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Tag Archives: simplifying
By Raine | Published 08/13/2012
Have you checked out Project 333 yet? It’s a great way to experiment with minimalism and discover the many benefits of living with less. I’ve been doing it since last fall and I would have to say at this point is no longer a “project” but a way of life.
And it’s so simple. Basically you go through your wardrobe and commit yourself to only utilizing 33 items for 3 months. The rest, that you would like to wear after the Project you box up. The official rules is that the 33 items include shoes and accessories. For myself I only include clothes in the 33 items. I have minimal shoes and jewelry – and dangit I’m going to utilize them at will. Here’s my current 33 items:
1.Dark Denim shorts (classy, bermuda short style)
2. Dark denim capris
3. Dark brown cargo shorts
4. Dark brown cargo capris
5. Khaki capris
6. Khaki capris
7. Dark denim jeans
8. Little black dress
9. Gray t-shirt
10. Gray t-shirt with hot pink stripes
11. Pink t-shirt
12.Orange empire-waist blouse
13. Stripey 3/4 length sleeve blouse
14. Navy fitted t-shirt
15. Purple/gray striped tank
16. Black tank
17. Bright pink sleeveless blouse
18. brown sleeveless shirt
19.green sleeveless shirt
20. Purple tank
21. Green tank
22. Heathered green tank
23. Heathered maroon tank
24. gray knit cardigan
25. black knit cardigan
26. funky zebra t-shirt
I also currently have five pairs of shoes out – gray sneakers, plaid scruffy shoes, Keens-style sandals, black Mary Jane-style flats, and my running shoes. All of my other shoes are boots of some sort or another and will be come out as soon as the weather cools. The only shoes that will go back in the closet are the sandals as the others are not warm weather specific.
Things that aren’t included in the list are clothes I use strictly for exercise or lounging around at home. Those are all kept in our dresser. Also not included are bras, underwear, and socks (for the record I only own 5 pairs of “summer” socks).
I cannot tell you how freeing it is to only have things that I like and can actually wear (no ill-fitting clothes allowed and only clothes that are actually my current size). Walking into my closet is a pleasant experience instead of a stressful experience wherein I wail, “I have nothing to wear!”
Here’s how I did my initial purge:
You’ll end up with a few piles – keep out, bin (stuff you want to keep but not have out), giveaway/consign, and trash/rags.
1. Pull everything out of the closet/dresser (and I mean all – even clothes that are not currently in season).
2. Do an initial quick purge. Toss things that are worn or stained or that you no longer like. Old things can become “around the house” clothes or cut up into rags. Other clothes can go to the charity of your choice – or to a consignment shop if you think you can make some money off of them.
3. Time to try things on. Clothes that don’t fit need to need to be tossed or placed in the hold bin (if you feel you may be able to fit into them later). Use a full-length mirror. Take a critical eye to things – you know what looks really good on you. If it’s not flattering don’t keep it. I need scoop or v-necklines. It doesn’t matter how cute that ringer tee was, if it doesn’t flatter me it got tossed.
4. As you’re going through step 3 start placing like things together – jeans, khakis, dress pants, t-shirts, long-sleeve blouses, sweaters, etc. Now go through those piles. Do you have five pairs of skinny jeans? Which is the one pair that you wear all of the time – keep that one. Bin or toss the others.
5. Bin things that are way out of season.
6. Now it’s time to get down to business. Take a critical eye to how thing work together. You may like that chartreuse, silk pirate shirt but if everything else in your wardrobe is sleek and modern it may not be the best fit for your 33 things. Ditto the six-inch bright red heels you never wear. Remember you don’t have to toss it – just bin it. You may find when the three months are up that you don’t feel as attached to a lot of the things you felt you couldn’t bear to toss.
7. It’s the last items that are the hardest. Just keep looking at your wardrobe as a whole and make sure everything works really well together. I love to layer so even though it’s summer I have the two cardigans out (it’s rather chilly at my work also) and I will layer some of the tanks over each other to change things up as well. And think about your day-to-day life. I live a really casual life so dress clothes are not really necessary – but I have a few pieces that will work as a dressier outfit when put together.
8. Don’t stress the actual number. If you go through this whole process and end up with 40 items of clothes you “must have” and 5 garbage bags of clothes going to Goodwill you’ve still done a great job – and I bet you’ll still reap the benefits of a simplified wardrobe.
9. Take the time to go through your underwear drawer as well. Get rid of the socks without mates, a few of the ten million strapless bras you have from when you’ve been called on to be a bridesmaid, the tired old underwear. It’s so much easier to grab what you need when you get rid of the junk!
