking while eating a salad can have catastrophic results when captured on camera. Standard protocol seems to be removing the truly awful shots and uploading the rest without tagging the offenders. Anyone who tags and laughs is going down.

Thou shalt¬†not…steal her baby name

OUCH. This is of course going to be controversial. If she has a name in mind for her future children, the chances are, they have featured in every romantic dream sequence of her adult life. Take away that name and the dream sequences are gone forever. Mix in some strong female emotions, a hint of drama queen and some sort of flailing girl fight in the street, and you’ve basically ruined her life. HOME WRECKER.

Thou shalt¬†not… reveal the big secrets
gossip
Pic: Brainjet.com

We’ve all sworn to keep a secret, only to then get swept away in the drama of it all – a la Trevor McDonald – and let it all come spilling out five minutes later. I think as a girl, you learn what kind of top secret info will make it round the rest of the group by lunchtime, and which info has a chance of staying between the two of you. The dodgy crush or a snippet of work gossip can probably get out without too much hassle, but let the biggies slip through the net and you lose your confidante status.

Thou shalt not…bring a gal down
On the average day, we’ve got enough on our plates. Work, relationships, lifting weights, avoiding carbs, period pain. The last thing anyone needs is a real-life scene from Mean Girls. This is where we (sorry) can probably learn from the boys, as they help us onto a level playing field. They’re experts at having a chat, having a row, generally hitting each other a bit, until whatever issue is sorted out. We, on the other hand, like to turn things into a mystery novel. Not always that helpful ūüėČ
So, over to you. What would you note down in your list of women-to-women commendments?

How to save money the ‘lagom’ way this January

If, like me, one of your resolutions this year is to save money, you could be in luck.

Granted, it’s through another of the hygge-like trends that seems to overcomplicate the concept of just living well and being happy, but this one is about more than just sheepskin throws and candles.

Tipped to be the Scandinavian lifestyle trend of 2017, is¬†‘lagom’. You pronounce it ‘lar-gom’ and, as it loosely translates to “not too little, not too much, just right”, it may well help us to stick to the penny-pinching and one-ricecake-a-day diets that dominate¬†January.

It’s a big change from hygge, which really just made it acceptable¬†to¬†bulk buy¬†cushions and¬†bury ourselves under¬†them with a tub of icecream for the whole of December. Now, the focus is on living well, recycling, clean living and being a good person.

And (unsurprisingly) there’s no shortage of brands up for helping us on the quest. Ikea is already sharing the results of its Live LAGOM Project, and refers to the concept as ‘living a kinder life’. It asked customers and employees to try products that would help them to save energy and water, reduce waste and live a healthier lifestyle that – you hope – goes on to make people happier.

The following methods and products stood out to me as simple but really useful for saving money:

  • Swap standard bulbs for LED bulbs, or use LED lamps. Despite moving from a small five-roomed house to a larger eight-roomed house, Lydia has seen a 40% drop in her energy¬†bills: “A comparison chart of our electricity use shows that since switching to LED lights in January, we are using around half of the national average”.
  • Water saving Lydia also used a timer to see how long her family spent in the shower, allowing them to save time in¬†the morning and reducing their water consumption.
  • Indoor gardening Juliette tried¬†an indoor gardening kit and went on a composting course in order to grow her own food and reduce wastage. “I have been experimenting with growing on kitchen scraps such as celery hearts, avocado stone and lettuce bottoms, and love that the gardening kit means I can¬†pull off a few leaves for my lunch and there is no wastage”. See how a hydroponics indoor garden kit works here. The kits and components aren’t cheap, but could pay off in the long run. Here’s one from Ikea.
  • Keeping heat in Luke was finding it impossible to keep his house warm as a lot of heat was being lost through the windows. Since fitting blinds in every window, as well as curtains, he has saved ¬£30 per month in heating costs.

