Which Easter Eggs are Vegan 2017?

For the third year running, I decided to go to all my local supermarkets and find out which Easter eggs are dairy free and vegan, so you don’t have to waste as much time tearing your hair out over ingredients. I did discuss the US options last year, and they don’t seem to have changed so you can find that post here.

Morrisons:

Most Improved 2017

The prize for Most Improved Vegan Easter Egg Collection 2017 has to go to Morrisons; they have really worked hard to develop a vegan Easter Egg range and you can find them amongst the normal eggs in the seasonal aisle (not in the Free From section) which I always prefer because then I don’t feel like a leper. If I had any money, I’d send Morrisons a trophy. They have 4 vegan eggs this year, including three from Moo Free; the “milk” chocolate one, the “bunnycomb” (honeycomb) one which has chunks of honeycomb in it, and the “orange” one which has chunks of orange-flavored confection in it, as well as the standard Kinnerton one. Full points for interesting and unique eggs this year:

A fantastic selection of Moo Free vegan milk free eggs from Morrissons.
A fantastic selection of Moo Free eggs from Morrissons.

morrisons moo free orange easter egg vegan

morrisons moo free chocolate vegan easter egg

morrisons moo free unnycomb honeycomb toffee vegan easter egg

morrisons kinnerton dairy free vegan easter egg

ASDA

ASDA have a nice set this year, there’s their Easter Egg with Choc Buttons for the kids, a nice looking one with orange discs for millennials, and a serious dark chocolate fancy egg for people who like a bit of luxury. Take a look:

ASDA free from dairy free egg vegan milk free chocolate

ASDA free from dairy free egg vegan milk free chocolate
This one has chocolate orange discs.

ASDA free from dairy free egg vegan milk free chocolate

Sainsbury’s:

Sainsbury’s had their usual lovely collection (and I’m pleased to tell you they also now do the most DELICIOUS dairy free Wensleydale cheese AND a vegan microwave lasagne). The highlights were  the white chocolate egg and the Choices egg (I love the caramel chocolates that come with that one), both of which I bought. There were others, too, but I can’t seem to find the photos to show you (really sorry; if I find them I will add them to this article):

sainsburys vegan easter egg white chocolate easter egg dairy free

sainsburys2

Tesco:

Tesco’s dairy free range has been a bit disappointing this year, and I noticed their Christmas range was lacklustre for milk-free as well; they seem to prefer to fill their free from range with gluten free stuff (and there’s a lot of stuff that they’re selling as “gluten free” when there’s a normal, cheaper version that doesn’t actually contain gluten). So their range was relegated to the mainstream eggs that didn’t have dairy in. Here’s the set I found (with ingredients as they’re not explicitly marked as vegan or dairy free):

Tesco ff green and blacks egg mint vegan

Tesco ff dairy free egg vegan dark chocolate

Lindt dark chocolate bunny dairy free vegan
Everyone’s favorite Lindt dark chocolate bunny is dairy free again this year. Thank you Lindt, I love these bunnies so much!!

The Hall of Shame:

And now, for the third year running, it makes me sad and a little angry to discuss those eggs that look vegan and dairy free, but aren’t, in Invoke Delight and Inspire’s traditional Easter Egg Hall of Shame:

Tesco not vegan dark chocolate bunny.
Not Vegan.

Lindt not vegan dark chocolate egg.

Green and Blacks not vegan dark chocolate egg.

And the prize for the least vegan friendly Easter chocolate, 2017, goes to Nestle, for THREE eggs that contain gratuitous milk. Again. Why do I suspect that someone in Nestle has a grudge against dairy-free chocolate? Now, Cadbury’s seem like they’ve been pretty vegan-unfriendly, but I will remind y’all that they own Green and Black’s, which has at least 1 dairy free egg, even if some of their others are not, so each year they make at least some effort in this department, whereas Nestle are stuck in 1982:

Nestle, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Again. And don’t bother to contact me if you’re just going to spout some spiel about needing butteroil in your After Eights or that “consumers tell you they like milk in their chocolate” because I’m a consumer and I don’t want milk in my chocolate, and given how popular this “Which Easter Eggs Are Vegan” series of articles has been, year on year, I know I’m not alone. BTW, readers, unbranded After Eights are dairy free and they taste great; most supermarkets sell them as “after dinner mints.”

