How I’m not shopping for an entire year, and why.

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daily life / goals / life / lifestyle / new year / resolutions / shopping / Uncategorized

pexels-photo-374894One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to do absolutely no shopping for one year. My decision to make this resolution is partly due to the realisation that I had way, WAY more clothes than I was actually wearing (thank you, moving) and partly thanks to this article by Ann Patchett.  I decided that, for one entire year, I would not buy anything that was not consumable or something that I absolutely needed.

Things I could buy included:

  • Groceries/cleaning supplies
  • Items of clothing that I can’t live without (e.g., if something breaks, or weather is extreme)
  • Gifts for others (I don’t buy a lot of gifts, but since I am not keeping the items and I rarely ever go overboard, I thought this was ok)
  • Experiences (trips, going to restaurants, going to cinema, etc.)

Things I could not buy included:

  • Clothes (sob)
  • Shoes (sob)
  • Bags (sob)
  • Makeup and beauty products (only replacing essentials if empty) (sob)
  • House decor/tchotchkes, household items that are not essential

Price tags mockupNow, I know it is only March but I am very proud to say that I have been sticking to my resolution quite well! The only item of clothing I’ve bought is a winter parka that I found at a second hand shop for 40 dollars, and I really, really needed one (I swear!). But that’s it! And I bought a few items for our new place, but really nothing other than the essentials (which, by the way, was bloody TORTURE. Word to the wise: don’t go to IKEA when trying not to shop for a year).

I was thinking about this the other day, and I think if I boil it all down I can attribute my success to a few key factors:

1. Set yourself up for success. For me, this meant blocking certain retail websites (I use Block Site) and unsubscribing from store/brand newsletters, because online shopping is my weakness. I also unfollow certain accounts on Instagram, such as those of my favorite clothing brands, for example.

2. Avoid shopping ‘triggers’. In addition to blocking certain sites, I also try to avoid going to shops in general. Or, if I do, I take a friend or my husband and have them interrogate me if I consider purchasing something.

3. Try stuff on and save receipts. Part of shopping less is making sure that you buy quality items that will stand the test of time. I’d say that about 80% of the time, something I see that is cute and cheap on a rack usually looks just ‘ok’ when I try it on in the changing room.  That’s not to say that I have low self-esteem (debatable), but just that by doing this I avoid buying stuff that I don’t absolutely LOVE. I also save all my receipts and return anything that I buy that doesn’t work, doesn’t fit, or that I don’t need.

4. Plan purchases carefully. Because I’m buying much less, and much less impulsively, I now take the time to really think about my next purchase, whether it’s groceries, or a coat, or an appliance I need. I also do extensive research online about the item (esp. if it is a more expensive purchase) to find the best deal, look at reviews, compare features, etc. Knowing that you really thought about a purchase makes handing over the money (or, more likely, clicking ‘Buy now’) much less scary and out of control.

5. Find other ways to cope with stress or anxiety. I noticed that a lot of my shopping was usually done because I was either a) feeling bored, b) anxious about something, c) both, or d) when I was procrastinating doing something important. Shopping made me zone out for a little while and clicking ‘buy’ or handing over my credit card felt like I had accomplished something. Since I knew this was probably not a very healthy or financially sound coping mechanism, I decided I need some other ways to soothe myself in times of duress. I’m still working on this, but some things I have found worked include:

  • Painting my nails or something else indulgent, like applying a face mask
  • Taking a shower
  • Going for a walk with Winston
  • Cooking or baking something
  • Getting coffee with a friend or colleague
  • Calling my mom (lol)

6. Remind yourself why you are doing this. The other week, C and I popped into an H&M downtown, and as I looked at the racks and racks of clothes, all I could think about was how mass-produced everything was, and how most of these items would probably end up sitting in landfills. The other shoppers looked like hungry animals, searching desperately for bargains, to buy more, more, more stuff, and I didn’t want to count myself as one of them. I’m not saying that stuff is inherently bad, or that buying things is bad, but for that moment I could see the absurdity of it all really clearly, and it threw me back on track with my goal. So, we turned around and walked out empty-handed.

If you’ve ever done a no-shopping year (or month, or week), please let me know if you found anything else that helps you stick with it. My biggest weakness right now is shopping when I travel, since I can always rationalise that I ‘…might not visit again so I better buy that scarf/necklace/bag/pair of shoes now, while I can’.  So far, I’ve combatted this by only buying consumables while I travel, like a local liquor or delicacy, to enjoy when I’m back home. It’s been working pretty well!

Also, if anyone wants to try some Polish bison grass vodka (aka Żubrówka), hit me up. I have a few bottles to try out 🙂

Speak soon!


hello, i live here now

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daily life / life / lifestyle / musings / spring / summer / sweden / thoughts / Uncategorized

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetIf you had told me, one year ago, that at this time next year I’d be waking up in the Swedish countryside to this view, I’d have laughed in your face. Yet, here I am.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetAs with almost everything in my life, this situation is only temporary (we are going to try to eventually buy an apartment in Uppsala), but I can’t tell you how excited I am to spend spring and summer here. Swimming in the lake (or, rather, watching Conrad and Win swim since I am a cold water wimp-extraordinaire), hiking along forest trails, growing herbs and flowers outside my window, grilling with our neighbors, stargazing from our hammock, and so much more.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetOf course, most of these fantasies do NOT include the foot and a half of snow that is currently surrounding us…but I can wait. After all, spring is coming!

