29 July 2012

Step Down Sunday – The Wedding Gift

I’ll admit I’ve slipped a bit the last few weeks. While I have still tried to make environmentally friendly purchases, sometimes I’ve just gone for the quick and easy solution. We attending a wedding yesterday and I assumed I’d just buy something off the gift list...till I discovered they didn’t have one. In a bit of a panic, I turned back to gifts we bought before making our Step Down pledge for inspiration.
It’s a bit of dumb luck really that we decided to go with a Just Slate Cheese Board. We have one of these ourselves, and bring it out for all our special occations. The natural slate helps keep the cheese cool, and acts like a chalk board so you can label each cheese (I just wish it didn't have a foam backing). The Just Slate Cheese Boards are really elegant and hand-made in Scotland. So while not perfect, we do get points for locally made. Unfortunately I completely forgot our pledge when it came to the cheese knife, and just bought one on sale from Debenhams.

I nearly continued this bad streak with the wrapping paper, as I had a coupon for gift wrap in WHSmiths. At the last moment though I remembered how hard it is to recycle wrapping paper. At Christmas we changed to plain brown paper, so I started thinking of ways I could dress up kraft paper up for a wedding.
My first thought was to use lace as a ribbon, but couldn’t really find anything suitable. Most of it had one straight edge and one decorative, which besides being lopsided might make it tricky to tie a pretty bow. Instead I found this lovely blue ribbon with white stitching, which (hopefully) compliments the natural brown paper. I’m also hoping the ribbon will be easier to reuse than lace would be!

I think the clearest lesson from this week is that leaving things till the minute makes it difficult to make environmentally conscientious choices. So not a perfect record this week, but hopefully you'll agree I found a pretty eco-friendly alternative to wedding themed wrapping paper.

Step Down Sunday
Have you made any Steps Down this week?

If you'd like the code for the Step Down Sunday badge or to learn more about it, go to the Step Down Sunday page.

24 July 2012

My Filofax Blog Planner

Used Filofax Slimline Finsbury
This project has been months in the making and I'm actually quite thrilled with the results! While doing my research I loved exploring other people's Filofaxes, seeing what worked and what didn't - so I thought I might share mine. (Please pardon any poor spelling, I'm dyslexic and the analog world doesn't offer spellcheck yet!)

I've been trying to bring some sort of organisation to my blogging since last year, but I was really struggling to find a system that worked for me. I started with a Filofax Pocket Flex I won just before Christmas.
Pink Filofax Flex Pocket - First Edition
I loved the compact size and flexibility, but I hated the bound notebooks. Unfortunately my mind doesn't work in an especially linear manner, so I find it very difficult to keep information organised if I can't rearrange the pages. I carried this notebook in my handbag for over six months and I only made one page of notes in the left hand notebook and three lists on the jot pad. In the end I decided it wasn't working and hopefully it will be finding a new home via ebay soon.

My New Filofax

I decided I needed a very slim ring bound notebook that would fit easily in my handbag. After a bit of searching I found this second-hand Filofax Slimline Finsbury on ebay. I'm afraid I have quite a weakness for pretty stationary, so through this whole project I've been torn between buying things new and reusing pre-existing items. I haven't succeeded everywhere, but I have managed to choose the eco-friendly option in several cases.
While searching for different blog planner designs (many of which featured in the second Shiny Somethings), I also spotted someone who used a postcard as a cover sheet. I loved how it added colour and personality to their Filofax, so I went searching for something similar. At first checked the stores, but couldn't find anything with the vibrancy I was looking for. When I got home I realised the answer was staring at me.

My best friend had sent me a fabulous birthday card, which was still sitting on my mantle six month later. I hated the thought of cutting it, but really, what else was I going to do with a birthday card? So I removed the pink raised flower that would be cut off, cut the card down to size, and reattached the flower over some of the text. I even found an old sheet of acetate I'd rescued from an outdated PR report, which I cut down to use as a protector. I'm thrilled with the results! It's so much better than a random postcard would have been!

