Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Minimalist Mindset vs. Minimalist Interior

With all the images on Instagram and Pinterest and all the home tours on YouTube it's easy to become confused about what type of minimalism you are trying to pursue.

Do you want to lead a more simple life? Or do you really just want a clean, decluttered space?

Do you want to detach from personal possessions, live in the moment and not in the past? Live with intention?

Or do you just want the illusion of peace by having that comfortable, bohemian home with macrame wall-hangings and fiddle leaf fig, snake plant, succulents - live or fake - tucked into their seagrass baskets?

Having a minimalist interior doesn't always mean living with less. It might just mean living with less in plain sight. One can have a minimalist interior and still have a storage unit filled with possessions that just can't be gotten rid of. One can have an empty, beautiful space but have an incredibly cluttered and burdened mind.

It's easy to get distracted by all the beauty that is the minimalist home. But in striving for that level of beauty in your own home, does that mean you have to go out and buy that minimalist sofa, that minimalist dishware, that minimalist decor?

Are you living a minimalist life if the price you pay for that stunning interior is a heap of debt?

As I continue on my journey toward simplicity, the biggest stumbling blocks I face are the ones that come from coveting those beautifully photographed homes that appear to have nothing more than a couple of pieces of furniture, that have empty surfaces, that have un-stuffed cupboards.

When I look upon my own interior I cringe at the amount of things I own - do I have to have a spare towel set? Must I have a sofa pillow to rest again? Do I really need a dining table?

Because if I could just get rid of that towel, those plates, those rugs, maybe my home would be just as beautifully minimal as the ones I see photographed or recorded online.

But then I ask myself, if I did, would I be living more simply? Or would I just be living less comfortably?

My back requires a small pillow for support when sharing the sofa with my husband. And we enjoy eating breakfast together at our dining table - conversing before we begin our hectic day. If I didn't have that extra set of towels I would have to time the laundry in such a way that I wouldn't need a towel while they were being washed.

And further, the minimalist interior can be deceptive. Especially as photographs or recordings are typically done when it's in its best state - clean, tidy, empty of all excess things that are likely a part of everyday life - phones, computers, papers, books/magazines. Counter surfaces are cleaned, items normally left out are put away. Furniture is rearranged for appearance versus practicality.

All of which is somewhat antithetical to the idea of the minimalist mindset. Because if you had a minimalist mindset you wouldn't feel the need to rearrange furniture to give the appearance of an empty home or remove things from surfaces to appear less busy - you'd be happy with your home as it was, no matter the number of things you had.

If you had a minimalist mindset it wouldn't be about the numbers, the "perfect" photos, the opinions of others. It would be about whether you felt that you were living as simply and intentionally and minimally as was right for you.

I often forget it's about the mindset and not the interior. And while I recognize that my home's interior is part of what helps my mind feel less cluttered/stressed/anxious, I have to remember that coveting someone else's decor does the exact opposite.

To be continued...

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Things I Wish I Didn't Have

After moving yet again (the 2nd time in a year) I'm beginning to wish I didn't have all the things I do have. Things that I thought added value to my life. Things I have enjoyed having in my space... UNTIL I've had to once again figure out where to hang and/or place them, fix the places they once hung, protected them during transit and until they were safely on the walls or on the appropriate shelves or in the closet.

For a few years I've been curating/collecting George Nelson clocks, a couple of lithographs, and two Eames Hang-It-All's, which have served as art pieces. I've also somewhat recently acquired a few lamps (hanging, floor and desk).

And while I look at and/or use most of these items, finding the right space for them, measuring and drilling and screwing in and hanging them is quite onerous. Especially when you have to do it all again when you move - which as I mentioned previously, is OFTEN.

So, with this latest move I'm starting to wish I had fewer clocks and lamps, one fewer Hang-It-All, and zero lithographs.

I also wish I never purchased that wall mounted/leaning bookshelf a few months back. Even though it fits "perfectly" in the space and houses things I need it to house. It was a disaster to move, requires a wall repair when I leave, and when unmounted it must lie on the floor or else risk falling over.

