Upcycled Gift Tags

Is this an original idea? No. Is it something we maybe need reminding to do? Maybe. Christmas is a wonderful time of year but it is also a time when we all generate a lot of waste unfortunately. Instead of just tossing all those lovely cards and gift bags we receive why not cut them up into pretty tags to use for next year!

Make use of any prints on the front of the gift bag or card such as Merry Christmas or cut out around pictures such presents or snowmen. For gift bags the first thing you need to do is remove the ribbon handles (keep them to use next year too)

Once I cut open my gift bag I ruled up lines on the back. I roughly did them about 2″ x 2.5″ and cut them out. If you have a cutting tool such as guillotine this would be super easy to slice them up but I did mine by hand. Some are a little wonky but that’s ok no one is going to complain! You could cut them into any shape or even use craft cutting machine such as Sizzix Big Shot but it would generate a little more waste around each shape.

Don’t just use the fronts/backs of gift bags. Make use of the folds in the sides of gift bags. Once the bag is cut open you can easily fold the card the other way to make tiny Christmas cards. I again cut them roughly 2″ tall. These would be super cute to add to any gift

This idea isn’t just for Christmas you can use this idea any time you get a card or gift bag. I will confess this isn’t a zero waste project as some parts needed to go in the recycling bin as I cut them out. Some had marks on the reverse side of the cardboard and others were jagged edges from when I cut the bag open along the folds. Compared to just tossing the bag in the bin the waste was minimal. I was just thinking this year I was running low on tags for my presents but now I don’t have to go out and buy more which saves money and I have reduced waste. I’m keeping my cards in an old ice cream container which I will label so I know exactly where they are for next year.

Merry Christmas


Latte Mix

Are you a tea drinker or coffee drinker? For years I was always team tea drinker with the occasional coffee if I was out. I never liked instant coffee.

In 2019 I had a regular coffee catch up with a friend several mornings a week but it started to cost a fortune as Starbucks was our go to place. On my non Starbucks days still wanting a coffee hit I started drinking instant coffee sachets. I had a box of sachets at both home and work and would drink up to 3 a day. Although not as costly as a brought coffee the cost still added up. More importantly I noticed the amount of packaging waste involved. The box they came in could be recycled but the sachet didn’t say it could be recycled but even if it could when you are throwing out 3 a day that soon mounts ups. Another thing of concern was the ingredients in each sachet. Each sachet had about 13 items listed as ingredients! It is only instant coffee why the need for 13 things in it.

Looking online I wanted to find a MOO (Make Our Own) Latte mix. There are heaps of recipes out there but most of the latte recipes involved adding in instant pudding mix to give that creamy texture. I don’t want to be drinking instant pudding I just want a coffee hit. I decided to make up my own mix and this is what I came up with.

Latte Mix makes 1 batch

  • 2 cups milk powder
  • 1/2 cup instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar

Put all ingredients in a food processor to blitz up. To ensure an even mix I put in 1 cup of milk powder then add in the coffee and icing sugar followed by the remaining cup of milk powder. Blitz until all a fine powder forms.
Use one heaped teaspoon per cup. Place mix in cup and pour over small amount of hot water stirring to dissolve the mix then top up with water to fill the cup.

My version isn’t thick like the regular mixes as it doesn’t contain any ingredients that would make that thick texture but it is nice. Although it contains icing sugar it isn’t sweet. You could increase the amount of coffee granules if you wanted a stronger coffee mix. As a bit of luxury I use Moccona coffee. I buy a large jar when it is on special and it lasts months as you are only using 1/2 cup per batch.

I have been making my own mix for over 12 months now. I make a double batch each time and it lasts for weeks. I have a container of it at home as well as work. I bring my work container home and refill it from my home stash. These days at work I have become lazy and don’t even use a stirrer to dissolve it, I just put it in my keep cup and swish it around until the coffee granules dissolve before topping it up, this saves having to wash up a stirrer each day (I was using a plastic chop stick) The latte recipe is on our fridge and Mr StitchNSew makes me up a batch whenever he sees my stash is low. 

