March 2019 - Minimalist Home · Minimalist Home

Minimalist Home – Week Four – Every Day Minimalism

I can’t believe I surpassed by goal of 30 items so early in this challenge. I think once you start really looking at possessions and things you own that you hardly ever use, it becomes easier to let go.

I want to share some good tidbits from a book called Stuffocation I read this month. I think they might help with perspective if you’re looking to downsize as well. I’m going to summarize some of my favorite tidbits below.

Image result for henry ford quote advertising

In 1922 Henry Ford said that he wanted a family to buy one of his cars and never have to buy another ever again. Things were built to LAST back then. You didn’t get new clothes every week, month or even ever year. A new item of clothing would come to you, if you were lucky, once a year. It was almost always bought or made to replace something as well, not to add to a collection of items. Now things are ubiquitous and cheap. In 1991 the average american bought 24 items of clothing a year, by 2007 we were buying 67 items every year. A new piece of clothing every 4-5 days. It was also in the 1920s that for the first time manufacturing and agricultural industries were producing more than they could sell. So we had a decision to make: Do we produce less? Or do we buy more? We could have gone an entirely different route. Let people work less, have more time off. A decade after making his famous statement, Ford started pushing out a new style of car every year – insisting to the public that THIS version was the one they wanted. Never mind that you just bought a car a few years ago and it still runs fine. I think we went with ‘buy more’.

Cheer up, Holly. This was the most fun job you ever had and you didn’t even know it at the time.

In the end it’s all about experiences and we should try to come back to that in our everyday lives. Go back to 2011. I don’t know why, I just picked a year. Tell me one thing you remember about 2011. Was it what you bought that year? Maybe it was if it was a house. But if you didn’t make a large life changing purchase I bet the one thing you remember is a trip you had that year, or time spent during a long weekend with friends. I doubt you remember a pair of shoes you just had to have at the time, a pair you bought, a pair you wore until halfway through 2012 when they fell apart or you got bored and you donated them. But maybe they were $200 shoes. Would you have rather spent that $200 taking your wife away for the weekend? Or surprising your husband with tickets to a show? I bet you’d remember that a lot better than a pair of shoes. If I look back at 2011 I remember seeing a band I really liked with a friend, graduating from my graduate program, going to Denver on a business trip with friends, working at a job I hated (but looking back I really loved it), going camping with friends, winning a contest to meet Katy Perry and going to VidCon. All experiences. I bought a lot of clothes that year too. I remember constantly online shopping. I don’t remember a single thing I bought. I don’t own any of it anymore anyway.

The big takeaway from all this minimalism stuff I’ve bee working toward the last few months is this: Experiences > Things. So when I see a pair of shoes advertised to me online that I feel like i just HAVE to have, but they’re $90 look around and see what that money could be used for that’s more important. A show? A night out? A night away on the coast? A flight to Seattle for the weekend? Your savings account? I have eight pairs of shoes at the moment and they’re all in good enough condition and they all serve a purpose ad get worn. I don’t really need another pair right now and in ten years I won’t remember what clothes I bought this year anyway, I’ll remember what I did and that’s more important.

Here are a few more things I gave away this week:

Items: 52/30

I’ll be back early next week to intro you into April’s challenge. It’s a little different and I’m pretty excited about it!

March 2019 - Minimalist Home · Minimalist Home

Minimalist Home – Week Three – Books, Movies, Photos, Paper

Image result for beauty and the beast library
My five year old dream library.

In June 2011 I finished grad school and my Mom bought me a Nook as a graduation present. I was slightly appalled. E-Readers? Those were for people who don’t love books! And I knew I loved books. I spent, and do still spend, almost all my free time reading books. It was also important to me at the time that other people knew I loved books. I worked in a book store and I spent a lot of my free time there browsing books to buy at the end of my shift. And I bought a lot. So many that I had at least over a hundred books at one point that I hadn’t even started reading yet. I had a vision of collecting these books and one day getting that Beauty and the Beast library I’d wanted since I was five. I’m slightly terrified of this reality now. I love libraries, but I don’t think it’d be very nice to own a gigantic one that only I got to use. I’d feel pretty neglectful of them since I doubt I’d ever read them all or even read them more than once. I suppose a part of me still likes the idea of this, but in reality books are meant to be read and if you aren’t reading them then give them away to someone who will or get a dang e-reader. Since the Nook I’ve upgrade to the Kindle Oasis and it’s amazing. Stay tuned at the end to hear about how much I love my e-reader and how I haven’t bought a single book in eight months but have still managed to read a ton of new books for free!

