Wednesday, January 28, 2015

One in, one out! Netting zero in your closet.

I had my story and perspective on family size and # of kids all typed up...but then I realized it was just too personal and could come across in a way that isn't intended without tons of careful wording and I axed it. Now onto one of my favorite topics, which is much lighter.

I have two recent instances of "one in, one out" concept in my closet. It sure does see a lot of movement, despite my intentional effort to keep it stable.
  1. This weekend, I was gathering items I'd placed in bags for a clothing drive for the Women's Shelter. When I read that there was an emphasis on "winter wear - coats, hats, etc." I decided to part ways with my thick wool yarn scarf that I crocheted. I thought it would be nice to donate, and I still have the purple scarf I bought in Greece for my own uses. On the flip side, when I opened up the bags I had earmarked for "donate", I noticed a turquoise sleeveless shirt from last year that I was going to let go of that perhaps could help fill my color void (see previous post) I brought it back in. One in, one out. And no $$ spent.
  2. Now, this second one did have to have a wad of cash dropped...but still net zero as far as possessions go. I recently realized that my nude heels had white scuff marks all over the outside where the "patent" material was flaking off. Trashy, and frankly, unacceptable when these are my only pair of professional footwear. So I went shoe shopping at Nordstrom Rack and scored some really nice shoes on steep discount, to replace the nude heels. They are high quality, very "me", and look professional (my husband interpreted them as sexy, but I think they are still office appropriate per the low heel...). I have to say that when you maintain a more minimal wardrobe, buying shoes is so much different than before. You evaluate them on a whole other level...when you have one pair of shoes that has to do so much in your life, it gives shoe shopping more of a business-minded perspective. But it's still fun! And I have to say...wearing these heavily calculated, bad ass new shoes still feels just as good as if they were an impulse purchase in the old days.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

One nail polish to rule them all.

I used to have a collection of about four or so nail polishes, but I've been able to whittle that down to ONE nail polish color to serve my needs.'s very demure and work-appropriate (and wedding-appropriate, whether for getting married or attending). Trust me, if I did not work in corporate, I'd be wearing something like Jade Imperial or pitch black all day, every day.

However, my reality calls for a color that says: corporate week days, toddler mom evenings/weekends, and scandalous nights. LOL JK. But not really. This color can be sexy too.

My one and only polish is...."Ballet Slippers" by Essie. It's a milky, slightly sheer light nude/pink. I love this look, because it gives a "light" look to your nails, which makes them look manicured well, even if you have stubby nails like I do. It's the same amazing feeling I get when wearing white nail polish, but this is a bit more sophisticated. I did this look for years with Essie's "Topless & Barefoot", but I found that color to be more beige than white/pale pink, so perhaps better suited for more olive skintone. "Ballet Slippers" is a nude option that works well with my cool undertones and pale coloring.

It's a very similar color to Essie's award-winning "Mademoiselle", but more opaque. Mademoiselle was way too sheer for was essentially a clear coat, so I wasn't going to jump on that bandwagon. However, "Ballet Slippers" is in Essie's core lineup, and is one of their highest selling polishes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Today it was good that I wore all black...(and my easy tea recommendations)

Today was one of those days where the world was subtly out to get me. After rushing to get to work at 6 am this morning for some meetings, I saw that they were both cancelled as soon as I sat down at my desk. That's okay, because it gave me some time to fix some hot tea - which I promptly burned my mouth on and subsequently spilled all over myself. Thank god I wore black to camouflage that.

But speaking of tea...I have two favorites that I drink daily, and are both seem to be easily obtainable at most grocery stores. One for mornings, one for evenings. I go a bit traditionalist in the morning with English Breakfast Tea by Twinings. I usually am not huge on black tea, but this stuff is so powerful and creamy...I adore it. It goes great with a splash of milk, or on its own. I got turned onto English breakfast tea by some British you tubers I watch, and I'm so glad I gave it a try.

