Friday, November 13, 2015

A kitty convo.

Me: "I really want to take this free part-Siamese kitty to give to [daughter] for Christmas. What the hell is wrong with me??? It was found in our area. Already fixed. Healthy. About 4 year old female. Posted to the classified section at work by a compliance officer.

Husband: "Well, that was the last thing I expected to get today."

Me: "Yeah, someone at Starbucks must have laced my coffee with drugs."

Husband: "It is such a sweet idea, but, cats are fickle creatures, and there is no telling how the cat will do with the kids. Additionally, vet costs. Furthermore, I have thoroughly enjoyed not having to smell/clean a litter box for the past 10 years since I left for college."

Me: "Yeah, I was smoking crack. I'm over it now."

Husband: "Good."

Saturday, October 10, 2015

In search of a hobby/purpose?

The past several years have been nonstop hustling trying to get to the next step. Whether it was having babies, raising the babies, getting a grad degree, getting good jobs, buying a house, getting promotion, etc....I've always had my sights on something to work toward. I've been very lucky, and very tired!

Now I'm at a strange point in my life where it's fine tuning the details, the ever-trudging financial goals, and mainly just wondering where to go from here.

I have to have something outside of work/my career to fulfill me and define me as a person. I'm realizing it's super lame to only have your job to talk about when you're around other people...even if you feel that your job is interesting. I'm really starting to enjoy being a mom more and more, but again, everyone - especially moms- needs to have something to work on and get creative with outside of their family duties.

I have thoughts swirling around about a side business, a community, an active hobby with other people, volunteering for charity, or something like that. I just know it's not joining a bible study, because I'm horrible at "sharing". We shall see!

Friday, September 25, 2015

A girl who has only 6 pairs of shoes??

I used to think 20 pairs was a small shoe collection. Now I've got my A team - 6 pairs. One type of shoe for each need - a cute sandal, a boot, a heel, a flat, a running shoe, and CHACOS. As fun as it sounds, I'd probably get anxiety with an epic shoe closet like this chick...if I'm not getting a ton of wear out of it, I don't want to possess it or be responsible for it.

Having only 6 pairs of shoes has made a lot of sense in my life....the six that I have are all really nice, and work perfectly for my lifestyle. From time to time I find myself wishing that I had a bright red shoe, but the simplicity of only having the essentials outweighs my fleeting desires for variety. For me, the creativity and variety comes from putting together outfits, jewelry, and makeup looks from my edited down collections of all those items.

My shoe collection used to look like this (in our previous home, 2 years ago)....but I feel much more free, mentally, with a more streamlined group of 6 shoes. And, it works better for my narrow shelves in the new house! I have to admit I miss my flats having a pointed toe - when my current flats become ragged, I'll prob. replace them with a pointed toe again. I can't deny my love for the pointed toe.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Minimal-ish makeup collection.

Over the past year, my makeup collection has evolved. I've started to appreciate the finer things in the makeup world, and while I don't have 20 blush color options, the one blush that I do have is kickass.

I'm still trying to cull down my makeup collection to only "value add" items. If it doesn't significantly impact my skincare or makeup look, it doesn't get a spot on the A-team. Below, I'll talk more about what I'm definitely not replacing, what I will buy again in the same shade/brand, and item types I have but haven't found "the one" yet.

I say this is minimal-ish, because I feel like calling it minimalist isn't accurate since there are more than like, 3 products. However, compared to the overflowing bins, drawers, and kaboodles that I had as a high school girl, and that many women still do have, it's pretty pared down. Makeup is utilitarian to me, but it's also something I enjoy. While I don't need tons of options, I want the items I have to be really good.

Back left compartment: Urban Decay concealer; Too Faced foundation; Too Faced primer/moisturizer. I will repurchase the concealer - love it. The foundation is nice, but I'll try something else next time. I'm still unsure about whether the primer is worth it or not. I may not replace it and just use my night cream in a lighter layer for a day moisturizer.

Mid left compartment: 4 essie nailpolishes. Top fave is "Ballet Slippers" and "Good to Go" topcoat. Two not as important shades are "Find me an Oasis" and "Watermelon". Clinique face powder (yes); Tarte bronzer (yes); Tarte blush (yes, but will prob go back to Nars "Orgasm" blush next time....that stuff is too good). Keep in mind I've had all three of the aforementioned since end of 2014, and wear it daily. When you get good stuff, it really lasts.

Front left compartment: Anastasia brow pomade; Urban Decay eyeshadow; Nars eyeshadow; Origins night cream. When the pomade, eyeshadow and my eyeliner (next area) run out, I'll probably make a MAC eyeshadow quad with four colors that serve all those purposes, instead of having 3-4 separate products. The Origins night cream is soooooo good. Will definitely repurchase.

Middle small compartments: Real Techniques Bold Metals brushes; Loreal mascara; NYX eyeliner; Clinique nude lipstick; MAC "Ruby Woo" lipstick. The brushes are good, and are super durable. The mascara is okay, but I'll def try a new kind when that runs out. The eyeliner is going bye bye after I use it up (see above regarding MAC quad in the plans). I love having a nude and a bold lipstick option. The Clinique one is good, but I'll probably try something new next. The MAC "Ruby Woo" is bright red, and seriously worth every dime.

Back right compartment: My scent that I discovered on my trip to Vancouver/AK this past summer....L'eau d'Issey by Issey Miyake (read scent profile here - floral/ozonic/aquatic). I smelled it first with my mom while burning time in an airport duty free shop. It was love at first smell, but I didn't buy it. Then days later on the cruise ship, they had it in their duty free shop (for much cheaper). My aunt and cousin fell in love with it too there on the cruise ship. So we all three bought it, and the funny thing is - it smells a bit different on each person. I appreciate perfume so much - I'd gladly splash out for that above all else. Pun not intended.

Front right compartment: Lip balm, and watch/rings. The poodle is a ring holder, but you can barely see my rings hanging from the tail from this angle.

Monday, September 7, 2015

My current wardrobe and life prerogatives

It's been almost two months since I've been here typing in my little blog.

What's my excuse? I got a promotion at work. All work and no play makes Donna a dull girl.

Here are my wardrobe and life prerogatives of the moment:
  • Find balance in my life / enjoy the present more.
  • Keep a clean and streamlined home.
  • Exercise once a day / Go on walk during lunch breaks / Don't count calories, but make healthier choices - hoping to slowly lose 15-20lbs. In the past two years, it appears that I've gained the "Office Job 15". SAD FACE.
  • Own less makeup, but own nicer makeup/skincare products
  • Don't buy any new clothes/jewelry/shoes until 2016 - and then only net zero (one in, one out)

I did the "uniform" for a couple of months, and it was a fun experiment. But now that I've got a new position at work, I've been compelled to go back to dressing much nicer. I've moved back into my work wardrobe of black suit jacket, 3 dresses, a couple of nice blouses, and dress slacks. It's definitely a capsule wardrobe of older pieces, and I like it. I'm not replacing anything that wears out until 2016, so I'm running pretty lean at the moment.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Owning houses and cars. I can see why intense minimalists don't want any of it.

While I fully understand and accept that spending lots of money on repairs and maintenance is part of car and home ownership, sometimes I feel like this isn't my circus, and I don't want these to be my monkeys....
If there is one single thing I would change about my life, it would be to completely cut commuting and everything about commuting out. That includes car ownership. I loathe owning cars. I loathe driving cars. I loathe paying for gas and tolls. I loathe the time I spend waiting in traffic. And more than those? I loathe dropping thousands on car maintenance.

In the past three months we've done the following things to our two cars:
  1. Replaced both sets of tires (talk about money rapidly leaving your wallet...)
  2. Subsequently got tires repaired/patched/single tires replaced again 2X
  3. Replaced battery
  4. Replaced failed transmission on newer car (covered under warranty - positive spin)
  5. Replaced break pads 
  6. Replaced and repaired rear bumper and trunk from being rear-ended
  7. Fixed windshield chips 4X
  8. Got hit by a gigantic semi truck tire that blew out, and jacked up our grill. Still haven't repaired it, but at least started an insurance claim.....
  9. Regular preventive maintenance/oil change every 5,000 miles, which we hit a couple times in the past few months.
I mean, this is borderline insane...but with how much we drive, I'm not too surprised a time like this was coming.

