Welcome! Honest Lies is the personal site of a 25 year old graduate electrical engineer living in the UK. Covering every day life, books and various other randomness. Read more about me and the site here.

The one with all the plants

I have a lot of plants. Arguably, too much. They are in every room in my house, apart from my landing which has no window. It started when I was 18 when my best friend gave me a hen and chick for my dorm room at university, and my dad followed suit by giving me a small schefflera cutting and a miniature cactus. I was not particularly good with plants when I received them, but I was determined to keep them alive…how embarrassing to tell someone that you killed their present right? So I learned how to look after them, watered them religiously, and re-potted as necessary. 8 years later, the schefflera cutting has turned into a tree which is taking over my living room, the hen and chick is going strong and has given many babies which I have in my flat, at my parents’ house, and I even gave one to my sister. The cactus I nearly killed when repotting it – half of it rotted away because I damaged the root and didn’t give it enough time to heal before watering – but I managed to salvage a scrap of it and plant it and it grew. Phew. And these three have been joined by many, many others. I like the color they infuse into the place, and I like having something alive in my space. (And I admit, I do have an emotional attachment to my eldest, my original trio, whom I kept alive even when I was struggling to keep myself alive. They make me feel weirdly proud, like look what I raised through my sadness and anxiety) (that’s probably weird…)

At the moment they may be a little *too* alive. I’ve been plagued by pests since moving into my new flat and particularly this summer. I never struggled at my previous residences and I don’t know what’s changed. Something came through the window, a dodgy batch of compost, simply the fact that my flat is so warm and sunny? My plants grow fantastically in these conditions, but I guess it follows that so will pests. I’ve struggled with tiny flies on my schefflera for a while now – they have never caused damage though, nor grown to ridiculous numbers, I rinse off my schefflera regularly with neem which seems to help keep it under control. And I could catch the flies and throw them into my Betta tanks and so convince myself I dunno, was growing my own fish food or something. A positive spin. I took some schefflera cuttings though and their soil is much more infested with the flies and I think it’s preventing them growing :( and this summer I have two more unwanted guests… two of my other plants have tiny little mites on them. And the other day I was putting on my facial moisturiser when I looked over to a nearby plant – this is in my bedroom – and saw worms crawling in the soil. D: After ten minutes of panicking I simply picked up the plant, took it outside and deposited it on the porch outside my door, where it will stay until it dies, because worms. Worms. 3cm long each. And who knows how long they’ve been there in my bedroom? It’s all very gross. I typically dislike fake plants but I can kinda understand it now. I was reading about the worms and there were instructions on how to get rid of them by picking them up and…no. I bought some houseplant insecticide and I’ve sprayed the mites. I don’t like using insecticide indoors, especially with fish tanks, but I feel I’ve reached that point. I’ve been spraying them with a soapy solution for weeks now and it’s not working and I just cannot anymore.

I need to stop buying plants and focus on the welfare of the ones I’ve got. It should not have taken me so long as it did to pick up on the mites and the worms – I should have caught on to it before it got that bad.

I feel like lately I’m doing a lot of random and useless shopping. Nonsensical things – makeup, clothes, PLANTS. I keep finding things to buy and bring into my house even though I don’t need them. It makes sense ultimately – I’m stressed, and unhappy, and shopping and new things makes me happy. I like having new and interesting plants, I like having the latest pretty highlighter or foundation that YouTube has raved about, a new cute outfit. Lately, it’s like I’ve lost the ability to say no to myself or to respect my bank account which ouch. And maybe I shouldn’t admit that here, I know. I’m sorry, I’m bad with money and I don’t have a budget. I fail as a blogger. But nonetheless I’ve never been terrible with money – I keep my bills paid and debt low. But yeah. I don’t have the capacity to really deal with it now- see being stressed and unhappy -but it’s on my mind.

At the very least, I need to stop buying more plants.

I should give some more love to the ones I already have I think. :)

Fear

Cotton Grass on the moors, Shutlingsloe from the distance, a resevoir, and sheep.
This lovely, sunny bank holiday weekend I am stuck at home recovering from a particularly annoying cold. So I thought I would share photos from last weekend; I went home to see my parents, and my father and I went for a walk on Sunday to Shutlingsloe, in the Peak District, and a nearby forest. As I had a bus to catch home in the afternoon, we made our walk a very early one – starting at around 9am in the morning. We first climbed Shutlingsloe, taking advantage of how quiet it was in the early morning, and how cool it still was. There were flowers out even on the moors- sloeberry bushes beginning to form their fruits, and rogue daisies, and fluffy cotton grass. I picked a stalk of those, running my fingers through the soft flower. We ascended and it was still up there, for once, and we sat and snacked as we gazed out onto the countryside and the hazy profiles of Cheshire and Greater Manchester in the distance. We then descended and went for a long meander, country roads, bare and gloomy pine forests, and then a grove of sycamore trees where, to our surprise, a huge amount of bluebells were carpeting the forest floor. It was stunning. We continued walking, exploring more mixed forests and another pine forest, and were quite tired by the end, as the sun got stronger and stronger, but it was very refreshing, and very pretty out there.