So I wish I didn't have that bookshelf.

In recent months, in my attempt to be more green, I also purchased a few too many handmade baskets. A few I'm loathe to give away as they're handmade and quite pretty. Yet I have absolutely no need for about 5 of them - and don't really need about 8 or 9 of them.

I also didn't need that ceramic knife and sharpener. Or that glass water bottle with silicone cover. Or those Swell bottles which don't quite work as I'd hoped they would. Or those extra few mugs that were just so pretty I had to have them. Or those kitchen utensils that I haven't gotten around to using - spatula, can opener, measuring cups and spoons, wooden spoons, cast iron pot, copper pan, and on.

Although, I suppose a few of the latter items I don't mind having around "just in case."

I definitely wish I didn't buy that journal, the bullet journal, or the hardback notebook I haven't gotten around to using.

And I wish I never bought that souvenir kitchen towel that I will never, ever, ever use as it's too kitschy for my taste.

I sort of wish I never purchased all those reference books on sailing that I don't get around to referring to. Ever. But at the same time, I have aspirations of learning more about my hobby. I just can't seem to find the time to do the learning. Much like I can't quite find the time to play all those video games on the Classic NES and SNES that I purchased in the past year and that now sit in a lovely basket - out of sight but not out of mind.

I use very few things in my day-to-day. And while there are certain items I own that I love looking at, that bring me "joy" to see in my space, I am starting to think that I'd feel much more joyful if I didn't have them at all.

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


When it comes to weaknesses I have quite a few. Especially when it comes to purchasing unnecessary  items.

There's just something about mugs and chairs and stationery supplies/office supplies that make me want to buy them. Even when I don't need them. Or really even want them.

The Mugs

I use my mugs on a daily basis. And I love having variety when choosing a particular tea for the day. But I certainly don't need quite as much variety as I already have, yet I "fall in love" with new mugs whenever I see them and have to fight the temptation to buy them, though sometimes I fail.

I stick to the rule about waiting 72 hours before making a decision. Sometimes I wait longer than that. But when I'm still admiring a particular craftsman's mug months later, I just have to click "buy" button online.

All but two of the mugs I use are handmade. And the two that aren't have this wonderful round shape that feels quite lovely to drink from. One of those two is based on a handmade shape and machine made in Portugal. The other is covered in an artist's design, but is likely manufactured in China - given how inexpensive it was.

If I were to find a handmade round mug I'd definitely part with those two. But I doubt that would be the end to my mug collecting desires and imagine I'd discover a new potter with a must have mug, or find one of the existing artisans I love has come up with a new design I'd want to own.

I may just have to learn to be okay with a forever revolving set of mugs or the fact that I would one day have to allot a shelf in my cupboards just for my expanding mug collection. Or maybe I just have to hide from instagram and stay clear of my favorite online stores.

The Chairs

I find beauty in the shape of a chair - especially ones that are wood. Though it can be a combination of wood and fabric. Or it can be a combination of fabric and metal.

As it is I have far too many chairs of the dining variety. We typically only use two, yet I have six - one that was formerly an office chair that lives next to my office desk; one that I couldn't resell for a price I wanted that now lives next to the television and holds a chair cushion my husband uses on our coffee table to cushion his feet; one that lives in our walk-in closet that we use to put our clothes on as we're getting ready; one that lives in my "sailing" closet that one of my cats likes to sleep on; and two that live at our table, that we use each day for meals.

But whenever I see a new chair go on sale or go up for auction on eBay I have to fight the urge to buy it. From Cherner to Møller, to Eames to Jacobsen, to Wegner to Thonet, to Juhl to Nelson, to Breuer to Saarinen, I wish I could have them all in my home. But with no more than four people likely ever to dine with us, the six I have is already in excess.

Fortunately the lounge chairs I adore are way out of my price range, and would take up more space than I will likely ever have in my home. Though I hope one day for the Eames chair and ottoman for my main living space and the womb chair and ottoman for my bedroom.