First Section: Blog Planner
Filofax Blog Planner
Behind the cover sheet hides the meat of the project, my new Blog Planner. It's not perfect yet, but as I print the pages as needed, I'm free to tweak the design as I go along. The top box is for my weekly Step Down Sunday & the second lets me note down Shiny Somethings before I forget them. The third box is just a random to do list, and the fourth is for general ideas. I think I can make both the to do list and the Step Down box smaller in future. Then I have a box for stats, just so I can see if something is working well or gets a good reaction. I'm also trying to increase my interaction, so I've set myself a goal to comment on five other blogs each week (preferably new people I don't know). 

My favourite section is Images to Take, which has saved me lots of time lately. Previously I'd just take images when I'd finished writing the post, but this way if I see a shot is needed in the future I can take several all in one go.

I'm sure this planner will continue to evolve over time, but I finally feel like I have some control over my blog, rather than rushing about last minute.

Second Section: Long Term Lists
Filofax To Do - Step Down Sunday
Filofax To Do - Website Maintenance
Behind the next divider I have a couple of Filofax To Do pages for long term planning; things like Website Maintenance and future Step Down Sunday ideas. I also have a vertical year planner to mark down when blog posts have been published, so I can get an idea of how often and evenly I'm posting.

Third Section: Notebook

Just some blank pages for everyday notes and shopping lists.

Fourth Section: My Diary
Filofax Tabbed Month Per Page Vertical Planner
Recently I've been making a slow shift from a Moleskine diary to a Google calendar on my phone. The advantage of the digital diary is being able to share events and appointments with Mr Goldfish, so there are no last minute surprises. My worry though is that Google will one day swallow up my calendar leaving me no way to recover my schedule. So this month per page vertical planner is my back-up, and means I don't have to carry my Moleskine any more.

Fifth Section: Quaker Diary
Filofax Vertical Year Planners
This year I became Clerk of our local meeting, and primarily my responsibility seems to be keeping the meeting organised and to know what's going on. I needed something separate from my personal diary, so it would be quick to scan and not clutter up my own calendar. The vertical year planner was the one thing in my Filofax Flex that worked well. While Quakers are a busy bunch, there are only a few events each month that need to be recorded so a year planner offers just enough space for the key details all at a quick glance.
In the picture you can see my pocket Flex calendar hacked to fit, with the normal 2013 behind it. The kink in the Flex cover does seem to crowd the binder rings, making it tricky to turn the pages. I was tempted to buy a new one to replace it, but that seemed wasteful. I'm hoping everything will move more smoothly when I take it out at the end of the year.

Inserts & Dividers
Muji Filofax Inserts

Back in university I bought a small silicone binder from Muji which I used as a project planner. The notebook itself didn't age well and wasn't really suitable for everyday use (instead I use it to store both blank and old pages I'm not using), but the inserts were still in good condition and fit my new Filofax perfectly.

The Muji dividers are unusual in that the tabs go across the top of the page.This actually works quite well as it keeps them away from the month tabs of my diary. I'm also using the plastic Muji pen loop page. It feels gratuitous as the Finsbury Slim has it's own pen loop, but unfortunately it's too small for my Filofax Pocket Pen to fit comfortably. Rather than risk damaging my Filofax, the plastic insert seemed sensible.

My only frustration: Even though I've only put a few sheets in each section, my Filofax is already full. The leather adds a fair bit of bulk, so the rings have to be quite small. It seems to be working at the moment, but I may have to pare it back in the future.

So that's a quick peek into my Filofax, how do you stay organised?

22 July 2012

Step Down Sunday – Learning New Skills

Step Down SundayReducing our carbon-footprint isn’t just about making better purchases, but also learning new skills so we can make things ourselves. Joining the WI has been a brilliant way to learn new skills from other women. We have members that can bake, cook, grow, sew, crochet, knit, embroider, craft and quilt – and they are all happy to share their expertise! Personally I’ve been dying to learn how to knit and quilt, so when Val offered to run a five week quilting class my name was first on the list!