 In the evening, I go to the other end of the spectrum for some more zen-like naturally decaf Lotus Blossom Green tea by Tazo. I drink this with a small bit of honey. I am a huge green tea fan, and the lotus blossom aspect of this gives it quite a unique flavor. The best way I can think to describe it is "delicate" and "fragrant". A tiny bit of honey enhances the flavor, and helps with a sore or dry winter throat.

I continue to experiment with teas as I go along the months and years, but I always come back to these because they are the best grocery store purchased teas I've been able to experience. They really do lift my mood, which is my measure of a "successful" tea.

Morning and Evening. Yin and Yang. Though, not gonna lie, sometimes I bust out the English Breakfast Tea at night when I'm feeling anxious....and I love it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

RIP color. How I'm attempting to work through boredom.

After several weeks of attempting to wear my more formal navy business suit in with my weekly wear, I've realized that it's too much a pain in the ass to try to iron it out after I wash and air dry it (yes, I don't dryclean). I am putting it in a box to bust out only on very special occasions. In the meantime, that has left my already neutral wardrobe looking pretty much without a trace of color....

Today was one of those days that was psychologically challenging in two ways: 1. I realized I'm starting to get bored of (and slightly depressed with) my persistent lack of color and 2. I have been fighting the urge to "break" the budget and just buy a couple of brightly colored items to rotate into my work wardrobe, like these....

By now, I know myself well enough to get that I'd much rather save my cash up to use on my trip instead of buy colorful clothes on a whim, so here's how I'm getting through boredom and slightly morose feelings about the overwhelming amount of grey and black that currently comprises my wardrobe...
  • Bringing out ALL the colored jewelry I own and wearing a ton of it. Thankfully I do have a few brightly colored jewelry items to wear, so that should do the trick quite nicely. A bright turquoise bracelet, a green necklace and earring set my husband got me as a first anniversary gift when we were dating, and some hot pink drop earrings.
  • Wear my purple scarf....the lone colorful clothing item I have!
  • Bold pink lips, and bolder eyeshadow, tons of eyeliner, etc. I'm hoping making my makeup a bit more dramatic will help give my neutral outfits the boost they (or I) need.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My work wear for this week...

I tend to like to plan my outfits for the week in advance, based on what types of things I'm doing at work. I'll dress up more when I have face to face meetings, and get more comfortable when I'll just be on conference calls or otherwise occupied at my desk.

This week was relatively casual for me. I did dress up a bit more on Monday and Wednesday (today) due to meetings, but Tuesday was jeans day for working from home/errands, and Fridays are always more casual, regardless of what is going on. Of course, I've been wearing jewelry as well, but that's not pictured here.

Monday, January 12, 2015

My "consumable product" philosophy.

My makeup and skincare stuff.."one of each" has avoided my bathroom becoming a half-used product graveyard. My pantry is turned and burned with fresh items fairly quickly. My fridge even more so.
They say variety is the spice of life....and I believe that. But not as much when it comes to physical belongings. And especially not when it comes to consumables (i.e. items you use up, eat, drink, etc.) My philosophy on consumables is "one of each" a time.

In other words, have and use one of the product, use it up, and then either repurchase or try something else (depending on your feelings).

I've been experimenting with inventory levels of all consumables of mine for over two years, from makeup to tea to other groceries. I've learned that only keeping "one of each" type of product drastically simplifies life, frees up space (both physical and mental), and the turn and burn gets fired up...allowing you to fully enjoy the item in question, and then try another. No one (including myself) can perfectly adhere to this, but striving toward it and achieving it 80% of the time has proven effective in my life.