I have coping mechanisms for my commute (which I may write about), but unfortunately my city and circumstances haven't panned out to many other feasible alternatives to commuting.

Now, onto the house. There are joys to owning a home. Buying a house was a huge goal of mine. But sometimes, I wonder....why was it a goal of mine? The stress of being responsible for the upkeep and repair (mainly, the repair dollars) of this home you now own sometimes does not outweigh the joy of owning your home. I know it's an investment, and it's a long term bigger picture thing, but still. Is it worth the headache? It's not something I really "got" until I was actually experiencing this.

Everyone would rather spend their "house fixing" money on remodeling or decorating....but then when your AC starts dripping water down your wall - shit gets real. I just feel lucky that we've been able to swing these repairs. Some people have this stuff happen to their houses, and can't do a thing about it. My coping mechanism for the house repair frustrations is gratitude and perspective...but still doesn't stop me from wanting to blog about it!

Further, owning your house is one way to have your biggest possession tie you down, which is the antithesis of minimalism. For me though, I'm already tied down. I have young kids to put through school (soon) and feed! And wouldn't want to have it any other way!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Lululemon Lab Purchases, and 2 Months of Wearing a Uniform

While I was in Vancouver, I made several purchases at Lululemon Lab, which was a dream come true of mine (you may or may not know I've got a thing for Lululemon). I've been wanting to visit the Lab for years, and I'm not sure when I'll get to go back, so I kind of treated it like a once in a lifetime experience. All the stuff can transition from workout to streetwear, and many things are sharp enough to wear at work. My mom was kind enough to take some try on photos to help me decide what to purchase.....I had a blast. And loved everything.

We ended up going with the below four items for me, as well as some things for my husband:

1. Merino blend black mock turtleneck shirt (looks amazing with black pants and heels at work)
2. Black lightweight blazer/bomber jacket (another that I wear at work)
3. Bluish grey extra long tank top (great for running and layering)
4. Black skort (not for work, but can be worn for streetwear or running)

Just this past week, I found myself not really wearing my "uniform" of a light wash chambray shirt and black skinny slacks, and instead going for my dresses.

I don't think it's that I'm tired of my uniform....the trouble is that the shirts seem to look wrinkly, and I have started to lose patience with agonizing over my ironing board with them. In fact, I don't even feel like ironing my clothes....and these shirts are the only thing that require it. This, coupled with the fact that I've wanted to start dressing up more at work due to some stuff I have going on, so yeah....this week seems to be my break in uniform. I'm not sure that I'll give up my uniform, because after all, now I have 5 or so of the same exact shirt. But, I may have to accept that I may utilize them more for my off-work life. Who knows - maybe I'll swing back to them after a week break of constant ironing. But that's not really the point, is it? The point is to love the clothes you wear, and feel confident in them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Back from Alaska/Vancouver, BC

I've been back from my vacation for a couple of weeks now. I came away from vacation feeling refreshed, and best of all, feeling like I learned some new things and gained some perspective....

5 things I learned:
1. I read "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo on the flights. It really was a life-changing read, and I immediately implemented some of her methods. I may write about these in a separate post.

2. I love Canada....but it also made me appreciate the "American Spirit"/masculine confidence of the US. For example...on the buses in Vancouver, if a route is closed, the bus will display giant word "Sorry..." scrolling across the display. Very courteous and sensitive. In the US, we'd just be like, "hey, the bus is closed. no apologies here." I don't know if that's a good thing or not, but it made me feel a sense of endearment for the US.

3. The moment I stepped off the plane in Vancouver, I knew I wanted to live there. Spending time amongst the mountains in Alaska made me realize I'm more of a "mountain person" than a "beach person", which is the complete opposite of what I thought I knew about myself....

4. Being in "vacation mode" helped me reset my natural helped me learn to live in the present and enjoy life for what it is, and not worry as much about efficiency....

5. Taking time for yourself, even when you're a mom and a wife, is of the utmost importance for your health. A life change I made, actually starting on my vacation, was running EVERY SINGLE DAY, religiously. I've carried that over, and have been doing this for the past two weeks. No matter what, I find a way to run. I've already noticed changes in my body and my mind.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Spicing up my small wardrobe with a new accessory.

I'm no fashion blogger, but I do love a good bang for my buck, and practical way to look more dressed up without going all out in a tight pencil skirt and stiletto heels. While lately I've preferred more dainty jewelry, and have been sticking to my pared down collection of essentials - my uniform wearing has been the impetus for me to consider again the "statement necklace". Over the past couple of weeks in wearing my uniform almost daily, I've felt the need for something to make it look more put together and dressed up at work. I'm not wearing my standard chambray button up and black skinnies today in this pic because I had to do a presentation and look more formal (hence the blue dress from my capsule wardrobe). I don't feel that my style is "preppy", and I've always tried to avoid wearing pearls for this reason....however, I think wearing a cluster pearl necklace is a cooler way to do this ultimate biz-caz essential. The bigger the better, when it comes to pearl necklaces. Apparently, the bigger your pearl necklace, the closer you are to heaven?

This particular necklace is one I got from Target. I bought it in store, but found it listed online here for $30. I saw some similar necklaces like this at Target for less, but this one seemed more substantial and well-made than the cheaper alternatives. I also have looked at more expensive necklaces like this from Stella & Dot and J Crew, but for's not necessarily about buying the best quailty I can afford, but it's more about how much money do I want tied up in this fashion jewelry, and how durable and visually effective does this seem as compared to its competitors? I went with the low end of cost, but not the lowest end, as I didn't want something that I knew would break after a few wears. Consciously having less clothing makes me more aware and careful with my purchases, and most of the time, research and weighing my options gives me the best value and personal satisfaction when I invest in an addition, even if it's a small one like this gigantic pearl necklace.

We'll see how this holds up, but I'm really enjoying wearing this at work. If you get bored with your small collection of clothing, and feel like you need to change something, I think adding a different accessory is a good way to that.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What I'm packing in a carry on size: 10 days in Alaska and Vancouver

I'm preparing to embark on a 10 day journey to Vancouver and Alaska! Traveling light is one of my favorite ways to enjoy minimalism. While everyone else at the airport/hotel/train struggles with schlepping their gigantic multitudes of luggage, I can rest assured that I have enough, and it's not distracting from my enjoyment of the traveling process. I also now have Eagle Creek Packing Cubes, which supposedly revolutionize your packing life, so I look forward to giving those a go. I've watched quite a few entertaining YouTube videos on how people use these packing cubes to stay organized while traveling.

Here is a quick graphic of the essentials for my trip (not including socks, bras, electronics, and toiletries). I'll follow with a list below. Keep in mind that this is travel for pleasure, not business. The weather is supposed to be mild and sunny, but could get cold/windy/rainy. I plan to work out almost every day.

10 Day Alaska/Vancouver Packing List
For daily wear:
5 light wash chambray button up shirts
3 pairs of pants (skinny blue jeans, skinny black jeans, and skinny black trousers)
1 pair of black ankle boots
1 scarf
1 little black dress (for formal night and fancier dinners)
3 pieces of outerwear layering (lululemon base layer [not pictured - forgot!], mint colored fuzzy North Face mid layer, and black trench coat top layer)

For working out:
2 workout tank tops (one technical material, one cotton)
2 workout pants (one flared, one legging)
1 pair of running shoes

1 set of PJs
4 bras
10 undies
7 socks
(Also - Contemplating bringing a grey lounge-wear set, which could serve as a second pair of pjs)

So, you're probably asking yourself this question: What gives? I do re-wear pants a few times, unless they get something really dirty or spilled on them. I re-wear shirts once. I'll only wear the dress for two evenings, so that's okay to go twice without washing. I re-wear workout clothes quite a bit, and could give the tank tops a quick hand wash as needed. I also wear my pjs for several days before they need a wash. However, I have access to a laundry facility if I need it, but I think I have it planned so I don't absolutely have to use it. Good personal hygiene is key to making this work, and showering is IMPORTANT. I promise I don't stink, but please tell me if I do ;)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Clear bins for a streamlined fridge/ Another day in the uniform.