The Stationery Supplies

I cannot be trusted in stores like Paper Source. Not for a hot minute. There's just something about pretty paper, and colored pens, and Post-Its and labels and cutting tools, and stamps, and embossers, that make me want them all. Even though when I do buy such things they go unused - I'm not particularly crafty and I have absolutely no use for 99% of what I acquire or wish to acquire.

Even Staples makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. Row after row of pretty colored paper clips, removal tab dividers, binder clips, old fashioned staplers, colored folders and files - all draw me to them. And forget about well-made three-ring binders.

Yet I don't keep paperwork if at all humanly possible. I don't write letters of the printed variety. I have a love-hate relationship with the Post-It. And if I ever needed a paperclip I could "borrow" one from my office - though that has never happened in the umpteen years I've been working remotely.

Perhaps it's that I crave organization, or the idea of organization. I've always loved the idea of "a place for everything and everything in its place." And the one about having the right tool for the job. But having fewer things means needing fewer of these stationery/organizational/office supplies.

And yet I find myself pining for them any time I walk into Paper Source for a birthday card, and often find myself leaving with something absolutely unnecessary.

And, yes... it's an odd set of things to have a weakness for - they are all seemingly unrelated. However, I think they all relate in one way - I find them all very pleasing to the eye.

I just have to recognize my weaknesses, acknowledge them, and not give in to them too often...or at all.

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Binges and Purges: July 2018

I did quite a bit of decluttering over the month of July - though much of that involved plastic bins and old papers. I gave away a few items on letgo and craigslist, sold a couple of things, and gave a box full of items to family and a box full of books to an avid reader.

And while I feel like I'm nearing the end of decluttering for now, I still have a few things I need to make decisions on in August - including an unused hanging lamp, unused coat "rack," two lithographs, a few baskets that aren't quite sized right, a decorative pillow, a worn-but-loved duvet, a broken tool box, some not-too-comfy shoes, an unused tea ball, those pesky allen wrenches, a novelty ice tray, a couple of mugs, a decorative bowl, an older pair of pants I don't reach for very often, and some newly rendered excessive cat supplies.

The Purges

  • Two decorative wall shelves (sold)
  • Two kitchen towels (gave away to family)
  • Two duvets (gave away to family)
  • Two tote bags (gave away to family)
  • Two handmade bowls (gave away to family)
  • Two handmade mugs (gave away to family)
  • Two champagne glasses (recycled)
  • Two jute baskets (gave away to family)
  • A soap dish (recycled)
  • A desk tray (gave away)
  • A wooden coat "hook" (gave away)
  • A file tote (recycled)
  • All papers contained in the file tote (shredded and discarded)
  • A paper shredder (gave away)
  • Four plastic sweater/shoe bins (gave away)
  • 22 books (gave away)
  • An impulse purchase lamp (sold four days later)
  • Two soft woven baskets (gave away to family)
  • 3 small photo books new/used (gave away to family)
  • A spool of faux rawhide (gave away to family)
  • A hand towel (gave away to family)
  • A destroyed bath towel (recycled)
  • Two small nesting baskets (gave away to family)
  • The S'well bottled purchased for a family member but forgot to give (gave away to family)
  • The Tiffany box holding a pen received as a gift (recycled)
  • A handful of store loyalty cards (shredded)
  • Two unused old Yeti lids (recycled)
  • An unused Coach wristlet (up for sale)
  • An unused bullet journal (in the "donate" pile)
Wow, 66 items? I had no idea. Of course if I counted all the paperwork shredded as individual items vs. one, I'd be in the thousands.

Of course that number wouldn't be nearly as high if I hadn't purchased so many things in July.