This is not to say our living situation is perfect (ha!). Our shower has the floor space of an upright coffin, juuuust perfect for a claustrophobe like me. We are about 20 mins (by car) to central Uppsala, a vast improvement from the 1.5+ hour commute I was doing twice a day, but still not exactly ‘central’. We are very limited on space, and we have a slightly tricky, rickety staircase that I am just waiting to tumble down. But it’s home for now, and it is perfect for us. Not to mention that Winston has literally NEVER been happier in his entire life; he has miles and miles of forest to explore, numerous other dog friends/neighbors, kids who love him next door, and a lake less than 5 mins walk away.

So, for now, I am practicing daily gratitude for this wonderful life. It’s messy and imperfect and all-over-the-place, but beneath all that it is wonderful and I am very lucky.

Have a great weekend everyone!





Smått & gott

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lately / latelylena / life / moving / real life / sweden / thoughts / Uncategorized

B5CA4BF2-9102-492C-8EC2-EFB3D53696C3.jpgIt’s March! Why did January seem to last for a year while Feb and March are flying by?  Time is so strange.

Maybe time is flying by because we’ve been doing a lot after a relatively quiet start to the year. First off, we moved! Our new place is on the outskirts of Uppsala, and we are in the forest/countryside but still only a twenty minute drive to Uppsala and my office. It is SO NICE to be wake up in the country to the birds singing! Our place is super tiny but perfectly cozy and absolutely picturesque. It’s been so fun to decorate and set up.

Work is going well, too. I was offered a permanent position with my company, which, coming from a state with ‘at-will’ employment laws, is essentially a small miracle. March is also significant because Conrad has his migration interview this week! We are so anxious for Conrad to become a permanent resident in Sweden, and the process has been so slow and tedious, with lots of hair-yanking and head-bashing. But now C is on route to Colorado for two weeks, where he’ll do the interview and make the final touches on his thesis.

Which means I’ll be here in our new home (with Winston, of course). I can’t wait to get my camera out one morning and take some photos to share. It really is so cute. The landlords have a black lab (Britta) and she and W just play, and play, and play, and play! It’s exhausting to watch, honestly, but he is sooo happy 🙂

Speak soon!


Go, go, go

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adulting / blogging / lately / latelylena / stockholm / sweden / thoughts / Uncategorized / updates / uppsala

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Don’t let this serene winter landscape fool you – things have been hectic and crazy AS PER USUAL*. So, what is new? Glad you asked:

1. My 1-year work contract has miraculously been extended to a permanent position, so THAT’S HAPPENING.

2. We’re moving! Again! To Uppsala, but for real this time. GOODBYE gruelling 1.5 hours commute from southern Stockholm and HELLO adorable little Swedish farmhouse (with a forest for Winnie to roam freely) that is near work!

3. Conrad (husband) has his residence interview next month! This could be a subject for a whole other post (and I may just do that, actually), but the immigration process to Sweden has been really frustrating, long, and tedious. Still, things are moving forward, so trying to stay positive.

4. It’s only February, but I have been travelling quite a bit. First to Myanmar and China for xmas and NY with the family, then to Krakow for a week followed by another week in Bangalore (both work trips). I absolutely love travelling, and I always have so much fun when I go somewhere new, but it is really exhausting. I miss C and Winston so much while I am away, and I truly believe that people are at their absolute worst when in airports (So.Many.Idiots.Out.There).

5. My parents have moved back to Stockholm! It hasn’t been super easy to fit all of us in their apartment (which is huge for Stockholm but miniscule by any other standards), especially since my brother, his lovely girlfriend Nicole, and their friend Mark have also been staying with us for a furniture exposition they have this week in Stockholm. Yes, it has been a bit of a sh*tshow, but it’s also kind of like a gigantic, crazy sleepover, so it has also been quite fun. Winston is getting LOTS of attention, so he’s happy 🙂

I think that is it for now. I am still thinking about how I want to use this space…I am leaning away from a ‘lifestyle blog’ type of format, as I have literally no ‘lifestyle’ to speak of these days, let alone write about on a blog. I do have a lot of things I want to write about, though, and I think that could be kind of interesting. I eventually want to get back into photography but I know that I can’t do that right now. Not only is it too dark in Sweden for good photographs, but I have so little brain space for creative things that I know it will be too difficult a goal to pursue.

Any suggestions or ideas? I have a very small readership, but I do appreciate each and every one of you.

Have a wonderful week!


