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My Zero Waste Fails

My Zero Waste Fails

Alternative title: things I don’t do and genuinely don’t care about!

Zero waste fails vs. low impact living

I talk a lot about how I believe zero waste isn’t a helpful term, or even achievable. It’s certainly not something I strive for and prefer aiming for low-impact sustainability as much as possible.

Sometimes it isn’t possible. For me, and perhaps for you too. Because the word ‘possible’ is subjective and wholly dependant on your lifestyle, your privilege etc etc and for me, that also includes emotional privilege.

As a pregnant mum with a toddler in tow my version of zero waste looks different to this time last year. And…..although I love all the ‘Gold star for just trying’ type stuff, I don’t really buy it. I call BS on myself because I’m barely trying at the moment.

Instead of beating myself up about it I thought I’d share the things I’ve given up recently. My zero-waste fails, if you will!

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Pinnable image of plant on table with text overlay

Making my own EVERYTHING

From nut milk to vegan cheese, toddler-friendly treats and vegetable crisps…..just urgh. And that’s just the kitchen. Add in cleaning products, face masks, tile scrubber, nappy rash balm, bubble bath, bath bombs….OH HELL NO.

I should know my limits. I mean, I’ve mentioned before that DIY beauty is not my thing and I prefer to leave it to the professionals and shop mindfully.

Mostly though, the convenience food is a toughy. The whole family is vegan and both my husband and I work full-time so it started feeling kind of ridiculous spending every waking minute unhappy/dealing with a screaming kid who JUST WANTS A FREAKING SNACK or doing the alternative; knackering hours spent making crappy versions of the things I like.

Honestly, I know I can try harder on this one but I’m giving myself a pregnancy pass. For now.

Shopping for everything in bulk

We are very lucky in that there is a small bulk store within walking distance. However not everything they sell is quite what I want…..for example (and please don’t roll your eyes at me here) the chocolate buttons taste like shit.

So instead of buying stuff I hate and then feeling virtuous yet mildly depressed about my cup of tea and unpalatable chocolate I decided to get a grip and chalk that up to experience.

Small wins.

Composting

I do still compost…..just not on the scale I was previously. I had a great system of using my Bokashi bin for all compostable kitchen bits and food waste, leaving it to pickle for a couple of weeks then popping it in my big compost bin to work it’s magic.

But guess what? Composting is a humongous pain in the ass when you don’t know what you’re doing. The Bokashi part is the easy bit; getting the right layers of ‘brown’ and ‘green’ waste (which includes shredding cardboard and paper layers) to make the damn compost is the ultimate snoozefest.

We still have our big compost bin which is almost full and brewing beautiful compost as we speak but honestly…..what the fudge will I do with the compost when I’m finished? And how do I know when it’s done please and thank-you?!

Online shopping

I am not a big shopper, but sometimes, only Amazon has the thing you want. Or Etsy. And I buy all my clothes second-hand which, outside of pregnancy, is simple to do in charity shops.

But maternity clothes? I’ve solely relied on eBay and Vinted and that means packages of stuff.

Occasionally I also like to just buy something. Just because. And in those instances I email the seller and ask for no plastic packaging….this usually works a treat and often the seller is excited to come up with new plastic-free packaging solutions.

But it’s never zero-waste.

So there you have it. My zero waste fails. Ps – I am 100% totally okay with them right now too.

L x

The Best Thing I Did for My Business

The Best Thing I Did for My Business

Last week’s post was UBER chunky so I’ve pared it back this week and I’m throwing out a simple letter that formed part of my monthly dispatches for my email list and Patreon subscribers.

Content warning: I chat about grief.

I’ve found this month to be really tough. In fact, May is the worst month for me because it’s a) my dad’s birthday and b) the anniversary of his death. I mean, he was nothing if not efficient I guess so…

But more than the annual foreboding sense I always feel coming into dead dad month (DDM for short) it’s been tricky on a few, less dramatic fronts.

It’s been a weird work month, with no course launch and minimal ‘big’ projects. Just a quiet ticking over of ‘passive’ income, which is what I always wanted but in reality can feel a little unnerving. When you aren’t ‘hustling’ hard, working all the hours or chasing invoices it almost feels like you haven’t earned it. Or something equally ridiculous.