The Binges

  • A S'well bottle (meant as a gift, forgot to give and thought about keeping, but finally gave away)
  • An impulse purchase lamp from Article (sold almost immediately as it wasn't right for the space along with a decorative lightbulb that I'd had that wasn't in use)
  • A soft basket from Container Store (gave away as it wasn't right)
  • A lidded water hyacinth basket from Container Store (still have, but don't love so may give away)
  • Two water hyacinth baskets from Container Store to replace plastic bin for sail stuff (love)
  • A lidded handwoven round basket from General Store (will keep but not quite what I had hoped to use it for)
  • Two baskets from McGee & Co (will keep but not quite the size I thought they'd be)
  • A wicker basket from Rejuvenation (using in alternate way as it was too large for the space I intended it for)
  • Two ash baskets from Rejuvenation (using in alternate way as too large to hold my sailing gear as planned)
  • A soft recycled plastic basket from DWR (planned to use for personal paperwork - but shredded all, so may use for my job)
  • A mug from Anthropologie (it was too cute to resist, though will give away eventually)
  • A mug from ABC Home (not as comfortable in the hand as I thought it would be, will likely give to family eventually)
  • A pair of jeans
  • A sleep shirt
17 items. Okay so that wasn't as bad as I thought - I felt like there was so much more. Though that was perhaps because I kept having to buy baskets as none of the ones worked in the way I wanted them too. I feel a little like Goldilocks - this basket is much too large, and this one is much too small, and this one is too soft, and this one is too stiff.

And I still don't have a good solution for storing my computer charge cable and my portable hard drives - the water hyacinth basket was too large, the round ikea baskets purchased in June were too small, the McGee baskets were too large. At least I finally found a decent solution for my sailing gear - though they aren't very sturdy and I have a feeling I might have to buy replacements one day.

Oh and I did try and purchase a better floor lamp - but canceled the order after too long a delay.

Of course I'm not counting things I purchased for the felines - Farmhouse Pottery came out with cat dishes and as they are handmade versus machine made overseas, I had to purchase a few to supplement their USA made stainless steel dishes so that I could get rid of the inferior quality ceramic dishes.

Hopefully, August will be a better month in terms of purchases (as in less purchasing). Though I have a few items I'm considering, including a hopefully right-sized round lidded basket to contain my hard drives and/or charge cable, a lidded storage container from Humble Ceramics to hold my baking soda used as cleaning supplies, a replacement rug from Home Depot made out of cotton for beneath my desk chair instead of the synthetic rug that feels just awful, and a handmade mug that is a bit more comfortable in the hand than the one handmade in Australia from ABC Home.

I suppose as long as I finally make decisions on the previously mentioned items above, it won't cause a bump in numbers of "all the things." And hopefully I'll make smarter (or no) purchases in August so that there won't need to be a binges and purges post in early September.

To be continued...

Friday, July 20, 2018

more valuable, less meaningful

As I move forward in my journey toward a simpler, freer and more meaningful life with fewer things, I find myself left with possessions that are more valuable - both to me and price-wise.

Yet, while these things are more important and more expensive, they are also less meaningful to me.

In the past I would find myself fretting about my possessions, worrying about some potential damage, worrying about some actual damage, worrying about their value to others, worrying about any potential resale value, worrying, worrying, worrying.

While the process of getting rid of my things has left me with fewer things to worry about, initially it made me worry even more about the things that remained. I would cling to these items with an intensity that scared me. But thankfully that lasted only a short while.

As time went on I found it easier and easier to part with things, as meaning didn't attach quite as strongly anymore - except for those few items that had no monetary value but had a huge sentimental component.

But furniture, artwork, dishware, kitchenware, clothing and accessories have begun to mean less and less to me. I still enjoy nice things, things of quality, things I consider valuable and aesthetically pleasing. But I don't obsess over them the way I used to.

If something were to break I might bemoan the fact that I'd have to go out and replace it. But if my cats leave scratches in the wood surfaces of my tables, desks, benches, if movers chip, bang, dent, scratch my name-brand items that come with their very own certificates of authenticity, I am not going to fret over it the way I would have in the past.

These things mean something to me in the sense that I enjoy having them and they serve a purpose, but they are not so meaningful so as to cause me stress, make me angry, make me and my family tiptoe around them like they are museum pieces.

And while I am so very glad I've come to realize this now, I do wish I discovered this years ago and not wasted so much time worrying about stuff.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Minimalist decor

It's not easy to draw a clear line between need and want when it comes to minimalist decor. I've looked at many spaces that to me seem quite minimalist in terms of decor, and yet they've contained pieces that for me wouldn't be considered need items.

