Friday, November 27, 2009


One of the poop things about being a 'creative' is the grand ideas that you get and are so so interested in seeing through that a) you don't know which to do first, and b) whatever you're supposed to be doing is either resented or ignored.

Here are the things right up there on my 'WANT-TO' list:
  • Write a novel.
  • Write & publish a making and patternmaking for t-shirts book.
  • Learn to draw.
  • Start making bags.
  • Consume every bit of interesting fiction there is. (I just finished the audiobooks of the Harry Potter series.. I seriously feel like a little bit of me has died because it's over.)
Anyway, here I am in the middle of a pile of flyers that need halving for Fair@Square, orders that need posting, fashion show dresses that need descriptions to be written, and an application that needs filling out. It's not that I don't want to do these things, it's just that - well, think of the possibilities of the next couple of hours. Endless.

Of course there are many more awesome things than bad about running a creative business. I suppose I just always want more. I think that's a good thing, though, in the scheme of things.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

fair@square, peppermint and summer dresses

Next month I'm going to be showing several dresses of mine at the fashion parade of the Fair@Square Festival. It's at Fed Square in Melbourne on Sunday December 13th from 11am-7pm and all about embracing all that's ethical and fair trade.

As well as the fashion show, there's going to be panel discussions and workshops - t-shirt reconstruction, screenprinting, hat-making and kids craft activities. Plus you can shop for fair trade and ethical goods from over 50 vendors. I won't be selling, I'm just going to be presenting at the fashion show. Come along, if you're in the area! It's sure to be heaps of fun and educational, too.

The festival is being sponsored by the wonderful Peppermint Magazine, among others, which makes a good segway for pointing out that I'm in the latest issue, yay!

(click to enlarge)

I thought I'd show you some of the one-off dresses I've been making lately. I haven't decided which to present at the fashion parade yet. Your thoughts would be lovely!

Which do you like best?

Friday, November 20, 2009

inspiration: boo radley

I wanted to show you what I've been making lately but Tim keeps running off with both our cameras for his volunteer work at the AYCC. They're a bit different in style to the tshirts up in my shop at the moment, because I've included more lace, more detail, more flowiness, and they're all one-offs.

It's so stinking hot here in Melbourne at the moment that sleeves are too much to bear, so I've been making light and flowy sleeveless tops and I'm going to start on summer dresses today. Pictures to come!

I'm having difficulty working out which method works for me best: sticking to styles or creating one-offs. Styles take more effort to prepare, but once prepared they're easier to make up. One-offs can often be a headache as they can be quite challenging and time-consuming. And sometimes they don't work out. But they are more interesting to make. I guess I'll just make some of each. Maybe the one-offs can be samples that I'll make up into styles if they're well received.

On another note, here's a local designer samples outlet just down the road from me that I entered for the first time and I was so impressed by the collection of interesting pieces - there's very few 'trendy' items there, just timeless goodness. If you live in nearby I really recommend it because the prices are very reasonable too. It's called Neo Rococo and it's at 269 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn.

They stock a Melbourne label called Boo Radley and I have been feeling very inspired by the pieces I saw. I checked them out online afterwards and found that the styling wasn't my cup of tea, but I think the work is so much better in person. They have a very good eye for interesting details.

And! Boo Radley is having an end of year summer sale at their warehouse in Collingwood. Everything below $50.
Thursday Nov 26th to Sunday Nov 29th
Boo Radley Warehouse: 114-118 Campbell Street, Collingwood Vic 3066 (off Johnson St.)
9:30 am to 5pm

Yay for local talent.

Friday, November 13, 2009

things i wish i knew before i opened shop

I just got this wonderful recycled wood sign custom made for me by William Dohman on Etsy. I've had my eye on his signs for a while now, but only just found cause to get one. It's to remind me of my goals, to help me stop being hard on myself, and to remember to keep being aware of and working on my 'stuff' (issues I have that stop me living how I'd like).

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I work and what I've learnt. I've been making more of an effort to notice and improve what doesn't work for me, thanks to Havi. But I've learnt lots all along the way since I started last year (it feels like so much longer than that).

Here are the things I wish I knew before I got myself into this whole Heidi & Seek shebang.
  • Be nice to myself.

  • Don't run away from difficulties. Question them, write down thoughts and feelings (non-judgmentally) and figure it out.

  • Free press is way more useful than paid advertising. And keep in touch with publications.