I’ve worked less hours than EVER and earned the same amount. Some of this is because my overheads (aka nursery, and Teachable fees) went down. And some is due to the fact I’ve simply worked out how what works for me.

I have an analytical brain and my background is retail. In fact, my job description was this:

Merchandisers ensure that products appear in the right store, or on a website, at the appropriate time and in the correct quantities. This involves working closely with the buying teams to accurately forecast trends, plan stock levels and monitor performance.”

Monitoring profit and managing budgets was my job for YEARS so it’s little wonder I’m obsessed by the profit margins of my own business.

I knew, in my gut, that freelance writing gave me the worst ROI but critically examining my income over the past six months (using Free Agent, btdubs) solidified that thought. I now pitch rarely…..and spend my time doing the things that bring me joy AND profit without sacrificing family time/my sanity.

Leaning into ease and walking the path of least resistance has been incredibly freeing for me. It’s infected other aspects of my work life too, and I no longer worry about sticking to a social media schedule preferring to post when I feel like it and focus my promotional efforts on Pinterest and email marketing instead.

And in my personal life, that looks like not feeling tied to a gazillion WhatsApp’ and Instagram groups and saying a firm no to those obligatory meetups you suffer through.

Life’s too short.

I don’t really know what the point of this diatribe was except to perhaps empower you to say no to the things that no longer serve you enough.

Choosing the path of least resistance can be pretty magical.

What are you struggling with right now? Is there an ‘easy’ path you are resisting?

L x

How to Edit your Podcast (the Easy Way!)

How to Edit your Podcast (the Easy Way!)

I’ve been creating and producing a weekly podcast for two years now, and while in that time I’ve had production and editing support I have largely done it all myself.

Which isn’t a brag. It’s a comforting bit of information because if I can do it…..ANYONE can. Fact.

I’ve also been running courses, workshops and consulting for others who want to start a podcast/make their podcasts better.

So I know a thing or two about it and that baffles me. Because….well, I’m a moron, mostly. Especially when it comes to scary new stuff.

Yeah, I’m logical and geeky and I like the technical side of things (hello SEO!) but I absolutely detest the idea of creating video content, I hate the idea of using Photoshop to do crazy edits and I’d happily outsource everything bar writing and taking pictures.

But podcast editing costs money and even when/if you start monetising your show it’s a necessary evil for most of us.

I get asked about editing a lot. I think it’s definitely the thing most people worry about and it’s why I didn’t launch my own podcast for almost a year after coming up with the idea.

In this post I want to dispel a few rumours about recording and editing, and show you how to do it, Lucy-style (aka with minimal effort!

How to edit a podcast - image of computer with podcast headphones

Content matters more than audio

A note on why I like to keep the editing simple; to sustain a podcast it needs to be sustainable and that includes your budget, time and effort. Editing can take up all three of these elements and it’s a big part of why many of us consider giving up on our podcast before we even begin.

Audio is SO important, but guess what? Content is more important. If your content is shit, if you’re parroting lines you’ve heard on another podcast or imitating someone else’s style then it doesn’t matter how slick and jazzy your audio is. Truly.

I see this time and time again, when other podcasts in my niche are nominated for awards or pop up in my ether with slick artwork and, to be totally honest, not much substance.

The bar has been set high in podcasting, so similarly to blogging, expect to see slick-as-fook blogs appearing to be successful (often winning those same homogenous awards). Try to ignore these and stay in your lane.

I also see this the opposite in crappy, early episodes of some of the BEST podcasts out there; the ones that have stayed the course, stayed interesting and who’s hosts I respect.

All that’s to say is that CONTENT MATTERS. And there’s time to improve on your audio.

How to edit a podcast image of woman laughing

Editing your podcast

In this post I’ll cover:

  1. Essential equipment
  2. Recording
  3. Non-essential gear (nice-to-haves)
  4. My simple editing tips

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1. Essential equipment

The equipment is pretty exciting and I see so many people buying expensive stuff before they’ve even started. Which really isn’t necessary, although it is quite fun!