For many, items like a sofa, a bed, or even a table and chairs would be necessities. Others might consider those unnecessary. Some might need accessory pillows on their sofa or on their bed, where others might think them too abundant to be minimal.

Is a lamp necessary only if there are no overhead lights? Is a piece of artwork a must if bare, stark walls leave one feeling glum?

Just because something "sparks joy" doesn't make it a need. And yet we surround ourselves with things we love and still want to be seen as living minimally.

In my home I have many pieces of furniture - most all of which serve a need for me and my family - that get used pretty much every single day. I have a few accessory items - sofa pillows, lamps, storage baskets, ceramic containers, place mats - that also have a specific function and fill a "need." And I have a couple of art pieces and several wall clocks that only serve to add color to an otherwise blank wall space... and maybe tell me the time.

While I might have (mostly) achieved the "minimalist" amount of decor that would allow me to function as I "need" to and live as comfortably as I (and my family) would like to, I cannot look around my space and say that it is anything remotely resembling minimal.

So perhaps instead I should think of my decor as functionally minimal?

To be continued...

Monday, July 16, 2018

What ifs

For the first time in years - since I realized that maybe I had too much stuff and put way too much value on the stuff that I did have - I can see "the end" of a goal in sight. And while this makes me happy on many levels, it also leaves me with a case of the "what ifs."

What if I reach my goal of simplifying to a level that makes me happy - then what? What's next?

What if I reach my goal and discover I'm still not happy with my relationship with my things? What do I do then?

What if I reach my goal only to find myself dissatisfied and wanting to get rid of more?

What if I reach my goal and find that I have so much free time that I don't know what to do with it all?

And on.

And on.

And on.

I've spent so many years and brain cycles thinking about the things I own, being mad at myself for not being able to let go, worrying about the things that I do own and want to keep, worrying about what kind of person I'd be if I didn't have all of these things. Bingeing and purging and bingeing and purging.

While some people might identify themselves through their things, I'm starting to think I've been identifying myself as someone who was perpetually dissatisfied with my things. And without this identity, who will I be?

Without the daily searches through my cupboards for things to get rid of, how will I spend my time?

Without the constant posts on Craiglist to give away or sell my things, how will I experience that "rush" when something leaves my home to go to someone else's?

Without the lists of "to do's" that I constantly revise, what kinds of lists will fill their place?

And without the forever question "what can I get rid of next?" what will I be asking myself?

What if I don't like the question that takes its place?

While I am slightly terrified of all the "what ifs" I am also kind of excited. Because while I think that in many ways I probably will be very much the same person I am today - and will be somewhat disappointed because of that fact - I also think that without the excuse of "stuff" I just might discover something about myself that I've suppressed.

And maybe, just maybe, I should be asking myself - what if an amazing opportunity presents itself because you're not so consumed by your things?

To be continued...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Minimalism and YouTube

With our last move we've decided to go unplugged from cable. It's a first for us, and I can't say that I miss it. Not with Netflix, Amazon's Prime Video and YouTube available to us via our Apple TV.

It's a huge cost saving for us not having that ginormous bill each month for something we rarely watched. Though it does mean I'm spending more time checking out YouTube videos and watching apartment tours, anti-hauls, decluttering and minimalism videos.

Which in theory is a great thing. But...

When people start showcasing the things they have, I find myself at times thinking, "Hey, I need that!" or "That would be cool to own." Most times they are things I never would have wanted but for the fact that I saw them on countless videos. Only sometimes they are things that I actually had a need for or would serve a purpose that adds value.

Even watching The Minimalists living room conversations videos makes me covet the bookcase behind Joshua Fields Millburn - a similar bookcase to the two from DWR that I had sold a couple years back because I didn't entirely need them and moving them from place to place was more hassle than benefit.

Before watching minimalism/decluttering/organization videos on YouTube I never wanted baskets in the way that I do now. (I was fine with the plastic bins I had been using for years.) I never wanted a round mug - but have since acquired one and have my eye on another. I never would have purchased an inexpensive faux brass lamp that serves a needed purpose but goes against my commitment to only buying things either of quality, handmade, made locally, or made ethically. (After recycling the box I already wanted to rid myself of this lamp.)