  • Make things. Make new things. Constantly. Give visitors new things to look at as often as possible, and keep it consistent.

  • Listening to audio books while sewing keeps me focused (currently working my way through Harry Potter, I'm at Order of the Phoenix).

  • But listening to myself about when I need breaks is better than burning out and getting frustrated.

  • Don't do things that make me feel stressed and uneasy, but do do things that are a bit outside my comfort zone if I think it'll be good in the long run.

  • Don't make important business decisions quickly. Considers the risks involved first and talk it through with someone. Let it sit for a week or two before deciding.

  • File emails like I would files on my computer. Don't be afraid to delete mass emails. File emails as soon as I've read and dealt with them. Keep my inbox tiny or close to empty, with only the 'to-do' emails in it.

  • Don't check blogs in my Google Reader every time I get a chance. Do it when I'm taking a break if I feel like it, and don't worry about not keeping up.

  • There is a remote control for my camera (I found one online recently after thinking they didn't exist) and it makes photo shoots so much quicker!

  • Instead of editing each picture in Photoshop individually, set up an Action with Levels, a little Curves, Rotate and Resize, Save and Close. Then automate the entire shoot's folder to save to a 'fixed' folder within it. Then it's just a few clicks, and a wait for Photoshop to create the finished photos.

  • Blogging for the sake of blogging doesn't work. Blogging with a purpose and my unique voice works much better.

  • It's best to have a light, non-busy background for photos. When I started, I took pictures in front of a brick wall that was quite distracting.

  • In terms of social networking and 'getting your name out there', it's best to do a few things well than do many things without much dedication. It's also better to concentrate on the enjoyable ones.

  • Get out of the house regularly. Find ways to work elsewhere for a little bit, like a cafe, or at least just take a walk.

  • Don't spend so much time looking up handmade business tutorials. I kept doing this long after I felt I wasn't learning anything new. The time is better spent sitting down with a pen and paper and working out what will work best for my business.

  • Choose a label name that means something to me and what I hope to achieve. I came up with Heidi & Seek long before I had a real business idea, but just stuck with it because I had the domain name. I'm not going to change it but I wish I'd chosen something more expressive of my ethics.

  • Don't start watching a horrible, addictive TV show halfway through a work day, despite the break I'm on. I'm looking at you, One Tree Hill (which has since been boycotted on the grounds of excessive clicheness).
I could probably think of more with some extra time. I still have so much to learn, but I'm grateful that I've come this far.

If you have a business, perhaps you'd like to make a blog post with the same title as this one? Be sure to post the link in the comments section, I'd love to read them!

Friday, November 6, 2009


I'm done, I'm done! And so excited. Check out my relaunched shop at and let me know what you think of my new direction?

I've got five styles. Come meet them.





Oh Bow

It's interesting how completely different the same style can be with the different fabrics used. Though, I sometimes have changed up the styles a tiny bit to fit the fabrics.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

savers haul

I just got off the phone with Jo from Frankie magazine for an interview in an upcoming issue. As a teenager I was totally shy, and I'm still kind of getting over it, so I was nervous-but-thinking-happy-thoughts. Near the beginning I had a total brain freeze at one of her questions but otherwise it was a lovely conversation. There's a photo shoot sometime soon and I have no idea what I'm going to wear (I'm such a girl).

Yesterday I went to Savers with Ellie, which is tricky business. She's not content for very long in the pram without it moving, and when I get her out it's all 'Mummy!' repeatedly until I give her my full attention, and then a dragging me in the toy direction, where I must be constantly fascinated with her at various buttons and switches and pictures. If I then turn to look at something else there's a 'Mummy!' again, in that 'and what do you think you're doing?' tone.

Fortunately, she can be reasoned with. I figure that if I give her some of what she wants, it's then my turn. It doesn't always sit perfectly with her, but I think she's getting it. We spent time in the toy section, time in the clothes section, and then wandered across the street to get some lunch, look at the pets, and climb up on the mechanical coin-slot Barney car (yes, me too, she patted the tiny seat next to her each time she sat down). After that she fell asleep and I had some more time in Savers. It was fortunate because I found these gorgeous vintage sheets and fabric bits to turn into pretty clothes.

And this little top for my little person.

