My November | 11.2017.

Conscious Consumerism, Finances, Lifestyle, Minimalism, Music, Personal





1. I’ve been watching Annie Tarasova’s Youtube channel for what feels like forever, since I first discovered her video on the meaning of crystals and their use in technology today. Since then, I’ve watched all her videos minus the ones about being vegan. I’ve learnt and reflected so much on intuition, minimalism, synchronicity, the moon, meditation, happiness and so much more.. Plus how truly relevant they are to the world today! Whether you believe in it or not, spirituality is interconnected and manifested into real life in powerful ways. 

I’ve always wanted to express my gratitude for all the rich and profound knowledge I’ve learnt from Annie, so I finally purchased some of her amazing art prints from her Etsy shop, DreamyMoons. Inspired by the universe, each piece is absolutely gorgeous and unique. I’m overjoyed with my new posters!

IMG_1709 (2000x1333)

2. After years of being a Les Mills gym member, this week I sold my membership! I will miss the energetic, vibrant atmosphere and weekly BODYPUMP, which helped me become a stronger person physically and mentally, but I feel lighter not paying almost $100 per month for my membership. Plus, I’ve proactively done something beneficial, financially sensible and which adds value to my life. It’s funny what happens when you put things into perspective. With the extra $100 per month, I can literally take out a decent loan to renovate my house!

Now, the possibilities are open. I could save for a treadmill, run on the street/at the park/on the beach, or join CityFitness, who is 24/7, closer to me, and still offers weight + yoga/pilates group fitnesses classes at less than half the price.


3. My beau and I are both lovers of Japanese food, so for date night, I chose the luxurious Tokyo Bay in Takapuna. Right by the beach, the restaurant is ambient, sophisticated and cozy, with an absolutely delicious menu. We loved the miso eggplant, karaage chicken, massive bento boxes and dessert. 

IMG_1608 (3000x1999)

IMG_1665 (3000x2000)

IMG_1583 (2)

4. I saw Lorde live for her Melodrama World Tour! You can read about my experience here.




5. I saw Yumi Zouma live for the second time this year. Following their tour of Europe, the UK, and Japan, my favourite New Zealand band have made their way back home for their Willowbank tour. They played my favourites – Persephone, Depths Pt.1, December, and Alena! 

There’s something about their music; the chill, synth-pop beat and original, authentic lyrics. Even among the heavy smell of smoke and perfume, it was the most incredible feeling dancing to them live again and seeing people form a circle during Alena (only ‘real fans’ know why :P). Willowbank + Lorde’s Melodrama = pretty much my 2017 soundtrack.




6. I added a touch of sophistication to my home with these gorgeous new coasters from Cathy Pope, who I discovered from Good magazine. Made with real agate dyed pink with a gold rim, I love having slices of the earth’s DNA on my tabletops! 


7. I got to make good use of my new coasters when I hosted an early Christmas cocktails at my place with my girls from IAG! Plenty of rosé? Tick. Fresh strawberries? Tick. A mini sparkly Christmas tree? Tick. I lit my handmade Raspberry & Vanilla soy candle to set the mood, and all was set. We had so much fun catching up; it makes me wish we were all in the same workplace again! I’m so grateful that months after all going our separate ways, we remain good friends and catch up on the regular.




8. I had such a blast at Wanderlust 108! An ‘all-out celebration of mindful living’, the day consisted of a 5k triathlon (ie. three laps around Western Springs Lake!), over an hour of yoga to find our rhythm, and finally, a meditation session alongside thousands of people. All this plus healthy, delicious food, a little market, and bonus activities such as hooping, essential oils, music, aerial yoga & acroyoga. It was an incredible and worthwhile day to focus on mindfulness, wellness, connecting with nature with each other, and self-love!

This was my favourite song played during yoga. Love the passionate but peaceful energy.


sophia signature


How To Be Time Affluent + Find More Free Time

Conscious Consumerism, Lifestyle, Minimalism

Being ‘time affluent’, as coined by psychologists Tim Kasser & Kennon Sheldon, is exactly what it sounds like: being rich and abundant in time. Something we all want to be.

When I used the power of negative thinking to figure out exactly what I wanted in life, I also wrote down something else. A value of mine that I wanted to guide me in all my future life decisions: Time is worth more than money. To me, time as an investment is invaluable and irreplaceable. Think about it: today is the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be again. Money is replaceable, but what about time? Energy? Youth?

Here are some excerpts from books I’ve personally read and found interesting.

The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

Absolute income is measured using one holy and inalterable variable: the raw and almighty dollar. Jane Doe makes $100,000 per year and is thus twice as rich as John Doe, who makes $50,000 a year.