Bluebells. *_*
We have done that walk, or a walk like it, Shutlingsloe and the surrounding area, so many times now, so familiar now, there’s probably an entry on this blog with photos like this, but it’s still one of our favourites , and there is something to be said for the familiar. Even that can surprise sometimes, such as with the unexpected swath of bluebells. I was sorting through some old files the other day and stumbled upon a video of my father, my sister and I climbing Shutlingsloe several years ago, I was still small and chatting away to nobody, my sister was a teenager, whiny and annoyed, and my poor father meanwhile was just trying to film some scenery. It was snowing. And it surprised me to see us out in that weather, to see myself so confidently striding through the snow , ascending and descending what surely must have been a slippery path, surely, without concern. It’s amazing how fearless we are as children, and I wonder when fear and worry begins to set in? When do we become aware of danger? I wouldn’t go out on a walk like that in the snow now; I’d be scared of slipping and hurting myself, of getting stranded in freezing conditions. Younger me clearly wasn’t so concerned – even in simple trainers, she was happy to just walk. I guess that’s ultimately all there is to it, but it’s our minds that get in the way as we get older.

I recently went to see a new therapist and we were talking about my history and she asked me when it began – my anxiety- and I wonder too. It feels like it’s always been there, but when I look at pictures and videos of myself when I was younger I’m so bold and outspoken that clearly there was a time I was not? I must have just taken growing up a little too hard, or something. It’s puzzling how different I am as a child and as an adult. Something must have gone very wrong somewhere along the way.

Stack of fresh cut pine logs – my father and I counted the rings of the bigger ones and estimated them to between 50-60 years old. Forest scenery, an old road, and a small abandoned house in the forest. Someone had gone to the effort of researching the owner of that house, printing out and laminating a small information sheet and laying it at the base of the house. Very interesting.
Anyway, to go back to the topic of therapy – I decided to go private this time, sick of NHS waiting lists and the inflexibility of treatment options, and it’s very expensive, possibly too expensive to be feasible in the long run, but very thought provoking. I hope this time I can get a handle on my anxiety. Life is still not going well. I am grateful for the good moments – for forests full of bluebells and my family, and an hour with a therapist (an impartial voice) who understands. Life did not go the way I expected after graduating, and being an adult is hard.


I wish I could go out and explore this weekend – to another forest, another moor, to the seaside. It’s so nice to get out and breathe in some fresh air when your brain is all anxious and unhappy. Alas, stupid cold. I’m going to have to waste this weekend. :(

I still can’t take good pictures of my fish. Whether in daylight or at night time, there are a) too many reflections to deal with and b) they never stop moving. Honestly don’t know how other people do it.

Spent the majority of today setting up my youngest Bettas new tank. He was in an undersized 12L so I knew he needed to be rehomed in a 20L+ at some point, like my other Betta, but for cost and laziness reasons I have been putting it off. Well, I figured a long weekend is the perfect time to move him over.

I bought the tank last weekend, bought the gravel after work on Friday, and I thought I was all set up. I soaked some spare wood I had yesterday, and then today I began to put the tank together. Only to realise I didn’t have enough gravel. At 3.45pm on a Sunday. Sunday trading laws in the UK mean most shops close 4:00pm-5:00pm. So, thank everything I have a car. I rushed out to the pet shop and got there half an hour before it closed, picked up gravel and a background, because why order from Amazon if I’m already at the pet shop and they have them, and then tried to rush back but got stuck in traffic and yeah. It was a bit stressful. But gravel acquired I could carry on. I took my fish out his tank and placed him in a bucket (with a brief interlude where I held up to my other Betta to see what would happen. My other Betta caught on quickly and began to flare and display. Unfortunately the Betta I was moving was a bit frantic after being caught so didn’t realise what was going on. Note- I only showed them to each other very briefly, probably 30s to a minute! I wasn’t being cruel about my curiosity…) (Note 2 I don’t move my bettas using a net due to their long fins. I scoop them up in a jug instead! So my little betta was in a jug with some water when I was showing him to my other betta…)

Then I disassembled his tank and began to combine the old with the new. I had to use some of the old gravel, because I needed, well, the waste caught up in it (the gravel/tank base is an important part of the biological filter) but it didn’t match the new color scheme, hence why I needed lots of new gravel. So I used just a tiny bit of the old gravel and then covered it up with the new gravel. I planted the fake plants, and then moved the tank into position before adding the wood, filter, heater and beginning to fill it up with a combo of new water and the water from the old tank. (I also moved half the old filter media to the new filter – old gravel, old water and old filter media should mean the tank doesn’t cycle again and the biological filter should be in place from the get go!)

