Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tidying Up - Papers

I am in for another round of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up, and tonight, I focused on papers. Bank statements, random print-outs, and crafting information... all of it gone. Well, it is not entirely gone, as I refuse to toss sensitive materials. Those must be shredded.

In addition to papers, I purged magazines and CDs. Most likely, I should have tackled both as an extension of books. The magazines were easy enough to purge. Very few brought me joy, and even fewer had been read in recent months. Goodbye!

While I don't have a massive music collection, it's a daunting task. I started in earnest, immediately pulling and listing 10 CDs to sell. After an hour, I needed a new plan.

A Simple Plan
Shred the purged papers within seven days.
Digitize all of my music by the end of the month.
Keep 10-15 of my favorite CDs for listening in the car.
Sell the rest.

This all-in method of de-cluttering is intense, but it yields great results!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Minimalism Tag

I decided to join the party and participate in Hello Cathy's Minimalism tag.

I tag LeaAnnDingbatkilla, and anyone who cares to answer the following questions:
  1. What drew you to minimalism?
  2. How did you start the de-cluttering process?
  3. Have you ever counted all your things? If so, how many things do you own?
  4. What are your tips for dealing with the desire for more?
  5. How do you deal with non-minimalists in your life?
  6. Do you have any guilty pleasures where minimalism doesn't apply?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tidying Up - Books

Before embarking on this segment of the tidying up, I owned enough books to fill three of paper ream boxes. For many book lovers, three boxes is child's play. Once, I owned far more books. Once, I dreamed of owning a large house with a giant library.

Instead, my books often lived a dismal life boxed up and stored in an attic, basement, or who knows where. I moved around the country, and some of my books came with me, but mostly, I saddled family and friends with storing them.

My first serious round of purging books came in 2001 or 2002 -- after reading Karen Kingston's Clearing Your Clutter with Feng Shui. By the time I moved to Pittsburgh in 2009, I owned roughly eight boxes of books -- down from over 28!

It is still difficult for me to part with a book if it was a gift or if I have fond memories surrounding its purchase. Yet, my books, like every item I own, must be assessed for their ability to spark joy.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Shopping Spree | Thanksgiving 2014 (part 1)

I used to work in retail, so I know the horrors of working Black Friday. My first Black Friday experience was in 2009 -- when opening at 6:00am was sufficient. The following year, we opened an hour earlier.

Because I loathe crowds and waiting in line, I cannot imagine a universe in which I would haul my butt to any retail establishment on Thanksgiving -- or the five days following. However, I did indulge in a bit of online shopping (Black) Friday through (Cyber) Monday.

For the past three months, I have been very strict about:
  1. Using on-hand bath and beauty products (including samples) rather than purchasing new.
  2. Purchasing clothing that: 
    1. is required (undergarments, tights, etc.) 
    2. replaces a worn item
For several months, I used and wore what I had on-hand. I benefitted from a cousin purging her closet, and I made a few carefully-considered purchases -- some of which I returned (shopper's remorse). Thus, I was very selective about my post-Thanksgiving purchases. I bought a few things I needed (replenishment skin care) and a few things I wanted (jewellry).

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tidying Thoughts

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, I dedicated roughly four hours to the pursuit of a more tidy home. This was not a series of timed 15-minute bouts of cleaning and decluttering. Rather, I collected every stitch of clothing I own, and I piled it on the guest bed.
A frightening amount of crap.
And then I wanted to vomit! My guess is that I own less than my peers, but I still own a ton of crap!

I am following the principles of Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The author gives the reader pre-work, which I did not do. Although, I do think it is worth your time to think about the life you want and what feeds your appetite for reduction. Once that is concrete, it is time to get serious -- gathering the like-kind, purging  the unwanted, and properly storing what remains.

The author states to tidy (aka declutter) in this order:

  1. clothing
  2. books
  3. papers
  4. komono (miscellany)
  5. mementos
As I just tossed empty bath and beauty products from October and November, I am anxious to tidy my bath and beauty products. However those will have to wait until I tidy up my books.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tidying Up - Clothing

The book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has received much coverage as of late. Various bloggers and vloggers have mentioned it. The author and the book garnered attention from the New York Times. Additionally, the book is an NPR bestseller.