Advantages of "one of each" in consumables
  1. Focus on quality, more intentional about which item is chosen to be "the one"
  2. Less waste - ensures product is used up
  3. Simplifies the activity in which you consume the product. Getting ready is easier. Choosing something to eat is easier.
  4. Frees up physical space - not losing the dreaded "multiples" underneath heaps of other "multiples"
  5. Discipline -gives you the character-building (lol) benefit of staving off instant gratification (of constantly purchasing new items)
Disadvantages of "one of each" in consumables
  1. Sometimes, you just want to be able to choose! (wearing red nail polish one day, pink the next, etc.)
  2. Different variations have different purposes. I get this one, but we have to be careful, or we will have piles of unnecessary "multiples"!
  3. You are kind of married to whichever product you chose to be "the one" until you've used it up.
  4. Self-inflicted discipline over something so seemingly insignificant makes no sense.

Take it or leave it....but before you leave it, please do give it a try. I've really enjoyed trying to do the "one of each" philosophy for as many consumables as possible. It has resulted in a naturally clutter free and organized bathroom and kitchen. The advantages have been more powerful to me than the disadvantages.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Inspiration Board for My Painting

Here are some images that inspire me as I think about what I want my living room painting to be. Floral, feminine, soft colors, pattern/repetition, lattice/medallions, a serving of weirdness, a very slight bit surreal......overall, I'm drawn to this collection of images because it is peaceful, but also melancholy (which is my personal disposition, according to personality tests and my husbands' anecdotal evidence).

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My Current Wardrobe: 35 items, not counting jewelry, etc.

 2015 is the year of being more frugal, being on a written budget, and starting the Dave Ramsey "7 Baby Steps" program. After keeping a pared down wardrobe for several months now, I've learned a lot about what works for me, and what doesn't. The important thing is that I buy the best that I can afford, and maintain a streamlined collection to reap the benefits of having a more minimal lifestyle. I am crossing my fingers that this collection keeps me good all year without having to buy very many (if any) additional pieces.

I'll be trying to find new ways to mix and match my pieces, so stay tuned for some adventures in that! For more info on minimizing your wardrobe, check out Project 333, which is what really inspired me to start doing this.

Here is my wardrobe as it stands today, not including undergarments, jewelry, pjs, and workout clothes. However, some of these are actually Lululemon pieces that also double as workout gear (striped shirt, black pullover, grey tank top, geometric print tank top). I plan to use this all year...and replace stuff on an as-needed basis (like, if it either stops fitting or gets worn to shreds). Most of these are things I've had for months and years....but I've added in an ever so slight bit of neutral color variation in here in the past couple of months, with a business suit I've had for years, and a few recent acquisitions (brown skinny trousers, blush blouse, cognac faux leather jacket, cognac leather flats). The collection below is just enough to get me looking professional at my 9-to-5, and give me some down to earth options for my off time.

I'll list each item below. Please note that many of these photos are photos of the actual items I have, and some are look-alikes that I found online to make this collage.

  1. Cognac faux leather jacket - This was a birthday gift, and I love the color and look. Great way to add some color while maintaining versatility.
  2. Black blazer - Same one I've had for 7+ years
  3. Navy blazer - Part of my 3 piece business suit
  4. Grey open front cardigan
  5. Black button up cardigan
  6. Light grey casual pullover sweater
  7. Printed tunic blouse
  8. Striped long sleeve shirt
  9. Black long sleeve shirt
  10. Blush tie front blouse
  11. Black pullover
  12. Dark grey tank top
  13. Geometric print tank top
  14. White cami
  15. Black cami
  16. Tan shorts
  17. Sunglasses
  18. Black leather belt
  19. Grey chunky crochet circle scarf - I made this myself! See posts from a few days ago for more info and pics
  20. Purple pashmina shawl/scarf - Bought this in Nafplion, Greece during my study abroad in college
  21. Grey slacks
  22. Brown skinny trousers
  23. Navy trousers - Part of my 3 piece business suit
  24. Black slacks
  25. Skinny jeans - True Religion is the brand that fits me really well, and is very well made. If you only have one pair of jeans - make them good!! #minimalisttruthbomb
  26. Navy pencil skirt - Part of my 3 piece business suit
  27. Black kate spade quilted leather mini bag on a chain strap
  28. Rose gold fossil wallet
  29. Black dress
  30. Black trench coat
  31. Black ankle boots
  32. Black cognac leather ballet flats - I was so inspired by the color of my jacket that I got my new pair of flats to match, after I finally wore a hole in my leopard flats.
  33. Nude pumps - I can't do higher than a 3 inch heel, which is what these are. I wear these every day at work.
  34. Black birkenstock sandals
  35. Longchamp le pliage large tote bag - I love this thing...very useful for carrying work stuff. The corners got worn a few months ago, and Longchamp repaired it for free.
 Anything that I've posted in previous wardrobe updates has either been donated (if I found it wasn't working for me any more), sold (if it was a name brand item), or thrown out (if totally worn out). It's a journey, but thankfully I'm not trying hold onto things that simply don't work or aren't in a condition that I can tolerate. Being able to ditch things like that allows you to focus on what does work, and frees up space in your life.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Finding your "signature scent"