 I got a $50 gift card from work for doing some weekend testing of a new system we have upgraded to. They did not have to do that, but I thought that was a nice surprise. It was to bed bath & beyond, so I went by there today to scope out what I wanted to get. There are all sorts of directions I could have gone (monogrammed hand towels, anyone?), but in the end, I decided to go with something that will make the mundanity of opening my fridge enjoyable - clear fridge/freezer bins! I got four bins, which came out to a little over $50 - one double divider bin, one medium bin, and two narrow bins. I organized and cleaned our fridge, and I'm really thrilled with how much nicer and more functional the fridge storage space is with these "sections" put in. We store big jugs of stuff like milk, tea, oj, etc. in the door shelves, and fruit/veggies/meat/cheese in the built in drawers. But, for all the random condiments, yogurts, small items, jars, etc., these bins are perfect. I could see myself getting more over time. There's a large space on the middle shelve dedicated to any extra larger items that may come into our fridge (like boxed up leftovers).

My #uniformoftheday look is more casual, 'cause it's the weekend, and my afternoon consisted of hanging out on the patio watching my kids play in the backyard. I unrolled the sleeves, because I wanted to protect my skin from the mosquitoes. So far I'm diggin the uniform for casual use. I think I need to make it look a bit more formal for work wear, so I have a big pearl statement necklace I'll be debuting this week at work. Also, getting my heels repaired will help as well.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Afternoon tea at my house. And thoughts on outrageous kid birthday parties.

I wanted to take a moment to share some pics of the mid-way point of prepping for afternoon tea! This ain't your proper English tea, but I did enough research to know that I had to serve cucumber sandwiches with the crust removed, thankyouverymuch.

My preschool aged daughter wanted a tea party for her birthday. We didn't think she was quite old enough to invite her friends from daycare, and frankly, I couldn't get it together enough in time to invite a bunch of friends over. We ended up doing this tea party with close family, and she loved it all the same. We don't have a tea party every day, so she was really able to enjoy the festivity. And, I always like to channel my ancestors and drink a nice cup of tea.

Where I live, it is becoming more customary to throw all out extravagant birthday parties for your kid each year. It's probably the same where you live, if you live in the 'burbs or major metropolitan areas. To each his own, but something inside me recoils at the thought of throwing a party where bounce houses, water play sets, petting zoos, pony rides, etc. are added to the mix. I know kids love it. I know it means you are effectively keeping up with the kardashians. I know I know I know. But, something about it, for my personally, feels very narcissistic. Maybe it's because throwing something huge like that would seem like a LOT of money to us right now. Maybe it's because I want my kids to stay grounded with their expectations of what mom and dad will splash out. I have no problem attending, or having my kids attend, extravagent birthdays. I don't have a problem with people who choose to celebrate this way.  But, it's not me. So I don't do it. My kids still have happiness in life, and they still get gifts and get to celebrate. I don't think I'm depriving my kids because I don't offer pony rides and hire princesses to entertain at their birthday time. It's just my style - #sorrynotsorry.

A day in my uniform: Weekend Shoe Repair (both DIY and professional)

Hi All.

Today, the variation on my uniform is black stretchy yoga pants, black lacy sandals, hair pulled back and papaya-colored lipgloss.

My task of the day? Exploring shoe repair. I took my pair of heels to a shoe hospital, where the heels are being replaced for only $10! And here, I thought my shoes were good for nothing anymore. Lesson learned - get the heels replaced instead of buying a new pair of shoes.

For the other pair of shoes I took in, it was advised that I DIY it, as there wasn't anything they could really do to revive the particular issue in shop that I couldn't do just as well at home. I appreciated their honesty. Instead of spending $15 for a re-sew and still no chip off repair, I went to hobby lobby and bought the necessary materials for a FULL REPAIR for less than $8.
Tear along heel

Super glue, craft paint, and a paint brush to fix busted shoe with chipped toe cap and ripped ankle.

I am really pleased with how they turned out - not 100% perfect, but still blended in to where it's not too noticeable, and still wearable. It's a really nice pair of shoes, and almost brand new. I was gutted that one trip would put them under, but now, I can touch them up with paint and super glue as needed!


Friday, May 29, 2015

My initial experience with wearing a "uniform".

To try a little something different and spice up my life, I've decided to wear a "uniform". I've chosen black skinny pants (though sometimes will wear black dress slacks, jeans, or shorts) and ultra light wash chambray shirts, that could almost pass as a dress shirt. This is something that I can wear every single day, and it makes me correctly dressed for 90% of my days. For the other 10%, a dress in in order, so I still have my four dresses. This pic is not the best, as I normally tuck this in, with a belt, and you can't see my boots down below either. Also, at work, I have a black suit jacket on with this. Maybe I'll try to do some #OOTD pics with different variations later on.

However, end of a work day = harried and haggard me. So untucked shirt, blazer off, hair not on point, you get the picture (pun intended).

 In college, I did a challenge where I wore the exact same outfit every single day for a month. I actually loved it, and look back on the challenge with fondness. This time around, I was inspired by this art director at Saatchi, Matilda Kahl, who wears a self-mandated uniform of her liking. I'm no art director, but I do create art in my spare time! And I think managing human resources can be an art, if you think about it the right way.

My reflections on wearing the same thing every day at work this week?
LOVE IT. I echo what Matilda reflects in her article linked above. #whatshesaid.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Time away....and any one else pondering their lives?

Hi all....sorry, I have been out from the interwebz for awhile. I deleted all my photos. I actually deleted this blog for a few days, but then I've had a change of heart. There are lots of things swirling around in my head. I'm having a crisis....more like an identity and "what do I want out of my life" crisis. It seems so trivial, because life is short. But then, because life is short, it seems so important.

I'm still minimalist. I'm still trying to streamline my life. But I want something more. Or different. As I try to find myself, teenager-style, I've made a few life changes that I think may help me out. I don't know how long I'll keep them up. I've started wearing a "uniform" of sorts. Instead of doing another edition of a capsule wardrobe for summer, I went for something totally different. I'm wearing nothing but black skinny pants and light wash chambray dress shirts. Black blazers for work. Various shoes, depending on the occasion. I'm also trying to do one to two meals a day "fully raw", for health. There are a few other life changes I'm hoping to make, but again, not sure how many I can handle at once.

All this to say, I can't pick up and move away (kids), I can't have an abrupt change of career (need to support my family), and I can't do those things that most people would do to put themselves in completely new I'm not sure what I'm doing, but let me continue to write here, and please read if you feel so inclined. Maybe I should retitle this blog "late twenties crisis - working mom with young kids is finding her purpose".

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Our guest bathroom/kids bathroom...imperfect, yet likeable enough.

This room is another lesson in being content with what you have for the time being; another example of a room in my house that I wish I could do a full out gut job/renovation on. We've already done a bit to this room...there used to be hideous shower glass sliding door on the bathtub, so my husband ripped that out and patched it up as soon as we bought the house. We needed to do that so we could give the kids baths! Also, the bathroom sink didn't work when we bought the house, and my husband fixed it with his hidden talent - plumbing skills! I'd like to put in a huge bath tub, new tiling, a better medicine cabinet, new lighting, and of course, new counter/sink console. But for now, my little decor/organizational touches will do until we can throw a ton of cash at this room.

We have 2 bathrooms in our house...this bathroom is the one our kids use, as well as the one that guests use. That is a bit of an odd combo, but I don't think it's unusual....I'm sure plenty of 2 bathroom families do the same. The challenge is that it has to be functional for the kids, yet look decent enough to make guests feel comfortable.

