Interview with My Ruby Slippers owner, Lisa Newport

I am delighted to have Lisa Newport, owner of My Ruby Slippers,  as my guest for my blog this month about self image and clothing! Enjoy!

Lisa Newport
Lisa Newport, My Ruby Slippers, Nottingham

Mona: Hi Lisa! Tell us about yourself and about your consultancy business?

Lisa: Working with me is about quietening those self image demons that chatter in your head. They say stuff like “Why are you even bothering trying to look nice, you can still see your lumps and bumps” and all other kinds of rubbish, to knock your confidence.

I guide women how to define and refine their personal style. I teach them how to take the stress out of getting dressed by figuring out what is just right for YOU. We’ll remove self doubt because you’ll be feeling mega comfortable and confident in your personal style choices.

I graduated from Loughborough College of Art with a BA Hons in Textiles and Fashion. I then worked as a designer, creating printed fabric for the fashion industry and in the specialist area of the colour forecasting industry, predicting trends.

My design work was distributed in many High Street stores including Miss Selfridge, Oasis, Burtons, Dorothy Perkins, Marks & Spencer, BHS, Littlewoods, Monsoon and Next; as well as many American brands. I then moved on to become a college lecturer teaching others how to design.

I’m also a qualified make-up artist, a member of the Federation of Image Professionals International and feature regularly as a “Loose Lady” on BBC Radio Nottingham. Oh, and I’ve been on Notts TV, Newark Radio and am a published author for Henpicked.net, currently working on my first book – eek!

Photo by Mikail Duran on Unsplash
Photo by Mikail Duran on Unsplash

Mona: Why is Self-Image so important these days? What are its pros and cons?

Lisa: I work primarily with women over 40. Quite often they feel unhappy with their wardrobe. They don’t like shopping as their body shape has changed as they have got older. They don’t know where to shop as they feel too old for many big street stores – they don’t want to look like mutton dressed as lamb but feel too young to dress like their mothers. More often than not they are stuck in a rut and feel like they have lost their identity somewhere along the way as they were busy being a mum and putting everyone else first. They stand in front of a wardrobe that is stuffed full of clothes but feel like they have nothing to wear. Then the self image demons start chattering away with negative, critical  comments bringing all the insecurities to the fore. If you don’t feel good in your clothes it can affect your life in terms of your self confidence and self esteem. It can impact negatively on your performance at work and even your relationships. You carry yourself differently when you are wearing clothes that make you feel good. You have an air of self confidence that creates a ripple effect and people treat you differently. If you look good and feel fabulous you  then feel like you could conquer the world!

https://unsplash.com/@mariahashby
https://unsplash.com/@mariahashby

Mona: In your professional opinion, how much clothing and accessories must a man/women/child have in order to oblige with the pros of self-image you mentioned earlier?

If you know what suits you in terms of style and colour it’s relatively easy to manage with a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a select collection of items that are coordinated separates. If you stick to a colour theme it makes it easier to mix and match, creating lots of different outfit combinations. I have a template consisting of 12 items plus a few accessories, there are over 70 outfits that can be made. You don’t need loads of clothes to be stylish. It’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it.

https://unsplash.com/@beccamchaffie
https://unsplash.com/@beccamchaffie

Mona: As you may know, staying on top of fashion is in some way costly, and it’s making our wardrobes look in some way “fatter” with excessive items in them. What is your advice regarding shopping smartly?

Lisa: Understanding what suits you and why you like what you like can go a long way in helping you to buy less yet wear more of your wardrobe. I believe there are 5 basic elements to refining and defining your style…

1) style personality

2) colour

3) body shape and styles to suit

4) capsule concept and,

5) finishing touches.

I run courses to help women define and refine their personal style and create their individual style recipe. This helps you have a list of criteria for shopping to fit your “rules”. Have a clear idea of the type of thing you are looking for before you go shopping. Before you buy it think about how many other items you have that it would go with. Also don’t  get drawn into buying things that don’t make you do the happy dance just because they are cheap and in the sales. It’s not a bargain if you aren’t going to wear it. Think also about cost per wear. Some things that you’ll wear a lot are worth spending on e.g. work shoes that you wear 5 days a week should be more of an investment than shoes you’ll only wear on special occasions.

https://unsplash.com/@marcusloke
https://unsplash.com/@marcusloke

Mona: After decluttering, I normally organise a client’s wardrobe in a practical and simple way. Most of the time we put everyday clothing where it is accessible, and items that are worn in particular seasons a bit out of sight (maybe under the bed or the back of the wardrobe). Do you have a certain approach you advise your clients in terms of organising a wardrobe or a drawer?