I am on an eternal quest to streamline and simplify my life, so I had to read this book. The task of gathering all of one's possessions of like kind (clothing in my case) and spreading them out on the floor seems daunting enough. Add to this that you must handle each piece and determine if it sparks joy. Items that do are to be thanked and kept. Items that do not spark joy are to be discarded, but only after thanking it for its service to you.

A little odd? Yes. But does it work? Yes. The sight of all of your clothes in one spot (rather than strewn about the house in various closets and storage bins) is an eye-opener! And I think I started with less stuff than many.

A Four-Hour Tour
I was able to gather, sort, and act on all of my clothing in roughly four hours. Four hours seems like a good chunk of time to lose, but that four hours covered everything -- gathering, sorting, organizing what I'd kept in my closet, and preparing the other items for donation or for selling.

The author says that once you apply her method of tidying (the KonMari Method), you will never backslide to cluttered living. That is the part that only time can reveal.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Autumn / Winter Wardrobe

Guess who did not get her shit together to create a 33-item (or less) wardrobe for the autumn-winter round of Project 333?

Recently, a cousin purged her closets, and I took the clothing. I realize this is the opposite of streamlining and minimizing, but I wanted some shiny new things.

Lately, I have been down in the frumps. While I realize that I am light-years away from my punky goth youth, I continue to struggle with my personal style as I drift to becoming a woman of a certain age. I look in the mirror, and I am not happy with the clothing that I see.

Today, I took some time to assess the clothing hanging in my closet, as well as the bag of loot inherited from my cousin. Slowly, I see something taking shape that pleases me.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Project 333 | Round 1 Wrap

I participated in my first round of Project 333 from July 1, 2014 through September 30, 2014. How did it go?

Well... I was successful in keeping my number of items (not including shoes) under 33 for the entire three months. However, I did not pack up the rest of my wardrobe, and, from time to time, I dipped into the off-limits wardrobe to replace worn out clothes.

Fewer items = more wear. More wear = more wear and tear.

While I was wading through my non-Project 333 wardrobe, I assessed the contents. There were quite a few items that did not fit -- my body or my style. If those items were in good condition, they were sold, consigned, or donated.

As for the shopping, it started off small, but it grew. By mid-September, I was shopping for items to incorporate into my Autumn-Winter wardrobe.

Was my first round of Project 333 successful? Somewhat.

Will I do it again? Yes, and that information is forthcoming.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Business Trip | Montreal

I have said it before. I loathe carrying baggage when I travel. I planned to use the same bag I carried to New York last month, however, I needed to pack my work laptop. Thus, I pulled out my trusty 20" rolling suitcase. This piece of luggage has travelled with me since the late '90s, but it's days are drawing to a close. The wheels are not smooth, and I have to wrestle with the handle -- regardless of whether I'm attempting to collapse or expand it.

I plan to downsize once I buy a replacement piece, but this is the perfect size for 3+ days of travel. In fact, this thing took me to Paris and Cannes for a 7-to10-day business trip! That was before I had a work laptop that I needed to schlep around. 

My current business trip to Montreal is significantly shorter. Here is what I packed for the trip.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

De-Clutter Weekend

Thanks to Lea Ann, I have been watching Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners. I am neither an obsessive compulsive cleaner, nor am I a hoarder, but this show has inspired me to do a bit of de-cluttering this weekend.

As it stands, our lives are rather streamlined, but there is always room for improvement. I decided to tackle three areas:
  1. skincare
  2. cosmetics
  3. workout clothing
Earlier this summer, I committed to using up skincare, and aside from replenishment, I have not purchased new skincare items "just to try". While I plan to use a number of skincare samples during an upcoming business trip, I have too many bottles and such cluttering the skincare shelf in my bathroom cabinet.

Yes, I culled my cosmetics collection a few months ago. At the time, I was reluctant to let go of a few items, but this weekend, I tossed those items that I had kept out of guilt.