By Raine | Published 01/03/2012
Around November I thought I had finished purging. I knew there was some maintenance, of course, but that I would never have my porch full of “stuff” like it was back this summer. Oh yeah, never say never. Chris and I did some major purging the last couple of days.
We also had promised Katie that we would swap rooms with her so that she can have a “big” room like William has. Katie was really given the short end of the stick when we moved into this house. Her room was tiny, had what we had deemed as an “unusable” closet, and no fan. Katie had mentioned to Chris recently that she would like to have a big room – and if Katie asks something of Daddy, Daddy gets it for her.
So we swapped things out on Saturday – and amazingly we now have our queen bed in the room, have storage space for all of our underwear, workout wear, kicking around the house clothes, and I have all of my clothes hanging on a garment rack in the craptastic closet. And the room feels light and airy! Crazy!
And in one of those “the universe will provide” moments our friend called us Saturday morning to ask if Chris would be willing to help with some furniture moving. He showed up and instead of moving furniture we were gifted with a bedroom suite that is perfect for Katiebaby. We were able to purge some of the not-so-pretty bins and baskets that we had been using to store her clothes and toys and now she also has all of her stuff in her room, as opposed to most of it being stored in William’s room. Score!
Chris purged over half of his wardrobe. I found three leather coats that I moved from Albuquerque and left in a garment bag - one of them still with tags. Sigh – I’m such a freaking hoarder! We also purged some kids clothes, toys, a shredder that doesn’t work, storage containers, bookshelves we no longer need, curtains I’ve never liked, and recycled what feels like a ton of paper. The porch is once again full of our castoffs. Now to find appropriate new homes for all of this stuff!
By Raine | Published 12/12/2011
I started Project 333 with a smidge of trepidation. After years of being a confirmed clotheshorse reducing down to 33 items for 3 months was grossly out of character with my previous maximalist lifestyle. I bought a few clothes right before I started it to replace some worn out items and had thought that I would need to buy a few more to “complete” my wardrobe. Yeah – like I really “needed” another pair of boots. Turns out – my wardrobe is complete enough.
I did receive some hand-me-down clothes from a friend of mine. The old me would have kept the entire mountain of clothes. The new me went through the mountain (at her home), and only took pieces that I thought would suit me (we have similar tastes but vastly different complexions and body types). At home I tried the pieces on and kept most of them, and returned the few that really wouldn’t work for me. Those that I kept are more “spring” colors so I tossed them into my hold bin.
I have bought a few new pieces recently – jeans to replace some dying jeans, shirts to replace some stained shirts. One thing I’ve noticed about being minimal is that when something wears out you really need to fill that hole. I have one pair of earrings – and lost one of them this past Sunday. I’m now on a search for another perfect pair. I only buy handcrafted jewelry so I’m scanning Etsy and other sites. Until then, I’ll go without.
I’ve also noticed that there are some items that I still haven’t worn 2 months in – and they’re either going away or getting put in the hold bin. One is a little black dress that I thought I would wear for dressier occasions but I’ve found I like my velvet split skirt better right now, it’s more of a summer dress anyway so it’s going in the bin. There are a few winter shirts that I apparently just don’t like anymore – they have gone away, and a few lighter shirts that it’s now too cold to wear – they’ve gone into the bin – no need to look at them everyday.
Even though the 33 items have changed a bit I’m still under 33 – and that is a victory for me. This fall has been unseasonably warm – so I’m glad I kept so much of the lightweight stuff in my closet but returning them to the bin and embracing my full-on winter wardrobe has been nice too. I don’t see any reason to make any changes until spring (unless something else dies on me) - boots and jeans and cords and cozy knit shirts will be the uniform until March at least.
I spoke to Chris today and he is up for trying out Project 333 in January. And I will be reducing the kids’ wardrobes. My plan is to do a little culling this week – and then do a final run through after Christmas in case they receive some clothes as gifts.
By Raine | Published 10/04/2011
I ran into Project 333 early on in my minimalist journey. While interesting I dismissed it as “not for me”. I couldn’t imagine only living in 33 items of clothing for 3 months. Well, I guess I’ve progressed on my journey as today I pared down my wardrobe to 33 things.
It did take the better part of the day, but it was surprisingly easy, also. After my earlier purge I think I was primed for this leap.
According to the minimalist blogs I’ve read I should have picked a base color. And I should have chosen non-trendy, classic pieces. Yeah, I’ve got browns, blacks, colors, stripes, patterns, a funky faux fur-trimmed vest. I did focus on layering. It’s supposed to be in the 70s this week and winters here tend to be nasty so layerability is key.