When I moved out of my Dad’s house finally I remember looking guiltily at my now husband because I had about 14 boxes of books that he had to move down my stairs and then up his own when we finally moved in together. “Hey, you wanted to date a book lover, this is what you get. AND LOOK HOW MUCH I LOVE BOOKS. LOOK AT ALL THESE BOOKS I’VE READ. And look at all these others I’ve accumulated since I started buying and hoarding books that I HAVEN’T READ. Don’t worry – I’ll read them someday I’m sure. After I buy and read some more first before I get to the ones I bought four years ago and still haven’t read. Some I’ll reread, but most I’ll never read again. But don’t they LOOK nice. And now people know we love books. This proves it!” Oh me from the past. Slow down crazy.

I think what’s really helped with being able to downsize my books so much is having had to move six times in the last ten years. Every time I’ve moved since that first time I’ve downsized books. Those fourteen boxes went down to twelve, then eight, and for this last move four. Even four felt like a lot though. I mean, I had MULTIPLES of Harry Potter books. I don’t need three copies of Half Blood Prince. I went down to two copies per Harry Potter book a few months back and STILL didn’t realize why I was holding onto multiples so desperately. So I let those go. Then I did the Marie Kondo thing and I held each book for a bit and waited until they sparked joy or not.

I ended up getting rid of 22 books all altogether – more than I thought I would. I finally parted with a few YA books I didn’t really read anymore, and a few books I kept just because I loved the covers. Old me would have been horrified. I also finally let go of my college poetry books. I never read them. I just thought they were cool to look at.

Here is the old bookshelf (three total, really) with built ins on the left below, compared to the new much smaller one on the right that fits all of our movies and books (thanks Ikea!).

THAT’S ALL OF THEM. That’s everything. It still feels like a lot to me. That wicker basket down below has all of our video games too. I’d love to downsize even more, but for now the goal was to downsize enough to get everything to fit into this smaller shelf. We’ve also paired down our DVDs and Blu-rays to only the ones we watch at least once a year. Starting this weekend actually I’m going to flip them backwards and then if I watch them in the next year I can flip them facing out again. This time next year if I have any still facing the wrong way they get donated. We don’t have a lot which is nice, but still, they take up so much room and I’m much more of a reader than a movie watcher. Also, the internet has everything now so if I really want to watch something I can just rent it for the day for around $3.

The next step was photos. I only have one photo album, which is great and it’s not even completely full. It’s also got a real stupid old picture of me in front. It was a gift. Anyway, I have some old photos in here and I’m working on scanning them in through a phone app into my Google Photos drive. There is no point in keeping physical photos when everything can be kept digitally now. I’ve also never had anyone over and literally had them sit down and flip through a photo album. I’ll probably end up keeping 15-20 total in the end. I’m thinking a few that my parents or grandparents wrote on the back of, or ones that I’d like to put on the fridge or cycle through framing. Photos weren’t a huge problem before and since I only have this one album I’m not stressed about it. I would still like to make sure all my physical copies are backed up online in a private album though.

One folder of papers

Downsizing papers was a hard one. I used to have this giant file cabinet I got when I turned 18 so that I could do what I thought you were supposed to: start saving and hoarding every adult document ever. I finally went through this massive cabinet with several different folders and files last year. I went from seven folders to three. The seven folders were filled with documents for old cars I had, but didn’t even own anymore, and they also contained every single paycheck I ever received in my life. This was useful when I was going through the steps for Your Money or Your Life (highly recommend), but now they were just pieces of paper. Then for this week’s challenge I paired it all down to one file. It no longer stays in the file cabinet and it fits neatly in my desk drawer. The cabinet will be donated this week. I kept anything that I need as an original that I couldn’t just take a picture of. I kept a sealed transcript, my vaccinations, original birth certificate, etc. Things that were irreplaceable. The next step is to purchase a fire proof mini safe to keep them in along with the social security card and passport. The goal is to have that safe sit neatly in my desk drawer as well.

This week was a hard one for discarding. There’s something that just hits you about looking at old photos and old books you remember buying and thinking you’d keep forever. I’m getting much better at letting go though.

So back to the BOOKS. How have I managed to read so many new titles in the last eight months and not have had bought a single book? The LIBRARY OF COURSE. I could kick myself for not signing up sooner. I’ve saved so much money! The best part is almost every library now has an account with Libby or Overdrive to get FREE E-BOOKS SENT DIRECTLY TO YOUR E-READER. You can even get Audio books for free! Cancel that Audible subscription and save some $$! I encourage you to check out your library and do this. I didn’t even have to go in and talk to a human to get it done. I did it all online and ten minutes later I was reading a book that was on my wish list forever but I didn’t quite want to spend the money yet to buy. It’s been my favorite discovery of the year. Check. It. Out.