A nice shower curtain does great things for a bathroom. High impact, and not expensive. Our curtain came from Target. Adding in some decorative mirrors works well for when you have a bathroom without a window, that needs some extra light to reflect around. A mirrored bathroom tray further reflects some light, and provides a place to keep the scented oil diffuser as well as other bits and bobs. I got an acrylic counter top organizer (huge fan of these) to wrangle in all of the little hair accessories, brushes, a comb, and other frequently used items. Finally....a sizable plant will do the trick for making the space look not TOO kiddish. Plus, without a window as so many metal fixtures in the bathroom...I think adding a plant brings balance. I know nothing about feng shui, but I feel pretty zen in here despite it not being my favorite bathroom on the planet.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Project 333 Combo - Dressy with a twist

Part of my lifestyle is to live with a small wardrobe of items that I love and fit into my lifestyle. If you aren't familiar with Project 333, please go take a gander at the website. It's a way to do the minimal wardrobe lifestyle that makes a lot of sense, in my opinion. For the past year, I've been paring down my belongings, and in general, I have 30-40 items of clothing.

Most of my clothes are business casual/professional, which makes sense, because my week days are spent working in a corporate office. However, sometimes I have to make my more formal clothes transition to other purposes in my life, like social get togethers, parties, etc. where there is a different sort of look that's not quite business, not quite jeans/casual, and not churchy either.....

My answer to that scenario in my life, using my Project 333-ized closet selections, is this: dressy with a twist.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

My constant struggle: keeping kids clothing in check!

When you separate out all the clothes that don't work from the clothes that do, getting your little ones dressed every morning is so much less painful!!

Kids clothing is so difficult to keep streamlined. They are always growing, and they do need their wardrobes adjusted to the seasons, because they spend so much time playing outside at daycare and at home as well. Also - they wear out clothes pretty quickly, but not as quick as they outgrow them, it seems!

Here are some ways I make sure my kids closets aren't constantly overstuffed with clothes that don't fit, and aren't seasonally appropriate....

1. Keeping clothes in easy-access storage in their closets, that isn't too huge (having millions of tiny clothes wadded up in a gigantic dresser would probably not be conducive to maintaining a streamlined kids wardrobe?)
2. Taking inventory of kids clothing on a regular basis, and removing items that:
  • Don't fit
  • Aren't seasonally appropriate
  • Are stained, torn, or threadbare.
Once I've done this, it's easier for me to identify any gaps in their wardrobes to see what needs to be added in.

3. Having easy venues for the outcasts from step 2. They are as follow:
  • For clothes that don't fit or aren't wearable for the season (and won't fit by next time that season comes), I put them in an ongoing bag that I'll take to a resale shop when it fills up. The items that the resale shop won't take get donated.
  • For out of season clothes that will probably still fit by next cold/warm season, I store them in a separate area that isn't accessible and doesn't get mixed in with the other daily wear stuff.
  • For severely stained, torn, or worn out clothes - I throw them away or recycle if appropriate.
As you may know, I'm not one to hold onto physical belongings for sentimental reasons. I do have a couple of baby outfits from each of my kids that I keep in my "keepsake box", but I'm not holding onto kids clothes. They take up so much room, and I'm not planning to have any more kids, so there is simply no need to clutter my life with that.

Friday, April 3, 2015

How I fit in excercise at work without having a gym.

Climbing 10+ flights of stairs 3X a day, every work day! All you corporate, skyscraper-dwelling folk like me have some free exercise equipment built into your workspace! I calculated how many extra calories I burn every day doing's approximately 150-200, from what I found. That aint can't get much more than that doing 20 minutes on the elliptical machine at a gym.

Welcome to my at-work gym!

 This is not earth-shattering....but it has actually really helped me get back into the habbit of exercising. We don't have a gym where we work, and taking a break to go for a walk or run (in usually hot and humid weather) is not feasible, since I can't come back to work looking a sweaty hot mess. I will say that climbing this many stairs doesn't make me sweat to the point that I'd feel self conscious going to a meeting straight away, but I do have to linger for a minute or so to catch my breath and get my heart rate back down after I get to the top, before I go in.....this way, I'm not breathing heavily, and making people worried that I'm ill.

I wear heels every day to work, but I bring my flats to put on just for my breaks. It takes me 5 minutes or so to do one set, so that's not too difficult to step away from my desk to do this 3 times a day. I was inspired to do this when I started reading all these articles about the sedentary lifestyle, and how sitting at your desk in your office job for 8 hours a day is the devil for your health, even if you exercise every day outside of work. Google it, and you may be inspired to take a stair climb break too!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

My minimal/imperfect home office, last minute inexpensive project 333 additions, and my new, therapeudic hobby...

Coming off of a great weekend, there are three topics on my mind that I feel like writing about, all related to livin' the life:

1. My minimal and imperfect home office
2. Two last minute (very inexpensive - yay) project 333 additions/substitutions
3. My new hobby which was an insta-mood boost this weekend.

This photo is a bit grainy, sorry....but here is my home office, where I work one day a week. This is far from how it would look if I had everything my way, but I have to say that I like and appreciate the imperfection as it is now. I do actually find it to be a peaceful place to work. I have to work in a clean, clutter free space. I don't keep my laptop or anything else work-related here when I'm not working. Just a lamp and a vase/flowers that I love. The desk is an antique passed down from my mother in law. I'm planning to give it a nice makeover (thinking opaque white paint/finish, shiny mercury glass drawer pulls), but I have no time at the moment. Also, the chair is horrific. It's ugly. It doesn't work. It's not comfortable. But it'll do for now, because we are allocating our resources elsewhere. I do, however, love the artwork. I worked with my toddler daughter to paint the two on the sides with ink and watercolor, and the huge one in the middle is an IKEA product that I lusted after for years, until we finally bought it (a floor model on discount, as they were discontinued).

This weekend I spent some of my cash on two wardrobe items that I'm swapping out. This is part of my experiment on having cheaper, albeit less-quality items. The scarf was $14 at Target, and the shoes were on steep discount at $16 from a nearby outlet mall. However, I really like both, and was very critical in searching for them. I don't feel as "invested" money wise in them, so I'm hoping that if they get worn down or broken, I won't be as upset. Though, these may be like my sunglasses, and impress me with their longevity and versatility, despite how cheap they are.

Anyway, the sandals I got to replace my old birkenstocks. I wore the birkenstocks with a dress to church a couple of weekends ago, and I seriously felt like I looked like a dumpy old lady. I thought, I have to get some sandals that look cooler and aren't so grubby. The scarf came from my realization that I needed a lightweight, chiffon-like scarf for spring/summer. My purple one is heavy, and was getting's not even full out heat here yet, so that was my cue.

When our kids went to spend the morning with the grandparents, my husband was going to go out to mow and edge the lawn. I asked if there was something that I could help him with (looking for ways to be somewhat "active" and outdoors)....and behold, there was indeed! He delegated weeding and cleaning out dead plants or overgrowth in the various planters and flower beds to me. This is the first time it's been done since we moved in in November.

I hate to admit - I've never had to do yard work before, but I did take horticulture in college, so I know a thing or two about plants. My husband gave me a pair of work gloves, let me borrow his pants to wear, and left me with a slew of various tools. I was out there gardening for three hours! And I loved every minute of it! While it wasn't the funnest aspect, in that I was more "cleaning" instead of cultivating and planting, I found working with my hands and being outside to give me a massive mood boost! We have a shitload (pardon my french) of mint growing on the side yard planter (it's pictured above, but that's only a small's all along the side). After I was finished I grabbed a few leaves and put some in my iced water. I pruned some bushes and small trees. I removed an aloe vera plant from our mailbox area, and replanted it in a more desirable location. I did lots of shoveling and weed-pulling.