Plus I got a couple of gorgeous ethnic woven cushions which are being washed so no photos just now. All this plus a huge load of t-shirts to reconstruct and a Bananas in Pyjamas video makes it my biggest Savers haul. I must go back to Greensborough more often.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

style number two

The Yoki tee. Available in different size and colour combos in my Etsy shop upon relaunch (visit the shop to sign up to receive an email when it reopens).

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I've never before had a change-my-life breakthrough. Sometimes I get really excited about a new idea and hope that it's going to solve my problems (like this one), but it doesn't end up making a huge difference in the end.

I came across The Fluent Self about a month ago. I read a few pages and a bunch of the blog and thought I'd stumbled across something exactly up my alley. I like that Havi is genuine, has a sense of humour, and writes really well. And I'm her right person!

An hour later I wanted to fork over the $108USD for Havi's Dissolve Procrastination package, but I decided it probably would be something I just procrastinated reading - another distraction.

I'd been getting particularly stuck before I wrote my last post but felt a bit better after coming to some realisations:
  • Bullying myself made me feel even more like poo (but I didn't know how to stop)
  • I felt defeated afterwards (but I didn't know what to do about that)
  • It helped to focus on making a choice in the moment without thinking about how much was still to go or all the other items on my to-do list (but I'm actually quite a good planner. I love planning. When I don't feel stuck.)
Penny's comment (thank you Penny!!) reminded me of The Fluent Self and I was feeling motivated enough to work on my problem, so I bought the package.

Thank god.

There is barely a word in the book that I didn't have the "yes, exactly!" response to. I guess I knew about some of the principles in it, such as that the root of the problem is blaming and being hard on yourself, but I didn't know what to do about that. I didn't get the concept completely, but it's all laid out in such an easy-to-understand way in Havi's book and I get it now.

So. I'm being nice to myself. I'm allowing myself to feel that I don't want to do something. How I feel is allowed. I'm in the process of removing the 'shoulds' and blame, and when that bad habit does come up, I'm just letting myself be aware that the blame is there, and then deciding whether I want it to be. I'm reminding myself to keep in mind that my goal isn't about getting to x point, it's about flow. It's not about the end result, it's about being happy with myself. After removing the blame, all that's left is me, without all that blockage and inner struggle. I'm free to make choices about what's best for me and I'm trusting myself to know when I need a break and when I really want to be working. (Most of the time, I want to be working, so I do.) I'm enjoying the process, and I'm really, really motivated to make my business great.

Now that I've starting working with myself instead of against myself, I can work out which techniques will help me work best (there's a bunch of ideas for that in the Dissolve Procrastination package, too). I'm keeping a notebook of little observations about how I work, what makes me more likely to want to procrastinate, and what makes me want to work.

I know I'm not 'fixed', just like that. I know it's something I'll have to keep working on. But I know how to maintain this. I'm confident that things won't be as bad as they were ever again.

$108 is almost too little a price to pay for that.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I've been having a lot of trouble with motivation and procrastination lately, more than usual. This is an issue I had second thoughts about posting in case I give the impression that I'm lazy or not dedicated enough. Those are definite fears of mine. But I figure that most people have these issues, and they're not going to go away by ignoring them.

I'll give you a run down of my morning.

I got to sleep in (for me that's getting up at 8am), I stayed in my pyjamas and got right to work making Yoki tees while listening to Triple J's Hack podcast. I made two tees and then ran out of episodes of Hack to listen to. I made some food and ate it while looking for other podcasts to listen to.

For two hours. I didn't want to get back to work and the distraction was a relief.

One genre of podcast I came across was the motivation variety, and I listened to a few, mostly unimpressed. I started searching out articles on motivation and time management. Some time during the search I realised that none of them would help me. None of the authors know me. They don't know which unique combination of things works for me. They don't know the cause of my problem.

I realised that if I wanted answers, the only place I'd find them was in my own head. I guess it helps to know which techniques are out there. But the techniques I've found most useful are the ones I've come up with myself because I saw a problem and took the time to think about how to fix it in a way that works for me.

I opened a blank text file and started writing about what my bad work habits are, what my thought process is when they occur, why they happen and some ideas on how to alter them. Writing my thoughts down always helps to shed light on them.

I think I figured out what my problem is. Problems are.

I'm a bully to myself. I can't shake the thought that success and productivity are about control, that I need to push myself hard, harder, and force myself to fit into schedules, deadlines, I "should" do this and I "can't" do this.