Next week I’ll close out the minimalist home with some really good insight on some of the minimalist books I’ve been reading.

Items 46/30 – AHEAD OF SCHEDULE!

March 2019 - Minimalist Home · Minimalist Home

Minimalist Home – Week Two – The Kitchen

Once upon a time I was in college and lived in a single dorm room. I had a shitty little TV in my room and it only picked up a few channels because reception was so bad. One of the only channels it picked up was the Food Network and I watched it. All. The. Time. I was obsessed with Iron Chef’s secret ingredient, Alton Brown’s science of cooking, who would be eliminated on Chopped, Giada’s giant head, and what Barefoot Contessa going to make for Jeffrey this week. Mostly though I became obsessed with the idea of cooking in a perfect well stocked kitchen.

Iron Chef America - SECRET INGREDIENT

I was never much of a cook growing up. I could make grilled cheese, chicken Top Ramen, Bisquick pancakes and scrambled eggs. That was about it. Oh and cereal. I was very good at making cereal. But in college, having Food Network and no friends really changed my cooking life. People always joke about a college kid’s skills in the kitchen being poor, but I came back from it ready to do some master chef cooking. I was gonna Iron Chef the shit out of my kitchen. I really began to experience the joy of cooking during this time. I still love to cook and I make dinner at the house almost every night. I really truly enjoy meal prep and baking and trying new recipes. What I’ve learned to do now though, is enjoy all of this with a lot less THINGS than I used to.

For instance, the moment I got back from college I bought everything I thought I’d need to become a master chef. A mandolin slicer, Kitchen Aid mixer, several different sized bowls, all the utensils, a crème brûlée torch, a pastry crimper, a hand pressed juicer in different sizes for limes, lemons and oranges, muffin tins in three sizes, SEVEN cake pans, four different kinds of graters, a spiraler, etc. etc. etc. Essentially, Williams Sonoma was my bitch.

The point is I bought a lot of stuff, mostly on a credit card because I was making $10/hr working part time (I really need to do a post on my consumer debt btw, which was just all paid off last week!). And I wasn’t even majoring in culinary arts or anything. I just HAD TO HAVE IT ALL. So I was surrounded by a ton of kitchen appliances and stuff I hardly ever used. I stayed surrounded by my horded items in my kitchen as I moved from place to place over the years. I never could find anything. I hardly ever used what I had. I slowly started donating the items that took up space a few years back. I knew if I didn’t use it at least once every six months then I didn’t need it in my life.

I donated a lot of kitchen items over the past year or two, but I knew during this recent move that I needed to do better. This became clear when I thought I had packed the entire kitchen and then found out there was an entire kitchen cupboard full of stuff I had NO IDEA WAS EVEN THERE. So began the kitchen purge, definitely the most extensive yet.

13 items total above, plus I got rid of about 15 cups and mugs we don’t ever use. I’m going to count all of those as one though so 14 items total for the kitchen purge. I posted these in my local Buy Nothing group and two families came and picked the items up. Both were thrilled for the items and I was able to avoid giving a donation shop a surplus of my junk.

Just a small portion of the glasses and mugs that were tossed

We only have six water glasses now, we had about 25 for two people who never have anyone over for dinner or anything. Coffee and tea mugs have always been my weakness so we went from about 30 to 14. We could do with less, but I love my nerdy mugs and they all spark joy and they all get used. I’d like to get down to seven, but I parted with a lot this week so I’m feeling good about it. And I’m not buying ANY MORE.

Then I had to tackle the spice cupboard. I realized I had multiples of the same spices so I consolidated and threw out the empty ones. I looked at my spices and asked myself when I last used a certain spice. I tossed any that hadn’t been used in six months. My favorite tip for spices is to go to your favorite store when you have a specific recipe in mind that requires a unique spice and USE THE BULK BINS. A prepacked spice can cost anywhere from $3-$15! Take the tablespoon of curry powder you need and use the bulk bins for a total of $0.27. You’ll save time, space and money.

I still have some work to do on my kitchen. I know I have large items that take up too much space that I never use. For instance, I have a pie crust cover that is large and round and fits absolutely nowhere. It’s great to keep your crust from burning in the oven…the one day a year I make pie. Foil also works just as good though. I just can’t part with it though. Foil falls off and isn’t as user friendly. So my challenge to myself is to make more pie. If I have something I know is useful and I like to use it but I hardly ever do, then I need to use it more or lose it.