I started with my iPhone headphones and my laptop and Sara Tasker told me she started with the same setup!

iPhone headphones are particularly good as they cover both the headphones and microphone aspect and are cheap, In fact, you’ve probably already got some knocking about.

But when you want to move to the next level I suggest the following….

Microphone

Depending on your

I’ve used all of the below, or been recommended them by fellow podcasters. They vary in price and quality so bear in mind your own personal circumstances (budget, recording environment, podcast type) when you choose what’s best for you.

  • Blue Yeti: I love mine! GREAT quality, and comes with it’s own stand (although I use a boom stand and pop filter)
  • Blue Snowball: This is great value, easy to use, light and great for travel. You can get better for the same price though….
  • Rode Smartlav: I have two (plus splitter) and use for in-person recording into my smartphone.
  • Audio Technica ATR2100: Like a karaoke mic, this is GREAT value and great quality too. You need a boom stand for it though.

Headphones

If you record interviews like I do, via Skype, then you absolutely cannot skimp on using headphones OR let your guest get away without using them.

But, as above, you could simply use the headphones that came with your smartphone (iPhone are best I think). (Note that smartphone headphones have an inbuilt microphone though so bear this in mind this when recording)

I was lucky and in my second season I had a sponsor (Sudio Sweden) who made headphones so…..yep, I got a pretty decent pair! I haven’t used any others but have popped a selection for you below.

Recording device

This can feel more complex than it needs to be, especially as the bulk of information out there appears to be written by white men who love overcomplicating podcasting.

Essentially all you need is something to plug your mic and headphones into……so, your phone, iPad, laptop, dictaphone or digital recorder.

What you use depends on how you need to record, too. For in-person interviews you probably don’t want to use your laptop, so something portable (your phone!) is perfect.

And if your microphone only has an audio jack, not usb, then you need to take that into account and get a converter or use a different piece of equipment to record.

I use my laptop and record using a few different methods. See below…..

2. Recording

Like everything I’ve talked about already, where and how you record your podcast will entirely depend on what you need to achieve.

If you are recording solo episodes then a simple mic and headphones into your laptop or phone will suffice.

But when you need to record an interview with someone long-distance you have a few other considerations.

It’s mostly a case of picking Skype, Zoom or Zencastr. I’ve used all three and would recommend choosing Skype with an additional piece of software called eCamm call recorder, which sits with Skype and records both sides of the call. You can record within Skype, but the recording you export will only be a one-track mP3: not good enough quality for editing.

Whatever the scenario, ensuring your environment is quiet and fairly sound-proof is better than editing it to buggery afterwards.

Soft-furnishings help (think bedrooms!) and you can drape a blanket over your head while recording too.

I use a boom stand to make sure the mic is perfectly positioned to hear me and I also have a pop filter to block out extra noise/control my plosives (those ‘P’ and ‘S’ sounds we all make!)

3. Non-essential gear (nice-to-haves)

I use a boom stand to make sure the mic is perfectly positioned to hear me and I also have a pop filter to block out extra noise/control my plosives (those ‘P’ and ‘S’ sounds we all make!)

You could also get a shock mount which stops the sound of any knocks and bumps affecting your mic. I don’t have one but might get one as my mic is pretty heavy so has a wee tendency to wobble.

One of the cheapest things you can buy is a pop filter. You can even make one out of old tights but…..I just bought mine for £5 instead because CBA with crafting. A pop filter helps to block out any extra sound and adds a bit of polish to your sound.

Lastly, you could buy a digital recorder even if you don’t technically need one because jazzy. I don’t recommend it buying one for the sake of it, but I also don’t believe in listening to other people’s rules so….do whatever the fook you want!

4. My simple editing tips

You might’ve gathered by now but I really like to keep thing’s BS-free and SIMPLE. Especially when it’s something men have consistently told me is hard, or needs to be done in a certain way.

Not today, patriarchy, not today.

When it comes to editing I follow The Podcast Hosts MEE process (minimal effort editing) which I’ve built on over the years to come up with my own, unique formula.

