Friday, July 3, 2015

Sheesh! I need to start posting more.

If I've lost the few readers I had, I completely understand. I haven't posted since February, and I really don't have much of an excuse. Well, I have lots of excuses but no legitimate reasons.

To bring you up to date, here's what has been happening in my life the past 5(!) months:

  • Winter sucked around here. We had water problems in our basement and had to do a significant cleanout to get a sump pump installed. Only the cleanout wasn't as significant as I hoped it would be. My basement is still cluttered.
  • My older son finished his first year at a military college and is now in boot camp for the Marine Corps. He left on June 1st, and we can only communicate with him via snail mail, and it's hard. He graduates on August 28th and we'll be going to the graduation, then bringing him home for 10 days. I don't want to wish my summer away, but I can't wait to see him.
  • I have not lost the 10 pounds that I wanted to lose before the summer. So my clothes are kind of tight, and as a result, I bought new pants/shorts in the next size up. Only they are a little loose. So my regular clothes are too tight, and the bigger ones are too loose. Oy.
  • I'm STILL shopping more than I should be. I find myself craving that instant gratification that comes from buying a new piece of clothing. This is an almost daily struggle.
  • My house has seen little to no decluttering since the winter. Motivation is severely lacking.
  • We got more cable channels so I've spent more time watching TV than ever. DH and I started watching Shameless and I watched Outlander and I've got several seasons worth of like four other shows to watch before the fall when the new episodes start. 
  • I got an iPhone for work and now instead of doing things like decluttering, I spend valuable time looking on FB and Twitter and stuff like that. 
Hence, my dining room table has looked like this for months:

Yes, nothing but clutter. Every weekend I plan to clean it off, and yet here I am in early July and it still looks like this. 

I just cut some flowers from my garden so I'm going to clean this damned thing off, put the flowers there and take another picture. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Red Week

I chose last week as red week. I almost didn't make it. I ended up having just enough red pieces to fill out the whole week.

Monday -- I was excited to wear a pair of new shoes. More on that later.

A different angle, but I don't know why. I guess because I thought I'd look thinner?

This was Tuesday. I really liked this outfit, but for some reason, it was really, really warm in work. So I wasn't comfortable. 

These boots were part of the black shoe purchase. I had been wanting a pair of gray boots and I know I will get a lot of use out of these. They are suede and not quite over the knee, but have a cute bow in the back. They are very comfortable.
This was Wednesday. This is a sleeveless dress with a sweater over it. It was very comfortable. I've had the boots for about 10 years and have only worn them as many times. I decided that it was time to pull them out of the closet. I'm glad I did. 

Thursday. I got this skirt from H&M back at the end of December because I felt I needed another gray skirt. It's actually pretty good quality and very comfortable.

I've had this jacket for a long time. It's a love/hate thing. It's kind of quilted and I received several compliments,
but I feel it can be frumpy.

Friday. I had to lose a few pounds for these pants to fit comfortably in the waist, and I have. I still have about 5 more pounds to go, but at least my pants aren't killing me anymore. 

So that's the week's rundown. This exercise made me wear clothes that I hadn't put on in awhile. What I should do is get rid of things that I am not truly happy with, but I'm giving myself a few more tries before I put something in the giveaway pile.

As for the shoe purchases, I originally went out to just buy a simple pair of black suede pumps. I only have one pair of black pumps and they are kind of plain. I found this cute pair for $50 and the boots were on sale, as well as a pair of rain boots. I paid for the suede boots and shoes in cash, and then charged the rain boots on a credit card. I see the rain boots as a necessity and didn't feel guilty buying them on credit. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015


I decided that I would keep track of my clothing purchases by month for the year. I'm not only tracking how much they cost, but the brand, the actual item, how it fit, the size, and how many times I wore it. 

I thought I was doing good by not spending too much in January, but after I put it on paper, I realized I was wrong. In fact, I am appalled.

Teal pants -- $36 
Sleeveless patterned top with black ruffle -- $25 
White jeans -- $45 
Gray pencil skirt -- $30 

Black tights -- $13

The teal pants are what I wore in one of the pictures a few posts ago. I ordered them online and they were final sale. They are Kate Spade Saturday so the quality is good, but the fit is bad. Too baggy in the butt and thighs. I decided that since I love the color and quality, it will be worth it to have them altered.

The sleeveless top and the white jeans were also final sale and are Jockey. They quality is very good. The pants don't fit great, but I will see how I can style them. I won't have them altered because it think it will be tricky to alter jeans. I'll wash them first and see what happens. The top fits fine.

The gray pencil skirt and black tights are from H&M. They fit very well and the quality isn't bad. I am pleased with this purchase.

BUT, for someone who has more clothes than days to wear them, I SHOULD NOT BE BUYING CLOTHES. Period. 