There were ten of us in the class, and despite having different levels of experience we all had the same concerns. There were a few stressful evenings as we all worried that the quality our individual work might let the group down – but everyone was wonderfully supportive. Val was amazingly patient and rescued us when things went wrong. Finally after five weeks of hard work, we can reveal our finished quilt!
I'm afraid this post is a bit late, as I didn't have a big enough space to photograph the quilt in all it's glory. (I did try, but there's no way it was going to fit on my kitchen dresser.) So Cara from Freckles Family was kind enough to take these fabulous shots.
At the end of the course we put everyone’s name in a hat and drew a winner. I couldn't believe my luck when my name was drawn! I’m really pleased as I need a cover for the spare bedroom and I don’t think I’ll ever tackle a quilt this big again. Instead I might try me hand at a smaller project. Mr Goldfish has banned me from making cushions, but I might attempt a small throw or baby blanket.
Besides having fun, making some brilliant friends and creating a fabulous quilt, I've learned new skills to use in the future!

Step Down Sunday

Have you made any Steps Down this week?

If you'd like the code for the new Step Down Sunday badge or to learn more about it, go to the Step Down Sunday page.

19 July 2012

Shiny Somethings

I started Shiny Somethings a few weeks ago, as a way to share things I've found and love. I'm really pleased with the format and I've been thrilled to see Bell's Little One share some of her own. But there is one change I think I'll make, and that's moving to fortnightly posting. So I hope you enjoy this week's gems, and I'll see you back in a couple of weeks!

1.  Things our grandmothers should have told us about the internet.

Geek Mummy linked to this fabulous photo collection of internet advice. Probably a foreshadowing of things we'll tell our own grandchildren, these photo are like a message from the future. My favourite is "Don't trust what you read and see on Wikipedia" it's bound to be my future mantra.
Source: artoo.bo.lt via Another on Pinterest

2.  Phase Eight Kazumi Maxi Dress

I've got a wedding to attend in two weeks and I've been a bit worried I wouldn't find a suitable dress. I was really smitten by this dress a few weeks ago, but it was a bit expensive and I wasn't looking for a dress yet (because lately I've been eating my way through busyness and stress). So when I spotted it again in the John Lewis sale racks, I decided I at least had to try it on. It's absolutely gorgeous! Comfy and slimming, it's the holy grail of dresses! It's still expensive, even on sale, but I think I might need a bit of a treat by the time the wedding rolls around.

3.  This is Our Planet

This is a gorgeous view of our planet, that lets you fly through the earth's upper atmosphere. Made by Tomislav Safundžić, the time-lapse video uses photos taken from the International Space Station.

4. Cath Kidston T-Shirts

Finally I picked up these cute t-shirts in the Cath Kidston sale. They were a bargain at just £10! I can't say they are an especially ethical or eco-purchase, but they are made in Portugal which was pleasant a surprise. I also picked up one of Cath Kidston's Hankies as I've not found a better alternative yet. Hopefully it will make a good start for another Step Down Sunday.

If you'd like to share your own Shiny Somethings, feel free to leave a link below!

17 July 2012

Back on the Path

Finally we’ve started the injections. The first one was done at the hospital under the supervision of the nurse, so Saturday’s was really the start for us. We’re still trying to find a routine, but none the less I can finally see a path before me.

For the last few months we’ve been fighting to start IVF, but I’ve never really been able to see a path through. It’s been like standing at the base of a mountain pass that looks impenetrable. I’ve been told there is a way through, and I even know people who’ve gone through it themselves – but from where I stood it looked impossible. I started to wonder if these people were braver, stronger or more determined than me, if they had some special quality that got them through the experience.

But starting the injections was like taking the first steps into the pass, and once there you can suddenly see where you’re going next. I’m not convinced IVF is any easier than I expected, and I certainly can’t see my way completely through the process – but I can finally see a way forward.

I’ve also discovered something unexpected along the way. Hope. For months I’ve not been sure why I’m even going through IVF, because I’d lost the hope that was driving me onwards. But the last few days I’ve noticed I’m looking through Pinterest for nursery ideas and been checking out the car seat that Caroline recommended. It seems now we’re actually making progress I can finally consider a positive outcome again.

I'm not sure how long this will last (based on the injection I had last night maybe mere days) but none the less it makes a wonderful respite from the worry and stress of the last few months.