I'm looking forward to doing more gardening next weekend. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Removing a half-dead, rather large plant that I didn't have time to get from the front and planting several large pink rose bushes are in the plans so far.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Casual to Boardroom, Baby. Project 333 Wardrobe Combos for Work

My work environment is biz caz, as is the case with many of us corporate folk! I go through phases of wanting to dress up or down, but overall, I dress for what is going on at work. I'm no CEO, so when I say "boardroom", I may physically be in a literal boardroom, but it's not like I'm trying to land a deal or something. On the flip side, Fridays are jeans days where I work. Therefore, in the course of one week, you'll see me all dressed up fancy, wearing jeans, and then yoga pants on my work from home day.

Here are some ways I combine my existing wardrobe of approximately 34 items (see project 333 for more info) to work it for a dynamic work week...

  1. Casual - When jeans and flats are appropriate at work! Yay! I try to make sure my jeans don't have any holes/rips, and also stay away from sneakers or strappy sandals when I'm doing the casual thing at work.
  2. Business Casual - The corporate uniform, y'all. This is like, I drag myself to the coffee machines and click snooze on my outlook calendar reminders. But, I try to make it look like I care, because I do my dear.
  3. Professional - When I have regular face to face meetings, this is what I dress like. I've really loved wearing dresses...I feel they make me look more formal, but surprisingly not overly feminine. Just pulled together and polished.
  4. Boardroom - When I have to present to big groups of people, tend to something quite serious, or when I know I'll be highly visible. Buttoned up blazer, collared dress shirt, and pants signify the most formal look, to me. This is not often, in my position, but I think the higher you get, the more you have to dress like this.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Project 333! Hello work dresses! And color!

I thought I could go all year without changing my wardrobe at all. That can't happen - just not realistic for me. But I still love limiting my wardrobe size and my spending/consumption habits. With that being said, I've decided to start doing Project 333 again...I think the cyclical nature of it makes quite a bit of sense, now that I've tried some other methods.

I have decided to step up my game with regard to my work look, so I rid myself of any worn, ragged looking items and bought some new dress shirts (from my Boston trip) and dresses, which I am really excited about, and have loved wearing. Dresses are challenging, because I need them to be knee-length or just above the knee. Also, they can't be low cut. I'm 5'8", so the length requirement is a bit tough, but with enough searching, it can be obtained. Also, I did the monochrome wardrobe thing for months and months, and it was getting so sad to me. I love wearing color....especially the red dress.

Here is my spring Project 333 wardrobe! There are 34 items, not including workout gear and pjs.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My painting is done! Our house.

I thought I knew my "plan", made an inspiration board, a sketch, and all that....but in the end, I really wanted to do something totally different. I painted our house! It's not quite as landscaped and the door isn't painted red yet (paint is purchased, but I haven't executed the project yet), but I thought it would be a really cool, timeless piece for us to have in our family...even if we were to move someday. You'll never forget your first house. It's not something I usually do, but I actually like the way it looks in our living room for now. It may be nice in the hallway too.

It was my first time to paint using acrylic ink - that stuff is amazing.

The finished product hanging over our mantle in the living room. It's so meta.....a painting of our house, inside our house.
Sketch I did prior to painting.
Base layers - halfway done.
Close up.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Taking care of yourself on a budget.

Let's talk about my tried-and-true drugstore makeup/skincare/hair items, that I recommend to anyone....

2015 is the year of getting my finances in order. Therefore, fitting things into the budget is a top priority. While I do still enjoy some high-end items where I feel it's worth it, I have been searching for and trying drugstore items more and more when it comes to makeup, skin care, shampoo, etc. I've grown accustomed to researching reviews on Youtube and elsewhere before buying, and even then, I've had a bit of trial and error happen with drugstore items. There are so many choices, and it's really a hit or miss.

Here are my "GOOD ENOUGH TO REPURCHASE" items for those of you who are on a budget, or just don't want to splash out the extra cash for these types of items...

Skincare: I'm a Burts Bees convert with skin care. I've tried and liked many of their products, but the ones I mention here are the winners for me. It's a bit pricey for something you buy at the grocery store, but it is much cheaper than Sephora, or department store high-end brands.
  1. Burts Bees "Radiance" Facial Cleanser with Royal Jelly - This is my favorite BB's cleanser. I use this at night before bed.
  2. Burts Bees "Radiance" Day Lotion with Royal Jelly - This really is perfect to put on just before you apply makeup. It makes your skin look healthier, and actually makes your makeup look smoother.
  3. Burts Bees Hydrating Night Cream - If I could have one skin care product, this would be it. This night cream has drastically changed the state of my skin, and it is so rich. Screw $400 La Mer night cream....this stuff will do.
  4. Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque - I use this a couple of times a week, and it really works well! When it dries onto your face, it sucks the impurities out of your skin. Powerful green stuff. And only costs couple of bucks.
 Makeup: There are a few makeup items that I truly feel that high end is well worth it (blush, bronzer, eyeshadow, namely). However, a couple of these I've been using for years, and the lip crayon and eyeliner are the clear winners so far of a long trial of various drugstore products.
  1. NYX waterproof eyeliner in "Brown" - This is easy to apply and stays on all day. Doesn't drag or skip like most drugstore eyeliners. Best part is it's only $2 or so.
  2. Sonia Kashuk matte lip crayon in "Coraly Nude" - This is only sold at Target or online, I believe. I've tried many many many different lip products, and I've experimented with lots of different colors. I've learned that coral is the shade that flatters me the most, and I like that this particular shade is a bit more subdued and office-appropriate. I like a fuss-free lip product that isn't sticky and stays on for a long time. This product is awesome. Can stand with or without chapstick on top.
  3. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles in "Brightener" - THIS IS THE MOTHER OF ALL UNDER EYE CONCEALER. Hyped up highly online in the beauty blogger community, and rightfully so. I've been using this for about 2 years.
  4. Loreal True Match Foundation in "Soft Ivory" - This is great coverage while still looking natural, and most importantly, it doesn't make my sensitive skin break out. I've repurchased this, and will likely continue to do so.
Hair: My hair is pretty low maintenance. Two of these I've been using for years and years, and the shampoo/conditioner is a more recent discovery.
  1.  Suave Dry Shampoo - This stuff is cheap and powerful. Works better than other drugstore brands I've tried.
  2. Tresemme Hairspray in level 4 - I've been using this since high school, I think. Every now and then I'll try another type, but I always regret it and come back to this.
  3. OGX (Organix) Macadamia Oil Shampoo/Conditioner - This is sulfate free, and for some reason, I've never had a shampoo and conditioner give me as many "good hair days" as these. They smell delectable as well. This was a recommendation from a Youtuber I like to watch. I've been using different shampoos and never repurchasing the same type since I was really young, but I am sticking with these!

Friday, March 13, 2015

My work week in Boston

The week is now over, and I'm back from a business trip to Boston. I was really just working working working in the Financial District, and walking to nearby restaurants late at night the entire time, so really did not get to see and experience much of the city, but what I did see I thought was great. I did get eat some squid ink pasta for the first time, and I developed a love for marinated olives.

Regarding my business trip clothes, I packed very light. I re-wore a few things from my suitcase. For this trip, I had to up my game a bit for my meetings, so I got two traditional button-down collar shirts, which replaced two tired old shirts (both lululemon shirts that I was using for both workout and daily is faded and jaded, the other has a stain. Both are just workout clothes now).

Also, for fear that my trench coat would not be sufficient for walking around in freezing temps, my friend kindly let me borrow her long wool coat before I left. It worked really well. This taught me that I need to invest in a true sub-freezing winter coat at some point...but the climate I live in lets me get away with not doing it.

When I travel, even if it's for business, I come back with a fresh perspective on my life. I don't often spend time alone, so perhaps that's part of it. Somehow trying new foods, seeing how people in other cities and states live, and fending for yourself on mini-adventures like sorting out public transport make you grow as a person. So mushy, but I'm starting to think that I love travel. However, I am glad that I don't need to travel often for work, because I miss my kids and my husband a lot when I'm gone, and I know it's hard on them.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Conflicted about "having nice things"

Ever since I started being more intentional about pursuing minimalism, I've thought that it's made sense to have fewer, but higher quality items. However, I've found that I'm that much more annoyed when something breaks, gets lost, is irreparable, shrinks in the wash, etc.