Finally, the fish could go in. But of course he was wise to my tricks and it took me ages to catch him again (fish are so quick!) I got him in the new tank eventually. There’s no baffle on the filter in the new tank yet which he definitely doesn’t like, but I think he has been enjoying exploring his new space? Mostly he seems a bit confused by it all. I hope I didn’t stress him out too much with the whole thing :/ he wasn’t in the bucket long and I tried to keep all the various waters he was experiencing at similar temperatures…. It would be a shame for him to get sick when he is finally in a proper sized tank….

A List

I thought this would be a good post to follow up the last no poo update! So: Ways in which I am attempting to live a greener, more sustainable lifestyle, in no particular order-

Switched to renewable energy
When I came to renew my energy plan I realised that switching to my suppliers green/fully renewable electricity plan was similar in price to mixed fuel so I went for it. Really pleased to see my fuel breakdown on my bills now.

Next step: put standby loads onto remotes so I don’t leave anything on standby that doesn’t need it.

Switched soap and moving to greener cleaning products
Switched my liquid hand soap from the supermarket brand to soaps from the The Little Soap Company and Handmade Naturals. They are way better on my hands, smell gorgeous and are, well, more expensive, but I get to support small UK businesses. I have also been looking at using more eco cleaning products, and am currently switching to products by Ecover and Method. I think both of these are based in Europe so it’s not as good as supporting a smaller UK business would be, but both are affordable and I can pick them up in my local supermarkets which makes a huge difference. I love my liquid soaps above, but it’s a pain that when I run out I need to order them online and wait for them to come – I want to be able to nip to my local shops (again local, not have to go to the city center or anything either!) so I’m compromising a little with the cleaning products and looking at what I can get in my supermarkets, rather than being fussy about using only UK brands. At least the products themselves are much better for the environment. On saying that, I do need to do more research about homemade cleaners, such as white vinegar. Though I can’t get white vinegar in my local shop actually :/

Next step: use more reusable cleaning tools, such as microfibre clothes. I probably use way too many paper towels.

Switched to reusable pads, decomposable pads
I am still happily using cloth pads and liners. The first pads I bought are only now beginning to fail on me, over 5 years (I think) after buying them. It’s pretty cool. (And well the cost of these is really high up front despite long term savings – so it’s good they last!) I was struggling with using cloth pads when traveling though – whether for the day for a client visit, or going on holiday. Thankfully my mom told me about a brand that produces fully decomposable, cotton only pads. (Not sponsored- but I love the Organyc brand) I like to use those when I need to be on the road or when travelling abroad as a happy middle ground between cloth pads/liners and the normal ones.

Next step: learn how to make my own liners. (Not ambitious enough to try pads yet!) The plan is to turn old cotton clothes into new liners, or something like that.

Switched to reusable face cotton, cardboard ear buds
As well as cloth pads I have been using reusable cotton rounds to apply my face toner, which I sew up myself (as it’s very easy to do, and they don’t exactly need to be pretty!). I also use a lot of ear buds for my eye makeup, or to apply spot treatments, and I was totally lost as to how to what the reusable alternative to those would be. So I was pretty happy to discover ear buds with cardboard stems. Again, it’s a happy middle ground. Still producing waste, but at least its better waste. Less plastic.

Next steps: none.

Carrying and using reusable bag(s)
I try to always take a reusable bag with me to the shops. I like the envirosax bags, which are available on Amazon. They are huge, strong, and lightweight and, if you can be bothered with it, you can fold them up into a tiny parcel. It’s amazing that something so flimsy feeling and looking can actually be so strong. Oh, and they come in beautiful patterns, with lots of styles and colours to choose from. Cath Kidstons shoppers are also wonderful – but almost too cute to use. (Again not sponsored, just in love.)

Next step: stop forgetting the reusable bag at home. Must start keeping a stash in my car.

Using a Bamboo toothbrush
My most recent experiment – I bought and started to use a Bamboo tooth brush. It’s honestly no different, though I’m keen to see if it lasts as long as the plastic ones. Once I’m done with my toothbrush, many months after its recommended to change them admittedly, I tend to hang on to them to use for cleaning. I would like it if the bamboo toothbrush had the same life cycle, and if in the end would it make as good a cleaner? It was very expensive. :/

Next step: alternative toothpaste maybe…?