1. My inexpensive perfume choice to give me time to save for my true love (B&BW "Country Chic" - please look past the tacky name) 2. Jo Malone Blackberry and Bay sample 3. Diptyque Oyedo sample 4. Diptyque Do Son sample

If you are like me, and love perfume/scents/smelly good items, or if you are completely new to the topic, I think it's an interesting one to explore when you are looking at new ways to enjoy life without accumulating clutter.

Throughout my teen, college, and now adult life, I've enjoyed wearing perfume. Different stages in my life have been marked by different scents...

High School - Wore either Clinique "Happy" or Lucky Brand perfume given to me as a gift.
College - Wore a custom mix roll-on perfume from Bath Junkie. The scents I mixed were Mandarin Orange and Fresh Air. I loved that smell (reminds me of my study abroad in Greece), and I wonder if Bath Junkie still exists, and if they still have those scents...
Post College - I've been wearing lotion and spray called "Carried Away" by Bath & Body Works. I mainly wore this while I was pregnant with my daughter, so when I smell this, it reminds me of expecting my first baby (the calm before the storm, lol).
Grad School, and Lately - I've been sampling a variety of different perfumes...which brings me to my next point...

 Now that I'm more of a grown up (27 is grown up enough to say that, I believe), I've been on a bit of a fun journey trying to find the perfect perfume. I want to find my new "signature scent" to take me into the next phase of my life, now that I've gotten past grad school, starting my first job, having my two babies, buying our house, and all these changes that have happened in my life.

Here are some things I've been doing that have helped me....
1. Figure out what "notes" you gravitate toward. Fruity, floral, green, woody, spicy, musky, clean, citrus, etc. I personally love citrus, and always have.
2. Smell lots of different brands and scents within those brands. Sephora and Nordstrom are great places to start with smelling around.
3. Get samples of your very favorites. Perfume will develop differently on each person's body, so it's very important, before making your final purchase, that you sample the perfume to see how it develops on your body. It may smell totally different on you after a couple of hours than it does in the seconds after it's been sprayed. Don't be shy about asking for a sample - this is normal.

And here is my conclusion!

I have smelled tons of perfumes, and I have sampled four over the past several months that have really stood out to me. The good news is that I've discovered my signature scent, and I love it/will purchase it eventually! The bad news is that it's a quite pricey, so I will need to save up some cash before I make it mine. All my spending cash has gone toward my upcoming trip, but soon I'll be able to save up for some fancy perfume.

Without further ado, here are the perfumes I've closely considered:

1. Jo Malone "Blackberry and Bay" - I absolutely loved the way this one smelled with the initial spray and about the first 10 minutes or so on my body. Green and fresh, with a strong blackberry note as well as a bit of grapefruit. However, it was one that I'm so glad I sampled for awhile, because it developed really strangely on me, and I was left smelling a bit too "sterile", with very little of the amazing smells I got at first, if that makes any sense. This fragrance is very popular with lots of people (per my research), so perhaps my body chemistry just didn't agree with this one.

