Tag Archives: minimizing

confessions ~ ~ enough is enough

Coach

 

I didn’t think it was possible–actually, I am not sure it is possible so I am trying hard to make it possible– but I think I have reached my handbag whoredom threshold.  I am not sure I can pinpoint when my obsession with handbags (mostly vintage)  started but it has reached the “raging out of control” point and I have to stop buying them–NOW.

"PariStyle"

Vintage handbags enthrall me.  If I ever stumble upon a stall in an antique mall that has a few vintage bags, my heart speeds up a bit.  It can be a challenge to find one that is still in pristine shape but that is what makes the hunt fun.   After finding a few beautiful bags in this manner–I am talking high quality, all-leather inside and out–I became smitten with the vintage bag.  Not only do I love the quality of these lovelies, I also love the lines and ladylike appearance of them.  Finding the “perfect” one has become a passion of mine.

"no brand found but great quality and color"

Enter Etsy and Ebay.  My lovers.  These two entities have served me well.  I have found scores of gorgeous handbags through the pages and searches for vintage purses/vintage handbags/leather vintage bag/quilted leather vintage handbag/etc.  As a result of my obsessive compulsive behaviours, I have discovered brands such as Koret, Lesco, Lucille de Paris, Garay, Roberta di Camerino, Meyers, Coblentz…and so many more.  I search for deals and have bought the most amazing bags for as low as $5.00.  There have been times in my life where I may have over 30 vintage handbags to use taking up scads of room in my closet.  When it would get to that point, I would force myself to resell ones that I found I was never using.  But slowly (or not so slowly) they would get replaced with more.  It has become quite a cycle of beauties coming and going around here.

"Lesco"

Enter minimizing.  As many of you know, I have spent the last year minimizing my many possessions.  Last November I did Project M-31 which got the momentum going.  And while it has stalled from time to time, it hasn’t stopped.  Once I started minimizing, I started questioning the necessity of everything in my house–except handbags.  That  dirty little  secret has stayed tucked away, safely in my closet.  Even Master Bliss knows not to ask about the handbags.  I can happily purge half my wardrobe and his but “don’t touch the handbags!”.

"Ganson"

Enter Bea.  Minimizer/economizer/zero waster extraordinaire.  This savvy little French lady was the first to prick my conscience about my handbag hordes.  She’s French (this point has great impact on my inner French girl’s psyche)  and only has one handbag.  ONE!  Personally, I feel that is a little extreme (for me) and is never going to happen here, BUT she did get me thinking about the ridiculousness (evidently not a word but I like it) of having so many bags especially when I knew I was only using maybe 5-6 regularly.  Sigh.  I started (painfully) going through them to eliminate the excess.  The listings on Ebay and Etsy started…and have continued.

"nameless burgundy beauty"

Enter reality.  Even though I have been gradually whittling away at this collection during the past year, I decided to check my handbag purchase history for 2011 on my Etsy and Ebay accounts (I also remembered a few that I have purchased elsewhere).  And please know, despite my obvious flaws, some (maybe 5) were purchased for the purpose of reselling in my Etsy store.  Nonetheless, here is how it shakes out:

At least 19 handbags purchased to the tune of about $830 (including guesstimates on tax/shipping) or an average of $44 per bag (as I typed that sentence I received an email from Coach advertising a sale–grrr.).  I just love a good reality check, don’t you?

"Biagini"

Enter resolution.  I am making the decision to not buy another handbag for the next year (you would not believe how long it took to type that out).  The ONLY exception to this rule will be unless I find something so ridiculously cheap (like at Goodwill or a thrift sale) and know that I can resell it in my Etsy store or on Ebay for good profit.  My abstinence from handbags will be those for personal use. 

"Garay"

I have  edited my personal collection down to 13 handbags–at least 2 of which are on the fence as to whether I will keep them or not.  I will share the survivors with you on a future post.  And since I knew this day was coming a few weeks ago and I knew I needed to prepare well, both emotionally and mentally, I bought one last bag for the year–also to be revealed later (yes, it is true, I can justify a handbag purchase quite easily–thus the challenge and burden before me).

Do you think I can do it?  Gadzooks, I hope so.  I also hope Master Bliss never reads this particular post.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under confessions, minimizing, vintage finds

pink is always a good idea…

…especially when the clutches of winter are threatening to squeeze the life out of me.  Last year I was rather excited about the arrival of winter.  This year I am not ready for it.  At. All.

Bleck.

But since I can not change the inevitable, I can only change my  attitude.  One way I have done this is by buying these lovely mitts:

cashmere warmly goodness

A neighbor down the street hosts an annual arts/crafts bazaar in her home.  One of her “artisans” had a display of these mittens.  She makes them from recycled sweaters by shrinking the sweaters and then sewing/designing/upcycling them into these wonderfully soft and colorful mittens.  I fell for these cashmere pink ones adorned with their lovely antique buttons.  So, so cute.  If you want a pair, let me know.  She lives across the street.  $30 and worth it.