Yeah, stuff breaking and going out of repair is a fact of life, but I've found that when I spend more money on things, I get more upset when that happens. If my $12 sunglasses from Target get snapped in half, no problem! I'll just replace them - no sweat off my back. However, now that my $400 pair of glasses goes missing, I'm thinking, "why did I spend so much on those frames when I could have spent $100 or so?" (These glasses frames are only a year and a half old, mind you.)

Somehow if the high quality and/or expensive item has worn out and given me the years I expected out of it, I'm not upset by that...but rather, it's these cases where spending more money didn't necessarily buy me a longer-lasting item, or one that was all that much more well-designed.

There are a couple of areas that I've never struggled with, and have always wanted to keep my spending for quality to as minimum as possible: cars and technology. I don't get the bare minimum, but I get something reliable that I think will work for me in the long run. You won't see me buying the latest model cell phone or a luxury's just not worth it to me to have that amount of money tied up into a depreciating asset.

The problem with clothes, shoes, and most accessories is that they aren't valuable enough to warrant an insurance policy, yet they break and go missing just like those higher-dollar items. Clearly I'm still balancing where I am on the continuum of spending $$$ to get quality....all I know is that I want to keep a minimalist lifestyle as much as possible.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

De-cluttering and organizing office supplies and odds & ends.

The dreaded kitchen "junk" drawer. The entry way closet where miscellaneous items go to die. They don't have to be the bane of your minimalist existence!

My little weekend project was to get those two areas up and running to be functional and de-cluttered. We just had a bunch of leftover furniture assembly parts in our entry way closet, as well as some bags of items to take to Goodwill. Our kitchen junk drawer was getting quite junky indeed. I decided these areas would be the perfect place for storing necessary office and art supplies. We don't have that many office/art supplies (really, just the right amount to get us by), so merging them with the entry way closet was a great choice for us because otherwise, that great storage space in our house wouldn't really get any use. It's a good central location for storing that kind of stuff, too...especially for when the kids get older and need access to it.

My first step in de-cluttering and organizing is to pour everything out into a giant pile. We still had all our office supplies in a cardboard box from the move, and it was getting frustrating trying to do admin work with the supplies out of that box....
Using this plastic set of drawers, zip loc bags, a few labels and a sharpie, I sorted out our office and art supplies. You don't have to shell out a ton of cash to get organized. I did end up throwing away quite a bit of old items, like dried up liquid paper and packaging that wasn't needed any longer after I placed items into more compact zip loc bags.
#minimalistproblems - we have more kitchen cabinet/drawer space than we need. Two drawers in our kitchen are a bit of an "office supply/household item" extension. The one on the left has pads of paper (for jotting down quick notes), a tin box of push pins, and a tin box of markers/pens. The drawer on the right has scented wax melts that we use all the time, a lighter, flashlight, tape, scissors, clippers, kleenex, and a coupon we plan to use.

I set the office supply drawers in the entry way closet, and used two cloth bins on the shelf above for 1. umbrellas (either when guests arrive with wet umbrellas, and also to store ours) and 2. batteries, lightbulbs, hooks, miscellaneous household items. We hung the diaper bag/backpack we use when we go on long outings with the kids on a hanger to keep it easily accessible.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Work clothes haul! Replacing some items.

I've learned that when you have few clothes, it is so important to go shopping in person when you can, because you can meticulously inspect the quality and fit prior to purchasing. I was more of an online shopper for awhile, but I've realized that's not worth the vast selection for me...I'm more likely to forgive quality issues if I am trying to avoid paying return shipping or going to the effort to return. Not good. So when I needed to replace some items I got to return due to quality issues, I made myself go in person to shop for replacements.

I had success at Nordstrom Rack this time 'round!

1. Light aqua sweater cardigan. I know this one is a hit because I find myself wanting to wear it every single day. And I pretty much do, lately. And....hello, color!

2. Black skinny jeans. These are a brand I've never tried before, but I thought they fit well and were on a steep discount: Paige Denim. This brings my jeans total to 2. I like these, because I can make them look dressy and could possibly pass them as biz caz if I needed to...

3. Suit pants. Was in dire need of these. Calvin Klein is the brand of my suit jacket from 8 years ago that I still wear today, and these pants are the same brand and same material - SCORE.

4. These are black work slacks as well, but they are a wider leg cut and more of a silky, lightweight material. Perfect for summer, but I've been wearing them in the cold too, and they work.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My jewelry collection and minimalism.

On the 0-10 spectrum of ultra-minimalist (0) to hoarder (10), I'd say I'm at a 3 out of 10 on my jewelry collection. I am working toward a collection of jewelry that is right for me, with little to no excess. The great thing about jewelry is that it doesn't take up a lot of physical space, so having a little bit of a collection isn't that heavy. If I ever have a weak spot for hanging onto anything at all, it's definitely jewelry. While I go back and forth between liking bold costume jewelry versus dainty pieces, I've found that I now place more value on higher quality items. Quality over quantity, for sure. Of course, my daily wear collection does have a few inexpensive items (but still high quality, and really beloved by me), and my "heirloom" keepsake collection has a couple of pieces with little monetary value as well....but it's not so much about the price as it is how much you use it or value it for historical purposes. However, I have to be careful with that very last starts to sound like an episode of Hoarders...ha.

After going through all my jewelry today, there were five categories. I will go into detail on the contents of the first two down below.

1. Stuff to wear on a regular basis, 
2. Stuff that I don't wear, but has monetary or sentimental value (the key here is something that could be valuable to my kids someday).
3. Stuff that I don't wear any more, but would be able to sell (in the process now)
4. Stuff to give away - to friends, friends' teenage daughters, or whoever would wear it or appreciate it more often.
5. Stuff that has unfortunately broken and can't really be should be recycled or disposed of.

I have pics of the first two categories:

Jewelry I wear on a regular basis (10 items)

1. Pearl necklace (wedding gift from husband) 2. Citrine James Avery silver birthstone necklace (gift from husband) 3. Fossil rose gold watch (5 year anniversary gift from husband) 4. Large iridescent Kendra Scott studs 5. Tiny diamond studs (bought first trip to St. Maarten) 6. Gold college ring 7. Wedding ring and engagement ring 8. Kendra Scott iridescent cuff 9. Rose gold titanium Caribbean Hook bangle (birthday gift from parents; bought during second trip in St. Maarten) 10. Stella and Dot "Devon layering necklace".
Jewelry I store in my keepsake bag (to pass onto kids?)
1. Crystal earrings and necklace (wore this on my wedding day) 2. Green rose necklace and earrings (1st dating anniversary gift from husband) 3. Rings - high school class ring, and my original wedding rings 4. Pearl earrings (wedding gift from husband - too delicate and snaggy to wear daily) 4. Amber teething necklace worn by my son as a baby 5. Bulova diamond watch my dad got for his 25 year company anniversary (I need to get it fixed - it started lagging the time) 6. James Avery silver charm bracelet I had a kid 7. Black coral heart pendant; gold chain (coral heart husband bought me from Passman in St. Thomas, gold chain was my mom's) 8. James Avery silver plumeria earrings 9. University of Patras pin (went there during study abroad in Greece) 10. Random koi charm that "swims" (had this since college and can't let go of

Saturday, February 14, 2015

In honor of Diva Cup experience.

In a previous post about the contents of my small purse, I alluded to my use of a diva cup. I decided that despite the personal nature of the topic, I'd like to go into a bit more detail about how I started using the diva cup, and what my general experience with it has been. If you are a lady with an open mind about that time of the month, then read on!

Before I get started, I want to mention that Diva Cup is a brand of menstrual cup - a reusable medical-grade silicon cup worn internally to collect menstrual flow. You can buy these online, at Whole Foods, or other natural health product boutiques. This brand has two sizes: one for pre-childbirth and one for post-childbirth. You only have to empty and rinse it off when you wake up in the morning and before bed at night.

To give a bit of personal history....