My golden rules are:

  • Get the recording environment right
  • Prepare or leave the waffle in
  • Add minimal effects

What this looks like in practice is……

  1. Record the podcast using good equipment in a good environment.
  2. If I make mistakes, I leave a pause and then click/clap three times so I can see it straight away when editing.
  3. Upload to Audacity and chop the beginning/end/any ‘click/clap’ sections off.
  4. Add music.
  5. Increase volume

And that’s it. Genuinely!

There are some specific settings I then use when it comes to exporting my MP3 (I edit in WAV) and subsequently uploading my file to Libsyn, my podcast host, but ostensibly this is the bulk of the work done.

Does that sound simple or have I lulled myself into a state of tech-blindness whereby I’ve slightly lost it?!

L x

Psssst if you want to start a podcast but need some help getting it from seed to launch, I can help.

I offer group courses or 1:1 consulting and aim to work on a sliding scale to ensure affordability. Email me for more details.

How to Survive Flying with a Toddler

How to Survive Flying with a Toddler

If you’d told me I wouldn’t enjoy travelling once I’d had kids I would have laughed. And probably told you to sod off, because I would DEFINITELY still love travelling…..the baby will fit in with my life and nothing will kill my wanderlust.

So when the exact opposite happened and a baby did, in fact, kill my wanderlust I was less than impressed. Actually, I was gutted.

Travel is such a big part of my life, my identity, that me without it has been as big an adjustment as me without London.

The baby will fit in with my life….

And something I’ve never discussed openly is how I’ve developed an irrational fear of travel since having Anaïs, something I never expected to happen, something I feel embarrassed about and endlessly ashamed of.

I never wanted Anaïs to grow up with a parent so scared of travel our only holidays were a short drive away. I know that sounds privileged, because, well….it is. But my early years were filled with travel, if not adventure, so I wanted the same for her.

And my therapist told me I was increasingly making my world smaller and that, my friend, is not great for anxiety!

Which is why I thought it was SUCH a bloody great idea to snake in one big long-haul family trip to one of my favourite countries before Anaïs hit two and we had to start paying full price for her seat.

My beloved suitcase

BIG MISTAKE NUMBER ONE

Ever made your toddler sit on your lap for 11 hours? Yes? Did you survive?!

Didn’t think so.

Error number two was trying to scrimp and save money by buying an indirect flight.

Mistakes number three – three-hundred were…..I mean, there really are too many, but let’s talk about the good stuff now shall we?

We had an amazing time. Yes, the flight was pure, unadulterated hell. But the holiday was amazing and Anaïs took it all in her stride. She napped at the same times, slept pretty well at night and overall….loved every minute.

She charmed the pants off everyone she met, from security guards to armed police and, although she might not remember picking flowers at the market or dodging rickshaws and rolling around on the beach, we will. And that is worth the HELLISH flight for sure.

So how did we survive it?

Here are my tips for flying with a toddler

For context, we flew to India on an indirect flight when Anaïs was about 21 months old. Door to door, the total travel time was about 20 hours each way. with the flights lasting between 2 (Mumbai to Goa) and 11 hours (Mumbai to London.)

The flight

The main event, as it were, the flight took up way too much of my attention. A bit like how first-time parents focus on the birth then fumble their way through the fourth trimester blind (just me?!), the flight felt like a monumental effort.

When really, it’s the smallest chunk of your entire holiday.

I thought about so many little things, over-preparing and fretting yet I still made a HEAP of errors and now feel I would do quite a few things differently.

Here are a few things to consider:

Seat or no seat? Before your toddler is two they don’t have to buy a full-price seat (but you pay taxes, which is a small amount variable by country) so we opted for this choice because cheap!!!

However, that means whether your baby is 2 month or 22 months they have to sit on your lap, at least for take-off and landing.

Which isn’t super realistic if you have an active toddler who doesn’t understand why they have to be strapped to you for what can be a big chunk of time (factor in taxi-ing to and from the runway, possible delays….turbulence etc etc)

However, paying XX dollars for a seat for your little one mightn’t be an option for you so I’d simply say; go with what you can afford and a basic rule of thumb is that pre-crawlers are easy and fine to sit on your lap but it gets far harder afterwards.

Direct vs indirect? Again, this is a matter of what you can afford as much as what is available on your particular route.

For short-haul flights it’s very likely you’ll be flying direct or, at least, it’ll be available to you for a reasonably small extra cost.