Then Master Bliss surprised me Monday evening by asking, “Do you want to paint the bedroom tomorrow?”  Frankly, no, I didn’t.  We were just a few days back from vacation and had been in the thralls of  unpacking,  doing laundry, MIL in hospital, paying bills, getting groceries, going to the dentist, visiting with friends…I was ready for a day of rest.  But he explained that doing it now was best because his schedule and the weather (for the need of ventilation) could prohibit it in the near future.  I was still not moved to jump on the paint wagon.  A couple of hours later he says, “If you could just offer suggestions and moral support, I will do the painting.”  Fine.  Let us “you” paint.  So that’s what we (he) did.  OK.  I am not without any painting sympathies.  I did help with some cutting in to speed things up a bit.   It was an all day effort but the results were so worth it.

Before:

this is the only picture I can find of my bedroom with the old paint--must have deleted some photos. you can see the wall color was a buttersquash soup color.

Not only did the color brighten up the room, it made it feel larger, airier (is that a word? spell-check suggested “hairier”).  During the process I decided to do some minimizing too.  I eliminated a dresser from the room which required me going through many drawers and weeding out a ton of underthings, socks, etc.  I also took any summer clothes out and put them upstairs in the cedar chest (or in the laundry).   Wednesday was the day to put everything back in the room.  I thought it would be nice to change things around too–especially since we were losing a dresser.  Master Bliss hates changing furniture around.  Always has.  I have seen him turn catatonic upon entering a room that I have “surprise!” changed around.   I asked for his input before doing anything.  But when he said that “it was kind of nice having the dressers nearer the closet so he didn’t have to walk as far”, I knew any further discussion was futile.  We don’t have a bedroom that takes hours to cross let alone minutes.  Whether the dressers are on the north wall or the south wall, traveling to them from the closet door will not be cutting into our precious getting ready time for any future event–no matter how late we may be running.

After:

will master bliss be able to handle this daily route from the closet door to the dresser?

and:

not the greatest photo but you get the idea

So the walls are freshly painted, the furniture rearranged, possessions minimized.  The screen almost got cut because I was really liking the plain walls.  But I didn’t know what to do with it (again) because I secretly do love it.  Since it is a four panel screen I was able to fold one panel back making its presence less dominant in the room.  My two remaining dressers unfortunately look a little more cluttered than I would like but I can only get rid of so much at one time.  Another project for another day.

Have you got any last-minute Fall projects left to do before the snow and/or cold settle in?

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Filed under creative endeavors, home sweet home, minimizing, Uncategorized

confessions of a book lover hooked on nook

 

an evening at home

(love this print–it can be purchased through Victoria Trading Co)

Today is my 100th post!  Impressive and not impressive.  My one year blogging anniversary passed without event at the end of July.  That was my “technical” anniversary date but I really didn’t start blogging more regularly until October/November.  So, nothing was celebrated in July.  I may celebrate a one year anniversary in October but I am undecided.  One hundred posts, therefore, is really not that big of a deal considering how long I’ve been hangin’ out here in blogosphere–but it is something.  When I started doing this I really thought I would be posting just about every day.  HA!  Not even close.  Regardless of the numbers (posts, subscribers, readers–whatever), I am still here and I am enjoying the experience.  So thank you to all who stop by for a dose of my ramblings or ponderings. 

To commemorate my 100th post I wanted to share something PHENOMENAL with you all.  I have stepped out of character, into the 21st century and fallen in love with an e-reader.  NEVER thought I would take this step.  My own mother couldn’t believe it.  I have always loved books…reading them, seeing them, going to their stores, decorating with them, smelling them…LOVE I tell you.  If you have read this blog (more than once) you may have also picked up that I am reluctant to embrace technology and am a self-confessed lover of all things vintage.  Moi buying an e-reader??  No way.  And then someone sat down with me and showed me her new iPad.  Reading feature after reading feature were shamelessly and unapologetically demonstrated before my greedy little eyes.  But I still maintained my resolve and resistance to this new fangled kookery.  Not a week later someone else was doing a “show and tell” with her Ipad.  She had a magazine (Oprah?) downloaded to it that I “flipped” through.  I was amazed.  The vintage reels started turning in my head:  If I had something like this, I wouldn’t have the clutter of magazines to deal with in the house.  If I had this, I wouldn’t have to purge my bookshelves so often and make agonizing choices (akin to Sophie’s I am sure) as to which books to keep and which to let go.  If I had this, I could notate and “write” in my books which is a HUGE NO, NO! in my literal book world.  If I had this, I could tell Master Bliss I was going to “read awhile” in bed without hearing his pitiful sigh. More importantly, if I had this, my book wouldn’t fall in my face any more while trying to read in bed (yes, it was a problem).   If I had this, I wouldn’t have to lug around another bag just for books on my travels (um, in today’s airline world, that can be just really expensive).  If I had this, I could leave my laptop at home on most traveling occasions.  If I had this, I could carry a book with me all the time without throwing out my neck or pinching a nerve in my shoulder by carrying a handbag large enough to accommodate said book.  I am telling you…so many brain synapses were firing at once it was like the fourth of July in my head.  I had to have one–I must have one!

