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

March 2019 - Minimalist Home · Minimalist Home

Minimalist Home – Intro

Related image

I was planning something else for March’s challenge, but I’m pushing it back to April because a wrench was thrown into my wheel of life two weeks ago: We have to move. There are some things we will really miss about where we’ve lived for the last four years, and others we won’t. Mostly we are looking at this as a new adventure. We are staying in Portland and the move is only ten minutes away, but even if you’re just moving down the street the reality is the same: Moving Sucks.

I was very smug about moving our stuff at first. I had spent all of December minimizing my wardrobe and reading books on having less and I had substantially reduced the things I owned over the last three months or so. Imagine my surprise when we actually started packing and I realized I was still in hoarder status. Okay, it wasn’t THAT bad, but I still couldn’t believe how much STUFF we had. Way more than I thought. There were cupboards and closets FULL OF STUFF that I hadn’t even opened since we moved in. Not a good sign. I immediately pushed March’s challenge to April and shoved in a minimalist home month for March.

As I was wrapping up my February news challenge, I was getting excited for this opportunity because I had so much fun doing my minimalist wardrobe that I wanted to expand on that and really look at my home life in detail to see what else in my life I could simplify, particularly in regard to THINGS (and also in particular, my kitchen: how many mixing bowls does one need?).

So this month as unpack my belonging and go through them I will be trying to ‘let go’ of one thing every day for a total of 30 items donated/sold by the end of the month. Each week I’ll give a photo evidence update of my goodbye pile.

Week One I want to revisit my wardrobe and give an update on how the minimalist wardrobe is holding up. I’ve made some changes since the last post so It’ll be fun to show what’s new and how many pieces I have now.

Week Two I want to get into the kitchen and start examining what feels like the 30 mixing bowls I own and reexamining my life with them. Do they spark joy? Probably not.

Week Three I will go through my books, movies, photos and papers and see what I can trim out.

Week Four I will wrap up with an overall update of some of the smaller facets of my life that I want to look at and minimize.

In the meantime I’ll also be reading the book, Goodbye Things and Essentialism.

December 2018 - Minimalist Wardrobe · Minimalist Wardrobe

Minimalist Wardrobe – Week One

My wardrobe makes me feel…

Lizzie knows what’s up

That’s the first prompt  Jessica Rose Williams has for her readers in her Year Round Capsule Wardrobe Guide. So how does my wardrobe make me feel? Overwhelmed, unhappy uncomfortable and annoyed. That’s a lot of  negativity and once I started to get to work on my wardrobe this week I could see why. I really only had four items of clothing I actually liked wearing. So what in the world was I doing with the rest of this shit? How come when I was asked what are things I never wear I said dresses, but still owned a whopping total of TWELVE DRESSES.  Why did I say I felt good in three-quarter length sleeve blouses but owned only one? 

The workbook is great in helping you decide your personal style needs, what your goal is when it comes to your capsule wardrobe and really assessing why this is something you’re interested in. Me? I’m sick of staring at my closet and drawers every morning feeling overwhelmed and unimpressed. I’m sick of walking around the office feeling uncomfortable four out of five days a week because once I wear my favorite outfit I have to wait another week to wear it again. Why isn’t my wardrobe full of favorite outfits? 

I want to tie my work with William’s ebook guide to another book I’ve been reading this month by Marie Kondō. In her book, the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up she suggests when beginning to tidy there are only two decisions to be made about stuff: Whether or not to dispose of something and deciding where to put it. She insists that tidying has to begin with discarding. William’s suggests taking every single item you own out of your wardrobes, cupboards, drawers and any other hiding places. Lay it all out in front of you. I mixed this advice with Kondo’s belief in tidying by category. Don’t go drawer by drawer because sometimes you have sweaters in a drawer and sweaters hung up. Place all like items together and get a good idea of what you really have. 

Once everything was out of hiding I took another leaf from Kondo and held every item and asked myself ‘does this spark joy?’ Along with that I added in Williams questions: Would I wear this right now? Have I worn this in the last year?  Does it fit me properly? and Do I feel confident when I wear it? 

“Do you feel happy wearing clothes that don’t give you pleasure? You thought it looked cool in the shop…then why did you never wear it? Was it because you realized that it didn’t suit you when you tried in on at home? If so, and if you no longer buy clothes of the same style or color, it has fulfilled another important function – it has taught you what doesn’t suit you.”

Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

So here are all my clothes out of their drawers, sorted by category and laid bare:

Inventory: Cardigans, 10; Shirts, 7; Leggings, 6; Blouses, 2; Tank tops, 10; Jeans, 10; Pants, 3; Skirts, 1; Sweaters/Zip Ups, 8; Pajama bottoms, 7; Pajama tops, 10; Shorts, 5; Workout bottoms, 4; Workout tops, 3; Shorts, 5; Dresses, 12; Coats, 3; TOTAL ITEMS OF CLOTHING: 106

It’s amazing to have one hundred pieces of clothing and really only wear or like half of them. I already mentioned my 12 dresses….yikes. I also had ten pairs of jeans, only four of which I ever wore. There was a huge imbalance of items I liked to wear vs the amount of those items actually in my closet.  Through William’s journal prompts I found that my three key words for my personal style are neutral, timeless and relaxed. It’s boring, but it’s me. I feel comfortable in black, gray, brown and sometimes floral print. That’s about it. So why did I have so much of everything else I didn’t like? Time to toss!

Donation Pile!

Two hours later here is the Inventory and much less exhausting closet: Cardigans, 5; Shirts, 5; Leggings, 3; Blouses, 1; Tank tops, 8; Jeans, 6; Pants, 1; Skirts, 0; Sweaters/Zip Ups, 4; Pajama bottoms, 3; Pajama tops, 6; Shorts, 4; Workout bottoms, 3; Workout tops, 3; Shorts, 5; Dresses, 4; Coats, 2; TOTAL ITEMS OF CLOTHING: 63

I ended up with a lot of extra hangers. I’m storing these for now because even though I have cut down the wardrobe I’m eyeing ten or so more pieces that I don’t like that much, and would like to replace with things that suit me better and can be more versatile. The reason they’re still in there now? Well, I can’t go down to 2 shirts and 2 cardigans at the moment. It won’t work with my work week. So as I start to learn more about my personal style this upcoming week I’ll be keeping an eye out for new clothing items that are neutral, timeless and relaxed and can all mix and match together to really create that perfect capsule wardrobe look. 

I’ve made big strides this week, but I still have a bit more work to do this month. Updates next week!

December 2018 - Minimalist Wardrobe · Minimalist Wardrobe

Minimalist Wardrobe – Intro

Dressing yourself is hard. I always say if I won the lottery the first thing I’d do is hire someone to dress me. Everyone thinks they have a weird body type. I’ve heard people of all shapes and sizes complain about it, so if you think someone has the ‘perfect’ body, they’re probably pissed off about something you’ve never even really noticed in them. 

“I’m too tall, my pants always turn into capri’s.”

“I’m too short, everything has to be rolled up.”

“I have a [insert: pear, rectangle, hourglass, inverted triangle, big bird, pencil, noodle, barge] shape.”

“I can’t do crop tops.”

The point is, we’re all a little insecure. I have so many clothes and shoes and only two outfits I feel really comfortable in. So what am I doing with all this extra stuff? Feeling bad about myself, that’s what. Once I wear my two favorite outfits I itch to do some laundry so I can wear them again, then suffer the rest of the week with outfits I don’t feel comfotable in.

The idea of downsizing has come to me over the past two years and the more I sit with the idea the more I like it. Since I’ve committed to it, I’ve donated multiple bags of books, kitchen items, etc. that I once thought I couldn’t live without.  I thank the universe every day that I became an e-reader as I would have a home that I could barely walk through with the rate that I used to buy books at. The part of my home that remains untouched though,  is my closet.

I have done some minor things. For instance, I only have one pair of heels now. It took years of me trying to be a heels girl to realize I am not a heels girl. I’m short enough to be a heels girl, but I have this thing about loving my toes more than my appearance and also my coordination is flawed. There’s nothing wrong with being a heels girl though. If you love ’em, wear ’em and rock ’em then you do you. I’ve had enough rolled ankles to give up on the entire thing and just whittle it down to one pair for special occasions. Also, I threw out all my old plastic hangers last year and gave myself some Blair Waldorf ones just to feel less cluttered and also because, well, Blair Waldorf. 

For this month’s challenge I’ll be creating a capsule minimalist wardrobe and I’ll share photos of my progress each week as well as the challenges that come up and bits of fun information I glean along the way. Jessica Rose Williams defines a Capsule Wardrobe as:

” A wardrobe full of your favourite clothes. It’s a well curated collection of quality items that you’re happy to wear again and again, suit your lifestyle and won’t go out of style. It isn’t based on trends or a one size fits all formula. Everything in it compliments each other and as a result you need less clothes. A year round capsule wardrobe needn’t be more than 50 pieces, it may be less (mine is 32), and owning one will show you how little clothes, shoes and accessories you actually need.

Jessica Rose Williams – How to Build A Year Round Capsule Wardrobe

My research to prepare me for this will be the lovely Jessica Rose Williams book and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō

Also, before pictures are so much fun and so, here are mine: 

Next week, I’m taking every single item out of the closet and dresser and throwing it on the bed for inspection of worth. That photo should be fun. Until next week! In the meantime you can see my thoughts on twitter, photo updates on life and monthly progress on instagram and goodreads for my progress on the books I’m reading for this challenge.