That’s my takeaway from this kitchen purge. I hope it inspires someone to take a look at what they have and size down a bit. Do you have twenty wine glasses, but have never had a dinner party in your life and aren’t planning to? Maybe you just need four.

Remember cooking can be fun, and a kitchen can be a really zen place to relax and nourish your body and soul. Don’t make it a hectic place filled with a bunch of stuff that only serves to stress you out.

Items purged: 24/30

March 2019 - Minimalist Home · Minimalist Home

Minimalist Home – Week One – Minimalist Clothing

Bet you didn’t think I was going to start off this minimalism stuff with Tyler Durden, did you? This is one of the first quotes in the Japanese Minimalist book I’m reading called Goodbye Things. I completely forgot about this quote even though Fight Club was a self professed favorite movie in high school. I think it was everyone’s favorite, honestly. Which actually brings up another great bit from this book: “The problem starts to occur when we buy things just to convey our qualities to others, and our collections start to grow too big”. That’s why I had so much Harry Potter stuff at one point. I AM SHOWING YOU I AM THE BIGGEST HARRY POTTER FAN. It’s why I owned a ton of Blu Rays. It’s why I had a Fight Club shirt in High School. I AM SHOWING YOU I LIKE GOOD MOVIES. It’s why I owned and wasted so much money buying band t-shirts during that time too. I AM SHOWING YOU I AM SOMEONE WHO HAS UNIQUE MUSIC TASTES. Another great bit from the book: “Discard anything if you have it for the sake of appearance.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with a good definition of Minimalism. Fumio Sasaki, author of Goodbye Things, defines a minimalist as “a person who knows what is truly essential for themselves, who reduces the number of possessions that they have for the sake of things that are really important to them.” I started the idea of a minimalist wardrobe for myself because I finally came to the conclusion that I don’t like fashion. I don’t get it. I’m not very good at it. I just want getting dressed in the morning to be easy. In that respect I succeeded. But somehow when we moved last week I was back to having not enough hangers for my clothes. I had to think how it got back to that. Well, I got a few clothes for Christmas. I did go to Good Will in January to look for shoes and ended up finding a super cute t-shirt (see said blue t-shirt in donation pile AGAIN below). I might have pared down my wardrobe from 106 items to 63, but now I was certain I had more than that.

So my goal for this month is to donate/free myself from one item a day for a total of 30 items. Since I’m starting with clothing I went back and counted the number of clothes I had. It was 70. So I gained seven items of clothes. So I went through again and really thought about what I wore and what I needed. I had a drawer at the bottom of my dresser full of what I thought were spring/summer clothes and it turns out there was some of that in there, but it was mostly old work out clothes and swimsuits I didn’t wear anymore. Five items gone from there. Then I tried on all five pairs of my jeans and turns out there was one pair I wasn’t really using a lot because it was a flare fit and that’s not my style. Tossed that. I went through everything and ended up keeping only 60 items, three less than after my first wardrobe purge. Here is a picture of everything that went away:

In our new place we are so lucky to have a walk in closet with built ins. It’s something I always dreamed about having and now it’s a reality. In between moving out and moving in I was thinking about that closet and how much I loved it and how I only wanted to fill it with things I loved. I took that to heart with this purge. I’m very happy with the result.

My next big task in regards to my wardrobe is to keep doing check ins with myself on it. Have any new items come in? How did they get there? Did I purchase them? Did someone else purchase them for me? That should help keep my clothing item number at a flat rate.

Also, WAITING a few days before I buy anything, clothing related or not. Keeping a wish list online and coming back to it in a week. Do I still need it? Probably not.

If I do need to do shopping, I want to be very mindful of what I buy. Can it go with more than one outfit? Will I wear this more than once a week? Does it match with everything else I have? Is it good quality? For instance, I have two short sleeve blouses for work for spring/summer and I’d ideally like to have three. I have one black one and one gray one. I’d like to have a dark blue one as it would go with all three of my work pants and flats. Once I buy that blouse I think I will have a perfect number of everything I need. The next rule for me will be if I buy one of something, discard one I already have. I feel great with only three pairs of jeans. If one gets a little run down and I feel I need another, I will discard a pair before bringing a new pair in.