I feel defeated every time I should be working and I'm not. I feel like I've given in, and even if it's only been ten minutes, my motivation declines to zero because I haven't had the willpower to stay productive. And if I don't have the willpower, how on earth do I expect to be successful? And if I can't be successful, what's the point? I'm procrastinating and lazy and I might as well give up now because it's too hard. I try to escape and distract myself with anything but work. I write off that hour or the rest of that day, thinking that tomorrow will be a new day and it'll be different and I'll definitely work harder then.

With all that written down I could try to work out solutions.

I think the root of my issue is feeling defeated. So I wrote, "What will help me to not feel defeated?" and rambled whatever came to mind. What sprang from that was the idea that I need to disregard thoughts of later or tomorrow, and how overwhelming the work I have to do between now and then is. I need to focus on now. And I need to make a choice, right now. I need to choose defeat or strength. Every minute is another minute that I have a choice about.

When I feel strong and capable I work best. When I feel defeated it doesn't matter which amazing time management techniques I try to enforce, my productivity still suffers.

It sounds a bit New-Agey, but I wrote down the positive ideas that address the root of my problem on Post-Its and stuck them around the place. It immediately made me feel energised again.

I don't want to have to bully myself into working. It's helpful to remember that I have a choice, that I can do this and that I want to do this. It's helpful to remember that these are things I enjoy. Instead of feeling backed into a corner and looking for an escape, I want to feel confident enough to be able to focus on what's important to me.

If you don't relate to this issue, it might sound ridiculous and obvious. If you sum it up in a sentence it seems simple, but I think it's pretty complex. For me, it is by far the most challenging aspect of running a business.

I'm going to spend a little time regularly to think and write journal-style about how to improve it. I can work it out.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

writing a sewing book and tutoring

I want to write a book. Or I should say I'm going to write a book. The idea has been swimming in my head for ages and I keep coming back to it and thinking of more reasons why I want to do it.

It will include everything I know about sewing and pattern-making in knit (t-shirt) fabrics. I took the hard road in my learning by taking a little bit from books, a little bit from online tutorials, a little bit from my fashion course, and a lot of trial and error.

I want to empower people to think outside the box, to express their own style rather than the looks of the magazine stylists, to never have to rely on made-in-china cheap finds in the shops, and to have clothes that fit you exactly as you want them to.

I need your help.
Have you tried sewing? Have you tried sewing knit fabrics?
If not, what's stopping you?
If you have, what info out there do you think is missing that you want to know?

I'd love to hear from every one of you! It would be a big help.


In the interest of experiece (and because I think it'd be fun) I'm looking to tutor a few local girls everything I know about sewing and patternmaking in knit fabrics, and I'm letting you guys get first dibs! If you're interested and live in Surrey Hills or surrounds in the Melbourne suburbs, shoot me an email for more details at hayley [at] Those who have never used a sewing machine before are very welcome (in fact, I'd love to teach someone from the start).

Monday, October 5, 2009

eco your coffee addiction

I have to admit that I'm a tea-drinker and don't like coffee much at all. But Tim can't start the day without his, and it used to result in an expensive daily purchase of take away coffee because he couldn't stand the crappy instant coffee he'd tried. A while ago he found a brand of tasty instant organic coffee at the supermarket, but it's pretty expensive at $8 for 100g.

Fortunately, when I went looking on the shelf for it at the supermarket yesterday there was none there, so I checked online. The Australian company, Nature's Cuppa, is having an online special on the coffee granules I was after, at $60 for 6 jars of 200g, including shipping. That's $5 per 100g instead of $8, so I saved $36. The coffee is certified under international codes for its organic and environmental protection of forests, birds and wildlife.

I thought a coffee-drinking reader or two out there might like to take advantage of the bargain as well. You could try some at the supermarket before buying 6 jars of it.

I also went looking for a good thermal cup, because the ones we bought in the past broke after a couple of months. I found the KeepCup. They're cute, environmentally-friendly and the company is based right here in Melbourne. It's designed to replace unrecycleable take-away cups when you visit a cafe with it, and is made from the most eco-friendly plastics they could use.



Thursday, October 1, 2009

style number one

The past couple of weeks have been hectic with distractions. Family life has been more stressful than usual and it's amazing how terribly that affects my work motivation and productivity. It's also amazing how having wonderfully relaxed family days can make me feel incredibly energised. I feel like my mojo has returned a bit since Tuesday in the park with Tim, Ellie, the sun (how I've missed thee!) and plenty of fruit.

