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 Two

It has been a true joy to get dressed for work this week. Why? Because I’ve barely had to think about it! I have ten items of clothing that I can mix and match tops and bottoms with and all of them make me feel comfortable. The only thing I’ve had to check is if it’s raining that day and if I should bring my waterproof coat. That’s it! 

So I started the week off going over my shoes, which wasn’t difficult seeing as I didn’t have many to begin with. I knew that I did have few pairs in there that I liked, but never wore so those went first. In the end I went from 14 pairs to 10. Not that interesting, but it felt good to toss some I’d been hanging on to. I’ve got a pair of navy blue heels for weddings and formal occasions, which go great with my one formal dress that is also a navy color. I’m pleased. 

Once this task was completed I dug back into Marie Kondo’s book feeling really smug about how my closet and drawers were less full now and only filled with things that spark joy. I was really feeling like an expert at this point. Then we got to her section on folding and I found out I’ve been folding clothes wrong my entire life. So that was a nice way to deflate my head.

Watch Marie fold!

Here were the two big takeaways:
“The goal is to fold each piece of clothing into a small smooth rectangle that can stand on its own.”
“Never tie up stockings or ball up socks.”

With those two things in mind, and after countless hours of watching people fold clothes (something I never thought I’d do), I once again dumped all my clothes out of my drawers and began my refold. 

I was slightly miffed, but the end result speaks for itself:

The last bits of Kondo’s book had some of the best bits because it expanded beyond the wardrobe. Her blunt advice about how to organize and tidy papers? THROW THEM ALL AWAY. Papers don’t spark joy. Sounds good to me! I spent a good day after work this week happily freeing myself from electrical appliance manuals and pay stubs from many jobs ago. 

She even gave me permission to throw away – gulp – GIFTS.
“The true purpose of a gift is to be received, not kept always. Presents are not things, but a means for conveying someone’s feelings.”
Consider the feelings conveyed, singing birthday cards I received for my 22nd birthday…in the trash you go! 

Kondo goes through how we should tidy books, photos, papers, kitchen appliances, and the one everyone dreads: personal mementos and keepsakes. That was the hardest for me, which is why she suggests to do it last.

“Possessions: Face them now, face them sometime or avoid them until the day we die. Life becomes far easier once you know that things will still work out even if you are lacking something.”

Maire Kondo

So wardrobe is done. It only took me half the month and that’s because I’ve been slowly donating clothes over a period of months now. This was really just the final push to let go of some of those things I was holding onto for no reason. So if that wardrobe is done, what do I do for the next two weeks?

Well, I’m trying to shove one more book in on this subject and I want to see what comes of it. It’s called “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. It’s a long title that really spoke to me. So I’ll be letting you know all the fun tidbits that come of that read. 

I’m also planning my January challenge and getting ready to really start promoting this website! Thanks to anyone who is reading early. I will be posting a new YouTube Throwback this week and on my Book Reviews tab I’ll be posting my favorite fiction and non-fiction reads of 2018!