But WHICH one?  There begins the craziness.  IPads are super cool but expensive.  I am an Amazon junkie so the Kindle was where I was leaning.  But it was a chance encounter with the Nook Color at a Barnes and Noble store that brought it all together for me. 

NOOK Color

(via BN.com)

 It reminded me more of the iPad but at about half the price.  I can store eBooks, images, music, etc on its 8 GB.  I can bookmark my spot when I am reading.  I can check email or my blog with its WiFi.  I can shop for vintage handbags on Etsy.  I am just. in. LOVE!  I have only had mine a few days so I am still learning the ropes on things…well everything… but I feel really good about my decision.  Does this mean all my books will be donated or purged out of my life?  No way.  I will always feel happiest when surrounded by my favorite titles or collections.  Nothing, not even a Nook, can beat the feel of an actual book in hand, curled in a chair, reading away an afternoon.   Mostly I am just proud of the fact I could embrace something new and be open to change.  And pay cash for it.

So happy 100th post to me and my new little Nook!  What about you?  To e-Read or not to e-Read?

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Filed under confessions, minimizing

are you ‘looking good’?

taken on our 17th anniversary--i have owned this red wrap dress (talbots) for at least five years. it is part of both my wardrobe capsules (i have 2, fall/winter/spring and late spring/summer)

I have had so much fun reading the Vivienne Files lately.  Day after day of amazing clothing capsules created around a certain color, wardrobe item or an individual…wow!!   Understanding the purpose of a clothing capsule is essential for wardrobe bliss.  Who doesn’t get sick of opening a closet door and feeling overwhelmed by the daily decision, “what will I wear today” ?  But when one carefully chooses, skillfully edits and prudently buys pieces that all work together (at least groups of them), it is amazing the transcending peace of mind she enjoys….and is toujours chic (bien sur!).  Whether she can afford to shop at luxury couture boutiques or a thrift store, capsule dressing will always help her to pull off a polished, stylish look. 

The book, “Looking Good–A Complete Guide to Wardrobe Planning, Color & Personal Style Development” by Nancy Nix-Rice (recommended to me years ago by a personal image consultant) is hands down one of the best, comprehensive guides I have ever read on the subject of capsule dressing (one of the many subjects covered which also includes wardrobe planning, savvy shopping, clothing care, sewing, understanding body shapes and buying for accordingly, face shape, make-up application, etc, etc, etc).  While the book is older and photos/illustrations are dated, the advice is sound–a treasure trove of sartorial gems.

Before one ever tackles her closet with the goal of creating a capsule(s) wardrobe, she must first be ruthless in her approach to DISCARDING anything that doesn’t work for her anymore.  Meaning, if she hasn’t worn it in over a year (unless it is a special event item), get rid of it.  If it is a color she never wears, get rid of it.  If it doesn’t fit, either too big or small, get rid of it.  If it needs repaired, DO IT, or get rid of it.  Do not be sentimental or emotional about clothing.  If it’s not working  anymore, get rid of it. Period.

Once this process has been done (which can be long and frustrating–sometimes ongoing once she gets the hang of letting go) then she can begin to create fabulous capsules with the items she loves.  To qualify as a “love item” it must fit correctly, make her feel amazing and compliments her body shape/coloring.  Which means that every single time she grabs something to wear, there is no stress.   Happily a skirt, top and scarf can be quickly taken from the closet and she knows it totally works for her.  Confidence.  Happiness.  Tranquility.  These are words that can start anyone’s day.  A busy wife, mother, co-worker can look/feel good about herself no matter what happens once she walks out the bedroom door.

“LOOKING GOOD” GEM (page 58): 

The Following Items:

RARELY COME BACK FOR LONG

shoe styles

handbag styles*

trendy prints

oversized collars

lapels, cuffs

WILL ALWAYS COME BACK

most wool sweaters

knee-length skirts

any classic style in a very good fabric (silk, wool, cashmere)

(*Personally, I have issue with this because there are many classic handbags to be had)

 

CLOSET CAPSULES

(directly from book, Chapter 5)

The term closet capsule “simply means building groups of 5-12 related pieces that can be worn in a number of combinations.  There is no single formula for a capsule, but here are some guidelines.

  • Solid-color pieces mix more readily than patterned ones.
  • A few print pieces can be the links between diverse solids.
  • Simple, untrimmed styles are the most versatile, and their classic lines won’t look out-of-fashion next year.
  • Year-round or season-spanning fabrics will give you the most use. (This is admittedly easier to accomplish in some climates than others.)
  • No two items in a capsule should the same style.  You won’t get bored with a capsule that contains both trousers and knit pants, both a short, slim skirt and a longer, pleated style, etc.
  • Forget the idea that everything has to go with everything.  That’s just too restrictive.  Instead, insist that each piece work with three others.
  • Every item should be in your most flattering colors and styles.  Versatility is worthless if all those combinations don’t flatter YOU.
  • Matching multiple pieces in the same solid color–even black–is very difficult.  If a skirt, pants and/or jacket need to match exactly, buy them at the same time from the same manufacturer.*”

When building a capsule, you must start with your closet.  The book gives this example:

“Let’s suppose your closet clean-out turned up a pair of trousers and a red suit.