I no longer have my coffee catch ups and in fact have gone off Starbucks coffee having the rare one now and then. The coffee sachets haven’t completely banished from our house. Mr StitchNSew enjoys the cappuccino sachets but doesn’t have as many as I was having. He did notice in recent weeks that they have reduced the sachets down by 2g per serve but the price still remains the same. He can’t work and is home all day so if he is enjoying it I’m not going to take that away from him. I’m enjoying my coffee mix at work and home when I need a coffee hit.


The Less Waste No Fuss Kitchen

Last year I mentioned I was still struggling with the mindset that I need a treat at times when I was at the shops. With the move last year to the new place and now paying a mortgage I don’t have the discretionary income that I used to have. In the post I mentioned a book that I saw but didn’t buy as I was trying to be good and not waste money on things that I didn’t really need. Being honest I even wrote I didn’t need a book on how to tell me what I was already doing. Well that book was meant to come into my life and through a giveaway by the Rogue Ginger I won a copy of it.

I guess the saying not to judge a book by its cover is true. The book isn’t just saying don’t throw out food. It discusses topics you may not even think to consider such as the carbon footprint different foods have. Choices you can make about the way you store your food. It gives practical ways to use up leftover food items or adapt recipes to use what you have on hand. It discusses ways you can prolong the life of the food that you have and ways to dispose of kitchen waste that you do have. It doesn’t preach to you “This is what you have to do or what you need in your kitchen otherwise your not going to have a sustainable kitchen and waste food” It gives you ideas and opens up and your mind to make you think of things you can try.

I got this book towards the end of last year. I read it at the time and to be honest I need to sit down and read it again. Full confession in recent months I have been known to be wasteful with food at times. Leftovers that should’ve been used up get forgotten or I buy too much of things. I need to read this book and look at what I’m doing. Take stock of what is in the fridge and freezer and start planning meals around that instead of just taking the quick fix option making the quickest thing I can think of making for dinner. Look at the amount that I’m buying or the portion size so food will be fully used up. Learn realistically how long it takes me to use up an item so I don’t buy excess of it which is then spoilt by the time I go to use it.

Often I read a book and pass it on but this book is staying in my collection. I think I treasure it more because it was meant to come into my life so there must be a reason. It must be here to help me and sometimes I need a bit of help.


Digital Declutter Challenge – 12 Month On

For the month of March 2020 I did a digital declutter challenge. The challenge was a break from social media and other online platforms. At the time I had so much going on with the lead up to our big move, the start of Covid and a few other personal issues. I found when I was going on social media and online that it was adding to my stress load and impacting my mental health so I decided to take a break from it after reading the book Digital Minimalism by Carl Newport. I set the challenge for the entire 31 days of March. 12 months on I thought is a good time to reflect on how I use social media and other online platforms now. Ideally I would have liked to have re-read Carl’s book prior to writing this but unfortunately I lent it to a friend last year and I still haven’t gotten it back yet. I will read it again once I get the book back. I still remember the book pretty clearly as it did have an impact on me.


Online platforms and social media aren’t a bad thing. As we’ve seen during the Covid lockdowns social media and other online platforms can have a positive impact allowing people to connect and feel part of a community particularly when they physically can’t be together. Saying that if you don’t control how much you use them and in what ways they can quickly consume you and for some people impact their mental health. That’s what happened to me prior to March 2020.

This post is in no way disrespectful or judgmental to how anyone else uses social media or online platforms. This is just thoughts and observations of my own personal use of them.

Last year I did write a few blog posts about it.