Anyway. Meet my new friend:

He's a beast, but a tame one when you know how to handle him. I'm a little in love.

I've made up a basic tshirt pattern with a casual fit - it tapers in at the waist a little and has a little bit of extra room at the hips. I think shirts that are tight at the hip are the worst - any size person will display some sort of muffin-top if they're wearing jeans.

My first style is a casual fit tee with contrasting sleeves and a scoop neckline that gets wider at the front. What do you think?

I'm going to be filling my Incube8r space with just these in different colours and sizes. There's not enough room to provide a good selection of more than one style there, I think. So I'll see how these go. By next week I should have enough to fill the shop space and I'll take them in. Then I'll be developing other styles and making some for my Etsy shop. I have to work on the Incube8r stock first, because the rent keeps coming so it costs me money to wait.

Friday, September 18, 2009

have you voted?

This week, the online voting lines are open for the national Australian climate change poll. I blogged about it here if you missed it. If you haven't voted yet, head over to YOUth Decide and do so! And tell your friends to vote as well. We've only got a few days left.

Aren't the flash mobs in the video cute? I'd never heard of flash mobs before this. If you haven't either, they're a form of art or activism (or both) where people in public, seemingly randomly, break into dance. This is the first one I saw and I was totally gobsmacked by it's awesomeness:

It was put on by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition a few months ago, with choreography by So You Think You Can Dance. I think it got some kind of global flash mob award? I'm really proud of Australia for getting together and putting on events like these.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

what do you like about heidi & seek?

I have been thinking more and more about concentrating on a few popular styles. I'd make them each up in different fabrics so they would still be one-of-a-kind, and I'd make sure to have at least a full size range in each style.

That way, customers wouldn't have to miss out so much on things that aren't in their size or that have sold. It would bring me more design focus and direction. I came across the concept of 'choice paralysis' today, where when we have too many choices it can lead to us avoiding making one, or any. Maybe that's partly the rut I've been feeling recently.

Anyway, I have gone back and looked at some of my favourite past styles. I'm starting with what I know best - tops.

I'd want to make this one a top rather than a jumper:

See, I have too many choices. Again. Although one design that is a must-have in my new set of styles is the Yoki tee, in one of its variations:

I was wondering, lovely reader, what your thoughts on the matter are? Is there a previous shirt design of mine that you'd like to see again?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

powering through

I am sitting here in the midst of reorganising my studio once again, to make room for the industrial overlocker I bought. My old domestic one broke. My new Bernina Activa has been having issues as well for the past month or so. I took it to the local repairs place and was told there was nothing wrong with it, but there obviously was.

So I trekked out to Nick Ciancio Sewing Machines in Footscray after a recommendation and a phone call that assured me they knew what they were doing. They fixed the Bernina on the spot - there was a piece of thread stuck around the take up lever - and I put in my overlocker for repair.

They had one old industrial overlocker for sale that they'd fixed up and I bought it, sick of dealing with domestic machine issues and feeling that I'm ready for that next step. Nick patiently showed me how to thread it, gave me a go, and explained the differencial feed to me (which I'd never really understood until then). Both Nick and his son were very helpful and competent. I also appreciate that they're a small family business and that they specialise in restoring old machines that other dealers won't touch.

It's being delivered today.

This is just one of the issues that have been stopping me from getting Heidi & Seek moving as quickly as possible. There always seems to be something cropping up and getting in the way, and instead of powering through and keeping to schedule, I get frustrated at all the things that aren't going as planned, and that makes me more distracted. I feel like I know where I need to be but it just seems so far away. I've considered quitting once or twice, but I truly don't think that would work. This is my only option because it's the only one I want.

So here I go, trying to move past the distractions and finish making my patterns so I can get moving.

Friday, September 11, 2009

woods and fields ethical fashion & link love

Melbournians, you can now find my work at Woods and Fields Ethical Fashion, a newish shop in Syndey Road, Brunswick. The owner, Elysia, is lovely. She's studying textiles because she wanted sustainable fabrics but couldn't find them - what better idea than to learn how to make them yourself.

I've had some lovely people say lovely things about my blog and label recently so I thought I'd share:

Treehugger put me at #1 for Green Fashion: 7 Australian Designers You Need to Know.

Evolved Fashion awarded me an 'Evolved Blogger' award. There's 50 quality blogs listed here with a sustainable fashion focus, so I'm going to enjoy checking out the ones I haven't heard of.