Lisa: I advise clients to sort their wardrobe into categories first, then colour. So, for example, all tops together, then sort into colours – all red tops together, then orange tops, yellow tops etc. You do the same with trousers, skirts, jackets…this way you can see at a glance what you have and what gaps there might be in your wardrobe. The first time I did this I was really surprised to realise how many black and white patterned tops I had! My other tip is to put all the hangers the ‘wrong way’. Once you’ve worn an item you hang it back the ‘right way’. At the end of a 6 month period you’ll easily be able to see if there are items you haven’t worn that you might be better letting go of.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Mona: One of our objectives as coaches/mentors is for our clients to achieve their goals and to be happy. I suppose you share this as everyone is looking for happiness! People want from me this equation: (less clutter = happy life). What would your equation be and what would you do to make people maintain it?

Lisa: If you look good, you  feel fabulous = increased confidence and self esteem

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash
Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Mona: Last but not least, what final message would you like to send to our readers?

Lisa: “You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” Glinda the good witch

Mona:Thanks you Lisa for your words of wisdom!


Check out Lisa on her Social Media:

Plastic Free July Challenge: How did it go for me?

So the Plastic Free July challenge is nearly at an end. I was planning to make a vlog about it but unfortunately, I was too busy to do one. But I managed to write down all my notes, thoughts and practices during this month and post them all together here in this blog.

I heard about Plastic Free July a month ago from a Facebook group I’m in about Zero Waste Lifestyle. It caught my attention and thought I can elaborate more on the subject.

I have heard about the concept of reducing waste and refusing plastic the first time when I watched Ahmad Alshuqairi’s show that broadcasted a couple of years ago. He met with Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home, and showed us how she made drastic changes to her lifestyle and was able to produce only one jar of waste that she couldn’t Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, or Rot.

I admired this lifestyle a lot and I wished that the whole world can adapt it to make our planet cleaner and eliminate plastic usage for good. Blue Planet II is a great show to see how marine life is affected by the plastic waste we are producing. It is strange how this lifestyle was actually the norm around 100 years ago before plastic was invented. You may ask anyone in the elderly community about the way people shopped, the natural ways they preserved food,  the limitation of clothes, and the contentment of a simple way of life.

In Nottingham, there are attempts to bring back the old way of shopping goods, which is buying in bulk and using environment-friendly packaging. One example is Sarah Maloy’s Nottingham Zero Waste Collective pop up shop whom I interviewed in my guest blog this July.  Another example is the Dash Vegan shop on Triumph Road. They offer packaging-free products and alternatives.

This July, I made a pledge to myself to try to reduce, or even better refuse, 3 plastic items to come into my home. Looking how this summer is so hot due to climate change, and how much plastic there is in our oceans, I can do little changes at first, and gradually be plastic free as much as I can. But before I tell you what they are, it’s worth mentioning that there are 3 plastic/non-biodegradable things that I stopped or even don’t purchase at all due to cultural practice.

Here are 3 plastic items I don’t use:

One: Kitchen/Bathroom Cleaning Wipes

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For cleaning my home, I always use cleaning cloths and sponges. Cleaning cloths could be either old vests or T-Shirts made into rags or old towels. I use the normal yellow sponges you get from the shops, but once I am done with them, I am going to buy the reusable ones. I use also black and white newspapers sometimes to polish glass (Good way to reuse them!). Soapy water and other cleaning products are what use with the cleaning cloths and sponges. I never was convinced with the single-use cleaning cloths you use for bathrooms or kitchens. I admit I use hand wipes when I am outdoors, but I am willing to use reusable ones when my current ones run out. One thing that I never do, is throwing wipes in the toilet. Never ever!

Two: Plastic Water Bottles

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I never had a problem with drinking tap water. Where I live, we are blessed with good quality water. When I am out for a walk, I have my water bottle filled from home. I reuse a large glass bottle I have and fill it when we as a family go out. A great benefit of glass is that it keeps water cold. When we are at restaurants, we also order tap water.

Three: Plastic Straws

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After watching a video where a Marine Biologist extracts a plastic straw out of a turtle’s nostril, I vowed never to buy single-use plastic straws again. What’s wrong with drinking from the glass/cup immediately? I don’t need them. One of my daughters insisted that she needs a straw to drink her milk (7-year-olds “rolling eyes”), so she uses now a reusable straw and cleans it after every use. The pain that turtle went through just isn’t worth it.

Here are 3 items I pledged to try to reduce or refuse For Plastic Free July: 

One: Shampoo Bottles

https://unsplash.com/@charissek

I am not a shampoo/beauty products hoarder in the first place. I buy one bottle of shampoo/conditioner/shower gel when I need them and I don’t buy others until they are finished. Same with soap. But you can’t help knowing that these bottles and packaging materials are sometimes not recyclable, and they will most likely end up in land fields or in the sea.

www.organisingninja.co.uk ©

In terms of soap bars, I collected soap scraps I have at home and made them into new bars. Sucess!