Digital Declutter – Part 1 (Pre challenge)
Digital Declutter – Part 2 (How I went)
Digital Declutter – Part 3 (Reflections on the challenge)

I’m not going to lie and say that I am completely free of bad habits I had last year. Particularly in recent months I have found myself sitting on my phone mindlessly flicking through Instagram and Facebook. The difference is now I’m actually aware of it. My 2 trigger times are when I get home from work before I start dinner (20 – 40mins) and at night when I’m too tired to craft. More on that later.

In my reflections post last year I broke down the social media and online platforms I use into groups. 12 months on the groups haven’t changed

I still haven’t been back on twitter. I never got around to deleting my account last year. For some reason I was holding on to it without explanation even though I never used it and it clearly didn’t interest me. I was tempted last month to use it when in Australia Facebook banned Australian news sites from posting content but I never did. As I was typing this I decided to bite the bullet and I have now deleted my account.

I still haven’t downloaded either app after getting my new phone in February 2020. I still have accounts with both platforms but haven’t used them. Trello I will use again when I finally get in and sort out my fabric vault as I have some pieces already recorded on that. It was a good way to catalogue what fabrics and patterns I have. I haven’t had the need to look at Pinterest. Most new projects I decide on are inspired what I have seen on Instagram, blogs or Ravelry. At some point I might go in and declutter some of the items I have pinned on different boards. Pinterest will never consume me like it once did.

At the moment I’m mainly using it for educational purposes to learn how to do different craft techniques and increase my Excel skills for work, I’m a visual learner so Youtube is perfect for that. I do still listen to music on it at work at times but for the most part it is just for learning purposes. I have discovered a Youtube channel which does dance moves as a fitness workout but I haven’t yet done any of the workouts.

I don’t go on there as often as I used to. It is still a fantastic database of patterns to search through particularly as you can narrow your searches to specific yarns or pattern types. Ravelry is also good for documenting the tools and techniques you used for different projects you make as I always forget that information.

Reading blogs is one area that in the last 12 months I have started doing more. I have actually found a lot more sewing and yarn blogs than I had before so I’m enjoying reading those. I’m actually commenting on more blogs than I have in the past. I’m limiting my blog reading to only at night during my too tired to craft time. I’m a blogger and I find other people’s blogs interesting too.

I’m not posting on there as much as I was in 2019 early 2020. Before when I was making a project I might post several times during the making of it but now days I only post when something really good or really bad happens during the project and the finished object. Not spending time worrying about photos of the project is allowing me to focus on the project more. Part of the reason I craft so much is that I enjoy the process of it. I still do post a few non craft related posts from time to time. I have culled back a lot of the people and hashtags I follow on Instagram. I used to do this every couple of years but I have been even more ruthless now so that the posts I see are more inline with what I am interested in now.

Last month Mr StitchNSew decided to delete his Facebook account as he was sick of it. I broke into a cold sweat thinking I can’t do that! I admit at times of boredom I look at it more than I should particularly at the times mentioned above. I don’t look at it when I’m not at home anymore. Even at home if I’m busy crafting or doing other things I won’t look at it until I am sitting down in front of the tv. Last month we had a rather long wait in the Emergency Department. In the many many hours sitting there I wasn’t once tempted to pull out my phone and look at Facebook. I used Messenger a couple of times but that was it. I had my crochet so I just did that to kill the time. I don’t post as much on Facebook as what I used to. I just don’t feel the need to now. I have changed my rule of not being Facebook friends with people I work with but that’s because work dynamics have changed a little and I’m closer to some people now considering them friends not just work collogues. I work in large department so I’m not suddenly going to become Facebook friends with everyone as I still need that break from work. I have trouble “switching off” from work at the best of times so it is important for me not to have that constant work reminder in my Facebook feed when I see people’s names pop up. I have unfriended a few people that I don’t have a connection to anymore and I’ve discovered you can also unfollow people without unfriending them so I have done that for a few people. I’m not being mean or sneaky it’s that I want to keep my Facebook feed to things I’m interested in now. I have left several Facebook groups and unliked a heap of pages for the same reason. For me Facebook is still a valuable social media platform but I want to keep it relevant to my current interests.