*(but seriously, when are things going to finally, FINALLY calm down? I know I’m a broken record, but my life has truly been a non-stop roller coaster since moving last year! Is peace and quiet something you inevitably give up on when you have multiple nationalities and international work? Seriously, I need to know)

Lately (lol)

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changes / lately / latelylena / life / real life / Uncategorized / update / updates

Well, hello there! Long time no talk, I know. That’s (obviously) on me, and I apologise. But you guys. THIS YEAR. This. Freaking. Year. Needless to say, this has not been a blogging year, and that’s ok. While I had planned to continue blogging when I moved to Sweden, I quickly realised that, with the move, the new job, the husband going to Africa to conduct his master’s research, the dog (Winston!), and about five thousand other things I had not factored in, those plans were highly optimistic (and highly unrealistic).

But last week, I decided that I missed blogging, regardless of who even still visits this little corner of the internet. As I’ve done since day one, I blog for me, because I love having a creative outlet, and I love writing, photography, and sharing my world in a place that isn’t Facebook or Instagram. A place where I call the shots, and where you, dear reader, can take it or leave it.

So, today, on my 29th birthday, I have decided to resurrect this here lil’ blog. I am not making any promises for consistent posting, because, let’s be real, those promises usually fall flat. But, if you enjoy reading the random and sometimes ridiculous meanderings of an almost-thirty-year-old with the cutest dog in the world, a wonderful husband, and an honest, no-bullshit take on life and all of the weird and wacky loops it throws at us – mixed in with just a touch of Type-A neuroticism and a sprinkle of hopeful naïveté – then stick around. Because I’m not quite done yet (insert evil laugh).

Here’s to the next adventure! Hope to see you there.


Life in Sweden

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every day / lately / latelylena / life / puppy / sommar / stockholm / summer / sverige / sweden / winston

Well, hello! It’s me! God, I am a terrible blogger. As soon as life gets in the way, ZAP! The blog just goes right to the bottom of the to-do list. Eh, oh well. I always come back, don’t I??

Anyway, as you probably put gathered from the lack of activity here, life has been INSANE. I know I always say that, but this time I really, really mean it. Between work, travel, a husband in Africa, parents moving to Myanmar, my brother moving into my place for the summer, my sister moving to Beijing, and about a hundred more different things, I have barely had time to do anything except the essentials (shower, walk dogs, eat, commute to and from work, pass out on the couch, repeat).

Today, however, I decided it was time to pop back in and say hello. Not too much has changed siince last time, except that Conrad is here! He got in this week, and will be here until August 1st. Then he’s going back to Colorado for a three weeks to wrap stuff up school-wise, and then he’s moving here FOR GOOD!

I’m going to be honest – this separation has been really hard on us. It has made me soooo incredibly sympathetic to other long distance couples I know (my parents included). Not having your partner nearby, especially during major life changes, just plain SUCKS. I created a mental list about 10 miles long of things I’d noted to tell Conrad while we were apart, yet when I picked him up from the airport I didn’t even know where to start because it had been so long since we last saw each other! That’s why I am taking next week off and we are driving to my summer house on the West coast for a week of doing NOTHING except swim in the lake, hike in the forest, read on the porch, and eat my weight in strawberries (jk they are waaaay too expensive here!).

I’ll try to take a bunch of photos to share later on, but for now, enjoy a smörgåsbord (Swedish word!) of photos collected from the last four months (not including photos from my Italy and UK trip! Also coming soon!).

Speak soon, dear friends!

Puss och kram,

A quick hello….

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lately / latelylena / life / reflections / update


Contrary to what the lack of posting on this blog might suggest, I am alive and kicking. Here is a photo of Winston to distract you of the fact that I am the WORST blogger ever:

Isn’t he just the CUTEST? The answer is yes, yes he is.

Anyway, I apologize for disappearing yet again. Moving is so stressful, and while some things have calmed down a bit, there is still so much up in the air that is out of my control. I will be totally honest here; it has NOT been easy and some days I feel like I have a enormous boulder on my chest that, try as I might, I can’t lift. Thankfully, I really love my new job, and I am beyond lucky to have my dad to rely on for so many different things. I do recognize that. Still, I feel like I have yet to get off the emotional roller coaster that is my life. I know this is partly because I am an extremely sensitive person with a tendency to overthink (who, moi?), but it’s also pretty understandable considering how many things are still not ‘resolved’.

I continue to believe, perhaps naively, that everything will eventually fall into place (because what is the alternative?), but it’s hard. I miss my partner and I feel as though I am in a continuous state of ‘limbo’, not totally settling in, but also trying to do so as much as I can.

That said, I am so happy to be in Sweden, the weather has been fantastic, and I head to Florence with my team later this week to work with our partners on a big project. I’m so excited! I just need to remember to savor the good moments and not take the bad ones too seriously, because, as I said, I have confidence that everything will work out and every bump on the way there is a chance to stop, reflect, and grow.

I also have SO MANY ideas in my head of things I want to blog about, which is exciting. Please don’t leave me! I promise to update again as soon as I can.

With love, as always.