I have made mistakes with mail order items and final sales before and I have finally learned my lesson. No matter the reviews or the brand, I cannot risk it. The two items from Jockey I was able to try on (at least the top, and a different style of pants to see if the waist would fit), so that is fine. But never again will I order anything online that is final sale. I don't need a closet of ill fitting clothes, regardless of the quality.


I plan to buy nothing in February.  

UPDATE: I bought shoes and a T-shirt this month so far. 

Suede black sling backs -- $50
Grey suede boots -- $30 
Black rain boots -- $70
Target gray T-shirt -- $9

I LOVE all three of the shoes. I was going to wait on the boots and get myself a pair of Hunter, but I saw these instead and decided that they'd work. They're Tommy Hilfiger and I got them at a discount store. I did need new boots as the ones I have are falling apart. 

Did I need the shoes? No. I kind of feel like a hypocrite for buying things I don't need, but I'm not really THAT kind of minimalist. 

Still, I do have an awful lot. Probably not as much as your typical shopaholic, but I feel as though I could really make do with a lot less. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Stripe Week

In follow up to my previous post about picking a theme each week so I make sure I wear all of my clothes, I too pictures of my outfits last week for stripe week. I only took pictures for two outfits and snapped them in the bathroom at work. 

I really like wearing striped shirts with floral scarves. I like the contrast. 

Here is another outfit. 

I received a lot of compliments on this outfit, but the pants don't fit right. More about that in the next post.

I forgot to photograph Friday's outfit. Now that I know I can do this quickly in work and that the quality isn't really as horrible as I expected, I will do this every day and try and put them up once a week. 

Next post is about spending.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An Alternative to Project 333

One of my goals/resolutions this year was to do another round of Project 333 (like I did this time last year), but when it came time to choose favorite items to wear, I just couldn't narrow it down. Over the past year or two, I have gotten rid of a lot of clothing that I just didn't love. And I still do that whenever I find something that I don't like anymore. Or if I wear it and it bothers me, it goes out that night, whether it be to the giveaway pile or the trash. 

But I simply could NOT limit myself to 33 items this year. Last year I couldn't do it either, although I did follow the other rule of removing things that didn't fit or didn't wear that often. For the most part, those things have been given away this year, and yet I still have about 12 skirts, 10 sweaters, 7 dresses, 10 casual tops, about 5 blouses/button down shirts, 5 pairs of jeans, 5 pairs of dress pants, and 7 or 8 jackets. Not to mention the shoes and purses. 

However, at least in this past year, when I bring something into the house, something goes out. Amazingly, I only bought one or two pairs of shoes last year. My mindset has definitely changed. I have a pair of rain boots that I bought about 5 years ago, and they are on their way out. But instead of just rushing right out and buying another pair, I'm giving this pair one more season, and then I'll buy a pair of Hunter boots at the end of winter. I am finally investing in higher quality shoes because it is worth it. 

So to make sure I am wearing ALL of the clothes in my closet, I decided to have a theme each week, and that would limit my choices and force me to wear everything at least once. The thing that started me on this idea was when my mother in law got me aqua nail polish for Christmas. I decided to try it and I really liked it, so I looked in my closet to see what I could wear with it. I don't have a lot of that color, but I successfully pulled together five outfits that matched my nail polish in some capacity. I might have worn black pants and a white top, but I also wore a scarf that had teal in it. 

The second week was gray, the third week (last week) was animal print, and this week is stripes. 

I'm working from home today but I wore a striped shirt yesterday and I'll be doing the same tomorrow and the rest of the week. My striped item will probably be a top each day, because aside from a scarf or two, the only striped things I own are tops. 

This has helped me tremendously so far with simplifying my outfit options and forcing me to be creative. I am really enjoying this self-induced challenge. I may even photograph my outfits and post them.

Are you doing Project 333 or are you doing something else to make sure you wear what you have? 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Still Alive, Still Decluttering, Mostly

I put what seems like bags and bags out for the local charity -- at least every 6 weeks or so -- and yet there is still more stuff to go through. My husband is almost finished the steps, and then that project will be done. Here is a picture of the steps after the rugs were removed and the steps were sanded and stained. Turns out my husband hated it, so he totally redid the whole thing. An after picture to follow.

That's all for now. Gotta run.

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Been Way Too Long

I am annoyed at myself that I have not posted in over three months! And I have been doing post-worthy things!!!

Let's see, since September 9th:
  1. I finished the flags, the competition band season went well, our school won first place at all of the local competitions but came in 7th or something at the statewide competition in November. The kids were disappointed, but they had a great run. 
  2. My older son went to military college and not only survived, but did well. He is home for winter break right now.
  3. My job was reorganized so that now I work for a set group of people instead of in a "pool." I love it and am much happier. 
  4. We finally got rid of the carpets and had the bedrooms recarpeted with new, stain-free, soft, carpeting, and we had wood floors put down on our hallway.
  5. We were supposed to have new wood put on the steps, but they screwed it up and now my husband is in the process of redoing them. He is much too critical of his own work; I think they look beautiful and will really look wonderful once the risers are painted white.