  • You could wear the red jacket with the pants.
  • Other solids that would work with the red could also go with the black.
  • Yes! These pieces could easily be the start of a capsule.”

The book goes on to show that by adding to these three original pieces, six more (multi-colored two piece dress in blue, red, black print; solid blue knit jacket; solid blue skirt; black turtleneck; plaid shirt that could function also as a jacket), one could create over 40 different outfits. 

The accessories recommended for this particular scenario included (summarized):

  • A midheel black pump
  • A black loafer for a sportier look
  • Sheer off-black hose
  • 1″ black leather belt
  • Add earrings to coordinate with all the bottom colors (I say diamond studs, pearl studs and a pair of hoops are all you need for the most part).
  • Include a fashion pin (vintage brooches rule in my world!)
  • One black shoulder bag goes with both the dressier and more casual combinations
  • A scarf helps unify the solid pieces

Can you imagine?  Streamlining your wardrobe to just 9 pieces but being able to create so many looks?  Maybe you could do this for each season?  You would still only own 36 clothing items.  How liberating is that?  And if you are buying so few items, does this mean you could spend more on each item, thus getting the best possible quality?  In turn, if you are living by the something in, something out rule, replacing things only as needed (style change, worn out), could you start to have a smaller carbon footprint on this planet?

I know I have completely enjoyed my personal journey into minimizing my clothes.  I am still working on my summer wardrobe but I know I can get rid of  a few things and still have plenty of choices, combinations to wear.  This will be my next project–then I will reveal what I was able to accomplish.

Anyone up for a capsule challenge?

 

*KikaPaprika will dye the items you choose all at the same time so you are getting matching hues.

 

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Filed under beauty notes, book reviews, minimizing

confessions of a sad little minimalist wannabe

 

It has been a CRAZY couple of weeks.  We did our garage sale last weekend and I am not convinced that all the work, time and sweat was really worth the $300 I made.  It would’ve been more but we didn’t move our large items (Kennedy tool chest, hutch, hospital bed, etc) and…here it is–my big confession…I shopped my own sale.  WHAT?!!!!  I know, pretty bad, huh? 

OK, so you have to know that Saturday of the sale was SUPER hot.  My friend and I just sat in the garage and puddled.  Maybe the heat started making me delirious–I really don’t know.  But as the day wore on I kept looking at my Asian screen across the garage…and it kept getting prettier and prettier.  I secretly hoped that it would not sell but I wasn’t going to be “ridiculous” and pull it out of the sale.  If someone wanted it, she could have it (“I hope it doesn’t sell, I hope it doesn’t sell…”).  I was mentally chastising myself for even wanting it back in the house.  I hadn’t used it since I inherited it from my favorite Aunt many years ago.  Yet, there it stood–teasing me, begging me not to let it go.  It must have had strong powers in that garage because even my minimalistish (Elle is credited for creating this word–plus check out her latest “diddy” post)  girlfriend started considering it too.   Although I was lusting after it all day, I couldn’t figure out where I would put it.  It’s black, rich colors didn’t match the living room, family room, dining room–nothing!  But I must have it!!

Then the dawning happened late in the afternoon.  With tropical temperatures of 95F obviously affecting my mind, my perfect solution was: use it in the bedroom.  I have black accents in there (black frames around pictures, black iron headboard)–it could so work!  I knew, however, that it wouldn’t work as a room divider or a screen–not enough space.  So I came up with this idea:

 

 

 

I am now using it behind my vanity table.  This picture shows the potential but my idea isn’t complete yet.  Prior to my sale, I had an 80’s lighted mirror on my table with a huge Paris picture on the wall.  I found the current mirror in the basement when we were cleaning it out for the sale.  It must have been left there by previous owners.  So I had already replaced the 80s mirror with this one.  I decided to get rid of the big Paris picture as I have too many Paris pictures (yes, it is possible to have too many–my garage sale buddy ended up buying it).  So all the wall behind the vanity was bare.  That’s when it hit me–use the screen as a backdrop to create a 1930s type feel to my vanity area.  My plan is to find matching glass based boudoir table lamps (using just one has already been problematic for make-up application–you can imagine) to really “light up” the area.  I would like to also get a piece of glass or a mirror cut to fit the entire top of the vanity(allows for easier clean-up and adds a little more art-deconess).  Eventually I will either paint or get a different chair AND the whole room is to be repainted later this year.  But for now I absolutely love the “new” look.   And I am glad I gave into my lust.

rockefeller being scared of the thunder outside and not appreciating that mom is more interested in her blog than him

In other news (I won’t bore you with all the post-garage sale work tales–it has been a long week), we had a storm/high winds blow through here the other night.  Master Bliss and I slept soundly through it.  When I took Rockefeller out for his morning walk I was surprised by all the tree debris in our front lawn and on the sidewalk.  Weird.  What happened?  It wasn’t until later in the day that Master Bliss came in and said, “Oh my word…you have got to see this.”