Workout clothing
I tried working out at home, but I enjoy -- and almost require -- the community and motivation that comes from group fitness classes. As such, weeding out the fitness togs was mandatory. I will not sport grotty clothing and see-through sports bras in public.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Second Closet De-Clutter | August 2014

Several years ago, I returned to my home town, and I was confronted with the task of fitting 2+ decades of accumulated items into one bedroom. What did not fit was packed and stored in the attic. I routinely assessed, purged, and re-packed in an effort to align my possessions with my needs.

Clothing was always tough for me. I like a few different styles (e.g. pin-up, steampunk) that do not marry well with a corporate job in a rather provincial city. Also, weight fluctuations, extreme (to me) seasons, and rampant thrift shopping kept me from creating a capsule wardrobe. Hence, my participation in Project 333.

Confession: I still have clothing stored at my parents' house. Granted, it is a small closet full and a small clothing rack in the attic, but those clothes have been weighing on my mind. Since I am staying with my parents for a few days, I decided to take action!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Project 333 | Mid-Stream Update

Barely one and 1/2 months into it, and I have already violated a few Project 333 rules! However, this project is not about rigidity, but rather discovery -- at least for me.

Shopping for New Clothing
My shopping spree consisted of seven items -- two dresses, one blouse, one cardigan, and three skirts -- bumping me up to a total of 33 items (not including shoes). However, I wanted to make amends, and doing so would require me to purge some clothing -- and shoes! 
New dresses
2 of the 3 purged dresses

I purged the following items from my Project 333 wardrobe:
  1. A brown faux wrap dress that was worn out and shoddy-looking.
  2. A mustard strapless dress that I had not worn since my visit to NYC.
  3. A leopard print dress that has been languishing in my closet after one wear. I am not a prude, but the combination of a plunging neckline and an animal print was too much for me for the office.

Digging into Non-Project 333 Items
Not only did I break the no shopping rule, I rifled through my non-Project 333 clothing. However, my purpose was pure: to assess my entire wardrobe -- including shoes -- and purge anything that did not fit and speak to my personal style. Because I am a spreadsheet nerd, I created one to highlight the changes.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Empties | July 2014

This month I committed to using my growing sample collection. 

Product samples make travelling less of a hassle, but, I do not travel as much as I once did. Thus, an inventory of samples and travel sizes are not necessary. In fact, I recently took the advice of Coco (tip #14), and I stopped accepting samples unless it was a product of interest or if I had an immediate use for it (i.e., I need a body lotion for the trip I am taking in two days.).

Note:  Not all of the items mentioned are clean/green beauty or cruelty-free. All items were paid for by me, or they were free samples provided with a purchase. All products are listed after the jump. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cleansing Favorites | July 2014

Once upon a time, I used a wonderful and effective oil cleanser. The more I learned about animal testing and product ingredients, the less I enjoyed using this cleanser.

After a bit of trial and error -- including a skin-clogging DIY cleansing balm -- I found several cleansers that work for my normal, mature skin. All cleansers listed are natural (some more so than others) and cruelty-free. Please note that skin care is my thing, and it is where I chose to spend my money. I appreciate the economy of DIY skin care, but I am a sucker for products and packaging!
  1. Tatcha One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil - This is a lovely cleansing oil that is on par with my beloved dirty oil cleanser. It emulsifies with water, so I do not need to fuss with hot cloths and such. Sadly, this contains phenoxyethanol.
  2. Tatcha  Rice Enzyme Powder - What a discovery! Ages ago, I used a similar scrub from the Body Shop, but this is one is available -- and luxe! Sadly, this contains phenoxyethanol.
  3. Yoshimomo Botanique 1-Step Camellia Cleansing Oil - This is a close second to the Tatcha, but I need to add a bit of water at the start for this product to spread well.
  4. Celtic Complexion Coconut Creme Cleanser - The light cream consistency makes this perfect as a stand alone cleanser or as a second cleanser (post-OCM). The consistency is perfect for use with a Clarisonic. This cleanser has a light green-citrus scent.  
  5. Eminence Organic Skin Care Coconut Milk Cleanser - Oh... I cannot say enough about the scent! This is a wonderfully creamy product, and as such, it is a bit heavy for daily use. Like, the previous Eminence cleanser, this is suitable for stand-alone, second cleanse, and/or Clarisonic cleansing.
  6. Eminence Organic Skin Care Blueberry Soy Exfoliating Cleanser - I know skin care is not about yummy scents, but Eminence seems to have made it their business to mix efficacy and aromatherapy. Those who dig scrubs will be disappointed, as the exfoliation comes from fruit acids not scrubby grains. The consistency is creamy, yet, light. It is perfect for normal, mature skin in the warm months. This cleanser is perfect as a stand-alone or second cleanser, and is suitable for use with a Clarisonic.
What are some of your favorite cleansers?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Shopping Spree | July 2014