15 July 2012

Step Down Sunday - Sevenly

Step Down SundayThough I often focus on our carbon-footprint in Step Down Sundays, that isn’t the only factor we consider. Stepping down is really a path towards ethical and sustainable living, and sometimes you can’t tick all the boxes.

Clothing is one area where I really struggle. The leading edge of ethical fashion is often expensive, hard to find, and not always that comfortable. It's nearly impossible to find clothes that fit me properly when you can only look at a photo on a website, then when you start looking at high street stores you are often just picking the best from a bad bunch.
So when I stumbled across Sevenly I was intrigued. They pick one charity each week and create a t-shirt design inspired by the charity (usually they make two complimentary designs, one for men and one for women). The shirts are a surprisingly good price at $22 (£14) and $7 (£4.50) of that goes to the chosen charity. I was quite impressed that shipping to the UK only cost $8 too. Even when added to the price of the shirt, that's about £20 which I thought was quite competitive for fair trade t-shirts.

The Pros:
  • They help raise money for charity, while also promoting good causes.
  • They are printed in the United States, so there are no sweat shops involved.
  • They are printed on fair trade t-shirts.
  • They are printed to order, so there is no waste or stock to hold.
  • Both the cost of the shirts and the shipping are quite affordable.
  • There are fashionable designs that are positive without being pushy or preachy.

The Cons:
  • There is a lot of shipping going on, which isn’t great. (Shirts are made in Nicaragua, printed in US & then shipped accordingly.)
  • There are only two patterns available each week, so you can’t consolidate you’re purchases into single shipment (unless you buy multiples that week).
I’m also a bit concerned because they are a Christian organisation. Firstly they aren’t a charity, because the rules on charities are so strict and limiting...but that means Sevenly doesn’t have those checks in place. I totally understand why they don’t want the extra red tape, but it is something to keep an eye on in the future.

Secondly I tend to be wary and sceptical of Christian charities/organisations. Personally I think that charity shouldn’t come with strings attached. I believe it should be offered to those in need no matter their beliefs, and I certainly don’t believe preaching or conversion should be required in order to receive help. I’m sure there are many fabulous Christian charities and organisations who do go out purely to give help and kindness to those in need, but there are also many who only offer conditional support.
Will Sevenly ever support an LGBT or Muslim charity? I don’t know. To be honest the charities they support fall into seven main categories: Slavery, Water, Hunger, Aid, Poverty, Medical and Disaster. They seem such basic needs that it’s hard to imagine something controversial appearing, but in any case it always makes sense to research the sponsored charity for yourself.

While there is room for potential problems in future, the work that Sevenly is currently doing looks fantastic, so Mr Goldfish and I ordered a shirt each from their National Autism Campaign. We love the positive ‘Chose love’ message, that was blended into a fashionable design. So often charity shirts are loud proclamations, not really suitable for everyday, but Sevenly’s designs would look quite at home in your local Burtons or Topshop.
They arrived last week and I was really quite impressed. They only took 12 days to arrive, and that includes the time to print the shirts as well as ship them! The quality of the material is really nice and soft and the fit is pretty good – I did have a moment of panic when I saw how low the v-neck went, but hopefully I won’t be flashing my bra too often.

Even though it’s not an especially eco step, I think it counts as a step away from normal high street brands and certainly qualifies as an ethically sound purchase.

Step Down Sunday
Have you made any Steps Down this week?

If you'd like the code for the Step Down Sunday badge or to learn more about it, go to the Step Down Sunday page.

11 July 2012

11 Questions

I've been tagged by My Mummy Life to answer 11 challenging questions, before creating my own 11 questions to pass on to another 11 lucky bloggers. I'm afraid I'm a bit late with this as things have been quite busy over the last week. But now that my parent have boarded a flight home, I'm hoping things will calm down a bit! So to get myself back on schedule, here's my 11 Answers.

1. What’s the best £1000 you’ve ever spent?

I seem to spend way over £1,000 or way under, so I've been racking my brain for purchases around that ballpark. In the end there was an obvious answer: emigrating to the UK. Once you add up the flight and the cost of shipping five boxes of belongings, the total was at least close to $1,000.