I shouldn’t be surprised by Nestle, they have always been a bit regressive. After all, they did run that Yorkie “it’s not for girls”, and later, the “this one is for girls” (get in your freaking corner, girls, OMG, like what are you doing trying to eat chocolate?) advertising campaigns.

Has anyone spotted any other vegan Easter eggs in shops? Let me know in the comments!

An Open Letter to The BBC about the NEW ludicrous licensing law

Dear The BBC,

I am sorry to hear that you are in financial difficulty with more and more households not having a TV licence.

I don’t have a TV licence, and in the past 6 years, I have watched iPlayer twice (and I regretted one choice instantly). One program got me watching, and it was a documentary about bipolar disorder that didn’t feature Stephen Fry and probably would have had more views if you’d titled it better. I don’t know if there might be others at this point, because I don’t have the time or inclination to wade through all the rubbish to find the good stuff (if any), for it to stop working after a few minutes. I have never owned a TV licence because I believe it is daylight robbery given the absolute crap you are producing, which is an insult to the intelligence of the British public. Even Doctor Who is shyte these days, and it used to be my favourite TV show.

Perhaps if you stopped wasting ridiculous amounts of money flying Brian Cox around the world so he can stand in a desert and tell people about science he could have talked about from a studio, or if you stop throwing ridiculous amounts of money at biased, poorly researched news articles (I always regret accidentally clicking on a BBC online news article when I could have chosen any other news source), you might still be breaking even.

The fact that you are not making money from your “TV money with menaces” scam is not my problem, and it should not give you the legal right to spy on my internet usage, or that of my household, in any way, shape or form, just because I don’t own a TV and am therefore a dangerous social deviant.

I watch about 5 hours of Netflix in a week, usually as something to get me away from my work while I eat.  One of the hazards of working from home as a content creator is the potential to spend 16 hours a day glued to my work. Not that you would know anything about that; the last time you actually hired anyone to “create” content was probably before I left school in 2006, but you were already in decline by then. These days, the BBC seems to simply derive crap based on marketing-led focus groups, or based on the BBC’s desire to dictate to the UK what we want to watch.

People are voting with their feet, which means you are wrong, you don’t actually know what people want to watch, and your little licensing scam is becoming irrelevant to the daily lives of most people who aren’t addicted to badly written and drama-filled British soaps. Claiming that every person who doesn’t own a TV licence is watching iPlayer instead, so you can make up an inflated figure of money you’re losing, is flawed logic indicative of your general incompetence. You’re not even considering the people using a UK proxy IP address to access iPlayer from around the world because shows are not reaching them any other way, for example, over which you have no jurisdiction.

How about instead of using your considerable political clout to keep criminalizing and eroding the rights and privacy of those of us who just want nothing to do with television, you could perhaps spend your time, money and influence making things people actually want to watch?

Content is king, BBC, and that is why people are leaving you in droves in favour of watching Netflix, Youtube or Amazon Prime. The only reason you get as much money as you do is because it’s mandatory to pay YOU so people can watch all the other TV channels who receive none of that money. It must be particularly embarrassing to you that there’s loads of twenty-something Youtubers making videos in their bedrooms and putting them on Youtube who each individually have a bigger audience than your prime-time Saturday slot. You’re becoming obsolete, and your new law is shooting yourself in the foot.

The fact that this law got through parliament without much publicity just goes to show that the BBC still controls the news and that the news they report is selective. You do not deserve the power you wield.

Yours sincerely,

Someone who studied enough Media Studies to know she never wanted to watch your crap again.

PS: Readers, after September, delete iPlayer from your bookmarks, your apps, your browser history… just delete it. Otherwise you might get criminalized for something you haven’t even done.

A Day In The Life Of A Blogger

I saw this bizarre title on someone else’s blog, and I was a little bemused about how the day of a blogger would be any different to the day of a non-blogger.  So I thought I’d be a bit imaginative.

6:00am:  I leap out of bed, like a LEAPING LION and stretch and yawn and hop into the shower to clean all my sleep away.

6:20am: Wrapped in a soft fluffy dressing gown, I skip down the stairs like SKIPPY THE FREAKIN KANGAROO and investigate how to turn on the mysterious drinks making gadget that the drinks company sent me in exchange for a good review.  This week, it’s coffee, but last week it was smoothies, and the week before it was a juicer.  Imma dedicated follower of fashion.

6:30am:  Once I’ve figured out how to make the drinks making gadget work, and set it going, I go out into the garden – well, my fifty acre smallholding – and fetch some eggs from the henhouse, then I bring them indoors and make up a BRAND NEW RECIPE that I just KNOW the whole world needs to hear, I make a mental note to write about it on my blog after I’ve finished breakfast.

6:40am: I start making my BRAND NEW RECIPE and am pleased to see that the drinks making gadget is pouring coffee into a cup for me.  How exciting.  I take a couple of photos of it with my camera.  I am Martha Stewart.

6:50am:  My food is on a plate and I sit at my dining table with my breakfast, trying to think of a name for this recipe.  Something that comes up high in the Search Engine results but is still super-unique and catchy.  No, brain, Eggs Bunnydict is a terrible name for anything ever.  Something more like “fluffy cloud eggs.”  That’ll be good because it sounds light, like healthy, and fun, like it’s going to be delicious.  Like me. Haha.

7:10am:  Armed with my second cup of coffee I relocate to my study, which is really a corner of my bedroom or living room, and I turn on my laptop.  My laptop is top of the range and never needs restarting because I got it free in exchange for a good review.  I check all my social media accounts, I reply to everyone’s messages (or at least a representative sample), and I check out what is trending, so I can be relevant.

7:30am:  I write up my eggs recipe and add the photos.  They looked a bit crap so before I hit “publish” I head on over to Photoshop and do some photowizardry on them.  In a few minutes, they look like Rainbow Eggs that were laid by freaking UNICORNS who live in the crescent moon.  Of course.  Because they were made by ME.

8:30am:  Now I need to go to the store and get some groceries before it’s delivery time.  I get into my Porsche 911 and ZOOM to the store like a TURBO WILDCAT and maybe annoy a few people with my slightly reckless and inconsiderate driving (unless I’m vlogging, in which case I will drive to the letter of the law).  I park in the special “reserved for bloggers” bay at the car park and I get a trolley.  My personal grocery shopper is there to greet me, and she shows me around the store, picking out foods I will like, and when we get to the checkout, the store manager has a word with the cashier before I reach her.  The cashier tells me this food is all free because I’m such a special and amazing and wonderful famous blogger and they are only too thrilled that I could visit their store today.  Then they serenade me out with a choir of disadvantaged children who I throw some dollar bills at as I leave.

9:00am: DELIVERY TIME!!! WHAT FREE PRESENTS WILL I GET TODAY???  For the next three hours, I mess around on the internet and watching cats on Youtube while my doorbell rings constantly from the crowd of delivery guys bringing me presents.  Companies just send me stuff for free because they love me so much.  I write reviews for them, on my blog and on sites like Amazon and Makeup Alley so that customers think well of the brand.  I turn down many things, such as reviewing horse meat jerky or laxatives, because I want to protect my image.  That way, I can legitimately say on my about me page, “believe me, I turn down more things than I review, because I am committed to my readers.”  I open the boxes in an excited frenzy.  Every day is like Christmas when you are a blogger.

12:00pm: I get in my Porsche 911 and drive to an expensive restaurant.  I hand the keys to the valet and go inside.  I didn’t book, but I’m so famous, I don’t need to.  The Maitre d’ sees me coming, and runs to bring out the secret extra table that all quality restaurants have stashed in case Julia Roberts, Taylor Swift, or ME turn up unannounced.  He sets the table in seconds with mad skills, and I sit down and browse a menu.  I get a text from this boy who is a fairly well known Vlogger; we chat occasionally.  He’s just got out of bed.  Boys are so uncomplicated.  I order a cruelty-free salmon salad with magic fountain of youth lemon vinaigrette dressing and extra-healthy weird fruit from South America.  Everything from South America is extra-healthy.

1:00pm: I collect my Porsche 911 and drive back to my house.  Did I tell you about my house?  It’s an amazing four bedroom condo with glass walls overlooking my garden and smallholding.  I park the car in the double garage then ascend the spiral staircase to the kitchen.  It’s time to feed the animals and water the plants.  I press a button near the back door and this automatic watering system kicks in, watering every plant exactly the right amount of the right temperature of water.  When it’s done, I pop out and scatter some grain for the chickens, then I go and pick some fruit from my orchard and bring it inside.  I am going to write an article about all the different uses for fruit, I just need to think of a catchy title that will come up top in all the search results.  I’m thinking “17 things to do with Autumn’s fruit harvest” or possibly 11.  I can never decide which prime number is best for these articles.  I’m glad people are starting to see numbered lists as clickbaity titles, it means the new trend for article naming will be something with less math.

2:30pm:  I phone my accountant and find out how much money I made today, then I phone my agent and find out how many brand placements are begging me to mention them on my videos, then I phone that Vlogger boy and it’s super awkward because I don’t know what to say, so I get off the phone fairly quickly.  He’s going to guest blog on my blog.  Oh God I hope he isn’t illiterate.

3:00pm:  I have an afternoon tea party with all my friends and we put make-up on each other in silly ways (like seriously silly, like, matt foundation and finishing powder together kinda silly, we are so cray cray) and then we have dance around the lounge to MTV, in our underwear.  We have a pillowfight as well.  Throughout the whole thing, a photographer, who just so happened to be passing through the neighbourhood, is shooting pics in the corner so I will have plenty of pictures to write about this on my blog.  It’s not staged in the slightest, honest.

6:00pm:  I get rid of my girlfriends and they drive off in their expensive sports cars.  I go outside and have a swim in my pool.  The pool was mailed to me for free from this company which makes pools.  It even has a waterslide.  I spend the next hour or so splashing around in the pool, working off the calories from lunch because I see my personal trainer tomorrow.

7:00pm:  I change out of my bikini, shower off the chlorine, then get ready to go out for dinner to the most expensive restaurant in town.  It does get a bit boring only eating at the one restaurant all the time, but my agent says I have to create a buzz and make people think I’m a superstar until I get the Chanel contract.  I get a text that says I’ve been nominated for beauty blogger of the year award, which comes with a $50,000,000 prize.  That might buy me, like, THREE new Tom Ford lipsticks.  Squee.

9:00pm:  I go home, text my mum and dad to tell them I’m fine and ask them if they’re fine, they say they’re fine.  Everything is good.  I snap a quick selfie of myself and upload to Instagram, caption: “getting my beauty sleep like a GODDAMN PRINCESS.”  What am I like???  I make myself laugh sometimes.  I take off my make-up, being sure to use the latest cleanser that I got sent today.  I go to bed alone and fall asleep dreaming of hair and make-up and cookie recipes, because this is the perfect life that everyone gets automatically as soon as they sign up for a WordPress blog or Youtube channel.  Life is perfect, and I am certainly not out clubbing until 2am and getting very, very drunk in the company of some people I barely know, because that would damage my image as a squeaky clean upstanding member of the blogging community.

I take a quick selfie for instagram.
I take a quick selfie for Instagram with a humorous caption.

After Word:
Just in case anyone is even REMOTELY wondering, this was totally made up.  I just thought it was an interesting flight of fancy to explore some of the stereotypes and assumptions surrounding bloggers and vloggers.  And I don’t accept products, payment or other sponsorship in exchange for writing reviews.  And there’s no such thing as “cruelty free salmon.”  Or Fluffy Cloud Eggs laid by unicorns.  Or “the secret table” at restaurants.  OR IS THERE??? DUN DUN DUNNNN….

How Do I Get Rid of Stinky Sweat Stains Left AFTER Washing?

Today I’m talking about getting stinky sweat patches out of clothing

So part of my afternoon has been taken up trying to solve this dilemma. It’s not a uniquely bipolar one, but I thought I’d share my findings because I know there are more than a few bipolar meds that can cause excessive sweating of the stinky variety, which inevitably leads to those pongy sweat patches that just adds to the stigma. Because visions of a knife-wielding “maniac” are only complete if they also have whiffy pit stains.

In the past I hadn’t really had a problem with this but in my house recently it’s got quite bad. I discovered this phenomenon for the first time whilst ironing some shirts about a year ago, which I hadn’t worn very many times (as I tend to have a good rotation of shirts because you never know when someone you work with is going to throw a drink over you). I pressed the iron over the armpit area of my shirts and I nearly passed out with the stench. Bleurgh! I put the iron down and sniffed the other pit. The very faintest whiff of fugginess, but mostly what I could smell was detergent. So I put it back in the wash. Guess what? The same thing happened, only this time I noticed it in the tumble dryer, when it got hot, the smell seemed to atomize into the air around the kitchen. Ick. Clearly non-bio laundry liquid wasn’t invented to clean clothes where they need it the most. I suspected vinegar might be the answer but I didn’t dare to hope at this point.  I forgot about this until yesterday when an entire washload of tops had this problem to the triple-x-treme.

So I searched online for an answer. Many of the solutions assumed you had borax or bicarb to hand. I had neither. What was worse was that I now had a full washing machine of damp T-shirts to de-stinkify as well, and given that the dryer also had some nearly-dry tops which were also producing noxious vapours, I was suddenly facing my neatly organized washing turning into a traffic jam of tank-tops and trousers waiting for their turn in the machines while I waited for a shop to open that might sell borax (not commonly available in the UK). I found one useful conversation, which you can read here (external link). I decided to start with the vinegar.

I thought I would kill 2 birds with 1 stone by adding a cup of vinegar (using my measuring cup – I didn’t have white vinegar so I used 70/30 malt and apple cider vinegars) to the drawer of the washer, so that it could clean out the machine AND sort out my clothing problems. I did a full 2 hours 30 minutes long eco cottons wash at 60 (140 farenheit) as the information I read online came to the general conclusion that hotter temperatures are better at killing the bacteria responsible for the smell, and I thought the longer wash would give more chance for the vinegar to soak in.

1 cup of malt and cider vinegar.  It did nothing.
1 cup of malt and cider vinegar. It did nothing.

When it was finished, I inspected the result. They still stank. Only now the smell had a masking overtone of vinegar on top of it, which made it seem worse for some reason. I decided to try a different suggestion and since the only other ingredient (mentioned in the conversation) I had in the house was the Listerine, I gave it a go.

I used the purple Listerine, and I literally poured it over the armpit area then rubbed it in with my hand (which still feels minty fresh an hour later), and I did each armpit individually. I am annoyed when people say things like “it only takes 90 seconds per T shirt, it’s so easy to do my running shirt once or twice a week.” I am not doing my running shirt (I don’t run. I walk very damn quickly if I need to get somewhere fast, or I cycle if I need to get somewhere faster, or I drive if I need to get somewhere very fast or if it’s bad weather, I think I’m American at heart because I literally drive to the supermarket that’s about 2 blocks away, if that). But the annoyance is more that it’s probably oh so very easy to do this a couple of times a week for running apparel, but I’m facing doing every single damn T-shirt, shirt, vest, tank top, bra, swimming top (I wear them a lot although I don’t swim often), jumper, fleece and cardigan, every single time I put them in the wash.

Listerine... for cleaning Listers.
Listerine… for cleaning Listers.

On the plus side, the Listerine spreads very quickly on things that are already damp (not so well on dry things) so I would recommend either pre-washing or using a water spray or such to dampen your underarms before pouring mouthwash on them, and when I sniffed before I put them back in the machine, they already smelled fresh and clean (except for the tiny trifling matter of them all being covered in mouthwash). I shut the door on my inanimate test subjects, let them soak in it for about 60-90 seconds after the last one was done (the ones before have obviously soaked for longer as I could only do one top at a time), and I used the same 60 degrees Eco wash cycle, using a capful of non-bio laundry liquid (about 1tbsp). Given how many spoons I’ve wasted on this today, I am unashamed to say that I revelled in imagining their little T-shirty screams of horror as the machine started filling with hot water again then I left them to the mercy of the front-loader and went to have a cup of tea and write the day’s laundry investigation down.  Early signs were positive.

When it was done, I got up and checked the laundry.  The armpits are definitely clean and clear of whiff, although they all still smell very definitely of Listerine now.  So I guess people will think I’ve brushed my teeth recently or something.  The lack of ability of my laundry liquid to get my clothing clean or get rid of perfumed items such as vinegar or Listerine begs the question – what DOES my laundry liquid clean in the washing machine?  Is it just an expensive waste of money?  Should I switch back to powder?  It’s all in the dryer now and still doesn’t smell of BO, so that’s a good result.  Score one for Listerine.

Readers with bipolar disorder or other medications or circumstances (or idiopathies, I’m not discriminating against those with naturally sweaty pits), has anyone found any better solutions to this? I used an entire 250ml bottle of Listerine on the one washload, I will have more laundry to do tomorrow, so that’s going to be an expensive solution.

Sorry, I know when they said “it’s time to talk about mental health” they wanted me to wander round going “Oh it’s all so hard” and maybe cry a bit, rather than pour random liquids over my pit stains in the name of science, but I would rather flourish and flail in clean clothing, you see, it’s far more photogenic. When you think that a big way that the authorities decide whether you’re coping or not is whether you’re clean and dressed appropriately, and factor in that I spend about 90% of my life either not wearing anything or not dressed appropriately, I like to make sure my “appropriate” clothing for the benefit of mankind is clean and whiff free, and it really bothers me that this is not the case. Not currently working for the man Being a minimalist I flatly refuse to throw out my old clothes and replace them with fresh ones if there is a way to save them.

In next week’s thought provoking article, I ask the question: Can used disposable handkerchiefs be recycled?
Oh wait, I’ve just asked that question. Oh well, something else for some other time, then.

That’s enough thinking for me for the time being.

Doga: Dog Yoga for you and your dog

So I got this email today from someone who wondered if I would mind sharing this article about Doga.  I went to look up what doga is.  You probably guessed: It’s a portmanteau of “dog” and “yoga” so it’s yoga for dogs.  Or more specifically, for dogs and dog owners.

This article tells you all about it, and it really put a smile on my face.  I absolutely 100% guarantee it will make you giggle, and hey, if you have a dog, let me know if you’d try this!  I don’t have a dog, but I have 5 rabbits, and I could DEFINITELY see my older bunnies benefitting from pet yoga.  I’m not sure if rabbits would stay still long enough to get any benefit out of meditation though.

Here’s the article and infographic:  http://www.fix.com/blog/try-doing-doga-with-your-dog/

In other news, my shower is now one Z-joint away from being finished!!!!!!  Exciting times.  Then I just need to go on holiday and everything will be back to normal again.

A six week old beagle who was wandering around on wikipedia looking lost (I know I've used him before but he's so CUTE).
A six week old beagle who was wandering around on wikipedia looking lost (I know I’ve used him before but he’s so CUTE).

Sponsored Posts: The Best of The Worst

So as I mentioned in this post, I often get asked to write sponsored posts for companies wanting to improve brand presence.  After a deep moral dilemma, I made it a policy to always turn them down due to my standpoint as a minimalist (although recently I’ve not had a lot of time to respond), but they keep coming.  I do take a look at what they are proposing, particularly when it sounds dreadful, and mostly out of morbid curiosity. For your viewing entertainment (and to fight back against the consumeriarchy), I have included the best of the worst, the factual inaccuracies and old wives tales type information that is all over the internet already, and which people have offered to pay me to perpetuate (which all seem to lead back to consumerism):

1. Quinoa is a good source of protein.  This has to be the most blatant lie; it was followed up with an amount per cup that was a) several times the actual amount of protein in a cup of quinoa and b) still not a great amount of protein.

2. You need to lose weight to get married:  Yep, those “how to lose weight before your wedding posts” you see all over the internet, that are firmly designed to make women hate themselves and feel insecure (so they can sell women more clothes, diet pills, cosmetics, and when all else fails, food) are sponsored.  Do yourself a favour:  Learn to love the size you are before your wedding.  That’s who your future husband/wife fell in love with.

3. People get too much protein in their usual diet, so vegans shouldn’t worry about protein.  This is not only untrue but it’s very dangerous advice.  See my list of sources of nutrients for vegans post (with the amazing spreadsheet of sources for EVERY nutrient) to find out the truth.  It’s especially interesting that this sponsored post wanted to “inform” vegans that they can pay for recipes that don’t contain enough protein, because it makes money from the recipes in the first place, then they’ll get a protein deficiency, and be back supporting the dairy/meat industry in no time.  That’s win-win for paid meat/dairy shills.  That’s the result of the “protein myth”-myth.  You need protein to live, and you CAN get it from a vegan diet.  It’s like “big pharma” became “big farmer.”

4. SEO is apparently all about keyword density.  If that was true, a page of “buy computers online buy computers online buy computers online buy computers online buy computers online buy computers online buy computers online buy computers online buy computers online buy computers online buy computers online…” etc would be at the top of each search result.  Instead of being excluded for being dumb and pointless.

5. If I only BUY a bunch of items from some hitherto unheard of fashion house, they will apparently pay me to write reviews (but only if those reviews are positive – that’s the rules of reviewing things for blogging).  Listen up, potential bloggers and those of you who are considering paid reviews, because this is a basic rule of making money:  If you have to spend money to do something, the chances of it netting you any cash is minimal, unless you have it in writing that they are going to pay you back (at which point, you’re giving them a loan, so charge them interest).  They like to make you think that they are going to give you a return on any “investment” you make e.g. by buying a product, but at the end of the day, as far as companies like this are concerned, YOU are the customer, and they are making money from bloggers, not any readers (the readers are just icing on the cake for these scams).  This is the consumerist myth, and you do NOT have to spend money to make money unless you have a shop.

6. Am I interested in a free sample of these AMAZING new diet pills which have heretofore been tested on mice, rats, rabbits, giraffes and monkeys, and have helped them all achieve the figure YOU deserve??? This one particularly makes me laugh because I have mentioned time and time again on my blog that I am clinically underweight.  The only time someone my size would say yes to diet pills would be if they had anorexia.  At which point they need a free sample of a cure for anorexia, not diet pills.  The whole concept of diet pills really makes me fume, like we can’t just be the size we are (and yes, I fall into that trap too – sometimes wishing I could put weight on to be the “perfect” weight, because all this crap about weight isn’t just “fat shaming” it’s “non-normal shaming” for a made-up value of “normal” – hey, we’ve felt the results of “non-normal shaming” before in other aspects of life such as mental health).  The lunatic fringe of the pharmaceutical industry had to rear its ugly head, and my big question to all these “supplement” pill companies is, if what you’re selling is so good, why don’t doctors ever recommend it to patients?  They can never answer that.

That was six of the best examples of bad paid-posting proposals; obviously I have left company names out because of legal mumbo-jumbo, but I thought these would be entertaining examples.  A lot of the crap I receive in my inbox is to do with either perpetuating myths (e.g. the “protein myth” myth) or perpetuating the LIE that my readers are inadequate unless they spend money on a specific thing (e.g. a weight loss course, diet pills, beauty products).  I respect my readers so could never flog this crap to you all.  If you are a very furious company reading this, and your company has approached me with one of these pitches, perhaps you should look at what you’re offering and try making/selling a better product.  Content is king.

Content is king.
Content is king.

Minimalism: The Commitment To Live An Honest Life

As I’ve said before, minimalism isn’t just about chucking out that chintz or buying a sleek new entertainment unit and matching dining table from Ikea. It’s a lifestyle, because it’s a way of living, not a decorative style (although you can decorate your house in a minimalist style it doesn’t make your life become minimalist). We’re going to get all deep and meaningful on this theme of minimalism today.
declutter your mind

Part of that minimalist way of living is the commitment to live a straightforward, honest life. You can’t minimalize all the clutter in your head if you are a man for every seasons or if you can lie as soon as open your mouth.  That, in fact, causes a lot of clutter.  Just like if you filled your house with post-it notes with little lies written on them, stuck everywhere to help you keep track.

You can’t fully minimalize your life, therefore, if you aren’t prepared to minimalize your internal landscape. And that’s the difference between minimalism and decluttering.

What is truth anyway?

I’m a bit sceptical of the concept of some sort of “ultimate truth” that is totally objective and can be derived from every situation.  Everything in the world is down to interpretation BUT there is a difference between telling the truth based on your honest and uncritical view of something and telling a lie where you have intentionally misinterpreted the feedback you have gotten from the environment.  Telling people someone said something which they didn’t actually say is a deliberate misinterpretation of what your ears heard.  Telling people you’ve not had time to do something when you know you were just lazy is a deliberate misinterpretation to make yourself look good.  These are both examples of not being truthful and honest.  Likewise, telling people that someone lied when they were being (to the best of their knowledge) truthful is a deliberate misinterpretation of what you know about a situation compared to what they know.

How can you minimalize your internal landscape?

You need to be honest with people. If you’re in a situation where you feel uncomfortable being honest, instead of making up a white lie or a convincing story, you need to step back and look at what LED to the situation. What action did you take (or not take) that is so shameful that you feel the need to deceive other people about it? Why does it matter to you what they think? It’s the actions you take that should be honest – if you don’t want to get found out, don’t do it in the first place. When you think about doing things, taking into account other people’s thoughts, feelings and opinions is important. It’s not “to fit in” so much as to be a genuine person who doesn’t have to lie to people they love.  The words you say need to match up with your actions to live an honest life.

Is lying to the people we love ever a good idea? Having done some things I’m really not proud of in the past year, things I was uncomfortable telling my husband about, I still don’t believe lying about the things I’ve done is a good idea. As a child, I used to lie about things (when I was seven, I told the girls at school that I was secretly a fairy godmother and that I could grant wishes), and I always got angry at the people who saw through that and who led to me getting caught out. I had no understanding that I needed to change my own actions and not put myself in situations where I would need to lie later. The dishonesty was only the symptom of the problem of me doing things that I didn’t like, that I was ashamed of and embarrassed of, and that the people who saw through those lies were not the enemy – I was. I had to become a person who I didn’t have to lie about to gain my own self respect and self worth (which is what it comes down to when you’re trying to control whether other people think well of you).

As I grew older, I realized that you cannot have any genuine and open and honest relationship with another human being if you can’t respect them enough to tell them the truth. It’s a way of being controlling – you are controlling what other people think of you and the image they have of you. Unfortunately, when you habitually lie about everything, the only image they’re getting of you is that you’re always bigging yourself up and wouldn’t know the truth if it hit you in the face. They’re getting the image that you are untrustworthy, unreliable, unable to accept genuine affection because you’re too busy with your own agenda. At this point in time, I don’t believe that we can love anyone we lie to.  I think people who habitually and persistently lie are incapable of love in the way the rest of us understand it; it has become a contorted, self-serving love that will never fill the void.

When people find out that I am honest with my husband about EVERYTHING, they tend not to get it. They ask “but surely you wouldn’t tell him if you did X, Y or Z?” And I say “Yes, I would.”
And I know that he is totally honest with me. Because people like to think they can fool their partners, but most of the time, your partner is just going along with it and dying a little inside when they hear your bullshit again. When I went a bit manic a couple of years ago and took ecstasy for the first and only time, I came home the next day, despite the fact that my friend told me I mustn’t tell him and that he wouldn’t understand, and I told him the truth about what I’d done, what it was like, and that I had no intention of ever doing it again because I am generally anti-drugs and didn’t really know what had come over me. When I started to question my gender, I told him before I posted about it. He’s the first person in my life and has to be the first to know everything.

Honesty means not keeping secrets from people you care about. Secrets and lies, aren’t the problem – it’s the behaviours that have caused you to have secrets, tell lies to loved ones, hide things, that’s the real problem, and you need to work on those behaviours to minimalize the stress, the different threads that you keep track of and the fundamental disrespect that it shows for the people around you.

How can this side of minimalism help narcissists?

I write this post for anyone struggling with mental clutter, but primarily for all the narcissists (and here I’m talking individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is very underdiagnosed because most narcissists don’t have the insight into their condition to seek help for the real problem) in the audience. Yes, for once, you’re right: This one really is about you. And you have a choice. You don’t have to live this life of constant secrecy and distortion, and the biggest key to minimalizing your internal landscape is to stop blustering and pretending, and take down those barriers (even just to yourself) and be totally honest with yourself, and start to love yourself for it. Because the saddest thing about narcissism, the ironic tragedy, is that narcissists make out they’re the best thing ever to everyone they meet, but they can’t fool themselves, and when they address that internal self-loathing and self-lying and rebuild from scratch, they actually have a pretty good prognosis of recovery and personal growth.

The active commitment I made several years ago to living a fully honest life (rather than the passive commitment we all vaguely make to live a mostly honest life) is the best thing I ever did, and I can actually feel myself dying a little inside at times when I’ve been in situations which have conflicted with that, to the point where I cannot any longer actually tell a lie (yes, I can still write fiction because it’s clearly fictional) because it is too distressing; but I don’t have racing thoughts or ruminations about things that have taken place during the day, I don’t have a deep and unending feeling of inadequacy in my heart of hearts any more (I still have no confidence in my abilities and a crapton of other mental health issues which were nothing to do with those constant white lies we tell every day without thinking), and I love someone very much and respect them greatly and that is the most important thing that has come from being totally honest.  I highly recommend honesty, people will respect you for it, and yes, it is a hard journey sometimes, I have lost jobs and friends over this, and there are LOTS of times when it would seem to be easier to lie, but it wouldn’t really be easier because you would have to live with that lie, and living with the truth puts all the stressors firmly outside your sphere of self-blame.  Lying always hurts someone, even when it seems like you’ve gotten away with it.