2. Diptyqe "Do Son" - Diptyque is a french brand that has an amazing reputation, and they certainly lived up to it when I went to smell the products at Nordstrom. Probably the most amazing smells I've experienced. Do Son reminds me of fresh honeysuckle (though it's really tuberose, orange leaves, pink peppercorns, etc.), and is a really nice scent.

3. Diptyque "Oyedo" - THIS IS THE ONE FOR ME!! It is like my college "mandarin orange/fresh air" scent, but more grown up. I will save up for this, as a 100 ML bottle is $125 - but that should last a very long time once I do eventually get to purchase it. It smells of strong citrus (oranges), and named after the ancient name of Tokyo "Edo". When I smell this, my mood is lifted. When I wear it, I feel like it's very me, and also not too sweet. It's got a warm/woody base note.

4. Bath and Body Works "Country Chic" - Please look past the awful name...that was the first thing I had to do. After recalibrating my mind, I found that I really liked this scent. Unlike most Bath and Body Works fragrances, this one isn't sickeningly me, it seems more complex and a bit more grown up than most of their stuff. Of course I love the citrus (lemon), and after awhile it dries down to a light floral with a hint of citrus remaining. This one was on sale for $15, so I went ahead and purchased it to use in the mean time, while I save up my pennies for the one I really love.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Made myself the chunky scarf of my dreams...

Today was day 2 of my crochet frenzy, and I ended up getting some super bulky yarn. I made my daughter a pink cowl, and made myself the chunky knit scarf of my dreams! I think I'll attempt to make hats next, to match the scarves, when I find some more time. My husband wants me to make myself some thigh-high crochet socks, but alas, I believe it may be difficult to find a tutorial on that. May need to wing it for that project...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

An inexpensive, easy hobby for accessory lovers...

I never thought I'd say this...but....I have taken up crochet as of today. Rome wasn't built in a day, but I certainly learned how to crochet from Youtube and completed my first project all today. I'm really happy with it. I've always loved the chunky knit scarf/cowl look, and ever since my H&M (cheap) one got a overly frazzled with wear, I've been missing that from my wardrobe. It was fun to create my own!
Camel-colored crochet circle scarf/cowl I made today.
Materials were pretty cheap....I really only needed one bundle of yarn ($4). The crochet hook was $2 and the weaving needles were $1. I chose a 9 mm metal hook, since I'm more interested in creating "chunky" items with thicker yarn. It was so much fun to pick out yarn. There are so many different colors, textures, materials, etc. to choose from...
Materials needed.
As far as the actual learning process went, I used YouTube videos exclusively to learn how to do this. It took me quite a while to catch on, and honestly, there wasn't one single video that really did the trick for me...I had to use several different ones for different reasons. It was a lot of trial and error...The good thing about crochet is that you can unravel the entire thing easily, and start over without wasting materials. You're only using one hook (unlike knitting, which involves two hooks), so it's a simple process once you get it down. It was difficult in the beginning.....but the learning curve is not that steep. You really just have to dive in and work with your hands before you eventually get there. If you get frustrated and want to toss your ball of yarn out the window, just take a break and pick it up again a bit later (which I had to do today).
My very first crochet chain.
Like I said, I'm really happy with the cowl I created today, but I think that next I would like to tackle a super chunky knit circle scarf. The yarn I got for today's cowl is medium/standard "thickness", because I heard that you should do that for your first one while you are learning the process. However, moving forward I will be using the "chunky" yarn. And they sell some really really chunky yarn....I'm excited about that.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Painted some "interim" paintings for my fire place

I am still in the "finding inspiration" state of my painting journey for the piece I plan to create. I've created a pinterest board called "art inspiration", which is really helping me collect my thoughts and images/colors I'm drawn to. When I've had a chance to collect some more items of inspiration, I'll do a blog post showing some of my favorites. I'm realizing that this may take awhile, and in the meantime, wanted to have something over our mantle. I whipped these suckers up last night with some extra canvases I've had laying around. It's actually kind of nice to try these out here, because I'm really digging the color, and the lattice/medallion look. (Fun fact - the previous owners of our house had the medallion theme throughout the inside and outside of the house in their decor really appealed to me when we looked at our house for the first time, and I'm still inspired by it.)