Now to address my current issues. On weekdays I need to put a self imposed ban on Facebook and Instagram when I get home as I know I’m just killing time and there are other things I could do in that short period of time. I can still use it but not until later at night when I’m too tired to craft. A small amount of online time in front of the tv is ok for me. At the moment I don’t feel like I need another break from social media but if I start to feel overwhelmed again with it like I was last year I will.


Conundrum – Price v Usage v Packaging

Originally this week I was planning on posting about one of my sewing makes until on Sunday whilst grocery shopping we were faced with a conundrum which got me thinking.

Trying to be more healthy Mr StitchNSew is making regular salads, we are fussy eaters (no lettuce, carrots, celery) so we are slightly limited as to what can be put in our salads. Capsicum shopping has been easy in the past, I would just grab one small one as we are not big eaters and that was it. Trying to add more variety Mr StitchNSew decided to get different types of capsicum. The individual capsicums were each different prices per kilo due to the different coloured varieties, the 3 pack was different price all together. The capsicums themselves were all larger than we would normally pick too. We found maybe 1 or 2 that were our size but even then they were bigger than we really wanted. It was actually difficult to decide which ones to get. We are trying to avoid plastic packaging but we didn’t want to buy more than what we needed as we would end up wasting it. I didn’t quite get to the stage of adding up the individual prices per kilo and dividing by 3 to work out if the combined pack was cheaper per kilo (given a few more minutes I’m sure I would have) In the end we went the 3 pack as they were the size we wanted.

Sometimes it really hard to decided between options when you have to consider the price v usage v packaging. We are frugal but I don’t mind if I have to pay a bit more for something I know we are going to use. Shamefully putting our hand up to say “Yes we do sometimes toss out food items due to not using them in time” We are being more conscious of it now and are trying to avoid it buy using things up or not buying more than we will use in the time frame. We don’t have access to a greengrocer where we live to buy fresh produce. The farmers market I used to visit has been shut due to Covid, I’m hoping it comes back in the post Covid era. We try and buy unpackaged items but our choices are limited as to what is in the supermarket. We are trying to reduce our packaging but sometimes it’s unavoidable if our only other option is to buy more than we need which will end up as waste. I guess our order of choice is

  1. Size – Pick the size will we actually use
  2. Packaging – Is it avoidable / can it be recycled
  3. Price – Is it the cheapest option in the size we will use

At the supermarket we take our own shopping bags to carry items home. We don’t own a car so get a weekly grocery delivery from the supermarket for our main grocery items. Due to Covid we no longer have the option of getting our order bag less so it arrives in plastic bags. Our supermarket has a soft plastic recycling program. We regularly take in our soft plastics and always have a bag on the go to collect them.

The overall important thing is we are now more mindful in our shopping choices and try to pick the one which will create less waste.


Try Before You Buy – Pie Maker

A pie maker is a kitchen appliance I had heard about years ago (I think I may of even brought my brother in law one for Christmas nearly 20 years ago) I had never brought one as Mr StitchNSew always just made pies at home or got the frozen ones in the shops. I didn’t want another kitchen appliance that wouldn’t get used so that is why I never got one. I was talking to a work colleague who offered to lend us hers whilst I was on holidays in September.


The pie maker comes with a recipe book but I decided to look online as well. I didn’t know but there seems to be an entire online Facebook community addicted to pie makers! One thing I quickly learnt is that a pie maker isn’t just for meat pies. You can deserts, cakes and other savoury food in them. Basically if you can cook it in an oven or in a small pan you can cook it in a pie maker. Mr StitchNSew played around with making pies but I tried other receipes. The first was eggs. They were really easy to do only taking a couple of minutes. The next item I tried was scotch eggs. If you’re not familiar with them its a boiled egg wrapped in raw mince then rolled in breadcrumbs. You normally cooked them in a frying pan or the oven. I never make these. Again these only took minutes in the pie maker. I was pretty happy with them and they tasted delicious.