I researched for Shampoo/Conditioner alternatives, and found a couple of options:

  • Buying original Aleppo soap (made from olive oil and lye) which you can use not only for your hair but for your body as well. Most of these soaps come in environment-friendly packaging.
  • Buying Shampoo/Conditioner Soap Bars which lathers on wet hair and is mostly made out of natural ingredients. They are normally sold to you in paper bags.
  • Taking a clean empty jar or bottle with you to a Zero Waste Shop, fill it with shampoo/conditioner there and buy by weight.
https://unsplash.com/@daisyk9

I did all three of the above as a matter of fact. The Shampoo Bars were good for me but difficult for my children as they found it very fiddly to use. So, liquid shampoo and soap for my kids are more practical for them.

But they do not come cheap. A 55g shampoo bar costs around £6 comparing to a £3-4 250 ml bottle of shampoo. It is advertised that they last around 3 months. Well, I will do the math in 3 months time!

There is another option as well, which I haven’t experimented with yet but will do when my shampoo finishes, which is buying liquid castile soap in bulk and customising it as you like with essential oils. You can use it for your hair, body, hands and even as dishwashing soap. Will give it a go soon!

Two: Cling Film

www.organisingninja.co.uk ©

I was worried about this one, but with a quick check in my kitchen cupboards, I was able to:

  • Use my glass Tupperware
  • Put plates over bowls
  • Use parchment/baking paper to wrap sandwiches, fruit and veggies.
www.organisingninja.co.uk ©

I don’t know if parchment/baking paper is the best way to store food in the fridge, but I think it works for me. Unlike kitchen rolls, they don’t absorb moisture. So all my fruit and vegs are staying fresh for a long period! That’s a win-win!

Three: Fruit and Veg Packaging

https://pixabay.com/en/users/wir_sind_klein-6630807/

This is probably what I am finding the most difficult to tackle, as I normally shop at supermarkets where packaging fruit and veg in plastic bags, wrapping or boxes are very common. Even though there is loose fresh produce without packaging, but it is doesn’t apply to all.  I depend on frozen fruit and veg a lot, which obviously is in plastic packaging as well.  

To try to buy my fruit and veg with no plastic, I had to go to either a Farm Market or small deli shops. This led me to make several shopping trips to different destinations. I am still on the hunt for shops or supermarkets in Nottingham where I can do all my shopping in one place! Just like the one Bea goes to:

It was a busy and exciting Plastic Free July for me! I have still a lot of research and findings to do, but I think I’m on a good start. This is not the end of course! I will keep on looking for plastic-free alternatives that suit my family and I and smarter ways to sustain the only planet we live on.

At the same time, I think as a concerned community in Nottingham, we need to see how we can arrange to get a Zero Waste shop. There is a lady in Leicester who did it:

 

Did you take the Plastic Free July challenge? What swaps did you do? Let me know in the comments below!

Enjoy your summer!

10 Steps to Organise Documents for Visa Purposes

So I have been helping this client who just wanted me to help them gather and organise their documents for visa purposes.

It can be really stressful and daunting because of all the requirements official sectors need. After a few sessions, we were able to organise all the paperwork.

Their visa application was successful! Phew!

Happy client!

Here are the steps we did to make it possible:

  1. Start your application process at least 3 months before your submission date. It will give you more time to check if you have any documents missing.

2. Read carefully and thoroughly what documents are needed for the application. Create a check list.

3. Check if your documents need attesting, verifying, stamping, signing or translating. It takes quite a while to have them done.

4. Put personal photographs in a small envelope and attach it to the main application or with your ID.

5. Make copies of every original document you have.

6. Pile each category together and stack them chronically with the oldest on top.

7. Open a MS Word or Excel to create a table of contents. Be very specific in what each pocket will contain. Print it out.

8. Buy a display book and label each pocket according to your table of contents. Put the table of contents in the 1st pocket.

9. Put all your documents in place and let a second person check that you have all the docs in place.

10. Keep scans of your documents in your cloud system/email just in case!

Good Luck from The Organising Ninja 😉

Organised Desk, Better Productivity!

Whether you work in a company, work remotely from home, or have a home office, it is essential to keep your workspace in order and free of distractions.

Here are my top 6 tips in maintaining your workspace:

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  1. Keep frequent items on desk, infrequent items away: Things you need on a daily basis like stationary, notebooks, diaries, phones, etc should be in front of you. Keeping in mind that things like pens should be in limited quantities. There is no need for 10 pencils or 15 blue pens stacked in your pen holder! Check the ones that are working, store them as inventory, and keep one or two pens available at your reach.