Image result for i had it all i had stereo that was very decent. a wardrobe that was getting very respectable i was close to being complete

I think another thing I need to think about is that my clothing doesn’t need to express anything to anyone else. I do not need to to say I have money with brand names (because I don’t). I don’t need it to convey my hobbies. My personality will do that for me with the people I care about. As Tyler Durden says, “You are not your fucking khakis.”

When I began my Wardrobe challenge at the beginning of December, I was reading Marie Kondo’s book. I heard about it from a minimalist blogger I really like and I used it as my guide. How was I to know that three weeks later, Kondo was going to revolutionize the way American’s think about their things with her Netflix documentary I didn’t even know what coming out? The reason I bring this up is that now that ‘tidying up’ has become ‘a thing’, donations centers are being FILLED with people’s JUNK. Mine included in December. But I don’t like doing that if I can help it. I don’t want to add to a landfill either. So if you’re thinking of going a minimalist route, before you donate I suggest joining your local Buy Nothing group. I have given away so many things locally thought it and it’s a good way to meet your neighborhood and build a sense of community. I was able to donate all the clothing above AND all my moving boxes to someone who needed them. It’s such a wonderful thing and I recommend you check your local chapter out. It’s free to join of course!

I’ll be back next weekend with an update on my kitchen. I am looking forward to going through the boxes that have yet to be unpacked and pairing down my possessions in there. I swear I only use about twenty things regularly in my kitchen, but I have over 200 items in it.

Items purged: 10/30

December 2018 - Minimalist Wardrobe · Minimalist Wardrobe

Minimalist Wardrobe – Week Three and Four

There is a book I used to pour over when I was kid. I’m not sure who got it for me or how it came to be in my possession, but I actually still own it. I found it again while doing my Marie Kondo method on all my books. Surprisingly it still sparked joy so I kept it. It’s called “Sally’s Room” by M.K Brown. My only guess is my Dad bought it for me as a joke as a child…or in the hopes it might bring inspiration. If it was the latter, it worked.

The books is about a girl named Sally who never cleaned her room. Her room hated it so much they finally decided to do something about it. They marched out of her room, down the street and straight into Sally’s school. Sally’s teacher asks who the room belongs to and defiantly Sally stands up and says it’s hers. And she likes it that way. Eventually she goes home to an empty room and realizes how much room there is in there without all her stuff. When the room barges back in, Sally realizes she has to finally face the facts and clean.

I used to take this book out every time I had to clean my room and follow Sally’s cleaning and organizing method. She puts all her games away, finds her favorite sweater, folds her clothes, makes her bed, etc. In the end she finds that it’s a room where anything can happen.

I pulled the book back out and felt like I’d been through Sally’s journey so many times in my life, but it finally feels like it’s going to stick.

I kind of always knew this about me, but I really love throwing things away. I love cleaning and organizing. Even with all this going for me I found it hard to give up a lot of items this month in my minimalist wardrobe challenge. I don’t miss them now though! I had bought so many clothes I never wore before. It seemed wasteful to throw them out. But did they spark joy? No, they just made me feel bad that they didn’t fit or didn’t turn out to be part of my style as much as I wanted them to be.

I ended up finishing “The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth more Than Anything You Can Buy” By Cait Flanders. I don’t think I’ll be going through her exact path of only buying consumables for the year, but I did like her idea of only buying something when an older version of it is broke and needs to be replaced. She also inspired me to clean up my consumer debt. I don’t have a lot compared to the average American, but I have accumulated some from my wedding in October (photographers are expensive!). I’ve made a plan to set aside large chunks of my income each month to wipe out the debt by the end of May and before my zero interest runs out in August.

“One thing debt and clutter have in common is that as soon as you start letting it pile up, it can be harder and harder to see your way around it.”

Cait Flanders, The Year of Less

She also had a great idea of unfollowing all the stores, newsletters, etc. on social media accounts and unsubscribing from all of consumer emails. I started doing this and instead of 25 new emails in morning I’m getting about three. It’s a good start and I love not having the feeling of missing out when I get an email about picture frames on sale from Pier One with free shipping. I don’t need any more picture frames! And if I suddenly do, the Good Will has plenty of great options for $5 or less.

I have a plan for my wardrobe to become more capsule oriented and once I do my research and purchase the two items I’m really feeling I need to supplement in, then I think it will be complete. I’m really pleased with this journey and if you’re feeling like you want to declutter, organize and make getting dressing in the morning simple AF, let me know if I can help in any way! I am NOT an expert, but I’m feeling confident about the process.

Stay tuned for what my January challenge will be! Hint: It’s time to get honest.