After trying it out we’ve decided to get one. As with many things 2020 is not the time to buy one as they are all out of stock at the shops (it seems many people are getting into pie makers this year with all the extra time at home) We have waited this long without one it won’t hurt us to be without one until the shops get them in again. Knowing that you can make more than just pies in them is a big draw card for us. Also Mr StitchNSew has admitted now he isn’t able to do the day long pie making that he used to do as well. The pie maker is easier and less bending for him as it’s on the bench top and not in the oven. It was good to try the appliance out before just going and purchasing one.


Balcony Addition – Chairs

I never thought I would be excited over garden chairs let alone write a blog post about them but here goes.

We have lovely little balcony which is about 10 metres square in a nice rectangle shape. Aside from having an outdoor table, a storage unit and the washing airer we haven’t really utilised it that much due to the fact there wasn’t anywhere to sit. We did put an old foot stool out there but since Mr StitchNSew’s surgery he hasn’t been able to use it as it is too low to the ground. I decided we needed a pair of chairs. We had 2 options – get cheaper plastic chairs or invest in some quality aluminum chairs. Plastic chairs are great but they can be really flimsy and over time the plastic can get powdery. At our local Bunnings (hardware chain store in Australia) I found some chairs which were the same brand as our table so they kind of matched. They are aluminum with a nylon mesh seat and back which does have some padding in both. They aren’t too low to sit on and the back doesn’t lean too far back like some other chairs that were for sale at the shop.

I love our new chairs. They are so comfortable. They have changed how much we use the balcony. Admittedly I’m on holidays at the moment so I am home more but we got these a couple of weeks before my holidays started and we started using them from the day they arrived. We’ve sat at the table and eaten breakfast. I take my knitting and hand sewing out there and can do it comfortably. We live across from a busy health precinct, near the intersection of 2 main roads as well as 2 construction sites but we are still able to sit and relax out on the balcony. Both Mr StitchNSew and I are people watches so we watch the cars, trucks, buses, ambulances, helicopters go by. We watch the birds in the reserve that is below our balcony. Mr StitchNSew has set up a pot plant garden. Last week I was in a total knitting trance and didn’t even notice the fog roll in as I was sitting out there. I was relaxed and I was knitting. I don’t always find it easy to relax and I can only put it down to that I was sitting comfortably focused on my knitting.

The chairs we got weren’t the cheapest option but we invested in quality and comfort. The way we are now using the balcony they have paid for themselves already.


Mindset “I Need A Treat”

If I haven’t mentioned it before I’m an overthinker. This post may be a little of that.

I’m not a big shopper, to be honest I don’t actually like it anymore. Years ago I would happily spend hours at the shops looking at stuff, buying and eating at different places. Now days I’m like “ok get in there and get out ASAP” and that was before Covid. I don’t do a lot of online shopping either. However I do find myself saying when I’m at the shops or even at home “I need a treat” It’s no secret this year our circumstances have changed. For the first time in my life I have to be a little more money conscious as I now have a mortgage and expenses that come with owning a property and we only have one income. For years I have been a frugal person. I save money on things I can so I can happily spend money on things we enjoy. For the most part that is easy but I finding it hard on some of the little things. The little purchases that you make without much thought as they don’t cost much but they all add up in the long run. The little purchases that you don’t really need but you just want at the time you see it.

