#100empties: Some Skincare.

avon nutraeffects

AVON Nutraeffects Active Seed Complex Balance Daily Cream SPF 15

A decent face cream with SPF. No mattifying properties, reasonably hydrating. Didn’t cause break-outs. My two gripes with it are packaging (it’s glass, but the base is wider than the mouth of the jar, so it’s hard to use up every last drop – I’m a scrooge, yeah) and scent. The scent was very strong and would stay with me through half the day. This is the only reason I would not be repeating the purchase.

bioten cleansing gel oriflame optimals purifying toner

Elmiplant Bioten Honey and Arnica cleansing gel for normal to combination skin

My skin is oily, but this one was a match. It had a pleasant scent and I enjoyed using it. Lasted a long time, too. No break-outs, no redness. During winter it made my skin feel a bit tighter than necessary, but it remained plump and fresh.

I have to say that all the Elmiplant products I’ve tried so far (face cream, hand cream, this cleanser), I’ve really been pleased with. Need to get something else from their range.

Oriflame Optimals Purifying Toner for Oily Skin

A relatively gentle toner with a pleasant scent. Nothing to write home about, but I would probably buy it again, because it’s no frills and gets the job done.

make-up removers

Oriflame The One Waterproof Eye Make-up Remover

This is a two-phase product that I have unfortunately not been able to use properly, because my flatmate at that time would forget to shake the bottle, so eventually one phase ran out completely. (Hi, flatmate.) Despite this, I was satisfied with how this removed mascara and eye liners (including the Oriflame eye liners which are notoriously hard to remove), so I will more than likely get it again at one point and write a full review.

Сто рецептов красоты (Sto Retseptov Krasoti) Cucumber Eye Make-up Remover Lotion

This worked like a dream. Honestly. I know that Sto Retseptov Krasoti change their formulas all the time and don’t shy away from parabens etc. in the slightest, but this sucker here worked. There is better skincare out there, but for this price? Come to mama. I’ll repurchase this one as well to write a full review – unless it’s been discontinued already.

Spending Control: How I fared in May and June

Some time ago I published a post about my need to become more precise with where my money was going. Below is a list of things I resolved to doing, and how I fared in each one of them.

Reading books about money

Your Money or Your Life

I enjoyed many points in this book, and they were certainly driven home as I have since then made a huge progress in how I view certain material and financial things. However, at times the book sounded very preachy, if not gospel-like.

The following is more than likely just me and my over-reactive mind, but: One of the first things I did while reading this book was search for listings of flats that are located closer to my current job. Nope, nope, nope. Obviously, this is a very backwards approach to the system. The point is discussed in the book, but in a healthier context.

The book is relevant, and I recommend it for everyone who wants to rethink their relationship with money.

Buy Your Money or Your Life here.

Total Money Makeover; Financial Peace Planner

Dave Ramsey’s books are a bit like AC/DC songs. Once you’ve heard one song of AC/DC, you can safely say that you’ve heard them all. Mr Ramsey is a bit like that in this regard – but that’s part of the beauty of his system. Te message gets delivered to you over and over again, while you finally see the light and follow through. For example, I was only able to build a budget that was precisely within my means on the third month of my acquaintance with Mr Ramsey’s books, and at the point of writing this post I am not completely sure I would be able to stick with it – so I plan on picking up another book of his to keep the message in my head for longer. Once I run out of his writings, I’ll probably just start over, after a short break.

My biggest gripe with Dave Ramsey’s works is them being very American. Of course, the main message sticks, and if something is not applicable to me (Roth IRA, for one example, or credit clean-up chapter), then I either skim the passages or read them out of natural curiosity.

That said, I still wholeheartedly recommend his works for anyone looking to pull their financial elves together. And if you’re in debt? This book is God-sent. His methods (zero-based budget, envelope system, debt snowball…) and baby steps are applicable to residents of any state.

Buy Total Money Makeover herebuy Financial Peace Planner here

Having No-Spend days

For the sake of transparency, a No-Spend day is when I spend money on public transportation only, or spend none at all – because buying a monthly pass would cost me more than paying for separate rides. I had 15 No-Spend days in May (9) and June (6), which I believe to be pretty impressive, but am looking forward to increasing the number in July and August.

Tracking every expense

Well that was a pain, but that was a very illuminating pain. I had no idea how much I spent in the office vending machine. I thought it to be of no concern at all. How wrong I was.

Also, I haven’t tracked every single pence. There’s about $1 worth floating in the air somewhere.

Having fun

The greatest trouble here is separating ‘spending’ from ‘fun’ psychologically. I used to think I never had that problem, but apparently I do, and interestingly enough, it’s more rooted in food than anything else. For example, I don’t enjoy the afternoon work break any less if I brew a mug of tea in the kitchenette instead of buying a cup of coffee or if I skip the drink altogether, but the psychological point of having a drink in my hand as I sit on the bench or take a stroll around is very hard to cross over.

Eating down the pantry

Yeah, this one has been working. I have gone through quite a lot of grains and preserves. I’m also getting a better picture of things I actually eat, and how eating certain things makes me feel, so it’s all good.