Before having kids, I had very light and short periods. After my first baby, I never got a postpartum period due to breastfeeding and subsequently getting pregnant with baby #2 while 8 months postpartum. After my second baby was born, I got a copper IUD (paragard) "installed" - LOL, like I'm a car or something. While I love the reliability, effortlessness, and lack of hormones that the copper IUD offers, with it came PERIODS FROM HELL. This is a common occurrence with copper IUDs. Thankfully it wasn't until 6 months after I got it put in that I even started having these periods, delayed again due to breastfeeding.

How I arrived at the diva cup solution....

With the heavy periods, I was literally changing my feminine products out every hour or two all day long. And ladies, I'm talking the super ultra ones. This was highly inconvenient and unrealistic for my lifestyle. I was like, I either have to get this copper IUD taken out (which I strongly didn't want because hormonal birth control makes me psychotic), or I have to find some solution to this insanity. After a very quick google search, I discovered the diva cup. Frankly, it weirded me out at first, and it took a couple more months of periods from hell before I actually decided to try it out. I bought the post-childbirth sized one from Whole Foods. I felt kind of bad for the poor cashier guy who completed my transaction. But then again, after giving birth, nothing really makes you shy or squeamish regarding "down there" any more. No embarrassment on my end.

My experience with the diva cup, at first....

The diva cup comes with pretty easy instructions on how to use, and there is tons of advice posted online if you google. However, when it comes down to it, it's a very personal thing regarding getting the correct fit and ensuring that the seal is there. This is what I struggled with the most, at first. On the days where I got it to fit well, I absolutely loved it, thought it was comfortable, etc.. However, leaking was a big issue because I thought I put it in correctly, but come to find out later on....not so much. I actually got so frustrated with the lack of reliability that I had to take a couple months' break from trying to use it.

Then...success! Being a woman just got easier!

After taking a couple of months off, somehow it just clicked. I figured out the exact right way to use it that works for me, and now it's fairly obvious to me immediately if the seal needs to be corrected. I absolutely recommend this product for any woman who isn't afraid to get a little up close and personal. It's not that gross or scary after you just try it out. What I love about it the most is being about to just "forget" that it's that time of the month for my entire day, aside from the chocolate cravings and road rage. Not having to ensure a constant supply of disposable feminine products and "having" to worry with bringing my purse everywhere I go is a freeing feeling.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Minimalist Tag Questions! Living With Less

I've seem some interesting minimalist-related tag questions floating around Youtube, so I thought it would be fun to answer them as they apply to my life. If you've done them, please link up or leave them in a comment below - it's interesting to read others' answers who appreciate minimalism as well!

Minimalism Tag Questions
1. What drew you to minimalism?

I naturally feel overwhelmed by an excess of clutter, and can't stand the idea of not knowing what all you have or what's going on because there are so many layers upon layers of clutter. As a kid, I remember feeling comforted and inspired by hotel rooms, because they were clutter free, knick-knack free, and contained only the essentials. I always knew I wanted to live this way "when I grew up". It's also more than a physical state too....I have found that if physical, mental, and digital clutter is kept at a minimum, I feel more calm and in control.

2. How did you start the de-cluttering process?

The de-cluttering process started in my closet! Clothes are something that I've had a history of having too many of, and blindly/thoughtlessly consuming too much of, so I have to make the most conscious effort in my wardrobe to keep it at bay. I have taken de-cluttering one area at a time. I did my closet, my toiletries/makeup, my filing cabinet, my computer files, my photos, kids' toys/clothes (a CONSTANT struggle), and am about to take on my kitchen. I revisit areas one at a time to do any intermittent clearing out or cleaning up.

3. Have you ever counted all your things? If so, how many things do you own?

I don't have the patience or time to count all my things...but I do like to keep a count/inventory of what is in my wardrobe:
  • 35 regular clothings items as of now
  • 3 "fancy" bras
  • 2 sports bras
  • 10 pairs of undies,
  • 6 pairs of shoes (including running shoes and Chacos)
  • Probably just under 6 pieces of workout clothes (I've sold quite a few recently)
  • one set of PJs
I don't set a limit, necessarily, but I do like to track it so that if it starts growing I can think about when it is appropriate to scale back or get rid of "duplicates". As I move into the kitchen, I may actually do a full out inventory and count how many of each item I have. I think counting can work well when you are making decisions on what needs to be cut, and thinking about what you really do need.

4. What are your tips for dealing with the desire for more?

I have a few practical ways that I curb my desire to bring more things into my life:
  • One in, one out. If you bring something new in, you have to let something else go.
  • For clothes, I keep a wish list of things I think I'll be wanting or needing. I give it time, and wait until the need is more imminent.
  •  For makeup and consumables like food or toiletries, I try to follow the "one of each" philosophy. For example, I can get some new makeup, but only after I've used up the particular type of what I currently have, or got rid of it because it didn't work.
  • For home decor, instead of decorating with trinkets and knick knacks, I like to bring in fresh flowers, or make some sort of improvement to a fixture or painting. I do have a ton of built in open shelves all around my fireplace, so still thinking of what to do there....that's where perhaps a few decorative items may be necessary and inspiring.
  • Being on a budget in general makes me prioritize what I really want...having limited resources means that you have to make some hard decisions about what you can actually get. Better for your bank account, and better for a clutter-free home!

5. How do you deal with non-minimalists in your life?

I wouldn't say I have to "deal" with them, as they are free to live their life however makes them happy. I don't feel too compelled to force my ideals on my non-minimalist relatives or friends, unless they ask me about it. However, the biggest issue that could arise is people trying to give you their stuff. I realize that they are coming from a good place, but ultimately I still have to be surgical/analytical in how I decide what comes into my home, even if it's being offered from someone I care about. I can't be afraid to "hurt feelings." I deal with this scenario by thanking for the offer, but ONLY accepting an item if it truly is something I need in my house. I have lots of hand-me-downs in my home, but I have to admit that I've turned a lot of hand-me-downs down as well, and I'm okay with that. As it turns out, they were too!

Another thing that can arise is people giving your kids tons of stuff. This is not really a battle I fight, because I think it's important to let family be generous to the kids as they please (hey, the kids aren't necessarily minimalists, after all). However, during times like birthdays or Christmas, we do go through and donate our kids' old stuff to make room for the new stuff. I think the process is actually valuable to the kids, and can teach them a lot.

6. Do you have any guilty pleasures where minimalism doesn't apply?

There are always areas where I can get a tighter grip on my ability to practice minimalism in my life, but I wouldn't say any of those are "guilty pleasures". If anything, my husband is the one who has guilty pleasures of hoarding workout equipment. Ladies and gents....if you live with someone who isn't quite as minimalist as you, letting them have a designated space to keep their clutter (which is out of your sight) is a marriage-saver! My husband is lucky enough to have a man cave that I never go into, and that's his space to keep whatever he wants. Other than that, he's got the same mindset that I do for the rest of our belongings, and the rest of our life.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Painting progress....concept sketches.

I did my first concept sketch of what direction I'm thinking of going for my painting. See a previous post for my "inspiration board". I just sketched one girl medallion, but I'm thinking that for the actual painting, I will do a repeating pattern of something like this....not sure if it will be a quad like this, or something more like a honeycomb. I'm still unsure if I want to do different girls, or choose one to give some more uniformity. At least they all have red lipstick. I'd want to add a lot more detail and dimension in the actual painting, but this gives a general idea of what I'm thinking.....

Friday, February 6, 2015

Purse chat. What does one keep in a small purse?

Small cross body purses are my favorite type, now that I don't have to have it double as a diaper bag. With a small purse, there is no room for are forced to only keep a few things, which in turn makes it very easy and fuss free trying to access those things. Let's have a gander at what the contents of my purse are.

The purse I use is a Gold Coast Ginnie by Kate Spade. It looks smart, as they say in the UK, but doesn't look out of place with jeans and flats either. It's well-made, which is the most important quality to me. When I have a purse, I use that sucker until it falls apart.....I have high expectations for my purses. They need to last for years. My mom buys Louis Vuitton purses, and uses the same one for decades at a time (they are $$$$ but last forever and ever) day when I can drop that kind of cash, I'll probably go for something more like that, but now a few years at a time is good enough for me.