The new carpeting means that we had to go through all of the bedrooms and clear out the junk. After taking just about everything out of each room, I didn't want to put anything back, so I made sure to be very selective of what went back into each bedroom. Our middle bedroom, the one that has basically served as a junk room for 20 years, is still uninhabited; however, we got rid of a lot of stuff and it looks much better. I put some things in there that used to be in my boys' room...stuff that they apparently haven't missed. I hope to get rid of the stuff gradually.

I have pictures of the before; I just have to post them. 

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I've Been in Hell

Flag hell, that is. I sew flags for the school color guard to use in their competition band shows and this year has been especially trying. It all must be done within a four-week time frame and when you've got 50ish flags to cut material for and distribute to a few helpful seamstresses and sew some yourself, it can be maddening. I'm almost done my part; at least I should be by the end of the weekend. Then I do nothing in the way of volunteering for the rest of the school year. 

So that's why I haven't posted anything. 

Other than that, a few things have changed with regard to my next decluttering project. Because we were planning to get new carpets this fall, I figured I'd be working on our extra bedroom first. Well, turns out that we won't have enough money to get hardwood flooring on the steps and in the hallway PLUS get carpeting, so we're postponing the carpeting for another year. We could easily get the whole thing recarpeted for a few thousand dollars, but my husband wants to have new hardwood laid on the steps and hallway, and that alone will cost about $6,000. But something MUST be done with the hall, because the carpets are in such bad shape, as well as the floor beneath it, so I am fine with doing the hall/steps now and waiting for the carpets.

The time frame for the hall/steps is early November, which is fine because October is busy with band activities. However, I'm not doing a thing to the spare bedroom until the hall is done. So the bedroom may turn into a winter project instead of a fall one.

Next up I think is the next round of Project 333. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Next Project (I Hope)

I finally whined enough to my husband about the skanky carpets in our upstairs that he agreed to go looking for new carpet with me this weekend. The rugs are about 12 years old, and have been vomited on, bled on, peed on and pooped on, and they are absolutely disgusting. 

My husband refused to even entertain the idea of new carpets until our dog was gone. Well, he passed away in November, and I have been pissing and moaning since the spring for new carpets. Or no carpets and just wood floor. I don't care. I just want that nastiness out of my house.

Now the husband is talking about replacing the wood floors in the hallway and up the steps and only carpeting the three bedrooms. Cost will be a determining factor.

However, regardless of what ends up on the floor, our extra bedroom will have to be the next project. We only used it for about six years as a bedroom for my oldest son, and then we moved him in with his younger brother, and the room quickly became a junk room. Most of the time there were toys in there, and when the boys were little, the intention was for it to become a playroom, but that never happened. 

We've gotten rid of several bins of toys, but we still have many more bins of Legos and trucks that my husband doesn't want to part with. He keeps wanting to save stuff in case we have grandchildren someday. I get the sentiment, but I suspect things will be wildly different by the time that happens. So I'm going to do my best to convince him that most of it must go. 

I'll take before pics in the daylight and post them. Even if we end up not getting the rugs replaced soon, I should still go through the room. My husband actually mentioned something about painting it and reconverting it back to a bedroom, perhaps for my older son when he comes home from college. Regardless, I probably won't start working on it in earnest until the end of September, when the weather cools down and I'm done sewing flags for the band (something I do every year at the beginning of band season).

Check back later for pictures of the room that has been bane of my existence for the last 12 years. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Earlier this spring, after having decluttered some and realizing that one of the whole points of minimalism is the experience over the stuff, I had planned to do two things in early summer that would have brought me great joy. 

1. The Minimalists were coming to my area and I had the date marked on the calendar and even reserved four tickets. I was going to drag my husband and two boys there if it killed us!

2. Two of my favorite musical groups -- The Script and One Republic -- were coming to a venue near me at the end of June. My boys like One Republic and I LOVE The Script, so win/win, right?

Neither of these things happened. My husband was working the night that The Minimalists were coming, and it was very close to my son's high school graduation, and I was overwhelmed, and it was supposed to thunderstorm that night, and excuses, excuses, excuses.

The concert night was the same evening we were coming home from vacation. At that point, we had spent quite a bit of money during our vacation and my husband didn't want us to spend any more. So we didn't go. 


If you have the slightest doubt about whether you should do something that that you know you would really enjoy, do it, despite whatever obstacles might be in your way. Otherwise, I promise you, you will regret it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Front Porch, Or The Room I Am In All The Time

We had a cloudy/rainy weekend a few weeks back; the first one in about 2-1/2 months. I decided to make the best of a weekend indoors, and I did the whole porch. Now, I LOVE sitting out there. It's much cooler than the rest of the house and since it is enclosed, I don't have to worry about mosquitoes. They have taken over my back yard and every time I step outside for even a brief moment, I get another bite. Bug spray doesn't help, so I have enjoyed my tea or glass of wine on the front porch for the first time in about a year. Also, while I can't actually see the sunset, if the sky is orange, the porch glows. I love August sunsets.