See how you can “see” sky through the limb?  That’s not good.

 

 

A HUGE, gigantic limb is literally hanging on by a thread in front of our house.  The only reason it hadn’t toppled over on us (the blissfully unaware slumberers) is that it was “caught” by the tree next to it. 

today so far

 

 These are OLD trees.  According to one neighbor, they are thought to have been around since the Civil War.  Yikes.  Our house is surrounded by beautiful, old, rotting trees.  We called the electric company due to power lines being right by the tree too.  They sent a crew out quickly.  The crew started working around 5:00PM last night roping the tree off, tying it down to other trees (not sure how safe that is given the age of the trees but they are the professionals).  We had to leave for a few hours last night.  When we got home around 10:00PM, they were still working.  At 10:30 they knocked on our door saying they were calling it a night and would have to finish later.  The limb is still up there.  The helpful young man recommended we didn’t sleep in any of “front bedrooms”.  Yeah, OK.  It is now 10:00 AM–the limb is still there with all of its ropes sprawling out from it.  It has thunderstorm’d today.  Bliss is not happy and frankly a little scared.  Will let you know, somehow, if I get squashed like a little bug in my ancient house by my ancient tree limb.

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saying goodbye to barbie one and barbie two

Minimizing has reached the bowels of the basement (shudder).  I have recently had to go through two tubs that have held some childhood treasures and make some difficult decisions.  Among those decisions are these two gals:

still looking glam after all these years

 BARBIE #1

Fashion Photo Barbie was given to me by my best friend/cousin* when I was 9 years old as a good-bye present when my family moved across country.  And it wasn’t just the doll that I got–it was also the entire Fashion Photo Stage!  It was such a cool Barbie toy because I could arrange all kinds of fashion shows for my Barbies–with an occasional appearance of Ken (he was rather “stuck-up” and not favored among the models).  Fashion Photo Barbie is unique in how she is made–when you move her legs, her head turns; she twists at the waist; she can almost flip her hair if you move her just right. 

BARBIE #2

My other surviving Barbie is a late 60s “Twist and Turn” Barbie.  I always loved her because of her rooted eyelashes and dark hair.  I could identify with her more because of her coloring so I favored her more than my other Barbies. 

just look at that "barbie #1"--still loving the camera

I played with Barbies a lot as I was growing up.  I think it was a different experience to play with them then than now for young girls.  I was playing with them in the 1970s–I had maybe 2 or 3 Barbies at the most; one Ken doll; and a Skipper.  I didn’t have boxes of dolls; nor did I have oodles of clothes for them.  Or the Dream House (which I always wanted).  I was fortunate to have a car, camper and boat for my Barbie family due to a fortunate garage sale find (my cousin was always jealous of these accoutrements). 

definitely still comfortable in their skin--they were a bit grubby so i treated them to a spa day: hair combing, sponge baths, nude bathing. they loved it!

Nowadays, if a girl owns one Barbie, she has 25 more AND all the clothes.  AND the Dream House, convertibles, horses, country house, shopping mall, etc.  I think this is a case study for the times we live in.  Just as adults can’t say no to material items–often going into debt to “have it all”–their children are living the same lifestyle through their toys.  By having less when I was a child, it forced me to get creative–I made my own “Dream House” with a box and fabric samples from my mom–using other toys, household finds, to fashion furniture.  Did this make playing with Barbies any less fun?  No way!  I didn’t even think about it in terms of having less…I just wanted to have fun.  It is a lesson for me to reflect on as an adult…more is not better, it is just more.  Minimizing helps me to get greater clarity about what is really important–people and experiences, not things.  And it does tap into that creative side too.  I have found myself re-fashioning or repurposing items in my home as other items leave.  It is really a fun, fulfilling process.

ever the diva....barbie #1 still has her beloved ruby ring (i think it was a secret engagement ring from ken but she's not talking)

As for Barbie 1 and Barbie 2.  They have not made the cut to stay in the memory box this time.  They have been imprisoned together in the same box for about 3 decades.  What kind of fun is that for them?  So, I am saying good-bye.  I have decided to list them on Ebay.  At first I was going to list them separately since they are both rather unique, harder to find dolls.   But the more I thought about it, I think they should go together.  Maybe another little girl would enjoy playing with the both of them…especially knowing how long they have already been together.

So am I sad to let them go?  Naw…I have them firmly etched into my memory.  Playing Barbies on the front porch during a long, rainy day.  Barbies going camping on Lake Michigan.  Barbies “living” in kid kingdom (my cousin’s basement) with neighborhoods and homes chalked out on the basement floor.  Barbies getting pissed at GI Joe for not leaving them alone.  It’s all good.

Do you still have any childhood toys?  Do you think you will ever part with them?

*this post is dedicated to her–my favorite childhood playmate.  together we played with our barbies and beloved babydolls (amy and christie) for hours and hours.  we felt they were more than just toys, they were almost “real” to us.