Now onto the's what I carry around. When I travel or need to take a lot of stuff to/from work, I put this little purse into my large Longchamp Le Pliage along with the extra stuff.
  1. Cell phone (not pictured)...though I often have that in my hand or my pocket. It's my sidekick.
  2. Wallet. This one is a zippered Fossil wallet. I have always been a huge fan of Fossil...they have good stuff, and it is very durable.
  3. Car keys and house key.
  4. Work badge.
  5. Lip balm and lipstick (Burts Bees and bright red lipstick I LOVE called "British Red" by Loreal)
  6. Pen.
  7. Compact mirror. All I could find was grey and pink sparkly leopard print in HEB. But it's all good....I'll roll with it.
  8. Forever stamps. But actually, I RARELY use these...honestly, why do I even have these taking up real estate? I'll probably move them to my office supply box shortly hereafter.
  9. Sunglasses. I buy the super cheap kind from Target, and I love them. I just throw them in my bag without a worry....and they actually last me a long time, don't get scratched, etc.
  10. Not pictured.....a couple feminine products. This is probably TMI, but I have revolutionized "that time of the month" with a diva cup (being a woman just got easier!) so I actually no longer use that many disposable feminine products. Leave me a comment if you want me to write about that. I can't get too graphic, but I can speak to why I switched to that and what my general experience with it has been over the past year and a half.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Random confession time: church, the world, facebook leave

It's been really busy at work lately, but I've had a few themes of thoughts swimming around my mind when I'm not thinking about work, kids, or cooking....but actually, these are now confessions, because I'm convicted in them.

1. Church. We left a church we'd been members of last year because of the LGBT political hate mongering the preacher suddenly started partaking in (a pretty influential figure in our city, which disappointed us). It was the last straw. We can't support that, neither ideologically nor through tithing. I wrote about it here, I think.

Anyway, we found another local church that has been great. It's a different denomination in the same religion, which more closely aligns with what my husband and I believe...and the kids are really liking their sunday school classes. However, for some reason I have started dreading, like full-on anxiety attack, dreading going there every time sunday rolls around. I have no idea why. The people are really nice. There is nothing about it that would justify my feeling this way. A couple of sundays in a row, I went in the car there with my family, but couldn't go in. My husband took the kids inside, and I went grocery shopping or for a walk. This last sunday, I actually made it inside....but by the end I was so on edge. Like, what is wrong with me? It's like that "sweating like a whore in church" feeling, but I'm not feeling particularly guilty....besides for any regular level of sin! But, what is regular sin, really...

2. The world. Keeping abreast of world news is like a double edged sword. On one hand, I feel like I have to know what is going on in the world. Being cognizant of that is important to me. On the other hand, the world is actually a terrible place, for the most part. Many times when I read the news, or listen to NPR, I have this feeling like, "how could I have been a vessel to bring kids into this world?" My coping mechanism is that idea of "be in the world, not of the world." If you don't know what pure evil I'm talking about, spend the next three days checking the news morning, noon, and night. You'll probably get that feeling soon after.

3. Facebook leave. I've been away from facebook for a half-year now. I don't miss it at all, but this weekend I re-activated for just 30 minutes so that I could check a group I was a member of regarding a young mom in our previous church with stage IV breast cancer....I just had to know how she was doing, but couldn't find anything online aside from that group. She's still alive and kicking, which I was really happy to see. However.....I was reminded about how much I dislike facebook by all the other crap that was on my news feed. I hate to admit, but I had forgotten about all those people that were in my past, but I have no relationship with. I was amazed as I scrolled through my news feed. Lots of babies born/new pregnancies. Lots of selfies. Lots of "shared" articles. Lots of engagements/marriages. Lots of "I'm on a trip, look at my food and friends". And....a few divorces even. Like, who cares? Deactivate!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The problem with having few clothes....

I've really enjoyed the benefits that having a minimal wardrobe has brought into my life, but there is a quite large side effect that I've had to face a lot more frequently now than I ever have in the past...

The problem with having few clothes is that THEY FALL APART, get damaged, get worn out, etc. very quickly. I always thought of clothes as an investment, but lately so many of the clothes I have are not making it the length of time I expect them to. Recently with my heels, and now with two pairs of pants....

I have two pairs of pants I got from Nordstrom back in late November: brown skinny trousers and grey slacks. While I've only had them for a couple of months, they have become so baggy that they no longer stay up (and no, sadly it's not because I've lost weight). The seams have also become very scratchy as the fabric has worn. When I buy something a bit nicer, I expect it to be high enough quality to get good wear out of it....but I'm starting to lose hope that that is even the case. Nordstrom is kind enough to allow a return of these (which is one of the reasons I love Nordstrom - they stand behind their stuff).

Meanwhile, the pair of black slacks I bought from Gap 6 years ago is still going pretty strong...though the hem is starting to come undone. I'll probably sew that up on my own.

Lately I've been wanting to explore more sustainable choices in my clothing purchases, such as second-hand or "ethically" sourced. Perhaps those items will bring better luck with longevity, whether more care goes into making them or they've already stood the test of time. If you have any sources for second-hand or sustainable/ethically sourced clothing, please send me links in the comments section. I'm open minded to it, for sure.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How I went from hating cooking to loving it...

I used to rely on frozen food and restaurants to provide me with my nutrition. The extent of my cooking skills was making a bowl of cereal. Maybe some guacamole. But in this new year, with us re-vamping our budget and priorities, I've gotten to enjoy an unexpected side-effect....developing a love for cooking. Its now a *gasp* hobby of mine. Here are the things that created the perfect storm for my conversion from loathing cooking to actually enjoying and spending my free time doing it...

1. Placing ourselves on a tight budget this year leaves little resources to spend on my old ways (eating out, shopping, etc.). This has forced me to enjoy the mundane and necessary things in life...and find contentment and joy in them. Food is one of those things that I've had to find a new joy in.

2. Since I "can't" eat out any more, I survived a few weeks on rudimentary cooking and the bare minimum of food prep (think frozen food). However, after awhile that got really old and I decided to devote myself to preparing more high quality food that I may actually enjoy.

3. I found a couple of youtube channels/bloggers that I was inspired by, and found that I could trust. Thanks Chef Buck, for ALL your recipes. I've made 10 of his recipes so far, and all have been really easy and delicious. I really appreciate that he is budget-conscious too, so I'm not stressed out trying to shop for obscure/pricey ingredients for his dishes. He's by far the best "cooking inspiration" I've found. His stuff really resonates with me. Also, I've made Lily Pebbles' brookies 3 times in the past month...they are the best. The measurements are in metric, but someone in the comments section converted them to customary for us US folk.

4. Making "compartmentalized" grocery lists really helps the weekly grocery store trips less migraine-inducing. I'm actually kind of OCD about my grocery lists....whether I'm using pen and paper, or my list app called "List Ease". I like to order my lists in the way that I'd be walking through the store.
5. Prepare/chop all my ingredients at once. Economies of scale, baby. Only bust out that knife and cutting board once. It's much easier for me to cook when all my stuff is prepped and put away in an easily accessible manner. Instead of having to chop my stuff the same night I'm cooking something, I can just move right into the "cook" phase by reaching into the fridge for my pre-chopped veggies and fruits.

6. Just doing it...not over thinking it. I used to obsess over the recipes and wonder what the hell "golden brown" was supposed to mean. Just try to trust yourself and cook your ingredients to where they look appetizing to you. If something doesn't turn out right the first time, you'll know for next time. And keep building on the knowledge through practice.

Here are some things I've made during January....
brookies, buttermilk biscuits, thai quinoa, margherita pizza, stuffed "fancy pants" frech toast
pesto  and pesto pasta, vegetarian chili (approved my my meat-eater husband), indian style deviled eggs, spicy hummus