Here are the results. Be mindful that NOTHING in this room matches. It's a collection of stuff I bought/thrifted at different times. One day, my goal is to have a nice wicker furniture set out here. Till then, just having it neat and clean is enough.

This was a gift from my mother in law several years ago. It's made of that melamine(?) plastic and can also be hung on the wall. I just haven't had a chance to hang it, so it sits on one of the bookcases and
is the first thing you see when you come in the door.
The coat closet. I put away as many of the baseball caps as I could.
These two are destined to stay out, but at least they are on hooks.
 The couch, where I sit and relax, blog, and nap. These windows connect to my living room.
This is the side facing the driveway. I moved our indoor/outdoor fountain indoors where I can actually enjoy it. Unfortunately, the first weekend it was there, I was watching a dog that used the fountain
as her own personal water bowl.
This is the shoe rack. At the moment, there is simply nowhere else to put it. 
This is the larger of the two matching lanterns. I decided to put the smaller one out on my back patio with a real candle, and place all three of the battery operated ones in here. A bold move on my part.
The bottom part of the window sill in the photo above is a piece of wood trim nailed to the sill because my former dog chewed it to shreds. Don't ask. It needs to be painted, which has been on my to do list for eons. I'm not quite ready to do that yet because once I do, I'll have to paint the rest of the windows and that can turn into quite a project. 

I'm not sure yet what my next project will be. I think I'll work on my wardrobe for the next round of Project 333. 

I also really need to finish tackling the basement, as well as our spare bedroom, and my boys' bedroom, and...

...those darned CDs. Yup, still waiting.

Things will be hectic here for a few more weeks but I will try to make posting twice a week a priority. Thanks for visiting and stop back soon.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Porch Progress

The ficus tree is gone! 

Last night, as I stood there looking at it on my porch, I was a bit nostalgic and started having second thoughts about keeping it. I have always loved the look of trees with twinkle/fairy lights and was very excited when I got one for free. However, after having it for 5+ years, it was time to kick it to the curb. It was also broken, because I tried bending the branches too far and it broke off.

Once my son carried it outside with the rest of the trash, I felt 20 pounds lighter, and I remembered how wonderful it feels when you make that final decision and release something you no longer love. 

And again I thought, "Why am I not doing this more often?"

I also put the following items in a bag for charity:
  • the cd player/radio
  • a wooden and glass candle lantern (not one of the two pictured; a different one and for crying out loud, why did I need three?)
  • a couple of books
  • two old Nerf guns that have not been touched in a year
  • a pair of roller blades
  • two baseball hats
  • a candle holder
I am making progress. As soon as I clear off one whole side, I will post a photo. Right now, the lack of the fake tree has already brightened the place up and made it look less cluttered. I wish I didn't have to work at my real job today so I could get back to it. 

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Front Porch, Which Will Someday Be My Oasis

When we bought our house about 20 years ago, one of the selling points for me was that it had an enclosed front porch. My childhood home did not have a porch, so I thought this was wonderful. It was all windows though and not very functional for most of the year. The windows were old and it wasn't heated, so it ended up being a storage area for a long time. 

About 12 years ago, we had it redone. It has three fewer windows (we put a wall on the shared side) and added a coat closet. While it still isn't heated, it is more insulated so it's much more usable during the year. In fact, in the winter, a small space heater is enough to warm it completely.

When my kids were younger, it held toys, toys and more toys. As they got older, I was able to convince my husband to get some shelving and I got a cheap two-seater couch from my previous job when we moved offices. A friend gave me a very nice cedar chest, which used to house sports equipment but now holds miscellaneous items that probably need to be sorted.  

I went through the whole porch this time last year, getting rid of what I could, before I moved on to my living room and before I started this blog. But here I am a year later, and it's a disaster again. My goal is to REALLY declutter it over the next few weeks so that I can make it into a nice peaceful space. I have the good fortune to be able to work from home sometimes, and I plan to make it into a work space as well. 

Here are some before pictures.

One side that faces our driveway. The front door is on the left, and to the right is the door that enters our living room. The little golden thing at the bottom of the picture is the dog that I'm currently watching.
That is a shelving unit from Ikea along with the matching baskets. In the baskets are such things as dog leashes/bags/collars, my hats/gloves/scarves, my shoes that I wear in the winter (boots, heavy sneakers), and my sons' hats. One of the basket-less shelves holds old binders for school (we try to reuse them each year if possible) and a black basket with loose leaf paper, pens, etc. 