Relative income uses two variables: the dollar and time, usually hours. The whole “per year” concept is arbitrary and makes it easy to trick yourself. Let’s look at the real trade. Jane Doe makes $100,000 per year, $2000 for each of the 50 weeks of the year, and works 80 hours a week. Jane Doe thus makes $25 per hour. John Doe makes $50,000 per year, $1000 for each of 50 weeks per year, but works 10 hours per week and hence makes $100 per hour. In relative income, John is four times richer.

Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Our culture is obsessed with time. It is our personal deficit crisis. We always think we’re saving time, and yet we feel like we never have enough of it. (…) Like airlines, we routinely overbook ourselves, fearful of any unused capacity, confident we can fit everything in. We fear that if we don’t cram as much as possible into our day, we might miss out on being fabulous, important, special, or career advancing. But there are no rollover minutes in life. We don’t get to keep all that time we “save”. It’s actually a very costly way to live.

Now you may be thinking, “This all sounds great, but how can I actually find more free time?”

It may surprise you that you already have more time than you think. Day by day, we feel so time poor, but too often we fail to see the bigger picture – probably because we don’t spend our time mindfully. I’d like to share some time budgeting methods that changed my life.

A simple method from 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam motivated me to start with a blank slate; to take a step back and look at exactly just how time affluent I already am.

First, we start with 168 hourly slots in a week. Of those, I spend

19.5 hours working (7, 6.5 and 6 hours)
3 hours getting ready for work (1 hour x 3 days)
1.5 hours walking to/from work (15 mins twice x 3 days)
56 hours sleeping (8 hours x 7 days)
2.25 hours showering (approx. 20 mins x 7 days)
3 hours volunteering
0.5 hours driving to/from volunteer work (15 mins each way)

3 hours working out (I run + attend BODYPUMP class 3 times a week)

That leaves me with 79.25 hours per week.

“Well duh,” you say. “You work part-time.”

Even working full-time last year, it would’ve looked like this:

37.5 hours working (7.5 hours x 5 days)
5 hours getting ready for work (1 hour x 5 days)
2.5 hours walking to/from work (15 mins twice x 5 days)
56 hours sleeping
2.25 hours showering
3 hours working out

I would’ve still had a whopping 61.75 hours per week!

Work out your own 168 hours. Rejoice at how much free time you had that you didn’t even realise.

Are you pleasantly surprised yet? Congrats! That new language you’ve always wanted to learn, that dance class you’ve always wanted to take, that gym session you always want to fit in, that book you’ve always wanted to read – or write! – you have time for it!

Not time affluent? If you are short on time, I also love the Must-Do List – thanks to Sarah Knight of Get Your Sh*t Together. 

It works like this: after writing your to do list, prioritise and pick out what needs to be done today. Wipe the rest out and move to tomorrow. Repeat.

For example, my to-do list could look like this:

Write blog

Read book

Pick up candle supplies

Order present 

Buy groceries

And my must-do list would then look like this:

Pick up candle supplies

Buy groceries

See? It’s easy.

Now, how to get the most out of that time.

Be mindful by single tasking. If we have so much free time, where does it all go? We lose it because we spend it mindlessly. 20 minutes of scrolling through social media, 15 minutes of indecisive procrastination, and we lose parts of our day without even realising. Single tasking boosts productivity, increases mindfulness, improves cognitive performance & accuracy, and makes you happier – because by being mindful, you can find deeper focus, feeling more engaged in your work (whether that be paid work or your own work of creativity/art). You’ll free yourself to be fully present and in the moment, increasing feelings of awe, wonder and appreciation.

Meditate. I use the meditation apps Calm and Stop, Breathe & Think, and both are absolutely brilliant. With Calm, the Body Scan was my favourite to de-stress, but I found something surprising: it always made time slow down. Case in point: when I truly, deeply focus on even the 5 minute Body Scan meditation, 5 minutes expands to feel like 20 minutes. I open my eyes and come back to reality feeling like I’ve just taken a long, deep nap and gotten plenty of rest. Incredible to say the least.

Live in alignment. Have you ever stopped to assess if you are living aligned with your values? Nobody says, “I live for money. I live to please my boss/family/friends/anyone but myself. I live to chase goals that aren’t truly sustainable or important.” But so many of us live that way. Busy is not synonymous with productive, or beneficial, or valuable, or meaningful, or purposeful. That’s why I keep my time balanced, and do things I value, like volunteering – even though it’s 3 hours out of my day every week, I still always feel like I have all the time in the world, because it fills me with more energy, happiness and sense of purpose.

So, think about everything you did today, or this week. Now, think about which of those things were genuinely worthwhile. Is there a discrepancy? There you have it!

I hope this has inspired you to appreciate each and every single moment, and to make time for what matters.


sophia signature

How I Saved $232 a Month While Looking for a Job

Conscious Consumerism, Finances, Lifestyle, Minimalism, Personal


Hello friends,

Today I wanted to share with you how I reduced my monthly expenses, and talk about whether I’ve noticed much difference in my life. I’d like to thank a brief period of unemployment that motivated me to make these positive changes, some of which were only temporary – if it weren’t for my need to reduce expenses, I might’ve never truly evaluated where my money was going, and what was important to me. 