I’m down to:
3 pairs of jeans
4 pairs of cords
2 split skirts (one of these may go away as they are both black – one is velvet and one is some rayon-y blend – they’re both cool though)
3 3/4 length sleeve shirts
7 long sleeve shirts
The “rules” state that the 33 is supposed to include shoes, jewelry, and outerwear. I’m not generally an arbitrary rule-follower so I’m exempting myself from those things. That said I’m only leaving out 1 pair of athletic shoes (my only pair of athletic shoes), 1 pair of black mocs, and 4 pairs of boots. My jewelry is my wedding ring, one pair of earrings, and a bunch of necklaces (I just made a bunch a few nights ago and I will be wearing them). The weather here is just too crappy to give myself one coat. My outerwear consists of a raincoat, a velvet blazer I use as a jacket, a funky wool coat, a very warm orange ski jacket-y thing, a soft faux pea coat, a funky vintage coat, and a gray wool coat.
As the weather gets colder the vests, blazer, and raincoat are all going into storage as will a few of the t-shirts probably. I will not be pulling anything else out.
By Raine | Published 09/26/2011
Pretty fancy, eh? I actually bought two of these bad boys and between them and hanging a few shirts on the shower rod I can dry a whole load of laundry. This works well because it makes me do laundry (almost) every day, instead of allowing it to build up. I love it when I come up with ways to outsmart my procrastinating gene.
I’ve been contemplating buying a clothesline but our yard is way small and mostly parking spot and garden. I looked into a few retractable lines and the reviews I’ve read have not inspired me much. I decided to just bite the bullet and go with racks and start in the middle of our drippy, gray fall. I’ve used racks before – specifically when William was tiny and we moved into an apartment that had only gas hookups for a dryer – and we had an electric one. I figure if I can survive rack-drying the laundry created by a 2-month-old I can survive a wet fall and winter drying indoors.
Chris is not the most pleased by the situation as his work clothes are more wrinkled. I’m working on the issued by hanging his work shirts(inside out) on hangers and giving them a short tumble in the dryer before I hang them in the closet. I also noticed the clothes in our closet are very squished so I rearranged – pulled out some empty plastic bins I’ve been storing there so that our clothes have a little room to breathe (I haven’t mentioned to him that getting rid of some of his ten million t-shirts might help also). I am still drying our sheets in the electric dryer but I can dry the kids twin sheets and mattress covers together – and then all of ours sheets and mattress cover together (with a few of Chris’ work shirts thrown in). The sheets thing is mostly a cop-out – I’m just not in the mood to take up that much space in my house at the moment to dry sheets.
I had planned on putting in two new raised beds next spring – but am reconsidering right now. If I don’t I may go ahead and put in a clothesline in one of those designated spaces.
How much money am I saving? From what I’ve been able to discern online estimates range for 25¢ to 40¢. If I take the low-end I’m saving about $1.50 a week. Sounds rather weak but multiply it times 52 and answer becomes $78 a year. And I have less wear on my clothes from the dryer – since I’ve considerably minimized my wardrobe keeping the clothes I do have in good shape is a real consideration. And it doesn’t take me much longer to hang things on the racks/hangers. And there’s that whole outsmarting myself so I don’t procrastinate on laundry thing. The racks cost me $10 each so I should be at least even by the end of this year.
Between the not using the dishwasher thing, the finding and unplugging the energy vampires (including the evilness that is our TV/cable/DVD situation), and now this I feel like I’ve made some good strides in lowering our electric bill. In January I plan to see how we stacked up this year compared to last year.
By Raine | Published 09/09/2011
A month ago I did a major purge of my kitchen and showed some pics. And the purge has stuck! I even purged a few more things that were not being used. For instance, we had two sets of monster grilling tools – but we don’t own a grill. Yeah, those have left the building. Also, a non-working blender that I had stashed for no particular reason (I’m guessing the kitchen trash was full and I didn’t want to walk outside the the garbage can). I found a stash of Juicy Juice (in a corner cabinet – not in the pantry where it should be) and went through our drugs, which we keep in a kitchen cabinet so the kids can’t reach them, and purged the expired ones.
So this is how it looks now.
Note we now have a bread machine, thanks to a generous friend who was no longer using it. I haven’t used it yet as I have to research, ponder, and circle kitchen appliances for a while before I actually use them. I just started using our juicer recently even though we’ve had it since last winter. The small nest of stuff on the counter is Chris’, I’m choosing to ignore it. And the Sierra Mist is now off the floor as this photo made me realize I really needed to find a place for it – now storing them in my pantry. The Country Crock tub is my compost bin receptacle – I keep it near the juicer as that’s where most of our compost bin stuff comes from.