2. If you could do any other job, what would it be?

I think I might be a dancer if my joints hadn't packed up years ago. Not the Broadway type though, just the local dance instructor who does ballroom competitions on the side. I also think instead of product design I should have gone into crafting, not sure I could make a living at it but I think I'd have been happier.

3. Post your favourite photo (of yourself, your family, a holiday – anything).

Picking a favourite photo is nearly impossible, if for no other reason than I'm quite contrary. I'll often love a photo for years and then suddenly decided I don't like it any more. This is probably my current favourite, which I took it about a year ago while visiting Southwold.

4. What makes you lose your temper?

I asked Mr Goldfish this and his answer was 'When you're in pain'. Specifically having to repeat actions or myself over and over makes me angry when I'm already tired and hurting.

Personally I suspect I get most angry when people tell me I'm wrong. In my defence, it's only when I'm more than 90% sure I'm right and I'm not given opportunity to justify my case.

5. Most cherished household appliance?

This one is really hard! I have a couple of gorgeous appliances back from my kitchen writing days, but they don't get used very often. It may be the tumble dryer that I'm most fond of - my clothes tend to be too painful without one.

6. Ever won an award?

I've won a couple of competitions but not really any awards. My best was probably winning concert tickets in a dance contest, but that was mostly because the best dancers had other commitments that night.

7. The song that sums up your life?

I'm not sure I know any song that sum up my life, but this one has really tickled me lately. It certainly describes where I find myself spiritually - though I'm not as fond of Quaker study as Jon here.

I'm afraid the song's has some obscure references, many of which seem related to internal Quaker politics* in the States, but I like the main message.

*While British Quakers tend to be relatively uniform, American Quakers appear to have fractured into liberal and conservative communities.

8. Favourite sandwich filling?

I love cheese sandwiches! Brie & Cranberry, Grilled Cheese, Cheese & Onion, but my favourite is probably a Ploughman's.

9. What was your first car (non-drivers need not answer) and did it have a name?

My first car was a 1983 Cadillac DeVille (that's my aunt stood next to it in the picture). Before you go thinking I was a decadent rich kid, this was in about 1994 so it was over ten years old. It was huge, my friends nicknamed it the "Land Yacht"! It was so wide you could comfortably nap on the back seat. I even took my driving test in this car which made the parallel parking portion quite a challenge.

10. Which holiday destination would you most like to go back to?

I have a real fondness for Center Parc's and I'm sure we'll be going regularly for at least a few more years. I'm not sure that really counts as a holiday destination though.

I think I'd be quite tempted to go back to Barcelona too. We've twice stayed in a holiday apartment there while Mr Goldfish attended work conferences and it's a lovely combination of architecture, culture, and sea front. 

11. What would you do with your time if the internet ceased to exist tomorrow?

I'd probably turn to books. I'm a voracious reader, which is why I love the internet. It's an endless source of information - an it's all free! Trying to keep me in books would cost a fortune, even if I joined the library.

So now on to my 11 Questions:

1. We should always start with our strengths, so what is your best attribute?
2. What is your favourite UK city to visit?
3. What's the best bargain you've ever found?
4. Everyone has a secret talent even if it's silly or inconsequential - what's yours?
5. What's you favourite type of cheese?
6. Where is your internet home?
7. What is your preferred craft or skill (knitting, embroidery, organising, fashion)?
8. If you were a food, what would you be?
9. Give us one random fact about yourself:
10. When you need a break or a treat, what is your favourite indulgence?
11. If you were given £500 right now what would you do with it?

And on to the tagged bloggers, I'd love to hear more about!

Bell's Little One
Oh My Geek!
Tea Cake Make
Making it Up
Tilly Mint Boutique
A Cup of Tea and a Blog
The Five F's
Mrs McGregor
A Matter of Choice

At the IVF Starting Gate

After the nightmare last month where I’d tried to book in for our IVF treatment only to be told they didn’t know what I was talking about, I was a bit worried about our referral as without it we can’t start. We’d been told it should take about a week for the referral to arrive, but experience tells me that these things can often be lost. So a week after our appointment Mr Goldfish rang up to check its progress. The nurse told him the letter hadn’t arrived, but not to worry about it. She said if it still hadn’t arrived by the start of my next period, they’d be able to call the secretary and have it faxed up. Mr Goldfish checked to make sure that this meant we would definitely be starting IVF this cycle. She said yes it wouldn’t be a problem and we shouldn’t chase the referral up any further.