I did a bit of shopping this month! However, the purchases were strategic and focused: clothing and skin care.

A few clothing items had become so worn that I could no longer wear them to the office, so I took advantage of some sales and I purchased replacement items. Similarly, I have been using my current skin care products religiously -- including samples -- and the items I purchased were "holes" in my skin care regime.

A complete list of my purchases follows.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Travel Ease

Whether I am travelling for business or pleasure, I loathe lugging crap. I travelled anually to France for business, and everything I need for 10 days fit into a tote bag and a 20" roller cart.

John and I are flying to New York City tonight, and I challenged myself to pack even lighter than usual. Blame it on the combination of tightened restrictions for carry-on bags (in terms of size and number) and seeing Coco's Traveling Light: 3 Days in NYC video.

We leave tonight, and we return Tuesday, 15 July. In addition to my handbag, I am carry the Gaiam Metro Yoga and Gym Bag.

To see the contents of the bag, check out my YouTube video.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Culling My Cosmetics Collection

Inspired by Lea Ann's streamlined cosmetics collection, I decided it was time to cull mine.

While my resulting collection is as compact as hers, I made huge strides. I did not allow feelings of guilt to rule me. What is the point of holding onto items that did not work for me? I will return, swap, or toss these items, but they will no longer take up valuable space in my home.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Empties | June 2014

Once upon a time, I could not leave a department store -- or a drug store -- without perusing the skin care and the makeup. Sadly, I too often bought products I did not need, but I was convinced -- and this is in spite of having worked for a major cosmetics company -- that this was the thing that would make my skin gorgeous and luminous.

Part of my commitment to living lightly has been to weed out my products. 
I have tossed expired products.
I have donated unused products. 
I have given away partially used products that were not suitable for me.

Until I work my way through the products I already own (full-sized and a plethora of sample-sized), I will not purchase unless it is to replenish a "holy grail" product, or if is to fill a particular need. For instance, Vitamin C serums are crucial to anti-aging, so I can purchase (or sample) one Vitamin C product, but I will not buy another Vitamin C serum until that one is finished.

Behold my June 2014 Empties:
WEN Pomegranate Cleansing Conditioner
Acure Sensitive Skin Body Wash
Perennial Soaps Peppermint Tea Tree Facial Bar 
My Konjac Sponge French Clay
Celtic Complexion Coconut Creme Cleanser
Tata Harper Rejuvenating Cleanser
Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum
Arcona Night Worker
Arcona Mandarin Brightening Peel
Burt's Bees Naturally Ageless Repairing Serum
NUDE ProGenius Treatment Oil
Josie Maran Argan Oil
Badger Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Lotion
Badger Damascus Rose Antioxidant Face Sunscreen
Prana Natural Defense SPF 25
??? Vitamin C Eye Contour Mask
Naisture Lovely Strawberry Mask
Japanese brand Bulgarian White Rose Mask
Japanese brand Black Pearl Mask
Physicians Formula Organic Wear Fake Out Mascara
Physicians Formula Eye Definer Felt Tip Eye Marker
doTERRA Lemon Essential Oil

Monday, June 30, 2014

Project 333

Many years ago, I stumbled across who I consider to be a pioneer in the minimalist world: Dan Ho. His book, Rescue from Domestic Perfection, resonated with me. I loved his television show.