I have made progress on my “Craft Vault” and unpacked all the yarn and fabrics that were in there. Even though I had gotten rid of lots of yarn and fabrics prior to the move I still have heaps. I realised that I haven’t purchased fabric or yarn for me in over 12 months. Even though I can clearly see how much fabric I have I suddenly thought “I should go fabric shopping” No no you shouldn’t! I have lots of amazing fabric, why is my mind ignoring that and instead saying I want more? I don’t want to repeat what I did before of having lots and lots of items in my stash and not doing anything with them. At the shops I picked up a book that was on the topic of eating sustainable wise and frugal. It was on sale and I really wanted to get it. I almost purchased it but I stopped and thought about what I was doing. Don’t get me wrong the subject was very interesting and important but I don’t need a book to tell me how to do it when it is something I am actually doing already. I have another book in mind which goes through ways to use up odd bits off food. I will end up ordering the other book as I think it will be very beneficial but it didn’t stop the thought at the time that I wanted that nice book that was in front of me. If I’d gotten the book in front of me yes I would have read it then it would just sit on my bookshelf taking up space. I really want things of value, that I can use long term not just for small amounts of time. It is hard to shift that mindset of “I need a treat or this doesn’t cost much I can get it” I’m not going without things, I’m not missing out on anything. Yes it is important to treat yourself every now and then but it doesn’t need to be all the time which is something I am struggling with at times. When does a “treat” become a habit?

Maybe I am just overthinking things



Digital Declutter Challenge – Part 3

In Parts 1 and 2 I talked about my 31 Digital Declutter challenge setting out my rules and discussing how I found things through it. In this post I’m going to personally evaluate myself on how it went and changes I have decided.

I loved the month’s break away from different digital media platforms. It helped my mental state by not being part of them so much. I urge anyone to give it a try even for just a couple of days.

It has been 4 days. I’m going to be honest I was disappointed 1st April when my mind said ” I can go on social media again!” I was hoping to have moved on from that type of thinking. I have only posted on Facebook twice aside the Spoolettes page. On April 1st telling friends and family I was ok and today in my knitting group after I finished my shawl which I spent a lot of time in March and enjoying it. I have done 3 posts on Instagram which were the finished shawl, some books that arrived yesterday and a month marker photo which if you are familiar with Instagram is something people do to track when they took different photos. On Facebook and Instagram I haven’t gone through and seen what others have been up to. Part of me is worried once I start I’m not going to be able to stop again. Do I avoid them until that fear passes or do I go I bite the bullet and see how much self control I have? It sounds silly talking about social media like this but I found it an addictive medium. I know I couldn’t stop at one cigarette if given the chance.

Looking at the different types of social media

Facebook / Instagram
I didn’t miss Facebook or Instagram. I think they both have a part in society and are useful particularly in the current situation where people have to be kept distant from each other. They are a useful way to connect people but I don’t need to be part of them all the time. As useful as they are I think they can also tilt the other way and become to overwhelming. I’m still going to use them but in different ways. Previously I would look at them both several times a day. I’m not going to do that anymore. I might look at them once a day. I’m not going to be more selective as to what I post on them and how often. I’m still going to show the good and the bad but just not so much of it. Instagram is a useful tool for me to use to learn exercises and fitness techniques.

I’m not a person to really watch mindless stuff on YouTube. You can use it just as a listening tool. I enjoy listening to podcasts and interviews on YouTube whilst working. It is a great way for me to play music if I don’t have other ways to play it.¬†I love my music and I’m more calm doing other tasks if I have my music playing. At work you will find me chair dancing, playing air drums and singing all whilst working staring at my computer screens working away. YouTube is an incredible learning platform. During my challenge I used it to learn how to correct a knitting mistake. I was able to finish off my large shawl (pictured above) thanks to my newly learnt skill. I’m going to keep using YouTube as an educational tool and I guess you could call it an audio streaming service.

I like using this to keep track of projects as you can easily add important details such as needle/hook sizes and yarn type plus you can add notes so you remember how you did things. After the move when I unpack I might use it more to stocktake my stash as I have only got a portion of my stash on it at present. It is useful for me to be able to match patterns with yarns in my stash which is why I need my entire stash loaded there. I’m only going to go on Ravelry when I have a purpose. Documenting a project, looking for a new project. I’m not going to go it for mindless scrolling through patterns.