Taking a reusable cup to Starbucks
The 25p off is a good incentive. I admit I still use the plastic straws they provide – must remember to buy steel ones! On the subject of steel….

Next step: buy steel straws.

Switched to a Steel Water Bottle
I tried to use reusable plastic bottles but no matter how much I cleaned them I always found they gave my water a funny smell and taste. Mildew built up really easy in them. So now I’m trying a steel bottle. It’s bigger and heavier, clumsier and louder to use too, than I’d prefer, but so far none of the problems keeping it clean and fresh like with the plastic ones. And it keeps my water cool for a long time which, as a fan of cold water, I really appreciate.

Next step: buy a different steel bottle, with a smaller design.

Changed my lightbulbs to LED types
More efficient (should save me money!) and equally bright. Totally easy to do (or for my dad to do for me ;) )

Next steps: none.

Recycling!
As a service provided by my council this one is free, easy and takes no extra effort on my part so I’m not sure if it counts. But I recycle the majority of my paper, cardboard and plastic waste. (My council doesn’t take glass though :( ) I am currently looking into clothes recycling too. I have a lot of old clothes, which not all are in good enough shape for charity. The next thing to do would be to reuse the materials, to make cotton facial pads or liners for instance, but not all the materials are right for reuse. So I need to find a way to…do something with them that’s not throwing them in the trash. I do believe H&M have a scheme, and maybe M&S. Just got to find the courage to do it!

Next steps: make the effort to gather my glass recycling, take clothes into town for recycling.

I’ve found it all easy so far, but expensive (even if, like the pads, there are savings to be made in the long run.)(On saying that, when it comes to LED bulbs and renewable electricity – these have no become on par with older technologies, so no more expensive to do. These are the exceptions.) (I also feel there is some irony that I need to get a lot of the stuff like steel water bottle and bamboo toothbrushes from amazon. That’s an ok use of the word ironic isn’t it? If not, hope you see how it’s quite funny.) (It can also be a pain that all of this stuff needs ordering from amazon or other websites – see soap example above. I forgot to put an order through for my decomposable liners before my recent holiday and of course I couldn’t get them in the shops, not even in the city center, so I just had to buy ordinary ones to take on holiday. You can’t get hold of this stuff last minute/without planning first!)

I’m only doing little things here and there, but I hope I’m making a difference, no matter how small. I am still haunted by the last episode of Blue Planet 2 (I pretty much cried through that episode). It’s easy to feel overwhelmed – what can I do? Will it make any difference at this point? But I do care, and so I will do what I can and keep experimenting to find new ways to make a little difference. At least it’s something.

Colors

Moorland+Neolithic Stone Circle

Last weekend was a busy one: I was determined to make the most of good weather on Saturday, so I went for a walk on a nearby moor. It was tough going at first as I climbed up onto the moor, and I wondered if I would cope with the rest of the walk, but thankfully once up on the moors it was flat and fairly easy going. I saw a stone circle, some grouse, and various other (mostly unknown) birds. I went out quite late in the afternoon, which made for a very atmospheric walk. At one point it was just me, walking through the moorlands alone, the sun low, bathing everything in soft, yellowish light, everything quiet apart from the rustle of the wind through the heather, and the occasional chatter of a grouse or burst of song from a skylark. I walked slowly then, enjoying the warmth and the peace and the fresh air. I really needed it. I tried to hold onto that feeling of peace and contentedness as long as I could once I was off the moors and on the bus home and throughout the week, but it somehow escaped me as the week dragged on.

At the opera.

Anyway, back to that weekend. The next day I went out to the opera, which was fantastic, although I somehow thought wearing sky high heels was a good idea, which was not fantastic. Ouch. I went to see “Salome” and I loved how dark it was. That, and it was a full orchestral staging which was just epic, really. It’s funny, I find opera annoying to listen to, but I just love to watch it. It’s so dramatic and almost over the top, but in a good way.

It was a good weekend all in all, but a little tiring. So this weekend I did nothing. I nested at home – doing chores, giving some TLC to plants and fish, lazing around idly watching YouTube videos. It was nice.

Spring is finally here! It’s wonderful seeing so much color in the world – cherry blossoms lined up on avenues, patches of daffodils below said cherry trees, city and town plantings, fields full of flowering rape seed…. That, and there’s lambs in the field and they are the cutest. :3

I’m still commuting to another office for work, which involves a much longer commute. I switched country roads for dual carriageway which is much easier and smoother to drive on, but it’s still very long. It leaves me feeling tired but also, strangely, a bit restless, as it’s also rather boring. I feel proud of myself for managing it (as I’m such a new driver) but at the same time not so proud for not managing it very well- it’s a struggle to be on time. It’s a bit different in many ways and I’m enjoying it, sure, but it’s not without its challenges.