Writing lists and drawing graphs

This has simultaneously been motivating and demotivating. It’s motivating because of the reasons I mentioned in the previous post: When you see a goal, it’s easier to keep yourself on track, and when you see your progress, it’s less tempting to stray. It’s demotivating to the point of being debilitating, however, when your goals are numerous but your means to an end – and therefore, progress – are limited. I think I’m going to battle this by picking just three most important goals from all categories and keep them on sight at all times, while my other lists I’m going to access from time to time.

Writing updates on this blog from time to time

Well this one’s working so far.

What I’ll be doing next month

Aside from the points above, which I intend to persevere at, I’m also going to do the following:

  • Draft a budget based on the tracked May-June expenses. Keyword here is ‘draft’, because to see a pattern I’d need 3-4 months of expenses tracked, or better yet a year (to account for heating, for example). That’s why tracking every expense is so important.
  • Write down all yearly fees and divide them into 12, so that I could just leave that money on the account every month and access it when a payment arises. Things that come to mind are property tax, cemetery tax, domain names and hosting, health insurance for father, plane tickets for brother (not in full, but I help),.. Pretty sure there’s something else I’m forgetting.
  • Pay more attention to emotional and psychological triggers. Maybe that’ll help me spend less on coffee in July and August.
  • Brown bag every lunch, drink, and snack. The vending machine is the enemy.
  • Become more conscious of food waste. Guilt aside, it’s just money down the drain.

(This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.)

My Simple Trick to Getting Cleaning Done

laundry day yay excitement

I hate doing chores not because I hate, say, washing up or sorting laundry. I hate doing chores, because I live in a huge flat and doing them takes up half of my non-work time. It would’ve been less, but… seven cats.

When I do physical labour around the house, my mind is free to wander as it sees fit. Sometimes it’s good. We all need a break from constant flows of information. Such disengaged thinking helps find inspiration, solutions, etc. etc., blah blah yadda yadda.

But my mind is constantly racing. Leaving it to its own, unoccupied for prolonged periods of time (and doing the litter boxes together with floor washing in the corridor and the smaller kitchen takes over 2 hours, and it’s a long time) is bad for me. It’s not de-stressing, it’s stressful. I don’t look for solutions, I just think about problems. And if I get a sudden rush of inspiration, then I just abandon cleaning, and it never gets done.

And I get bored, bored, bored.

So I hate chores.

And I find it ironic that the way out of this situation includes another thing that I hate with equal force.

Audiobooks.

I hate audiobooks because I can never concentrate long enough to listen to them whilst commuting or exercising. I’m not very good at picking up information audibly (don’t tell my employers…) My mind picks up a sentence, and runs away with it, and bam — half the book is over, and I have no idea what happened. Most narrators, no matter how good, begin to sound like drones about twenty minutes in.

For some damned reason, though, combining the two works perfectly.

Doing menial work gives me enough focus to listen. Listening gives me enough focus to do menial work.

If you have a similar problem, I suggest you give listening to books while doing chores a go. Watching television doesn’t work (when ironing, or cooking, or sorting laundry, for example), because I end up abandoning work in lieu of staring at the screen. Listening to music doesn’t work, because I spend more time doing silly dance moves and singing than vacuuming or washing windows. Audiobooks, however, turned out to be great.

Here are the ones I’ve finished relatively recently:

Neverwhere; technically a radio drama, but same process applies. This is absolutely amazing, whether you’re a fan of the book or have never heard of it. Audio/ book.

What the most successful people do before breakfast; not clean cat poop, apparently, but oh well. Audio/ book.

The Martian; a book that is probably better to be read than listened to. All books are better to be read, but some especially so. Regardless, this one left me lacklustre in many ways. Audio/ book.

Sherlock Holmes: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries and Other Stories; it’s narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch. Need I go on, really, what is wrong with your life. Audio.

High-Rise; current ‘read’. Been on my list for ages. Audio/ book.

Any good books you’ve listened to lately? Or read, for that matter.

Fit Friday: Back on Track

cottage cheese berry honey bowl

With my mood slipping pre-holidays and my brother visiting (yay, dining out), I’ve slipped out of my wellness routine considerably over the last couple of weeks. Since Sunday I’ve been largely back on track, save for one beer and some ice-cream.

… OK, and Nutella.

I’m currently in the process of switching to a new schedule, so I’ve been keeping things simple, exercise and diet-wise. Food-wise, it’s been lots of fresh fruit and steamed veg, some complex carbs and as much lean protein as I can get my hands on. For exercising, I’ve been sticking to my 20 minutes a day, every day – though I admit that sometimes I substitute the 20 minutes of regular exercise with an intense 7-minute HIIT session.

Some tips if you’ve fallen off the bandwagon with your wellness routine:

  1. Don’t beat yourself up. Never helped anybody. No shame, no blame: accept and move on.
  2. If you’ve been out of your exercise regimen for a while, don’t go at it full-speed. Start at a slightly lower level than you’ve been at when you stopped.
  3. Don’t avoid the scale. It’s just a number and it helps you keep track.
  4. Diet-wise, there are two methods: the ease-in and the cold turkey. Personally, I prefer the latter. The best way for me to get back to healthy eating is with a detox day or with a short but restrictive diet. If you’re more of a first type, then start slow – eliminate the worst (cookies for breakfast, sodas…), and slowly replace everything with clean foods.

Plans for July:

  • figure out a healthy filling breakfast  recipe for work days;
  • start running again.