Trello / Pinterest

I haven’t been on Trello since last year. Once we move and I unpack my fabric I’m going try to log into my account again and use it. Pinterest again is something I haven’t been on in a long time. You have to be really disciplined with your time to use it. I’m going to only use it when I am looking for something in particular and not go on there when I have nothing to do. I got a new phone in February and haven’t downloaded either app yet.

I haven’t been on Twitter since early February. I only joined in 2019. I’m going to delete my account. I found the people I followed would often post the same content on both Twitter and Instagram so it was just a repeat. I didn’t use it a lot myself

Tv Watching
This wasn’t part of my challenge but it was something I noticed when given the chance I would not have the tv on. I was happy to sit and craft in silence. Sometimes I would have music on but I didn’t need to have the tv on as background noise. Could I live without a tv? If I was in that situation and I was on my own then yes I could. We haven’t had a dvd player for a few months since I packed it and I haven’t missed that. Mr StitchNSew has some mobility issues so tv watching is an activity we can do together which doesn’t cause him too much pain. During the day he is on his own so we need a tv for him. We record things on our set top box to watch at a more convenient time but we currently don’t stream anything like Netflix. Tv watching is something I can reduce even more in the future if at times I am the only person up.

Mobile Off Silent
Something as simple as having my phone off silent meant I didn’t touch it as much. This is something I am going to continue. I learnt to ignore certain notifications but I could hear the ones I needed to. I wasn’t handling my phone during the day as much to check if I had missed something.

I can be pretty determined when I put my mind to something. I stopped eating chocolate over 4 years ago so if I can do that I can pretty much do anything. For my own mental state I know too much social media isn’t good for me. Like anything in life it is all about balance. There is a role for it in my life but I am also happy doing things which don’t involve it. Spending less time on social media allowed me to focus my crafting projects and enjoy the process more. I want to use social media in a productive way and not a mindless way. This is just my own feelings. I am not being judgmental to anyone who uses social media. If you are happy using it the way you are then by all means keep doing what you are doing. For me it was wasting my time and making me feel bad using the way I was. I’m never going to get through my “To Knit/Sew” lists if I spend all my time looking at what others are doing.



Digital Declutter Challenge – Part 2

This is part 2 of my 3 part series on my Digital Declutter challenge. You can read part 1 here.

One of the biggest problems faced during the challenge is what to do with the extra time you now have that would normally spending using the digital mediums. One of the reasons we use so much digital mediums is to fill in time. The author Cal suggests before the challenge think ahead and plan out what you would like to do. The book has lots of examples of activities others who have done the challenge took part in during their challenge. I’m a crafter so finding things to do wasn’t such a big deal but I did think about things and decided I would like to

  • Sew gifts or items for around the house
  • Knit and gifts and things for me
  • Spend time blogging and preparing for the blog
  • Exercise more

The Challenge Begins

The night before the challenge begun from the home screen on my phone I removed Instagram and YouTube so I wouldn’t be tempted to look at them. I couldn’t find a way to turn off notifications easily for each one so throughout the month I did get notifications for them but I just ignored them. Mid January I gave up smoking cold turkey. Day 1 of the challenge felt like giving up smoking. I was constantly thinking about the online world. It was like having withdrawals. The home internet went down and I went into a panic even though I didn’t actually need it. I was trying to keep myself occupied but I was surprised at the similarities to giving up smoking.

For the first 10 days or so I was keeping like a diary of activities I did, conversations I had or things I noticed. I’m not a diary person so that novelty factor soon passed and it wasn’t something that I had set out to do for the month so I stopped. As the days passed less time online became my new norm and it didn’t feel like such a big deal anymore. I wasn’t feeling withdrawals, I was getting used to ignoring daily notifications from Facebook or Instagram. My routine changed. I stopped going for my phone if I was out and had time to fill. I started people watching again which is something I had stopped doing. It is interesting just stopping and observing others around you. I would leave the house and not switch the internet on through my phone as I didn’t need it. If anyone really needed to contact me they could send me a text which I could hear without needing to check my phone as it was off silent.