On the left of the unit is something that really belongs in my car, shopping bags, and rock salt. On the right is one of those plastic rolling carts that holds yet more paper, pens, markers, crayons, etc. Finally, there is a giant fake ficus tree. I used to have twinkle lights on it and kept it in my living room but the lights broke and when I redid the LR, I moved this monstrosity to the porch for lack of a better place to put it. I will discuss the fate of the ficus later.

This is facing the inside of the house. The door and ficus tree are to the left of the green end table. On the other side of the windows is my living room. 
There's my cheap little office couch that works just fine. In fact, when the room was less cluttered, I often liked to curl up and take a nap out there on weekends. 

I love the table (although there's a lot of junk in there) and the box on top of it is some college stuff for my son that will be removed soon. You can see the cedar chest in the foreground. In the back right is another Ikea shelving unit that holds games and books, which also need to be sorted. Many of them are my husband's books from COLLEGE. It's hard to convince him that the laws of business have changed and his Finance 101 textbook is no longer relevant.

This faces the street. The front door is to the right. The is obviously the same type of shelving unit from Ikea with baskets. They hold an old video recorder, tapes that need to be made into CDs, candles and candle holders, some toys, and other miscellaneous stuff. The shoe rack to the left is falling apart, and I should really invest in a better quality one when I get the chance. Those shoes belong to my sons, and their feet are HUGE. Although why my older son needs five pairs of boots and four pair of sneakers is beyond me. He takes after my husband, who is a shoe whore.  

Atop the shelf you can see my penchant for candle lanterns. I love them, but I never quite know where to put them. I don't have any plans to get rid of them though. The globe is an old family heirloom so that will stay, but the radio/CD player can be donated. 

This is just a different view of the street facing windows. The view out my windows is of the street, and the windows are high enough to offer plenty of privacy while letting in a lot of light and nice views of the trees and landscaping of the giant house across the street. 

This is an overall view that is opposite from the wall with the other shelves and the ficus tree.

Much of the work here is to declutter...again. Someday I would love to replace one of the storage units and the couch with wicker furniture and make it more of a conversation area. Right now, when I do sit out here, there is only enough seating for two people. The windows make it hard to do much else other than keep the shelving on its side. Otherwise, I'd stand it up and put a nice chair out there. 

I think the ultimate goal would be to declutter enough that I don't even need the second shelf. Then I could make a case for a couple of nice chairs or something. 

Anyway, this is my next project. I had planned to do my basement by the end of 2014, but that is just too overwhelming right now. Plus, I really want to be able to use this room more when I work from home. It will be warm/cool enough to last me until late October or November before I have to turn on the little space heater. 

I will keep you posted with my progress. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Life's a Budget. At Least for Us.

I just saw that there were a few comments on a couple of my lasts posts. Thank you for missing me! I really do appreciate it and it motivates me to soldier on.

Just wanted to give a short update on life in general. In 2 weeks we'll be dropping my son off at college. He is going to a very small private military college close to home. However, he'll be living there and we won't have any contact with him for six weeks. They have intense training during those weeks...sort of like boot camp, and there is a ceremony when he is finished. He's excited, but I'm in denial. I am going to miss that boy. 

I will also miss the freedom we've had with our finances. Not that we are well to do by any means, and we've always kept a budget, but now there will be additional expenses for his schooling, as well as saving more each month for tuition. After scholarship money and a loan, we will be paying about $15,000/year. We have withdrawn about $10,000 of that from his college savings, which were in the form of mutual funds and stocks, and the other $5,000 to $7,000 will be coming out of our pockets.  

So begins a period of cutting even further back on spending. 

I recall that last September, my husband and I agreed to stop spending so much money each month on things like eating out (and clothes) and we did well. I didn't feel deprived, because aside from an "allowance" of $140 every two weeks, I was also allowed to spend $150 on the credit card once a month. I managed to stay within those limits for most of the year. It really only went to pot when my son graduated high school (party), we got our bathroom done and I accessorized it, then we went on vacation, and then did a few things this summer, and spent money on college supplies, and well, we haven't saved a dime in months. We both feel like we've been hemorrhaging cash. 

We will probably have one more expensive dinner out the night before we drop my so off at school. I've tasted the food in the dining hall at school, and it's not good, so we'll send him off with the leftover taste of prime rib in his mouth.

I'm not sure if I mentioned that I have a dog sitting business on the side, and that has netted us several thousand dollars over the years. This summer looks to be pretty lucrative when it's all said and done, and that helps. It usually provides the spending money for our vacation each year. It is hard work, and my rugs and yard have taken a beating, but I have a bunch of people who rely on me to watch their dogs when they go away, and I love the pooches I do watch. Still, I am grateful at the end of the summer when vacation season is over and I can give my house a good cleaning.