Yet, In spite of the inspiration I drew from Beverly's (since September 2010!) and Coco's Project 333 posts -- as well as Xandra's participation in #MinsGame and Project 333 -- I kept my minimalist leanings out of the social media eye. Until recently.

I posted sporadic #MinsGame photos to Facebook and other social media platforms, and I started blogging again.

Project 333 - My Rules
Given that my current wardrobe is fairly small, I am not:
  • boxing the non-33 items
  • including shoes and accessories in my 33 items.
I am in the process of culling shoes and accessories, and I will keep or eliminate items based on fit -- personal style and comfort.

Project 333 - My (26) Items
Blazer - cinnamon (1)
Cardigans - blood orange, cream (2)
Camisoles - yellow, lavender, cream, tan (4)
Tanks (Singlets) - olive, cream & salmon stripe, cream lace, cream sequins, brown beaded (5)
Skirts - brown print, brown crepe, tan polka dot, khaki pencil (4)
Dresses - brown cotton jersey, mustard cotton jersey, brown Swiss dot, leopard print (4)
Blouses - cream tie front, brown ruched (2)
Pullovers - cream dotted linen tee, salmon stripped 3/4" length, cream knitted, mint knitted (4)
Most likely, I will add a cardigan and additional camisoles/tanks to the mix. Southwestern Pennsylvania's humid summers demand that tops be washed after one wear.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Beauty Inspiration

Lately, I have been favoring videos and blog posts about beauty, style, and minimalism over reading books. Lea Ann and I share these interests, and we share our discoveries, such as The Private Life of a Girl and  Light by Coco (blog and YouTube).

One area of focus is minimizing my beauty products (cosmetics and skin care). Inspiring posts include:

I shared the post with Lea Ann, and she sent me this:
Lea Ann's entire makeup collection.
I was rather pleased with the size of my makeup collection until I saw Lea Ann's. In spite of rarely wearing eyeshadow, I own three singles, one duo, and one quad. I feel a beauty purge brewing.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Empties | April & May 2014

As I move towards a more streamlined and minimal life, I find myself purging skincare and cosmetics. This creates a more streamlined collection of items that I love -- or at least like.

Two of my main issues with having a slew of product was spoilage and boredom. I would often not finish a product because I did not care for it, and I became bored. Also, with too many products floating around, I often forgot about good products, discovering them after their expiration date.

With less product around the house, I am able to use use a few products regularly. This allows me to:
  1. finish a product before its expiration date (or before I get bored with it).
  2. make an informed decision about repurchasing. I will know if a product is delivering results because I am using it regularly. 

Enough yammering! Here are my empties for April and May of 2014.
You can see the video here.

April 2014
Clarisea Sea Salt Body Scrub - A nice enough product. I don't like scrubs. I prefer to exfoliate by dry skin brushing or using those netted cloths.
Celtic Complexion Creme - A lovely product, but it is too rich for my skin for summer.
Celtic Complexion Youth Serum - The sample is small, but I think it made my skin glow. The scent rose and sandalwood essential oils are a bit much for me, so if I purchase the full size, I will need dilute it.
Nature's Gate Sport Sunscreen SFP50 - This claims to be a dry touch product, but I think it is a bit greasy. That does not bother me because it blends so well for the high SPF.
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster- I cannot say that I saw any tangible results from this product. I do want to incorporate Vitamin C into my daytime skincare routine, but I am on the hunt for a more clean and green product than this.
Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer SPF 30 - I liked this, but I had another face sunscreen (Prana) that I need to try and use.

May 2014
Una Biologicals Body Butter - This product is divine, and I am thrilled to support a local (Pittsburgh), green beauty brand. I will repurchase her body butters when I finish the other body products lurking around the house.
random sheet masks - These are not clean/green products, but I am committed to using up my stash.
Prana Natural Defense SPF 25 - I love this product! My only complaint is that SPF 25 is not high enough for the Summer.
Mychelle Dermaceuticals SunShield SPF 18 Coconut - Goth Gina of past would have loved the deathly pallor white cast of this product. This smells fantastic, but that is not enough of an incentive to forgive the white cast that this product leaves on my skin.