So Saturday afternoon I find myself standing in the middle of a pub car park somewhere in Yorkshire calling the hospital. As I’m desperately trying to find some mobile signal, the nurse tells me that they can’t book me in because they’ve not received my referral.

I had to take a deep breath to calm my nerves before pointing out that they’d specifically told us not to chase up the referral or I’d have sorted this last week! I did feel a bit bad for the nurse, as she said she wasn’t allowed to book us in without the referral and being a Saturday there wouldn’t be anyone in the clinic to call. After going around in circles a few times she finally says if I call on Monday she can probably sort it out. Till this point I thought we had to book in on the first day of my cycle or not at all, so this was a welcome source of hope.

With the promise of this solution, I called Mr Goldfish with the news. My parents are currently visiting from overseas, so we decided Mr Goldfish would be in charge of calling on Monday. I’m so glad I wasn’t involved in these phone calls, as he ended up ringing back and forth between the fertility clinic and the doctor’s secretary several times. By the sound of it they hadn’t just lost the letter, but it had never even been typed up. The poor secretary was searching through boxes of tapes to try and find our appointment. I felt sorry for her, but at the same time we weren’t willing to lose another month of our lives to their mistake.

Finally Tuesday morning they rang to let us know the letter had arrived and we were booked to start IVF on the 13th of July.

I’m sure you expect that I’ll feel excited and relieved, but what I actually felt was more akin to panic. I’ve been fighting for IVF because it’s the only way forward, but I’m terrified by the prospects. The last week I’ve struggled to sleep as I worrying about what lies ahead.

In any case the next step was the drug delivery. I assume for reasons of space, the hospital has all the IVF medications delivered straight to your house by a private company. I received a letter and a phone call from the company two days later and I was able to arrange a delivery date. Though the delivery had to be made between 7:30 – 12:30, I could select any day that was convenient for me. So yesterday at about ten past seven, I threw myself out of bed and dashed down the stairs in my bathrobe to answer the door to a condescending delivery man who apparently can’t tell the time.

The package was actually smaller than I expected. There were four different prescriptions, two types of needle, syringes, special caps to break off the glass ampoule tops, cotton wool, wipes, a sharps box, an explanatory DVD and a case to keep things in.

I’m so glad I scanned the instructions when things arrived. The pink needles above are huge and terrifying, but it turns out they are only used for preparing the solutions. It looks like only the fine yellow needles will be stuck into me.

After five months of endless waiting, things are now moving very fast - which brings its own panic. It like spending hours waiting in line for a roller coaster, only to sit down and realise the high hill ahead fills you with dread. All I can do now it close my eyes and hope we make it through to the other side.

This was originally written for the Emma's Diary Blog.

8 July 2012

Step Down Sunday – The Dodgy Cooker

Step Down SundayOne weakness that Young Friends General Meeting has identified in our quest for low carbon living is that many of the younger members just don’t have the technical know how of our parents and grandparents. As society’s priorities changed, we sacrificed our mechanical and DIY knowledge for cutting edge computer skills. So we can build websites and communicate instantly across the world, but sewing or repairing appliances can leave us baffled.

Last month Mr Goldfish was warming up the oven to cook our tea when there was a loud pop and all the lights went off. A quick check of the fuse box told us that not only had the cooker fuse blown, but it had tripped the fuse for the whole house. We reset the fuses and tried the oven again, but the large oven just wouldn’t heat up.

At this point we were unsure how dangerous the oven might be. Obviously there was a big surge to blow the fuse for the house, but we weren’t sure if this was a one off or an intermittent problem. Previous experience also told me that calling someone out to even look at the oven could cost £100, which is a lot of money to waste if it can’t be repaired. (That’s about quarter of the price for a new oven!) As we were looking to move soon and many of the houses we’ve seen have built in ovens we thought we’d just have to make do with the small top oven/grill for a few months and turn it off at the switch when not in use, just to be safe.