The way I did my craft changed. I was focused more on the gift I was making and the process of it. I actually enjoyed my sewing as I was focused on that and not photographing the steps of it to post on Instagram. I must admit it did feel weird to finish a project and not post a photo of it to Instagram. When I faced challenges in my crafting such as holes in B’s sock normally I would take a photo posting it to Instagram. People really don’t need to see every craft mishap I have. I believe you should post the good and the bad on Instagram as no one is perfect but you don’t need to post everything. I was pleased and proud of the stuff I created, I didn’t need to show others to feel that way.

Looking back at my rules for the month I did adjust things a little. This wasn’t too cheat this was due to things that happened and I needed to be a little more flexible. The biggest was using Messenger to contact B more frequently. We both had personal things happen and Covid hit Australia which impacted both of us so I needed to have more contact with her just to keep us both going. I had 2 friends contact me through instant messaging platforms so I had to briefly use those just to let them know I was ok. I didn’t use the services for anything else other than those, including accepting a friend request from a relative. During my testing lockdown I did order a couple of books online which I wasn’t really supposed to do. Not using this as an excuse but the books were on topics that would help me become more frugal and save money. They weren’t frivolous reads. At times I also googled a few items to learn things so once again it wasn’t frivolous or meaningless internet time. I used YouTube to learn a knitting technique but using that new skill I was able to salvage my knitting project which was a big shawl after I made an error.

Full confession we actually had a disrupted internet connection for most of March. We actually lost our strong wifi connection mid February and full connection wasn’t due to come back until the end of March. Did reduced internet mean that I was cheating? The times I was home and would normally use it we seemed to have wifi so I don’t think so. The times when I was out of the house and would normally scroll through my phone I wasn’t. When I did have access to the internet at home or work I wasn’t rushing to use it. For about 10 days I had to use the internet from my mobile phone at home and I was having to hotspot Mr StitchNSew so he could use it. I did go out and buy a wifi dongle to give us wifi at home only cause it was costing too much as I have very little data included in my mobile plan. It was interesting when I was forced to pay for my internet connection money talked and it made me think double about my internet usage. I never looked at blog posts the week I was using my phone data as it wasn’t a necessity. I think you get into the habit of taking wifi for granted, it is a first world problem.

The most embarrassing observation I discovered was I had forgotten what I routinely buy from the supermarket. For over 5 years I have been doing a weekly grocery shop online which would be delivered. One of the features is that you can see all the items you have purchased before and reorder them. On autopilot I just click away doing my grocery shop in about 10 mins adding the odd thing differently each week as we need it or it becomes on special. Due to Covid I wasn’t able to get deliveries anymore so had to go instore each week to do my shop. I had to look up online what I would normally buy to ensure I didn’t miss anything.

Do I really need an App?

It was interesting to see how much you were encouraged to use the digital world in areas that in previous times you wouldn’t. Just prior to Covid causing the lockout laws for gyms I started at a new gym. The staff kept encouraging me to download their free app and use it around the gym. The gym is my one time a week where I focus just on me. It is my break from the world. Due to work in times past I would need to have my phone near me as I was on call but in recent times I wasn’t and I could leave my phone in my locker. This was before I started the challenge and it was good to be away from it for that short period. I asked my trainer if I really needed the gym app. It was mostly if you wanted to keep track of your progress or review back your performances. I’m not interested in that. My OCD would lead me to become obsessive if I started looking at that. I just want to use the gym equipment and train hard which you can still do without the app. Now due to the lockout laws I might reconsider the app as there are some workouts available through it to do at home but there are also other resources available to get information like this such as Instagram or YouTube and of course my trainer himself as we can still train outside.

In part 3 I will evaluate how I went and discuss changes I am going to make with entering the digital world again