The catch is, that to be balanced and go full-on lagom, you need to make a few investments. Here are my top four suggestions, all free or less than £11 (excluding postage), for living kindly but keeping an eye on costs, too. Fill the empty juice bottle with water or pebbles to save water in your toilet cistern, turn food waste into compost with an indoor composter, and never have to buy supermarket plastic bags with a reusable cotton shopper:lagom1

1 litre empty plastic bottle; Eddingtons Eco Composter, Robert Dyas, £10.49; Counter top compost bin, aplaceforeverything.co.uk, £9; Wally personal finance app, Free on Android and iOS; Deer cotton shopper bag, £5.49, eBay.

Are you embracing lagom this year? I’m feeling motivated to make some small changes now and see if they make a difference – even if it’s just pennies. Share your tips below!

Mindful? More like mind full

I’m breaking from the interiors theme tonight, to talk about something that is getting on my wick. (Sorry, I’ve been on a train for two hours) You’re going to think I’m mad, but it’s mindfulness.mindful
The basic definition of mindfulness, courtesy of the Oxford English Dictionary, is: “The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something”.

But anyone who reads the papers or spends time online these days will know that it has morphed into something far bigger. It’s the idea that being aware of and focused on what is happening in your mind, body and surroundings can boost career progression, beat stress and even help you lose weight – it’s like a way of living. Right now, there are 22,855 books relating to mindfulness on Amazon, and the NHS has an advice page on it. Take a look at these headlines:

‘Overcoming fear of public speaking through mindfulness’
‘Why mindfulness helps you sleep and sleep makes you mindful’
‘How a raisin can help you with mindfulness’

Along with the yoga, meditation and thinking about thinking that comes with mindfulness, comes its allies – surely the avocado? And then the sugar free diets, the adult colouring books, the proud sweating at the gym, and most recently, the quest for cosy living like the Danes – ‘hyyge’.

And many people, including me, have bought into it. ‘Hyyge’ has ¬†inspired ‘9 ways to be more Danish’ guides in women’s magazines and the BBC calls it “a heart-warming lesson”. I’ve done the diet diary on MyFitnessPal and have dabbled in colouring books (albeit for friends’ birthday presents) – along with 12 million other people in 2015. Mindfulness app¬†The Headspace has over three million users and is worth ¬£25m.

But recently, the very movement that is supposed to make us calm, floaty, successful people has started to feel like a bit too much. Off the top of my head, we are now deemed to be killing it if we can fit yoga, juicing, meditation, #squadgoals, glowing skin, charity work, some sort of extra curricular learning, mind blowing sex and (oh yeah) WORK into one day. With the end goal of what? Running ourselves into the ground?

What was once a little, helpful trend that you could take or leave is now difficult to avoid. I can’t eat a bar of chocolate without worrying about the impact on my blood sugar and life expectancy. I can’t watch GBBO without feeling I should make a showstopper too – and of course, make enough to wow and treat my boyfriend, my workmates, his workmates, the family next door…

I know I’m going to lack ‘that glow’ if I don’t run for a week, or eat avocado on bread instead of a dried out Ryvita. I can’t remember the last time I fell asleep thinking about a lovely holiday or plans for the weekend. It’s work, or self-improvement, or what I should do tomorrow to be fulfilled, and interesting, and good to talk to at dinner parties.

And ‘hyyge’? Well I haven’t read much about this – how much do we need to make of a dressed-up word for cosy. Yes, we’d all quite like a cosy home and live like the Danish. Get a throw.

As Michael Booth points out beautifully in The Guardian: “I suspect happiness is a little more complicated. Here‚Äôs my stab at why the Danes are such a satisfied bunch: They are rich, sexy and don‚Äôt work very much; they also take more antidepressants than virtually anyone else in the world, and, yes, they like a drink and eat more confectionery and bacon per capita than most.”

So they just give less of a shit, then? Good job we have all that mindfulness and over-thinking to get us there, too…

I’d happily forgive a few more selfish, unthoughtful people in the world if it meant we could make a few more allowances for ourselves, too. We can’t all be kind, or perfect, or not tell other people the cold, hard truth, all the time. If it gets me an afternoon on the sofa, watching uncool films and pigging out on non-organic carbs, without automatically shaming myself on social media and punishing myself the next day, I’m in.

Are you mindfulness nay, or mindfulness yay? Let me know in the comments below.

Stats taken from The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC.