clean living

I've been reading about the zealous proponents of a zero waste lifestyle for the past year or so, and their extreme (and extremely admirable) reduction of waste is inspiring. I don't think everyone should or could aspire to this level of commitment (and I also find it amusing that comparatively comfortable Americans are espousing a lifestyle that is one those in poverty carry out by necessity every day around the world). However, it's made me much more conscious of what I buy, where I buy it from, how I buy it, how I dispose of waste and how I cook, which can only be a good thing.

Climate change and pollution seem like a far away issue, often. But they are really not. Collective change and voting with one's wallet and consuming less and consciously are the foundation of what will lighten the use of fossil fuels. If we are not buying it, then (eventually) the manufacturing won't be done. It's not a huge political issue (well, it is) but one rooted in personal action, and one that can be managed elegantly and enjoyably. I think.

Some resources and reminders I've found helpful in reducing waste and so on.

/ DON'T / As in, don't buy it, or take it. Minimising stuff coming into your house is addictive. No, I don't need a receipt. No, I don't need a bag. No, I don't need a plastic fork, or a napkin, or a free pen.

/ BUY IN BULK / This can mean lots of things. I struggled to find bulk bins for dry goods like rice and spices in London, and it seems even more difficult in Hong Kong. However, fewer grocery trips and choosing to purchase a large sack of rice or flour or dish liquid each month rather than a 200ml option each week will still have benefits and minimise packaging. Delivery services, preferably local ones (ask for minimal packaging) are great if you don't have a car. Then you can nerd out and decant your groceries into glass jars and it's also much cheaper. Things like Dr Bronners soap are available in bulk 5L vats, I buy this and use it for handwashing, shower soap and hand soap.

/ BUY SECOND HAND, HANDMADE OR DIGITAL / Where I can, I buy things used. I prefer it, especially for furniture as it reduces offgassing and is more to my taste; I'm also obsessed with Vestiaire Collective where I can indulge my Isabel Marant habit for half the price. Most of the things I've bought may as well be new, to be honest, they're so lightly worn. I'm still working on the clothes thing, but books can almost always be found second hand, magazine subscriptions can be done digitally (try Zinio or own apps like The Paris Review), as can newspapers. Then you don't have stacks of magazines sitting on your floor which is really nice.

/ BUY IN GLASS (OR STEEL, OR WOOD) / Plastic is ugly, and it does awful things to your health and it doesn't degrade. And for some reason we still consider it as disposable. Since swapping over my food storage ie tupperware to glass alternatives I am far more careful with it. A glass water bottle is carefully looked after and beautiful. We don't have cling film or sandwich bags, keep a stash of reusable cloth bags by the front door, have two reusable coffee cups so we don't use takeaway cups, use wooden dishbrushes and cloth napkins instead of paper towels. When you're choosing packaging for cosmetics or food too, it can be helpful to look for glass alternatives. RMS Beauty is packaged entirely in glass, Weleda comes in metal tubes rather than plastic (although both add an unnecessary cardboard box to proceedings).

/ READ / I've enjoyed Reading My Tea Leaves ideas on the subject, measured and sensible and achievable. Her entire blog is full of ideas for simplification and careful living, her Habit Shift series specifically on small ideas for minimising waste. Trash is for Tossers is another good one, and then Bea Johnson's book Zero Waste Home, while rather extreme, is packed with ideas, many of which are summarised here. Also wonderful is Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal: Cooking With Economy and Grace.

/ COMPOST & RECYCLE & DONATE / Goes without saying really, but utilising council programs for food waste, recycling and donating unwanted goods to charity rather than piling it all in the rubbish bin is a pretty basic beginning. Something I find helpful is to put my recycling bag in my larger rubbish bin and use a small bin for actual landfill rubbish. If you don't have a composting program, there are often options to take your own to farmers markets or to a centralised bin at a local garden. You can just freeze your scraps and take them once a week. Recycling isn't a solution to waste and comes with its own questions (where does it go, how much energy does it take to recycle something, does recycling plastic result in further waste and emissions) but it's better than landfill.

/ MAKE STUFF / Things like almond milk (soak handful of almonds in water overnight, blend, strain) are very simple to make and the result tastes nicer than the bought ones, is cheaper and doesn't create a tetrapak for the rubbish every two days. I'm not suggesting you make everything (who has the time) but there are certain things that might be enjoyable and straightforward to do so. For me, it's almond milk, face oils and toners (I buy bulk natural oils and blend up my own ones, or mix rosewater and apple cider vinegar and put them in a glass spray bottle).

style inspiration: haley boyd

Cute, simple, slightly preppy... I am loving Marais USA Creative Director and Founder Haley Boyd's style. Vintage Levi's, white tees, oxford shirts, Converse, Marais' Jardin sandals and slides, a bob, straw baskets, Jesse Kamm's wide leg, white sailor pants. If anyone can tell me where I can find the cherry red sandals and the yellow slides in an 8 I'd be delighted. 

Follow her on Instagram here


Divine back details on this jumpsuit from Joseph, in stock now at Sydney's most beautiful boutique Bloodorange. I used to work there on a Saturday and it has the most lovely things, all in one of the calmest, most elegant boutiques I know. 

further learning

Lee Radziwill at her desk in Paris. 

What a luxury it is to have time. Time to read, time to think, time to learn. I am gorging myself on the written word, and after three years in a corporate job I can feel my intellect and inspiration slowly seeping back.

I haven't studied in an academic environment for more than five years, and coming to it at my own pace and direction feels precious. I love the ease of learning online and marvel that I can take a course at Columbia, for free, from my living room in Hong Kong. It's learning purely for interest and learning, rather than there being any impetus to complete a degree for the purpose of gaining a job, or simply complete.

Here are some of the resources I've found, and several of the courses I am taking or plan to.


Coursera offers papers from universities around the world, from Harvard and UCLA to Oxford and Edinburgh. I've found the approach systematic and easy to follow, with lectures divided into weekly snippets, regular assignments and set deadlines (along with email reminders). The course I am taking is high quality (the lecturer is on a UN special taskforce in his subject) and the tests stretch my skills and add new resources to my research approaches. Like anything, you can take this course as a bare bones opportunity, and simply watch the lectures and take the tests each week; or you can fully immerse yourself and follow the recommended reading too. There are a mixture of humanities, science, business and technology papers; and a blend of courses which are 'live' and set to start at a particular date alongside ones that are available anytime and you can carry out at your own pace.

Currently taking...

Columbia University, The Age of Sustainable Development

On my list...

University of Amsterdam, Classical Sociological Theory
Stanford University, Child Nutrition and Cooking
MOMA, Modern Art and Ideas
CalArts, Fundamentals of Graphic Design


Experts in their field offer instructive videos. These range from perfecting Instagram photography (I know) to crafting the perfect cup of coffee; through to the less flippant. The coding, design and photography ones on this site seem to be the best, with tutors such as Jessica Hische a highlight.

On my list...

Knife Skills
Basics of Photoshop
Bread making 
Perfect coffee by the founder of Blue Bottle
Seth Godin on Marketing 
Daniel Krieger (NYTimes) on Food Photography

Note that A Cup of Jo is offering a discounted subscription to Skillshare at the moment.

iTunes University

There are more than 150 universities, as well as cultural institutions such as the National Theatre and NASA, on iTunes U which you can access through an app on your phone or iPad, or via the iTunes store on your laptop. I'm making huge assumptions that everyone uses Apple hardware as I do!

On my list...

Tate's series of Artist Lectures (Ai Weiwei! Dan Snow! Sigmar Polke! Nan Goldin!)
Yale's School of Architecture Public Lecture Series
Oxford's Literature and Form and Bodleian Libraries Series
London School of Economics Gender Institute Research Talks


Open Culture's brilliant and comprehensive lists of freely accessible lectures, books, films and more (starting here with 851 free art books from MoMA, The Getty and more).
Into Mind on making learning part of your daily routine.

perfect outfits

Slubby olive green grey knits, cuffed black jeans and delicious Chanel two tone pumps. 

my hong kong: healthy eating

I was surprised by the number of organic shops, juice bars and health food cafes when I arrived in Hong Kong. It's far more accessible and normalised here than in London. My current favourites, below.

Grassroots Pantry | 108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong | @grassrootspantry

I love brunch here - their juices and smoothies are generous and made with organic ingredients; their raw banana crepes are delicious. The lunch set ($158 for soup, starter, main and coffee or tea) is good value too - on a recent visit I had a simple vegetable soup, pan fried gyoza and a palak paneer with freshly made, wholemeal chapati. Grassroots selection of raw and sugar free sweets is great - coconut macarons, raw chocolate. The space is quite stark and 'high end' for a vegetarian restaurant, which is refreshing - while I haven't yet had dinner here, they offer a cocktail menu made up of 'healthy' mixers and craft spirits and plating is beautiful and elegant . It's worth perusing the menu, here.

Mana | 8 Tai On Terrace, 8 Tai On Terrace, Sheung Wan | @manafastslowfood

Very simple premise - vegan coffee and flatbreads. Plus, books. I love that this cafe strives to be zero waste. The coffee is beautiful, with options for added cacao butter or coconut oil blended in. The flatbreads are either spelt or buckwheat based and have a variety of sweet or savoury toppings. There are also acai and chia bowls for breakfast, soups, salads and vegan ice creams.

Spice Box | 137 Caine Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong (they also have a store in Sai Ying Pun)

An organic grocery with a few takeaway items and a focus on Indian and Ayurvedic spices and dry goods. This is a friendly and well-sized provider of a huge range of spices and herbs - it's where I'll pick up cardamom pods, coconut oil and coconut sugar, quinoa, teas and superfoods. The fresh selection is small but has all the essentials - free-range, organic eggs; freshly made coconut yoghurt; kale; garlic; lemons and so on. They also make coconut milk lattes, gluten free apple muffins and 'bulletproof' coffee. Spice Box are USDA organic certified, and also operate as a pickup point for the EatFresh weekly organic grocery box scheme. The service is super friendly and helpful too.

Pressed Juices | 81a Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong (there are also stores in Quarry Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui)

I've been a fan of Pressed Juices since I encountered their first stores in Sydney - I feel like they were one of the first companies to sell cold pressed juices and smoothies. So, I was happy to find their Hong Kong outpost in my neighbourhood. There's nothing groundbreaking here - simply bottles of fresh juices and smoothies in various hues. Favourites include the Greens 01, a verdant and savoury blend of cucumber, spinach, parsley, kale, lettuce and celery; and the Berry Glow 02, a bright and tangy apple, strawberry and coconut mixture. Their smoothies are good too - I prefer the nut mylk based ones - just steer clear of the one with peppermint oil in it, it's overwhelmingly flavoured to the point of being undrinkable.

Lock Cha Teahouse10 Cotton Tree Dr, KS Lo Gallery, Hong Kong Park, Admiralty

Set amongst pretty, tropical plants in Hong Kong Park, Lok Cha Teahouse is a sedate alternative to busy, crowded dim sum restaurants - and it's entirely vegetarian. There is an extensive tea menu and the dim sum menu changes daily - think fried turnip cake, steamed vegetable buns, panfried mushroom dumplings and sticky rice; as well as more inventive options like a wasabi green pea cake.  A nice thing to do for a weekend lunch.

style inspiration: jessica de ruiter

Things Jessica likes...

A white shirt and flat, black pointed pumps.
Evan Healy's skincare, Phylia de M. haircare and minimal RMS makeup. 
Celine, Equipment, Acne, Lanvin, Dries Van Noten, The Row, Stella McCartney.
Daily hiking. 
White cotton pyjamas.
Moroccan rugs and kilims, pottery and lots of art.
Blossoming branches.
Alice Waters and Joan Didion.
Wild salmon and homemade guacamole.
Farmers markets.
Heath Ceramics.

More Jessica...

On Garance Dore, here and here.
On Instagram
On Rip + Tan

hey baby: mum reading

At this point in my pregnancy I've started to think less about the birth itself, and keeping healthy during the pregnancy; and more about motherhood and how that might feel and look for me.

Any residual (and tenuous) interest in fashion bloggers has waned, and now I spend lots of time dipping into the worlds of women who have children and write about it. I enjoy all of them for different reasons.

Reading My Tea Leaves

Erin's blog is wonderful on all sorts of subjects - living in a small apartment, life in general, food - but it's her approach of minimalism and simplicity to both parenting and 'baby stuff' that really appeals. While it ends up being a frugal approach, it's not really the focus, it's more about approaching being a mother and family in a way which is straightforward and without the unnecessary. She's an excellent source of recommendations for handmade and small business products; as well as practical tips on baby's books, toys, sleep needs and clothing.

Annie Dean

I love Annie Dean! I started out reading her blog a few years ago and adore her life - it's so different to mine - her blog is an insight into a beautiful WASPy New York lawyer mother world. It's underscored by a no nonsense approach to parenting and birth and a minimal, high quality approach to 'stuff' - her minimal baby list and drug free birth story are SO inspiring. I've followed her list to the letter and her account of an epidural free labour has done much more for my confidence and security than endless readings of a fluffy hypnobirthing book.

The Indigo Crew

This Australian blogger and stylist has a beautiful approach to sharing her family life online. It is quiet and subtle and full of craft, book recommendations, cooking and art projects that really appeal to me. I love her focus on the handmade and the simple - it's very inspiring. Her kids watch a film once a week but most of their time is dedicated to playing and making things - they're also beautifully dressed.

Molly Guy on The Glow

Molly Guy is hilarious and blunt and honest and I love her.

"I’m really disorganized. I see all these moms on the subway with Goldfish crackers and seaweed chews in these little Muji Tupperware containers in this perfect little diaper bag and I’m pulling a half-eaten Kind bar out of my Chanel bag with a taxi receipt stuck to it and I’m like 'eat this.'"

"When it comes to being a mother, don't listen to anyone. Absolutely no one. Ignore all of it: the breastfeeding tips, the sleep-training dogma, the attachment parenting books, the wooden toys credo, food allergies hysteria, EVERYTHING. Being a mom is about developing your own style, just like anything else. Your kid is going to be complicated and tormented and amazing just like every other human being that walks this earth no matter what, so trust your instincts and drown out the noise. The only person who knows what your child needs is you."

Mimi Thorisson and Melanie Utzman on Romy and the Bunnies

I adore Mimi's blog and cookbook, and I always make a lot of her Christmas recipes over the holidays. Her life looks idyllic, full of dogs and children in the French countryside. 

And as for myself I suppose, like any mother, I have found that having children puts your focus in the right place–things that once seemed important suddenly don’t seem so important any more. In twenty years, my grandchildren’s lives will be affected by what kind of father my son is–they won’t really care how many pairs of shoes I had.

And of course, the style of Paris Vogue's Melanie Utzman is lovely too, it's nice to see how she interacts with her daughter while keeping a sense of self (Hermes baby furniture? Naturally).  

home time

Looking forward to decorating our new apartment, and feeling inspired by A Merry Mishap's simple, unfussy decor with lots of linen and simple shapes. Of course, my home will never be as minimal as this, but with these basics and lots of books, and a few plants, I think it will be feeling relaxing and easy to live in quite quickly. I love this Eames side table and the idea of using linen slipcovers for basic Ikea furniture.

elsewhere: a piece apart woman

There is nothing more satisfying to the curious than a well put together 'at home' interview with women you admire. A Piece Apart, the New York clothing brand not only makes simple, beautiful clothing that I want to wear all the time; but manages to profile women of style, substance and intelligence. I want to be friends with all of them, and they make me want to work hard and make great things. You can read them all here, and I suggest you dedicate a few hours to doing so. From NYC chef Camille Beccera to London designer Gemma Holt, everyone featured is creating something interesting, inspiring and true.