While I have stuck to my guns about not impulse buying things immediately after seeing them on a minimalist-ish video, and I've fought the urge to buy plants (I have a black thumb and kill almost all living greenery and really don't want to make that mistake again), I've still purchased items that I don't have an immediate use for, don't necessarily fit with my decor, are items I will likely purge within the next couple of years - all because I saw them on a YouTube video in someone's well-decorated minimalist apartment, in a minimalist haul, on a minimalist shopping trip, or on an apartment tour suggested by YouTube "because I watched...". And forget about the "wish list" items.

Thanks to YouTube I've purchased...
  • A set of 3 handwoven nesting baskets from Ikea - a store I said I wasn't going to buy from again due to the fact that most of the items are mass produced, even though the baskets supposedly aren't. And while I thought I "needed" one basket to hide my laptop cable when not in use, I certainly have no need of three. And I probably don't even need the one.
  • Four baskets from H&M - a store I never knew had home goods until I watched videos on YouTube. One is actually perfect for what I needed it for. Two I've already given away. And one I am not sure what to do with.
  • A Weck jar from World Market. I'd never heard of this brand before YouTube and never would have stepped foot into one of their stores as I thought it was something else altogether. But I use this jar every single day to store the excess ground coffee - since I never seem to get the quantity right.
  • Two handmade bowls from The Citizenry - an online store I'd never known about that has some great products, beautifully made. Though I already had too many bowls and while beautiful, I never really reached for them, so recently gave them away.
  • The aforementioned "brass" lamp from Article - another store I'd never known about until my YouTube binges. It's so poorly made that the different screw-together sections are different colors, there were metal shavings throughout the box and all over my floor as I was assembling it, the cord feels very cheap, it was mass produced, and doesn't look nearly as lovely as it did in the YouTube video home tour. While I need a reading lamp at the side of my sofa, it will not be this one and I will likely be giving it away very, very soon. I definitely got what I paid for.
  • An assortment of baskets from various stores - because the baskets look so much lovelier than plastic bins - a few from Muji for bathroom supplies and hats; a few from Rejuvenation for kitchen towels, cleaning towels, sailing gear; a few from Hawkins NY by way of Food52 for pantry supplies; a couple from Yamazaki Home via Food52 for pantry supplies; a set of 3 from McGee & Co. for cleaning supplies; one from Design Within Reach for office supplies; and one from The Container Store (en route) for backup hard drives.
  • S'well water bottles - a large and small. Both are used, but I could just as easily have used the other water bottles I have for sailing.
  • Chemex coffee pot and hario burr grinder. I'd always liked the idea of the Chemex brewer - since I first saw it over a decade ago at Crate & Barrel. But it wasn't until I saw a number of videos on YouTube about how good it was (taking the acid out of the coffee) that I caved. And of course I had to grind the beans fresh to get the best experience - though I drew the line and did not purchase the recommended scale. Granted, this is a purchase I use every day, and get great value from - as the coffee is so much less acidic than it was from my French press. But still... I had been somewhat satisfied with that machine for years.
  • Slim hangers/black wire hangers/wood hangers/cedar hangers - I'd been using my plastic hangers of various colors for years. But after seeing how lovely closets looked with slim hangers (though I didn't opt for velvet ones) I wanted my closet to look just as lovely. So I swapped them out. And while all these hangers do make my closets look so much nicer, I didn't know I wanted nicer hangers until I saw these lovely closets on YouTube.
Most of these are small items that don't cost very much, but they are items that aren't absolute necessities. Even though I did want to move away from plastic storage solutions where possible. And even though I needed to buy a new part for my French press. But nothing purchased was mandatory, at least not right now.

But it's my "wish list" items that have grown exponentially thanks to YouTube. And even though I go through and purge the wish lists from time to time especially after the impulse to buy leaves, I still have too many things I now wish for.