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2. Put items on your desk in containers: To avoid items getting scattered, put all similar items together in a container. Example: Pens in pen holder, paperclips in little jars, mail in paper trays, etc.

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3. Mugs/cups/plates: I prefer not eating at all on your desk, but I know that sometimes you have to. To avoid crumbs, keep a tray under your plate or food. Big rule here is; when you are done with mugs/cups/plates, take them to the kitchen immediately! It’s not nice to find your mug the next day with coffee stains! That itself demotivates you!

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4. Put a board up!: Hanging a board for timetables, reminders, etc is a an effective way to visually see your notes. If you prefer to go green, keeping your notes electronically on your phone, tablet or even your desktop is a good idea as well.

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5. No personal/sentimental items: Photos of your kids, cards, souvenirs or any personal items are a distraction to your focus and working time. Try to avoid them as much as possible.

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Image from IKEA

6. Keep current Paperwork only: It is extremely important to not pile lots of paperwork on your desk. Paper clutter will avoid you to work and anxiety will build up. Make three containers/trays for paper work: One for unread/to do (this must not be ON your desk), one for pending/current paperwork (this should be on the desk), and one for archiving/filing (also must not be on desk). Taking into consideration that when these containers/trays are full, they must be emptied immediately.

Receipts … Keep or Throw?

When you empty your bag, purse, wallet, or pockets, how many of you end up with a pile of receipts and tickets?

No wonder! Since we are likely to purchase at least one product or service each day of the week, we end up finding we have around 7 to 30 receipts and tickets, if not more! It’s truly a menace, especially when find them lurking on every desk, table, in drawers and even over the microwave! Aghhhh!

Purchasing systems nowadays are obligated to print out these receipts/tickets. But if they will end up piling in our homes and offices with no real use for them, we will hoard them and it will eventually take a long time clearing them out.

There are many ways to nip these receipts/tickets from the bud. It is really up to why you might need them in the first place. If it is for your bookkeeping or to record your expenses at work, of course, keep them. You have to make the decision the moment you purchase your item/service. If there is no need for them (other than the reasons I mentioned before), simply ask the person at the till that you don’t need the receipt/ticket. Some of them don’t mind and if they didn’t agree, you can immediately tear it up and throw it in the bin. There are some cases where you need the receipt if it involves delivery or customer service information, or if you will probably return that item. That is definitely a keeper until a certain period of time.

Now at home or your office, you must contain these receipts/tickets in any kind of container. It can be a box, a cup, in your diary or even on your board if you have one. It must be placed in an area where you can see it and must be identified as a container/place for these receipts/tickets only. No bubble wraps in there, please!

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For sure I’m not going to ask you to file them when each and every receipt/ticket that comes in. You can save them up for 7 days and you must assign at least 30 minutes once a week to deal with them. I do advise not to keep them more than 7 days without being sorted out since they will double the week after.

The key here is to really make the effort to devote yourself to this task. Some people sit hours browsing on Social Media without noticing. 30 minutes of your time will certainly not keep you off your busy schedule! Time by time, it will be developed as a habit without even thinking.

When you go through the receipts/tickets, you need to sort them by deciding if you need to keep them for filing or bookkeeping, or if it is alright to throw them away. If you make the decision to throw them, make sure you shred them if you have a shredder or tear them up, as they contain sometimes your personal information and your card details. For the receipts/tickets that you decide they need filing or bookkeeping, it really depends on why you need them for. If they are for work, most businesses need them scanned or attached to an expense form. Either way, when your claim is paid, there is no need to keep them and you can dispose them with a clear conscience!

In terms of bookkeeping, you may enter the values electronically on a simple Excel sheet. The reason why I like Excel is that you can do all the calculations and do some analysis of the data you recorded. After entering them on Excel or any electronic method, you can scan the receipts/tickets and keep them in a separate folder on your computer. You can link the receipts/tickets with the date recorded as well. That way you have saved paper and you can shred those receipts/tickets and take it for recycling.
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If you insist to record them manually, that is totally up to you. I know for a fact that some people prefer still to use actual diaries or read paper books instead of smartphones or tablets. As long as you have the space to store and file them, that is absolutely fine. For the self-employed in the UK, I know for a fact that the HRMC asks you to keep your records up to five years. No need to keep them more than that!

So, it’s simply knowing the need and usage of these receipts/tickets and dealing them as soon as possible. Setting up your mind for this needs time but once you get in the habit of doing it, you will find it a piece of cake and your home/office/desk is clutter free from these little buggers!