Anyway, in two weeks, when my elder son is gone, my husband and I will have to sit down and go over our budget and set limits. Somehow, it doesn't seem as hard to do in the fall as it does in the summer, perhaps because I am more satisfied with my fall/winter wardrobe than I usually am with spring/summer. Oh well.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why I Need Project 333

I did Project 333 from January to April and I blogged about how great it was for me. However, when April 1 rolled around and I was challenged to again go through my clothes and get rid of what I didn't wear, it was still mighty chilly here in Southeastern Pennsylvania. We did not officially turn our heat off until the very end of April, and I could not even fathom looking at my spring clothes, much less getting them out and going through them. 

So I decided I didn't need no stinkin' Project 333, and I would instead wait for warmer weather and get all of my spring/summer clothes out at once. That process happened one weekend either at the very end of April or the very beginning of May, I can't remember which. At that point, we had had a few warmish days and I figured that it would be safe to put away my black and gray sweaters. Also, since it can go from the low 60s to upper 80s here in the span of a day or two, I didn't think that I could POSSIBLY narrow my wardrobe down to 33 spring items when I knew I'd be wearing my tank tops in a month's time. 

Here it is July 23. As in years past, I am thinking, "There aren't enough warm days in a year for me to wear all of the possible outfit combinations I can come up with, so at least some of my clothes will go unworn...again." 

I thought it would be different. I thought I learned my lesson this winter after the first round. I thought I'd give all of my spring/summer clothes the equal love they deserved and wear them all at least once, if not several times. And yet...

Here I am pulling out the same pieces of clothing every morning and switching it up enough to create a different outfit. Hmmm, there's a phrase for this, I just know it. 

Capsule wardrobe. 

Let me diverge for a second here. I, the "undercover minimalist," have continued to buy clothes. Let me say that again. I've continued to buy clothes. Have I learned NOTHING?!?!

So far this spring and summer, I have purchased:

  •  three dresses (I already have four that I like and are flattering on me)
  • a pair of black pants because I didn't lose enough weight to fit into the pair I already owned
  • a pair of red flats because I needed something to go with the RED sweater I also bought (even though I donated a pair of flats in the exact same shade of red last year)
  • above-referenced red sweater
  • a pair of white sandals because I felt I actually needed white shoes even though I haven't owned white sandals/shoes for almost a decade
  • TWO white T-shirts for layering because hey, buy in multiples!
  • five printed T-shirts 
  • a black sweater because apparently I need three
  • an off-white lightweight sweater because one is not good enough
  • a pair of khaki pants because two aren't enough
  • a black button down shirt because BLACK
  • a white eyelet suit-jacket-type jacket because it was $10 and on super sale at the outlets
  • a royal blue skirt
  • an orange skirt
  • a plain black T shirt
  • an aqua T shirt
  • a pair of khaki sandals
  • two summer scarves
  • a dressier white short-sleeved shirt
  • a blue and white v-neck sweater
I think there are a few more things in there, but I can't remember them at the moment. But wait! I have a good reason; lots of them actually! I NEEDED everything I bought. Or at least that's what I tell myself. To be fair, I did fill a few gaps in my closet and replaced a few items (black sweater, white tees), and I have walked away without getting anything a few times. I also purged a large bag of items that I knew were too uncomfortable or just not me to ever wear again. 

Oh, the outfit combinations are ENDLESS. So endless in fact, that I'll live to a ripe old age before I can wear them all. So endless that I get overwhelmed all over again looking at my closets. So endless that I wear the same things over and over and over again. Some of my clothes in the closet are pieces that are now too warm to wear but worked well for all of April and a few days in early May. However, I should probably put them out of sight because I won't wear them again until October at the earliest. But the rest...well, there are things I know darned well I won't wear ever again but I'm caught up in the old "getting rid of them is like throwing money away" mindset, not to mention the "what if I want to wear this one day?" thoughts that haunt me. 

And so I shall attempt to do a thorough closet declutter by the official end of the summer. The reason I say end of summer is because I was far too busy during the months of June and July to take the time to try everything on and make mindful decisions about what can stay and what should go. 

I know I posted about this before, but I really, truly have learned things from my first (and only) round of P333. I have learned that I don't like V neck shirts but prefer rounded necklines when it comes to T-shirts for layering. The opposite holds true for sweaters -- I don't like rounded necks with buttons but prefer sweaters with no buttons at all or V necks with buttons. I have also learned that without a doubt black, gray, and white are the crown jewels of colors. Aside from the red sweater I bought, everything else I bought for work is either black, gray, or white. I can liven things up with scarves or jewelry, but sticking to those basics makes getting dressed each morning infinitely easier.