A few of which are...
  • The Polanco concrete side table from The Citizenry - a perfect patio side table, as we don't have one right now and we really do need something to make it a functional space - putting drinks and computers on the concrete floor is not ideal.
  • A small mug and a small bowl in the "painted poppies" line from Anthropolgie - a store I had stopped buying home decor from years ago as I wanted things that were less ornate/kitschy/mass-produced. They are so adorable, but I definitely do not need another bowl, and I have more than enough mugs.
  • Norwex microfiber cleaning cloths - because they're supposedly the best and I'm forever looking for great cleaning solutions.
  • Artwork for the guest bath - because it just looks so forlorn and every minimalist home/apartment tour I've watched doesn't have neglected looking spaces.
  • A selection of area rugs from Home Depot - because the rugs I have now in our office just look bad.
  • Baskets and a bath stool from McGee & Co. to contain things I don't even have.
  • Baskets and Artwork from West Elm - a store I also opted to stop shopping at years ago due to the not great quality of the items I'd had.
  • Mugs from ABC Home - because I need more mugs. Not.
  • Baskets from Structube - a store that had some interesting things - because I need more baskets. Not.
  • Frames from Framebridge - because I might want to include a few framed pictures on my new bookshelf.
Ugh. I think I need to reassess what I watch, or how I watch. Because I'm worried that one day I'll find myself in Target looking for the light-up @ or # decor items in clearance.

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

all the things

I wish I were one of those minimalists who could count every single item they have quickly and easily and without having to group things - like paperclips, Q-tips, screws, drywall anchors, hair elastics, et cetera.

Even my keepsake items I end up grouping instead of counting: like 1 decorative letter box versus the box plus each of the items contained therein. Or one scrapbook, versus the book, the pages, and each item pasted on each page.

I can easily count things like dishes, clothes, furniture. electronics. But if I had to count every single photo, every paper, every app on my iPhone, every song, every video, every digital pic, I'd likely exceed the average amount of things in a home in the U.S.

But maybe they weren't taking into consideration digital clutter or keepsakes when they came up with that number? Maybe they didn't take into account a box of 50 screws as 50 actual items? Maybe they weren't counting consumable products - like food, toiletries, cleaning supplies?

I tried to go around my new space and list all the things I had, but it got too overwhelming and I hadn't even left the kitchen area.

But on my second attempt, excluding consumables (even those things that likely weren't going to be consumed very quickly) it became a little less daunting... well, until I tried to include the things belong solely to my non-minimalist husband or to my two non-minimalist felines. So I decided not to do that.

I also have in my possession a number of things that belong to the company I work for, but as they aren't mine I am not going to count them as such.

And as I'm also not going to count digital clutter, I found it much, much easier to itemize all the things.

So here is my attempt at tallying the things that belong just to me or are shared-use items that are non-consumable.

The entryway (5 items)

  • Clock
  • Stool
  • Coat rack (wall-mount)
  • Entry "table" (wall-mount)
  • Valet (aka small felt tray for husband's keys/wallet/phone)

The hall closet (31 items)

  • Wooden coat hangers (10)
  • Shoe rack
  • Shoes (5 pairs)
  • Plastic shoe bins (3)
  • Basket (2 - 1 unused)
  • Hats (2)
  • Tote bags (2)
  • Purse
  • Sunglasses
  • Wallet
  • iPhone + headphones (counting as 2)
  • Fleece

The guest bathroom (10 items)

  • Shower curtain
  • Shower curtain liner (counting, though somewhat of a consumable)
  • Soap dish
  • Hand towel
  • Bath towel
  • Storage bin for bath towel
  • Trash can
  • Bath mat
  • Command hook (to hold hand towel)
  • Toilet brush

The kitchen (234 items)