And the lovely Clare from Pretty Green gave me this blog award, thank you!

I'm among some kick-butt company at all three links so I'm really very flattered.

I need to to list ten random things about myself for Clare's award so here goes!
  1. A couple of weeks ago we bought a perfect second-hand car, a 2001 Hyundai Elantra in immaculate condition, with great service history and at a heavily reduced price. Today it got towed because Tim caused a little car accident. (No one got hurt.) We only have third party insurance.

  2. Last Sunday for Father's Day, Ellie and I made this notebook for Tim - Ellie did the sticking and drawing, and I glued and finished it. I secretly wish that I'd made it for myself. Except for the Mod Podge and masking tape, it's made from completely recycled materials.

  3. As per my budgeting plan, I've been successfully living off $50 a week for the past two weeks. That includes groceries, food and etceteras that aren't bills. It doesn't include op shop purchases or petrol though.

  4. I bought a perfect blank Collins 2009 diary from an op shop the other day, which I'm going to use for 2010 and just manually (and creatively) alter all the dates. Tim thinks I'm weird.

  5. I'm constantly late. I think I'm still stuck in babyless mode, where I could just throw a bag over my shoulder and walk out the door. Now I have to change a nappy, make sure Ellie's bag is packed, get some snacks and a drink to take, clean her hands and face, and deal with the dawdling that happens when you're 2 and no place to be is urgent.

  6. I just discovered social bookmarking. Well, I'm not as interested in the social part as I am in being able to organise my bookmarks and use nifty features like sticky notes and highlighting on the bookmarked pages. I signed up to Diigo, added the toolbar and I'm surprised how often I'm using it. You can also bookmark sites as 'unread' so you can come back to them later.

  7. I kind of envy makers who can stay up making until late in the evening. I mean, I usually stay up late, but by about 6pm I feel like I've used up all my making energy. I can work late on the computer or something, but not the sewing machine. Weird.

  8. The last movie I watched was Adventureland, which I was drawn to because it has Kristen Stewart from Twilight in it and I'm kind of attached to Twilight, despite not wanting to be and acknowledging how ridiculous it is. (I drew the line at the end of book one, but I will be watching all the movies.) By the way, Adventureland is good stuff.

  9. I've had a bias tape maker for years, but have yet to use it.

  10. Every time I go for a walk I look at each house and think about what it would be like to own it. We are renting and I have major homeowner envy. It doesn't help that many of the houses in our area are gorgeous and/or huge.
I'm passing on the award to:

Tricia from Little Eco Footprints
Adele from modernemotive
Nikki from Nikki-Shell
Gina from clutterpunk
Yana from Supayana
Sarah from forevayoung vintage
Jen from Rejenerating Fashion
Flossy from Flossy-P
Emma from Owl and the Grapes
Ali J from Aussie Patches

franny armstrong and ethical living

I've been getting more and more inspired by the maker of The Age of Stupid Franny Armstrong. Here's a quick interview with her about how making the movie increased her carbon footprint and about her fulfillment in making a difference. I also really like this quote about her, from her Wikipedia page: "When, in a few years' time, Franny Armstrong is being discussed as one of the key documentary film-makers of our generation, you can say you were in there at the start."

I want to get a hold of her previous documentary, McLibel, because I don't know much about the ethics of McDonalds, except that they're probably non-existant. I'm going to try to forego my occasional french fries purchase, but without knowing compelling evidence it's sometimes easy to ignore that nagging feeling.

That's an idea that you're probably already familiar with, but I'm going to remind you about it anyway: positive purchasing. When you are a customer of a company, you sustain them and reinforce what they're doing, whether that's ethical or not. It's our job to find out which companies are aligned with our ethics (or which is the lesser evil, in some cases) and to support them. Looked at another way, it's also moral boycotting.

And it's not just at gift-giving time that we can choose handmade. It's a way of every day living, to try to ensure we're being kind to both the environment and people. It doesn't have to be expensive, often it's cheaper. If I eat before leaving home I won't have had to spend money on drive-through fries. A second-hand piece of furniture costs less than a new piece. If I buy less processed foods, I can afford to buy organic basics. Etc.

What have you bought this week? Could you have made more ethical choices instead?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

the age of stupid

Australia & New Zealand Trailer HD from Age of Stupid on Vimeo.