I have also learned that while quality over quantity is the ideal, sometimes things don't have to be of the very best quality to serve your needs. Of those patterned T-shirts I bought, I got three cute ones from Old Navy. Two of them were specifically for two pairs of casual pants that I have, and the third was because I felt I needed something blue and white for the red, white and blue summer holidays. Old Navy T-shirts are the best fitting ones that I have found. Their "perfect tee" has spandex in it so no shrinkage and it keeps it's shape, and the ones I got for summer are lightweight and not as fitted so they hide my rolls. I wash them in the machine but hang them to dry and they are wrinkle free and ready for the next wear. 

So I've missed the spring round of P333 and the new round that started on July 1. I don't think I can get serious about it again until the next round on Oct. 1. By then I will be sick of my summer clothes anyway and will be ready to downsize. At least I hope I am. 

Next up...purses!    


Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Minimalist Bathroom

We have been in our house for about 20 years. It is what is known as a "starter home" in our neighborhood, and yet we never considered it so. We had always intended for it to be our final home, or "forever" home as they say nowadays.

Before we moved in, we had the main bathroom redone. I don't say the "master bath" because up until about 7 years ago, it was the ONLY bath, and so belonged to all inhabitants of the house. At the time, pink was in so I did what everyone was doing, and I had the whole thing tiled in pink. I also was very into the natural wood look, so I had wainscoting put up in there as well. We were also keen to have a whirlpool tub (now known as a "spa" tub) as well. (Side note: I think I used the whirlpool aspect about 10 times in 20 years. It was a pain to clean and just wasn't worth it.)

So after basically rebuilding our house one room at a time, it was time for the bathroom to be redone. I could have lived with the wood, but I could no longer take the pink tile or the tub. My husband couldn't stand any of it. However, I felt that I should be true to my new found minimalist ways and "make do." But if we ever wanted to sell the house, we'd have to redo it anyway, so why not do it now when we can enjoy it. 

After looking at magazines and touring home improvement stores, I went back to the original sink I wanted: a trough-like sink from Ikea. It is long and narrow and has two faucets. It was the closest I would ever come to a double sink, so I was determined to get it. Below the sink isn't a standard cabinet; it's double wide drawers. I went with white because the floor tile would be gray, and I wanted to stay away from any color that would date it.  

We had the work done while we were on vacation, and I didn't know that my contractor was going to have it painted. I thought it would be primed and I would be painting it myself, and I decided on a very light grey. However, since the contractor painted it and the room now looked HUGE, I decided to leave it as is until I either get sick of it or the weather cools down enough to paint. So without further ado, here it is.

The trough sink with two faucets. The thing in the middle is the soap dispenser. I love the back splash. The medicine cabinet is mirrored inside with glass shelves. I'm not sure I need to see that much of myself on a daily basis.

The floor, mostly
One corner of the tub. I love the shelves. My husband did not want subway tiles until he saw them in a display at the tile store. It was not hard to convince him after that.
Too shelves above the toilet. We have very little on the top shelf.
The other side of the tub/shower. We have nothing to put on the top shelf. We went with a curved shower curtain rod. I've been wanting to do that for years and I'm so glad we did. We should have done it much sooner.
The top drawer under the sink. My makeup now stays in the drawer instead of on a shelf, and my hair products lie flat behind it. The dividers are adjustable, which is a handy feature. There is plenty of reading material (sorry if TMI) and the lighter is a necessity for the candle over the toilet. Don't ask.
The bottom drawer. It is very deep. I have enough room for 10 rolls of TP! My hair stuff is in the middle drawer. I got rid of a few curling irons I was never going to use again.
The view from the hallway. The window treatment right now is a hand towel that I bought to use for company. Until I figure out what to do with the top of the window, this has been working quite well. It offers privacy but doesn't block out too much light. And the design matches the shower curtain quite well.

The bathroom is very small, but having a long, shallow sink gives us quite a bit more room to stand. The medicine cabinet has 4 shelves and we haven't filled them all, because there is nothing else that we need. However, I neglect to mention that there is a hall closet with four large shelves to hold additional toiletries. However, that is mostly additional shampoo, etc., because I can't get my husband to stop buying shampoo and body wash when it's on sale!

One last thing. My husband was dead set on getting a cast iron tub even though they are a thousand times heavier than the newer materials. I was against it because of the weight and expense (they're a little more expensive than the acrylic I wanted). But now that it's in, I am a fan. It just feels more solid and supposedly, when I take a bath, it will keep the water hotter longer. I guess I'll find out in the winter. 

The minimal look now makes the rest of the house look old and crappy. Oh well.

Friday, May 30, 2014

I'm Finally Back

I have been MIA for two months! It's because my desktop computer died, and I just today received a new laptop. And it's mine, all mine! I have so many things that I want to post about...things that I've experienced/thought about/struggled with the past few months.

But for not, I have to get back to my laptop and familiarize myself with Windows 8. It looks totally different and will take some time to get used to.

I'll write again soon!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Those Darned CDs

Remember way back in January when I bought the two cases for our DVDs and CDs? Remember how I organized the DVDs and planned to do the CDs "next weekend"? Well, that never happened.