Things have changed a little over here as well. We now have a toaster oven. We used to have a regular toaster but Chris likes toaster ovens better – we got this at the yard sale I had recently. We donated the old toaster and are using this daily for morning toast (we never used to have toast because the old toaster stayed inside a cupboard). The kitchen scale does not need to be out but I think it’s cute. We rotate our fruit bowls between the counter and the dining room table. Something to note that we no longer have on our counter is a dish drying rack. We mostly hand wash our dishes but let them air dry in the dishwasher, it helps keep our countertop clear and I have more space to work. The George Foreman grill is being given to a friend this weekend.
Working in and cleaning up the kitchen has been much easier since the purge and I am no longer in danger of being beaned by random falling objects when I open my cabinets now. We are having work done on our house right now and everything this morning was covered in dust because there was a huge hole cut into my dining room wall yesterday evening. The whole cleanup of the kitchen took under 30 minutes – including wiping all surfaces including the open shelves, washing and drying the dishes that were out in the open, and sweeping and mopping. Wooohooooo!
By Raine | Published 09/06/2011
A lot of minimalist blogs revolve around numbers. How many things purged in a certain time period, how many objects one owns, how little square footage a living space is.
As a geek who loves graphs and charts and numbers I am very attracted to this type of organization. I even thought about doing some sort of number-oriented project myself, but ultimately decided against it. First, I’m pretty deep into my purging already so it’s impossible to count how much stuff I’ve gotten rid of. Second, I don’t plan on reducing the objects I own to to a tiny number – I think the number of art objects I own is more than the entire lot of personal possessions of some uber-minimalists. And I’m ok with that. Third, it just isn’t fun (for me) to actually try to enumerate things as I purge them. I tried it one day and it just slowed my process. That “process” is actually no process at all, which is why I never have “before” photos. I’ll walk by a pile or a bookshelf or whatever and and just purging. When I’m done with it I always am like “darn I wish I had a before photo.” Oh well. Sunday I purged my bathroom cabinet – mostly because I noticed my hair-dryer on top of it and wanted to get it inside the cabinet versus on top of it.
So how to I gauge the amount of purging I’ve done? Well, I have a few markers that I use. First – the amount of storage items I don’t need any longer. The photo shows the storage/organizational items I’ve been able to purge in the last week.
I’ve also gotten rid of a 5-shelf and a 3-shelf bookshelf. Second – volume. I stage my purge items on our enclosed porch. It gives me a little shiver of joy to see all of the stuff that’s leaving our house. Third – it all hinges on feelings. When I walk into an room and it feels goooooood I know that I’ve purged enough.
This living room may make a true minimalist cringe. But for me, this is enough. This makes me happy. The TV stand used to be overflowing with DVDs we never watched. Now we’ve reduced them by over 75% – mostly kids stuff because they actually watch their movies. The mantle used to be completely cluttered with cards, photos, tchotchkes, and art. It was impossible to truly see it all. Now it is clean and spare and you can actually see the pieces on it. There are no piles of papers (paper is totally my thing), no library books hidden under said piles. Where the loveseat (and my computer desk is just to the left of that outside of the frame) used to sit an ugly floral couch. We ditched the couch, brought in the computer, and the loveseat is from our patio furniture. There used to be a small space heater in the fireplace opening. We never used it and I always thought it was ugly. It’s gone! Now the kids hide in there and put on “shows” from it. The two ottomans used to be right in front of the couch but we moved them around to open up the room.
This room is done!
By Raine | Published 09/01/2011
I did another round of purging in William’s room. I thought about doing it without the kids, but in the end decided to have them involved in the process. And they were excellent! William, who usually chews on things a long time before making a decision was brief and to the point – yes (keep), no (get rid of) or Katie’s. Katie was more of a “keeper”, but she did release a lot of things also. We purged a whole bin of items and cleared out a whole 5-shelf bookcase.
Dealing with their toys has made me realize several things:
1.Less toys is better than more toys. We uncovered so many toys they had forgotten about and loved, buried under toys they immediately said “throw away.” And there were so many useless figurines (from Nana) that they truly didn’t even like – a set of frog figurines springs to mind – Katie said they scared her. I had kept them because they came from Nana but I allowed the children to release themselves from these hideous creatures. I will never make them keep something just because of who gave it to them.
2. Kids don’t actually need toys. Recently I watched Katie playing with two marbles and a step stool. She would release the marbles on top of the stool and see which one “won” the race by falling over the edge first. Seriously. Ten million toys in her room and this is how she chooses to entertain herself. Last year my kids fell in love with a box that Katie’s bed came in. They used it as a rocket, an elevator,a boat, and a coffin(because they were vampires). They used markers and stickers to decorate it. They wailed when I would mutter about throwing it away. That box stayed with us until it fell apart from so much use.