Long-haul flights are trickier, particularly when you’re travelling somewhere a bit off-the-beaten-path without an airport, or not on a route serviced by your fave airline you might plump for the indirect route option.

Some folk prefer this option because it breaks up a long flight and gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs.

But I’d strongly advise you take note of the ‘flight-to-faff’ ratio coined by my friend Elle. The basic premise is that your flight faffery shouldn’t outweigh your holiday time. So, for example, if your trip is seven days but your flight lasts three days because of the time difference and stopover time; this is a negative flight-to-faff ration and you should reconsider your route.

For me? A long, direct flight is preferable to two shorter ones where the logistical faffery is doubled and wriggly-toddler-on-lap-time increased.

Book the best you can afford

Overall, I’d say a lot of your decision making comes down to personal preference as well as your budget. My privilege allows me the luxury of booking the options I want (although, I still picked the cheapest and wrong ones) so I’d choose my favourite airline (read more about that below), a direct flight at a nice time with seats for us all.

I’m not moneybags though, so it’s all economy….but still, the little tweaks count.

And a note on timings. EVERYONE said to book a night flight so Anaïs would know it’s bedtime and sleep.

This is BULLSHIT.

Night flights don’t mimic the calm of your child’s bedroom, so what actually happens is that everyone’s asleep and cross you are keeping them awake, your kid is overtired and confused and the flight attendants aren’t around as much because everyone should be asleep.

It’s hideous.

Book a daytime flight, unless your tot can fit in the in-flight bassinet and you are confident a night-flight is the best option regardless.

Best airlines

Anaïs first flight was with British Airways, who I totally recommend for kids because they get a cute little high-flyers booklet with their airmiles and get to meet the pilot (after the flight.)

However lots of other airlines do a similar thing and these are my personal favourites.

The airport

Lots of airports have play areas, with varying quality (The one at Heathrow T4 is right by the smoking area….grim) so always seek these out. It gave Anaïs time to blow off some steam and was a chance for us to chill out for a bit too.

We also utilised the family-friendly security lines which are less intimidating than the usual and the queues are more chilled out too. Although we were travelling outside of school holidays so…..perhaps we got lucky!

Don’t allow too much time. We allowed WAY too much time which led to a very grumpy toddler ready to sleep with no way of doing so. It was late at night so she was already past her bedtime (see: ‘no night flights’ for this error) and, in hindsight, there was no need to

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The stuff

This is a pretty easy one to be honest because almost everything people said here was uniform AND true.

Snacks, snacks and more snacks were key. I packed way too many but it didn’t feel like a waste because….well, the potential to run out was a very real and hideous possibility.

You could order some bits and bobs to collect at the airport after security which I did with pouches and formula milk.

I sectioned my snacks in two, one bag in my carry-on and the other in our checked luggage and then sectioned even more. I made sure Anaïs couldn’t stumble across a giant bag, and hid everything in little pockets, mini bags as well as easy-access in my own bag.

We didn’t take loads of toys but the ones we did take were new (for the excitement factor) and not precious (the plane is not a great place to lose stuff!)

We took a few sticker books, and a water-pen colouring book because of the lack of mess, and MY WORD, what a brilliant invention they both are. Anaïs absolutely loved playing with stickers which kept her amused for the longest time of anything.

We don’t have any screen-time rules at home, but Anaïs hadn’t ever used an iPad before which was accidentally brilliant. I bought a cheap plastic case, downloaded a few games (Bing was a clear winner) and the Peter Rabbit film too.

We also bought a set of kiddy earphones in case there was something to watch on the in-flight entertainment as well as for the iPad; they are made for little ears and only go up to a safe volume too.

Lastly, don’t worry too much. At most, the flight will be a day long…….and believe me, it’s 100% worth it for the holiday!

L x

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The Pregnancy Diaries Part Deux: The First Trimester

The Pregnancy Diaries Part Deux: The First Trimester

Here we go again! With my first pregnancy I wrote these diaries every week from about 12 weeks such was my energy levels and enthusiasm for documenting the joys of pregnancy.

Catch up with The Pregnancy Diaries (part one) here.