Ultimately, these will hang in a 2x2 pattern above our bed in the master bedroom, but for now, they'll be place holders for what is to come....

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My hypothetical luxury capsule wardrobe...and thoughts on minimal dressing in general.

Happy new year! My goal this year, as I've mentioned in a post before, is to whittle down our debt and start building savings per Dave Ramsey's 7 baby steps. We are well on our way, but I have to's hard to not spend your money, but really nice to take a look at the end of the month and see that it hasn't evaded you mysteriously like it has in the past...

If you are like me, and 1.) enjoy browsing/planning your next investment piece and 2.) have "champagne tastes on a beer budget", then you may relate to me on this next topic.

Even since beginning to really keep a "minimal" wardrobe (and all belongings in general), I've put more of a focus on what I'm bringing into my life and investing my money in. I ask myself, "does this add enough value for the price I'd be paying?", "is this something that will wear out quickly?", and most important, "do I really love this item?" It makes me see the value in saving up for that really high quality, perfect item instead of trying various cheaper or not quite right substitutions. With that being said, I'll be lucky to just keep the items I currently have alive during this year without having to replace anything, being on a tight budget and whatnot....

If you have an itch to express your creativity, but don't have the means or priority of purchasing investment pieces for yourself in the present state, I suggest planning your "ideal future state". This gives you something to think about should the time arise that you make an investment purchase that will last you years and years. And even if you never plan to actually buy, it could be a fun way to get creative.

And, here is my hypothetical luxury capsule wardrobe. These are all items I've always admired over the years (damn you, expensive taste!). I'd honestly be happy with just this handful of stuff to wear over and over throughout the days instead of my entire current collection of clothing. Some of these items aren't actually that insanely priced, but some of them certainly ARE.

1. and 2. Theory shirt and blouse...this brand is minimal, but amazing quality and great fit. I've heard it's a great place to find timeless work shirts.
3. Hermes silk scarf. Gorgeous, and hundreds of unique prints - a work of art that you can wear.
4. David Yurman citrine cuff bracelet. Long time love from afar for me...I always notice when someone is wearing one.
5. DVF wrap dress. Solid weight, well fitted, and long enough. Also, the reputation for being the best wrap dress on the planet is there as well.
6. Burberry trench coat. Sign me up.
7. True Religion skinny black jeans. My one and only pair of blue jeans is True Religion (purchased on sale at half off, though!). Still quite pricey, but these seem to fit me better than any other kind I've tried. I'd love to have a black pair like this someday.
8. Modalu "Pippa" bag. Pippa Middleton carries this kind (was named after her), and I am slightly obsessed with Pippa Middleton, so yeah...
9. Ferragamo clutch wallet on a chain.
10. London Sole ballet flats
11. Ash boots - actually a more recent discovery...
12. Ferragamo nude pumps. I've realized nude pumps are my work wardrobe essential. It would be amazing to have such a high quality pair....the $40 ones I bought a few months ago are already showing significant signs of wear, since I do wear them every single day. It would hardly be worth it to get a $40 pair of shoes repaired, but I can see getting a $400 pair of shoes and keeping them for years (decades?), with a repair job in order ever so often. Especially if they are your only ones, people!

As you can see, I'm not big on logo items. Louis Vuitton monogram and the like is not quite my cup of tea. I have admired these particular brands/items primarily because of the design and the quality. If you see and feel them in person, you can really tell.

Okay, back to reality now...Cheers to 2015 being the year of frugality! Maybe when I've achieved some financial goals, I'll look into investing in one of these luxury goods.