Luckily my father is visiting at the moment and when we recounted the tale, he thought it should be repairable. Despite having a huge pile of manuals for nearly every appliance we’ve ever owned, I couldn’t find one for the cooker. Here modern technology came to our rescue, as I only needed to type the make & model into Google to find a copy. Along with links to the manual, I found several sites describing the same problem we’d experienced. It looked like it was a faulty heating element and claimed to be an easy repair.

Dad took apart the whole casing to thoroughly check the electrics, but you can replace the heating element without even pulling the cooker out. A quick Google found several sites selling replacement elements (£10 for generic replacements and £25 for name brand parts) but the best was Ransom Spares, which also included a how-to-video.

We had to wait three days for the part to arrive, but then it took Dad less than an hour to fix. I suspect with the video we could have fixed it ourselves, but my Dad’s got a lot more confidence and experience with electricity.

It never occurred to me to search Google for advice on how to repair the oven, and we probably would have replaced the appliance unnecessarily. Total madness once you realise it only cost £10 to repair! Next time I’ll check Google for suggestions first, but we’re also considering some sort of electrician’s course for Mr Goldfish. We think he’d feel much more confident tacking problems himself if he had a bit more practise and experience. Unfortunately our disposable culture has left us bereft of skills, but I’m hopeful in future we’ll be better prepared to fix these problems ourselves.

Step Down Sunday
Have you made any Steps Down this week?

If you'd like the code for the Step Down Sunday badge or to learn more about it, go to the Step Down Sunday page.

1 July 2012

Step Down Sunday - Resisting Temptation

Step Down Sunday As I was writing last week's Step Down Sunday I realised I was resisting an obvious Step Down, instead I was being tempted by something new and shiny.

I’ve been looking to buy a Filofax to use as a blog planner. It’s taken me a while work out what I needed, but I eventually settled on one of the Slimline models. I’d spotted the Filofax Slim Finsbury on sale at WHSmith for £19.35 (more than 50% off), which seemed too good a deal to pass up! But as I wrote last week’s Step Down Sunday I realised that Filofax was one of those brands I was talking about that hold their value. In fact Filofax is a brilliant example, as people often buy them and only use them a few times before stuffing them in a drawer. This means that you can get a virtually new organiser for a fraction of the price – and with no carbon cost.

Filofax Finsbury Slim

I once read an article that talked about how much we needed to cut our general spending by in order to lead a sustainable life. Granted it was a drastic amount, but the bit that caught my attention was the way they counted second hand goods. Any item you buy new you have to count against your carbon footprint, but anything you buy second hand is basically carbon-free because the original buyer has already paid the carbon cost. So even though the new WHSmith Filofax is on sale for a similar price as a second hand one, it costs more environmentally because its carbon-footprint hasn’t been reduced.

Filofax Slimline Finsbury

It was still hard to resist a new shiny organiser, but I instead I turned to ebay. After a couple of failed attempts I finally won this second hand Slim Finsbury for just £7.54 (the low price helped placate my thrifty side). There were a few small scuffs on the cover, but after quick polish with our Hotter Shoe Wax Oil it's looking quite lush!

I’ve also picked up a Rapesco 66-P Diary hole punch, so I can make recycled paper inserts for my Filofax. (Filofax do make some plain recycled paper inserts, but they are a touch expensive.) Though I couldn’t buy the punch second hand, I did choose an adjustable model that should work for several sizes of Filofax. Hopefully this means it will be more versatile and useful, especially if I need to sell it on in the future.

I'll admit I was a bit disappointed when it first arrived, but now I've given it a polish and printed out some pages for my new planner I'm quite pleased by the results. Hopefully my new organiser will be a frequent reminder that second-hand can be just as good!

Step Down Sunday
Have you made any Steps Down this week?

If you'd like the code for the Step Down Sunday badge or to learn more about it, go to the Step Down Sunday page.