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doing a few things well

 

(photo credit)

A few weeks ago I was beginning to feel a little discombobulated.  Couldn’t really put my finger on it either.  I was picking up this vibe, somewhat, from other blogs I was reading too.  Long absences from regular posters, some even writing about frustrations they felt with their own blog–regardless of  the theme.    I really began to feel like some Spring epidemic was going around causing people to feel the need to de-clutter, or Spring clean, their lives and in the process start wondering more deeply about things, lives lived, goals, etc.

In my own little world, I felt like I was moving forward but without any defined direction.  I enjoy doing many different types of things and sometimes have an almost insatiable need to feel “accomplished”.  I call this the “Austen Syndrome” and blame it almost entirely on Mr. Darcy.   Remember in “Pride and Prejudice”, he defines what an accomplished* woman should be (able to sing, speak fluently in other languages, dance, play an instrument, etc. etc.) to which Elizabeth replies she hardly believes he even knows of one such lady.  Well, I have always wished to be like that.  I have wanted to know how to play an instrument…so I took piano lessons–for less than a year.  I have wanted to be able to draw….so I took drawing lessons–only lasted through one 8 week class.  I have wanted to be able to speak French fluently…so I have a shelf full of books and programs that collect dust.  I wanted to make my own jewelry…so now I have a huge tub of supplies under my bed containing future baubles.  I have always wanted to be a writer….so now I flounder around on a blog.  Have I become accomplished? (rhetorical!)

OK, so now you have a thumbnail sketch of the goings on in my mind.  I was still struggling with my thinking and emotions when I read this post by Expedition Minimalism and had my own epiphany.  I don’t have to be “accomplished” to be happy.  I don’t have to be a prolific painter, fluent French speaker, magnificent piano player, beader extraordinaire all at once…or at all.  I simply needed to figure out which of  my  “hobbies” I enjoy the most and focus on those.  Which meant letting go of the others.  Here is how that all shook out:

  1. I am going to keep blogging…for me (well, for you too if you enjoy reading).  I can’t worry about having a specific “theme” to my blog and sticking to it.  I am simply going to write about what I know, what I love.  Writing has always been something I have enjoyed and was encouraged to pursue by both teachers and friends.  Whether I am good at it or not doesn’t matter.  It is an exercise of  creativity, an expression of who I am.  Blogging gives me a wonderful format for this “accomplishment”.
  2. I love photography.  I don’t own any fancy equipment but I enjoy using the camera I have.  I may look into some classes down the road but for now I am content to experiment on my own.
  3. Reading.  It is my other love.  I want to devote more time to this joy.  With summer almost here, I plan on reading more.  Me, book, chair, beach.
  4. Although beading has taken a backseat to everything else, I am going to start doing it again.  I really want to experience the joy in making things.  This will be my way.

5.    French.  Although it is very hard to learn a language when one never has opportunity to use it, I will be pulling out my discs for some refreshers.  Will I ever be fluent?  Probably not. Mais je l’adore.  So I will do it.

  Five hobbies that I know I love to do (exercise activities not included because those are must, not an option).  What did this mean for my others?

1.  The keyboard and music books will be making an appearance either on Ebay or my end of May garage sale.  Au revoir!

2. All scrap-booking supplies are history.

3. Craft supplies, drawing pencils, charcoals, pastels, and paints will be donated to a child.

4. Decoupage?  Really?

That is just the start of my list of things to let go.  Once I made my decisions, I  had more clarity of mind, a weight had been removed. Not to mention I gained a closet.  I will at times mourn the fact that I can’t play a musical instrument or bake Laduree inspired macaroons.  And perhaps I will never meet with Mr. Darcy’s approval.  But by selecting a few things that I love to do, I can experience greater personal satisfaction in what I can do.

What are your favorite hobbies? 

*Let us not forget, Mr. Darcy spoke of the gentil woman–not the average woman who had to be her own housemaid.  I am sure the lovely, aristocratic ladies of Jane Austen’s day had the time to devote to the study of music, art, embroidery, language, etc.  And yet, I am sure it was with a wry smile Jane penned Mr. Darcy’s words.

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don’t you love a good mail day?

 

Oh happy day!  I love it when I get packages in the mail.  And today was an exceptionally good package receiving day.  My Talbots order arrived (yes, so much for not buying any new clothes until summer–but wait!  It’s all good–you will see).  AND my new-to-me phone came.  But first let me share this with you:

*new* vintage handbag, talbots chocolate brown wool skirt, talbots sweater, hermes scarf

 Please excuse the picture quality, especially with the toilet rounding out the “chicness” of my attire.  I do not own a full length mirror and this bathroom mirror is the best I can do (although in the future I may impress upon Master Bliss to take my photo instead).  As you know, I do not write a “fashion” blog.  But you had to see this fantastic vintage bag!  This is the one I was waiting for from France (smug smile), purchased from the lovely Tapouillon store I found on Etsy.  This is the outfit I wore yesterday, which you should also remember from this post.  I was quite pleased with how well “the look” came  together.  You can’t see my feet where I shod suede, chocolate-brown Mary Janes.  Overall, it was an outfit I felt very comfortable and chic in. 