When I proof-read this to my partner, he shot me a hilariously sarcastic look and said, “You were just wasting a lot of money to begin with.” And I was. So while I write this, know I understand that everyone is different, and this post might not be relevant to those of you who have been wiser with money. But even if this post is irrelevant to 80% of its readers, to the 20% of readers it is relevant to, it may be helpful and inspiring. I certainly hope so!

Here’s exactly what I cut back on.

Spotify Premium | This was the first to go, as it’s obviously a want and not a need. By cancelling my subscription, I saved $14.99 NZD a month. Not a bad start.

Have I noticed much? No. I still use Spotify, but less. Since I noticed that I always listened to the same artists & albums, instead I support them and listen ad-free to their CD’s. It’s a win-win in many ways. Having a tangible piece of work made with love, sweat, inspiration and creativity, is priceless. I love the original artwork, the lyric booklets, the quirky sentimental photographs, the artists’ personal thank-you’s – all of it feels so much more authentic than a digital music library. And buying a new CD for $20-25 every couple of months only when I’ve actually found something I love? Definitely beats paying $15 every single month.

LinkedIn Premium (Career) | I was subscribed to this service because I enjoyed using LinkedIn Learning – the courses are well structured with helpful tutors and chapter quizzes to build your knowledge. You can find anything, from photography, to graphic design, to human resources, to leadership, to writing.. The possibilities are endless! Though I loved it, unsubscribing saved me $40.24 NZD a month. 

Have I noticed much? No. Shortly after unsubscribing, I subscribed to more Youtubers of lifestyle, organisation, productivity, minimalism, zero waste and personal finance. I also signed up to a two month free trial of Skillshare, another online learning platform full of exciting courses – plus earned extra months by signing friends up to a free trial! I’m divided – both LinkedIn Learning and Skillshare are great, so I’ll do an update further down the track as to my choice of online course self-learning.

Mobile Phone Data | After my mortgage & car, my phone is one of the priciest expenses. Looking at where I could save, I realised I had a ton of carryover data – about 30GB – which is enough to last me months! Reducing my data from 7GB to 2.5GB saved me $30 NZD a month.

Have I noticed much? Not at all – especially with my change of job and change of habits. I spend less time on my phone and when I do, I usually have WiFi.

Office 365 | I’d used only Word and Excel all my life in school & work, so when it came to wanting to type things up at home, they were my first choice – but I didn’t think of looking around for better, more affordable or even free services. I was so determined to use Office to be more productive, but I just never used it as much as I thought I would – so unsubscribing saved me $10 NZD a month.

Have I noticed much? No. After unsubscribing, I searched for something like ‘best free writing apps”. It took a bit of experimenting, but I ended up loving the brilliant WPS Office, which comes with Writer, Spreadsheets & Presentation, and have used it ever since. It does absolutely everything I need it to, like formatting text & pictures and converting to PDF. (And for what? Just putting up with only one ad every time it opens – that’s all!)

Gym Membership | I’ve always been part of Les Mills because the atmosphere is bright, energetic and colourful, with brilliant classes and motivating instructors. Luckily, they have an option for you to suspend your membership for up to 90 days per membership year, at no cost. I took the opportunity to temporarily suspend my membership and fortnightly payment of $49, saving me a whopping $98 NZD a month.

Have I noticed much? Yes. I miss the runner’s high after a long treadmill workout, and feeling strong, refreshed and energised after a BODYPUMP sweat session. Unfortunately I’m not motivated to run at all in the drab winter weather. So while I’ve balanced out my lack of gym exercise with Blogilates, free yoga sessions (offered by Lululemon and Golden Yogi every Sunday morning!) and eating healthy foods, I’m delighted to go back soon.

Mortgage | When I first took out my home loan, I was overjoyed that I could change my regular payments online with just a few clicks. Rounding up my fortnightly mortgage payments and increasing them by only $19.49 saved me 2 years & 7 months, hence I went ahead and did it. So when I really needed to stick to a budget, I reversed the change – saving $38.98 NZD a month.

Since earning a stable income again, I increased it by $79.49 a fortnight – $158.98 a month – saving me 8 years and 3 months. Hooray!

So how much did I manage to save?

The things I managed to save on indefinitely: $95.24 a month.

Including the things I saved on temporarily (gym, mortgage): $232.22 a month.

The experience of reducing my monthly expenses wasn’t frustrating. In fact, it was enlightening and eye-opening. Much like decluttering my physical belongings, I felt lighter. Not only do I have less bills and less to remember, my life feels, once again, more intentional, devoting and allocating my time and money to bigger & better things!

I hope this has been helpful to you, and thank you for reading!

sophia signature