I still have a bag of them sitting in my dining room waiting to be sorted in alphabetical order and put in the case. I MUST do this, because no one else is going to.

I NEED to do that this weekend. I need to finish my upstairs living space before I can move on to the basement, which I have put off for long enough. I am hoping that when I start on the CDs I will be motivated to completely finish decluttering the dining room. I have two bookshelves to go through. I'll take before and after pictures, because I did promise lots of pics when I started this blog.

My kids will be away for the weekend so it's just my husband and me. We're having some friends over. This is the first time I've entertained in about a year. I don't feel like I have to clean the whole house because things are in pretty good shape as is. And if the weather is nice, then we'll sit outside anyway. But it's been awhile since they've been here, and I want the house to reflect who I've become with regard to decluttering. Not sure if they'll even notice though. And I should be doing this for myself and not anyone else anyway, right? 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Project 333 Part Two

Here in southeastern Pennsylvania, the weather finally seems like it will start acting more like spring than winter. This week we are expecting a few days with temperatures in the 60s, with some sunshine.

As most of you know, April 1 begins a new round of Project 333. While starting in January was fairly easy with regard to the types of clothing I was going to choose, this time will be a bit more challenging. We can go from 50 degree (F) days in April to 90 degrees in mid May and early June. So I will need to carefully consider my choices this time around.

I will definitely be keeping some of the same items of clothing as I used in the last round...things like striped tees that I layered under sweaters and even a few pairs of pants that weren't heavy material. I will be switching out my heavier sweaters with some lighter weight tops, but I'll keep a few lightweight sweaters that can be worn all year round, especially since I work in an air conditioned office.

One of the problems I will have in April is the fact that I need to lose some weight in order for my spring/summer clothes to be truly comfortable. To that end, I joined Weight Watchers in work and lost a few pounds in my first week. If I take off another 5-7 pounds by the end of April, my clothes should fit comfortably. When I lose all of the weight that I'm trying to get rid of, then my clothes will be REALLY comfortable. My motivation is to make sure I reach my goal withing the next 8 weeks or so. In the meantime, I'll continue to wear skirts and hose, which I often find more comfortable than pants anyway.

Today, however, I am going to Old Navy for a few more T-shirts in brighter colors. I don't plan to spend more than $50, and to make sure that I stick to my budget, I will only take that amount in cash. I know one of the benefits of being minimalist is being able to invest in higher quality clothing because you're buying fewer items, but oddly enough, the super cheap T-shirts from Old Navy happen to be my favorites. I bought two striped and one solid shirt in the fall, and they still look great after wearing them frequently in the first round of P333. I'm not sure if that's because I never put them in the dryer, but whatever it is, they have held up well. I can't see spending alot of money for T-shirts when their lifespan is usually pretty short. And O.N. really does have quite a selection.

I will post a little later in the week what my new items will be for round two of P333, so check back.

Have you done P333? If so, let me know how you made out with round one and if you plan to continue.

Oh, and thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Some Answers

Two posts ago I wrote about my son's college situation. Well, we finally have some answers.

My son did not receive an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. He admitted that he didn't hold out much hope because it is REALLY hard to get in, so he wasn't terribly broken up about it. I think I held out more hope than he did, simply because I would love not to have to pay for college, and I wanted a valid reason to visit Annapolis, MD, because it's a beautiful town.

Anyway, he will be going to the junior college in the fall. He received a $13,000/year merit scholarship and also received a scholarship from our state senator for at least $12,000, with the maximum being $17,500. Now, if he joins the band and gets some money for that, then we could possibly be paying less than $10,000/year for a private college. We are still waiting to hear from some private scholarship opportunities, so I'll post the final numbers when they are, well, final.

One of the things that the band does is march in the New Year's Day parade in London every other year. They didn't go last year, so this year (meaning this December/next January) they may go. The band director said they open it up to whoever else in the family wants to attend (we have to pay for it of course) and I definitely want to go. This is when my battle with my husband begins. He has a hard time leaving anything to chance, much less the future, so trying to convince him that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is not to be missed will be the challenge. He already said something to the effect, "I'm not sure we'll be going," to which I replied, "I'm going." To me, this is one of the reasons we have savings. Yes, we save for emergencies and possible job loss, but also to do things that add enjoyment to our lives. So I think I can convince him, but it will take some work.

For now, I am grateful that we have a decision and can move forward. My son has already embraced the idea of attending his new school, which fortunately for us, is only 1/2 hour from home. He must live on campus and we won't have any contact with him for six weeks in the beginning, and after that he'll only have certain weekends where he can come home, but we can visit with him on Saturday afternoons and maybe take him to lunch. My office is literally about 10 minutes from the campus, so I could even stalk him at lunchtime if I wanted to. Not that I would, but it's fun to tease him.

We are so proud of him and can't wait to see him all decked out in his uniform.