This time around the premise is a little different. The pregnancy was unplanned-ish, the timing is crap and I’ve been looking after a toddler throughout pregnancy so…..yep, not as much time to bloom, as it were.

But this won’t be all doom and gloom, I promise. I just won’t be sharing my pregnancy as frequently as I did last time.

I’ve plumped for writing a post for each trimester, as well as the ever popular birth story too (seriously, anyone else love a birth story as much as I do?!)

So here goes. Pregnancy Part Deux: The Embryo Fights Back

Each pregnancy is different?

Pregnancy this time around is sorta same same but different; there have been both highs and lows I didn’t experience the first time around yet a confidence and calm I didn’t have either.

Overall, the symptoms have remained very similar. I had morning sickness from about 8-11 weeks then it stopped as suddenly as it began giving way to bone-tired exhaustion which, this time around has been an absolute killer.

With no family support and a husband who works long hours the tiredness of pregnancy is far tougher than I expected. Getting Anaïs to and from nursery is a joint effort, happily but bedtime tends to be my lucky treat 😉

My tips to get through the first trimester with a toddler in tow?

cBeebies, endless snacks and zero pressure to be any kind of model parent. It’s really only a few weeks where I needed to give up any semblance of caring about parenting properly so even though I felt unnecessarily guilty at the time, in the grand scheme of Anaïs’ life I’m sure she’ll forgot these lost weeks.

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The Highs

Not feeling so anxious: The first time felt so monumental I allowed every horror story, every stat about how common miscarriage is and hardly told anyone, “just in case”.

This time around, I wasn’t so fussed. I already have a dreamy little dot so if it came to it and I miscarried? I’d be upset, of course, but the grief would be somewhat softened by the blessing of our healthy toddler.

I’m excited for Anaïs to be a big sister and can’t wait to see them playing together, fighting and scheming. I don’t have a relationship with my sister so, I’m sure, psychologically I’m aiming to live vicariously through my kids. That’s okay though, right?

I’m also HELLA excited to buy STUFF! Last pregnancy I was such a minimalist earth mama I refused to buy most things (although, let’s talk about the privilege of how much I got for free shall we?)

But this time I can’t wait to get a new nappy bag, buggy and baby carrier. ALSO TINY CLOTHES.

The lows

A bout of depression and struggles with my body image: Last time around my depression got a lot better in pregnancy and I only needed to go back to therapy/drugs when Anaïs was about seven months old.

This time though, I really struggled with persistent low moods from weeks eight through to about twelve. Which, I’m not gonna lie, was incredibly hard.

My changing body, so welcomed last time, felt terrifying. I put the battery back in our scales and started weighing myself daily again, cross referencing against Dr Google’s answer to my frantically typed, “How much weight should I put on at 8, 9, 10 weeks pregnant”.

I also ditched yoga and started running regularly agan (I never run in the winter, because…..grim). A weird way to do it given most people take up yoga in pregnancy…..

I was due to start my yoga teacher training pregnancy in April,and have quite an advanced practice so, for me to continue while having to adapt to my growing bump felt a bit……well, disappointing.

I did pregnancy yoga throughout my last pregnancy but haven’t felt keen to spend a heap of money to have a nap each week (I’m not much of a restorative yoga fan anymore!)

But I’m thinking about getting back into my practice and perhaps going to my usual class so….watch this space. I guess yoga feels quite snore to me at the moment as practicing reminds me of what I can’t do, what I’ve lost. The antithesis of a mindful practice.

The lols

Gas. I had to sleep in a separate room I was so windy.

Et voila. I’m currently 16.5 weeks pregnant so you have a wee while before your next installment but hopefully it’ll be a bit more cheery than this one!

Until next time.

L x

How to Master Pinterest to Boost Your Blog Traffic

How to Master Pinterest to Boost Your Blog Traffic

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I grew my blog. I thought it was all super simple stuff and felt a little silly even recommending stuff I thought everyone knew about already (hello imposter syndrome!) but I was SO wrong. It really seemed to resonate with people and I was overwhelmed with the positive response to it.

Needless to say, I’ve gained a few coaching clients since then and the number one thing people are keen to work on is this: PINTEREST.

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