3. Simple is better. So many toys these days are so narrow and specific and only allow kids to do/make one thing. I was looking at Legos recently and they are not the Legos of my youth. It’s all about kits that make specific things. Crayola is no longer about crayons, it’s about Color Wonder this and Glow Explosion that. And the kids have been gifted a ton of that stuff – and they play with it once and never touch it again – crayons and markers they go back to day in and day out.
4. I’m over buying them toys for a while. Katie’s birthday was Tuesday and today I redecorated her room as her present. It’s now filled with a whole bunch of rockstar/punk princess stuff. She loves it. She and William are actually in her room playing right now – they usually spend most of their play time in his room. We’ll see what happens with Christmas – I’m thinking buying them bikes might be just what Santa ordered.
By Raine | Published 08/30/2011
I held the mother of all yard sales this past weekend. It was a fundraiser for a church mission trip I am going on in a few weeks. Because of that many church members gave their castoffs to be sold. We had men’s clothes from size small through 6X. I think over a hundred pairs of shoes, tons of housewares, a whole lifetime’s worth of clown collectibles and many things I couldn’t even identify. The sheer mass of the stuff was overwhelming and my yard sale cohorts and I quickly reduced the price of almost everything to a quarter. We made just over $300 – selling most things for a quarter!! The mind reels at how much stuff we had and sold. That $300 was hard-earned but worth the effort as the money is going to a great cause.
As things wound down we discussed what to do with the leftovers. Keep for another sale? Give to Goodwill? Maybe some to the Re-Store? Maybe some other worthy charities? In the end we decided to give all of the clothes to Goodwill and everything else we put out on the curb with a big FREE sign. We posted on Craigslist about the yard sale leftovers and left. My husband and I stopped by in the afternoon to see what was left – and the answer was a small boxful of items and a large mirror. We dropped those things off to Goodwill and were done. I hope all of the stuff that went out into the world through us goes to places it can do the most good.
Cue Sunday and Monday and I’ve already filled two more bins of stuff plus a box of books. It seems the more I purge the more I realize I don’t need. I gave the books to a friend who will give them to her preschool’s book sale fundraiser. But those two bins – are they the start of another yard sale pile? Some of the stuff is worth a few dollars, some a few pennies. Some of the books I gave away could have made a few dollars on Amazon. But is the time and effort worth the return?
My new answer is no. My new mantra is “Give it away, give it away, give it away now!” I’m just going to release this stuff to the world and move forward – lighter and happier.
By Raine | Published 08/24/2011
This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Simplify
You’ve probably heard of “energy vampires.” Things like your cell phone charger, some appliances that have clocks in them (microwave!), cordless gadgets like dustbusters. I’ve been very vigilant about making sure our cell phone charger is only plugged in when we’re using it and I turn off and unplug my power strip that handles all of my computer and computer-related cords. Yesterday I went around and found a few other energy vampires – a cordless vacuum, a cordless screwdriver, the power supply for my netbook. I unplugged them all and will use said items until they run out of juice and then plug them in to recharge them. Katie has a computer, but rarely uses it so that power strip has been unplugged for a while. If she wants to use her computer we’ll plug it back in for her. William’s computer happens to be the computer that is connected to our modem and Wifi router. I would like to turn his power strip off at night, but he goes to bed much earlier than I do so I’m a little stumped on that one.
A HUGE energy vampire and also the largest time vampire in our house is our TV/satellite box/DVR. I’ve read that these babies, due to the fact that they are always on, can actually use more electricity than an energy efficient refrigerator. Crazy! You can turn them off, but the satellite company sometimes sends “updates” in the middle of the night, the DVR records some stuff in the middle of the night, and it can take a while for it to power up completely (because it searches for updates).
Last night I turned off the power strip to all of our TV-related things (TV, Wii, satellite box/DVR, and DVD player). This morning I turned it back on and timed it to see how long it took to power up. And the answer is 10 minutes. Not bad! I think we can handle this. I also deleted a lot of the series I record out of habit. Seriously, I don’t need to watch every Cold Case there’s every been. A lot of the shows I record I use as “background” while I’m running around the house cleaning/reading/computering. I’ve been consciously choosing to not turn on the TV or play music just to enjoy a little silence and I think it’s made me more productive and less scattered.
So the TV-stuff power strip will officially be turned off every evening and not turned on until we want to actually watch something, not just have some background noise.
Saving money, saving electricity, and saving my sanity – cool.