Just found out about this movie, The Age of Stupid. It's about a man living alone in 2055, after the world has been ravaged by climate change. He looks at footage from 2008 and wonders why the hell we didn't stop it from happening.

The movie is screening all over the place except Australia, it seems. But it's launching online on 21/22 September, so I've happily signed up to the newsletter to be reminded. There's a 50 minute documentary here for the meantime though. I'm excited about it for two reasons. The first is because I'm really interested to see what it's like, and the second is that I'm hoping it will be a big step to people understanding just what is happening to our planet (and working to change it).

I was watching Grey's Anatomy the other day and there was a woman on it with four broken limbs because she'd been bulldozed down from a old growth tree she'd been living in to save it. I was a bit offended by how ridiculous they made the character sound - she'd given the tree a name and talked about it like it was a person, she ranted about greedy corporations, and she'd changed her own name to 'Willow'. I get that it might have made the situation more believable, but couldn't they have represented the level-headed side of environmental activism, rather than implying it's for crazies?

Monday, August 31, 2009

cutting down on spending

I've been working on a Mod Podge craft project for the past few weeks, doing one bit at a time while watching True Blood or Grey's Anatomy online in the evenings. It's not the finest craftsmanship, but I'm happy with it all the same.

I bought the drawers second-hand from the Camberwell market ages ago and started painting it red. I wasn't feeling that so I used found papers to decorate the drawers instead. The top left and right are layers of vintage pattern paper. The diamond blue pattern was part of the packaging for something I bought. The blue is from the cover of a vintage book we were going to give away, and the bottom drawer is covered with pages from another vintage book.

It's going to be a totally new thing for me to actually have desk storage. Not sure how I'll best use it yet.

I've just realised how much I've bought online in the past couple of months. Books and stationery and tape and things.

mouse pad from My Favorite Mirror

tape from Nothing Elegant

lacy bird bowl by Prince Design UK

And that's only a portion of my purchases. I thought I was doing well because I carefully considered each purchase, and nothing I bought was a waste, but that's not good enough for me. In the interest of saving money and reducing environmental impact, I want to do better. I've been reading a book called Budget Wise, Dollar Rich, borrowed from the libary like a good little saver.

Looks a bit spammy, doesn't it? Despite that, it's really helpful. Now that Tim isn't working (for money, anyway) I'm paying the large bills, so I've made a budget for Heidi & Seek and for home. It's all well and good to make a spreadsheet with the best of intentions, but although I've done that in the past, I haven't enforced what I've written down or monitored how I was doing. I've never been in much debt, and I always pay off my credit card during the interest-free period, but I've never consistently put money aside for savings either. Except when I was saving for a holiday, but that was different. Single life living at home with your parents is so different.

Anyway, my plan of attack now is this:
  • I withdraw in cash a certain amount at the start of every week, and must only use this to pay for things. Just before I withdraw the next week's allowance, I put the leftovers of the previous week in a jar. Any additional money I get, like gifts or random cash goes in this jar too. My motivation for keeping my spending within my allowance is seeing this jar's contents grow. It'll pay for extra more expensive things, or is there if I feel I deserve a treat. I might allocate 20% of the jar to 'treats' and the rest to savings, and then deposit it at my bank when it gets big.
  • I've made my allowance quite low because I want to try to make do. Since we're vegetarian our meals don't have to cost much. Our pantry is full of things we keep accumulating but don't seem to use, so I want to see how far I can take what we already have and only buy the basics week to week. They will easily fit within my allowance.
  • I'm doing a similar thing with Heidi & Seek, because sometimes I can get carried away with buying supplies or whatnot. Some months my expenses are sky-high and some months it's very little. I'm setting a monthly allowance for Heidi & Seek, except at the end of the month, the money left will be topped up instead of taken out, saved and completely replaced.
  • For Heidi & Seek purchases that I don't need immediately, like certain books and equipment, I'm putting aside some money each month into a linked online account, and I can only buy them when I have enough in that account.
  • Then of course I've made the standard annual tables of bills and other required expenses, but there's not much I can do about most of those. I cut my mobile phone plan from $50 to $20, and I'll see if there are cheaper options for the rest, too.
The good thing about this cash system is that I can see how much I've spent that week without having to keep a tally (although I'm being anal so I'm doing the tally anyway). And I can still buy the things that mean a lot to me, but not just 'when I feel like it' and not all at once. I have to save up and to really consider where I want to spend my money.

Do you budget or have system that works for you?