 When I have posted about clothes in the past it has been in relation to my minimizing attempts with my wardrobe.  My goal has been to edit my clothes down to 20-25 items.  I think I am going to have to be satisfied with 28.  But considering with what I started out with, this is a very satisfactory accomplishment.  In fact 3 of my remaining items are dresses which I hardly ever wear except for special occasions (black wrap dress, red wrap dress, black w/white polka dots dress) and a suit.  So 28-4=24 items which is the core of my daily, working wardrobe.  Also, these would be the clothing items I will wear from Fall into Late Spring.  A few of them will be used into Summer but the bulk of my summer wardrobe is upstairs awaiting its editing turn (sigh).

So here is a picture of what came today from my Talbots order:

cashmere sweater and two long-sleeved tees

These new purchases lead to further closet/drawer editing which resulted in the removal of these items:

there are about 20 items here ranging from a couple vintage handbags to cashmere sweaters to hoodies and pjs--craziness!

  So, again–only 3 items in and about 7x that amount out.  It really is liberating.  Some of the items on the “out” pile were tough decisions, such as, the cashmere sweaters.  But guess what?  I still have three–I don’t need six.  In this pile is also my, sad to say, beloved navy blue Old Navy fleece pull-over.  I have known it has needed to go for a couple of years now but it is just so warm and comfortable.  I am getting rid of it for other reasons besides age.  I just don’t want to keep a bunch of “frump” clothes on hand which will only encourage me to dress “frumpy” when I am spending the day at home.  I now only have one sweatshirt and one lighter weight zip sweatshirt to my name.  And these will be reserved for exercise use only. 

So now my closet looks like this:

there is actually 1.5ft of empty space to the far left. everything is now on wood hangers which i use to think took up too much room whereas it was actually too many clothes

 And it use to look like this:

before any purging

My other package “surprise” was my new BlackBerry phone.  My Razr flip has finally decided to crack apart after ten too many drops on the floor.  You can refreshen your memory on my phone story here.  Miraculously, I still have reception on the broken phone but talking while not losing the call has become quite the challenge.   I found this BlackBerry on Ebay for $14.00.  Sadly, there was a USPS shipping fiasco I had to deal with (the box literally arrived at my post office, two blocks away, and then got sent back to the shipper in North Carolina for no explainable reason).  I will be switching my service over to my new phone today! 

i'll be taking your calls now

So even though I have brought new items into my home, minimizing and frugality still reign supreme–I have spent a fraction of what these items could have cost and have managed to stick to my rule of purging items out of here when something new/different comes in.  I think this is a win win.
A shout out to Tanja at Minimalist Packrat for rating my blog as one of the “all stars” on her minimalist Blog List.  I was completely surprised and honored.  Thank you, Tanja!
 
And one last shout out to COLIN FIRTH for winning his OSCAR last night.  I wish I could’ve danced his jig with him.

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Filed under creative endeavors, french twist, minimizing

minimum wardrobe, maximum snow

Before I start my topic for today I would just like to show my readers, few that you are : ), what shovelling out of a snow storm looks like:

 First, you have to figure out where to start, identify what is what and try to remember the landscape of your yard.

master bliss' first priority was to make a path for rockefeller--so sweet

 

Then, if you are a Master Bliss married to a Mistress Bliss who non-verbally indicated in her pre-marriage contract that she will never snow blow, you begin your descent into snow hell.

it's a blizzard out there

 

And with any sort of determination and success, you will manage to cut your first path through the heavy, unforgiving snow and feel like you have accomplished something in the same realm as climbing Mt. McKinley–without oxygen.

this is what 16" of new snow looks like--jealous?

 

And for the record, I am really not complaining.  We have had absolutely gorgeous sunny days since the snow deluge hit.  And while it has been ridiculously cold, it is as if time has literally frozen still.  We haven’t gotten new snow and nothing has melted.

What I really wanted to share was about my recent minimizing purges.  I haven’t been working like a crazy woman on this over the past few weeks but I am still doing it.  For example, once we got the appliances installed, I went through my kitchen cabinets again and removed two more bags worth of unused baking pans and bowls.  But what I am mostly obsessed with is streamlining my wardrobe–still.

Of course I keep reading minimalist blogs like Tanja’s to keep myself motivated and not give up.  The whole process does get tedious and exhausting.  I think this is why I am just doing it in spurts now without a specific agenda to follow like I did in November.  I do have a “spring” deadline to get everything out of here that needs to go so I can have “the bomb” of all garage sales.  But my pace is a little slower at this time…maybe it will quicken as my deadline looms closer.

Ah yes, my wardrobe.  I have been determined to have my wardrobe be no more than 50 items as a starting point.  In time, I really want it to be less but I had to set a realistic goal and one that wouldn’t make me mad(der).  As of this past week, I have accomplished this feat with a leaner wardrobe sporting only 43 items (not counting accessories, shoes, under garments or exercise clothes… I should also add, this would not include summer wear which is stored away in another closet and will be its own project soon).  I have kept myself motivated by such interesting posts from Janet who has done  Project 333.  The Daily Connoisseur has posted about the 10 items wardrobe her French family wore well.  Adrienne is now posting about dressing for her shape (I am a big supporter of doing this) and is weeding out clothes, starting with her shoes (who’d have thunk shoes would matter?), that do not flatter her enviable shape.  And through Beth, I found another blogger who is  instructing about how to attain a 20 item wardrobe.  Is it just me, or is this becoming a contagious blogging virus that everyone is catching?

In a earlier post, I have mentioned my affinity for JJill’s Wearever Collection.  Great clothes for my body type (hourglass on steroids) because of their draping effect.  And they are in a price range I can afford.  However, most of the skirts I own are of this fabric…meaning they are all the same weight and look.  I felt like I needed to add a little variety especially since I live in a colder climate.  Enter Talbot’s Red Hanger Sale.  I have read a lot about how the ubiquitous pencil skirt is a wardrobe essential –especially for an hourglass.  I am sorry.  But I feel like a sausage in a restrictive casing when I wear those.   A happier existence for me is wearing a classic A-line skirt.  Talbots had a phenomenal mark-down on a flannel wool skirt ($129 down to $45).  I was able to score two in my size in colors (dark chocolate-brown and dark charcoal grey) I knew would blend with what I have.  As I was shopping I thought I might as well check the mark-downs on cardigans–which I adore but prefer the v-neck styles.  And score!  I found the cutest rosette embellished cardis.  And for only $23 a piece (from $89) I got two of those as well. 

too bad i don't have a twin...but then i would have to share the scarf

 

What felt good about these purchases, besides the great sale prices,  was that they were calculated and planned.  I thought about what I already had and chose items I knew I could seamlessly add.  I was tickled when I realized how well my favorite Hermes scarf would go with these items.  And then, I dragged out a couple of my vintage handbags et voila!  My own modern vintage concoction. 

this is the first scarf i have ever worn that has received compliments from only men so far

 

Once my new wardrobe additions arrived, I remembered my rule: something in, something out.  I had to select four items to dispose of.  Then I remembered a minimalist post I recently read (can’t remember where) who recommended the rule: one in, two out.  I could do that!  I ended up with four in and sixteen out ( for those of you not so great at math, that would be 1:4.  Man, am I good.)

it has been nice but don't come back

 

And I leave you with my NEW self-imposed rule:  NO MORE SHOPPING FOR CLOTHES UNTIL SUMMER.

Will I obey?

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Filed under home sweet home, minimizing, Uncategorized

minimizing the memories (so i don’t feel guilty about not scrapbooking)

Many years ago, when the scrapbooking phase first started gaining momentum, I went to a home party to see what all the fuss was about.  At the time I remember thinking, “what’s the big deal? how hard can it be to glue some photos down in an album with a couple of keepsakes?”.   Well, I certainly had no idea that I was a total freshman in the scapbooking world…or should I say more accurately, the village idiot?  Acid-free paper?  Glue tabs?  Borders? Cut-outs? Templates?  What the…?

Of course that first forray into scrapbooking hooked me…I bought the album, special scissors, templates, acid-free everything, metallic pens, etc. putting me on the fast track to my new, artistic, keeper of the historic family annals, hobby.  I think I officially “scrapbooked” maybe three pages–not three albums, pages –before I realized the futility of my endeavors.  Who the heck had time for something like this?  I sure didn’t at that point in my life.  Too bad I didn’t realize it before I spent the money on so many supplies which was a waste of funds and space in my house.  Slipping photos into leather albums and noting time/place/event on the side was about all I could muster for scrapbooking. 

leather photo albums holding many memories

Yet, the “idea” of scrapbooking still appeals to me.  I love looking through a book that not only showcases photos but also their stories with cards, ticket stubs and dried, pressed flowers.  When my father-in-law died we inherited the scrapbook he made during his time served in WWII–it’s mildewy and fragile but loaded with so many details and so much history…it is its own little time capsule.  My mother also has kept scrapbooks of special cards and letters she has received over the years.  She loves going over these old mementos and remembering that her daughter really does love her even though she doesn’t call every single day. 

Even though I realized years ago that I didn’t have the time then to scrapbook , I decided to keep drawers and photo boxes full of photos and mementos for the day when I would have the time to scrapbook my life away.  This fanciful little dream has become my minimalist nightmare.

life in a box

I have oodles and oodles of saved ticket stubs, programs, cards, afternoon-tea place cards, wedding favors, graduation announcements, museum maps, Disney passes, ad infinitum PLUS all the photos (besides the ones that made it into albums) that go with these items. 

more and more and more and more....

 My new self-imposed minimalist project is to go through all of it.  I will be greatly reducing this menagerie of memories and hopefully coming up with a way to keep my historical record without adding so much clutter to my life (a photographic memory would be ideal, I think).   And by committing to this project, it keeps me out of the scary cellar basement–for now.

So, are there any tips out there on how to decide between what is a keepsake and what is disposable for the “sake” of sanity?

I leave you on a sleepy note:

bonne nuit!

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Filed under creative endeavors, home sweet home, minimizing, Uncategorized