  • Counter stools (2)
  • Table
  • Chairs (2)
  • Placemats (2)
  • Pillar candle
  • Candle plinth (really a trivet but it looked so cool as a candle base)
  • Trash can
  • Area rug
  • Pots (3)
  • Pans (2)
  • Strainer
  • Baking sheets (2)
  • Pasta bowl
  • Salad bowl
  • Change bowl
  • Microwave egg cookers (2)
  • Glass lidded bowls (2)
  • Toolbox
  • Hammer
  • Screw drivers (2)
  • Awl
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Tech screwdriver kit
  • Tech screwdriver all-in-one
  • Wrench
  • Allen wrenches (20 - I really should ditch a few)
  • Screw box
  • Paper tray
  • Ice pack thingie
  • Cutting board
  • Dish drainer
  • Mail crock
  • Electric kettle
  • Toaster
  • Salt grinder
  • Pepper grinder
  • Paper towel holder
  • Fruit bowl
  • Sugar shaker
  • Salt shaker
  • Dish brush scrubbers (2 - somewhat of a consumable but these are meant to last)
  • Pot holders (2)
  • Utensil tray
  • Forks (12)
  • Knives (6)
  • Spoons (12)
  • Paring knives (2)
  • Bottle opener
  • Chopsticks (1 pair)
  • Zero water filter
  • Zero water filter tester
  • Scissors
  • "Junk drawer" metal containers/holders (9)
  • Battery tester
  • Battery charger
  • Battery backup
  • Battery containers/holders (3)
  • iPhone charge cable
  • Kindle charge cable
  • Spare coasters (4)
  • Spatula
  • Pasta fork
  • Can opener
  • Cheese slicer
  • Ceramic knife
  • Ceramic knife sharpener
  • Spare placemats (2)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle
  • Measuring spoon set
  • Measuring cup set
  • Tea ball
  • Ice cream scoop
  • Large plates (4)
  • Small plates (4)
  • Cereal bowls (4)
  • Berry bowls (2)
  • Pasta bowls (2)
  • Soup bowls (2)
  • Specialty bowls (4 - counting those used exclusively by my husband)
  • Mugs (11 - though 2 are technically not mine)
  • Glasses (6)
  • Decorative bowl (unused, to give away)
  • Chemex
  • Hario burr grinder
  • Weck jar w/wood lid
  • Large jar w/wood lid
  • Mason jar
  • Glass straw cleaner
  • Glass straws (7)
  • S'well bottles (3 - one was meant to be given as a gift, but I kept it...oops)
  • Yeti Rambler
  • Alternate Rambler lid
  • Yeti Tumbler (2)
  • Alternate Tumbler lids (2)
  • Hydroflask
  • Alternate Hydroflask lid
  • Thermos
  • Pet roller
  • Bamboo drawer dividers (4)
  • Ice trays (2)
  • Gifted champagne glasses (2)
  • Gifted soup cups (2)
  • Gifted candle stick holders (3)
  • Baskets (6)
  • Recycle bins (2)

The laundry closet (54)

  • Laundry basket on wheels
  • Small plastic bin of papers to sort
  • Mop + bucket (counting as 2)
  • Swiffer products (3)
  • Small broom + dustpan set (counting as 2)
  • Command hooks (4)
  • Vacuum + attachments (counting as 1)
  • Baskets (6)
  • Review books (18 - to be given away once read)
  • Plastic book box (1)
  • Kitchen towels (13)
  • Heating pad
  • Plastic shoe box for heating pad

The living room (34 items)

  • Lamp (2)
  • Clock
  • Pillows (4)
  • Recliner
  • Coffee table
  • Coasters (2)
  • Area rug
  • Sofa
  • Chair
  • Chair pad
  • Side table
  • Laptop w/cable (counting as 1)
  • Media cabinet
  • Apple TV
  • TV
  • Time machine
  • Wireless router
  • Photo boxes (2)
  • Card box
  • Home binder
  • DVD backup binder
  • Scrapbook
  • Decorative 9x12x3 letter boxes (6)

The patio (3 items)

  • Doormat
  • Lounge chair
  • Rocker

The office (33 items)

  • Area rug
  • Desk
  • Desk chair
  • Credenza
  • Lamp (2)
  • Coaster
  • Office supply caddy
  • Coat rack (wall-mount - currently unused)
  • Clock (2)
  • iPad
  • iPhone stand
  • Reading glasses
  • Journals (2)
  • Pen
  • Prism
  • Keepsake Tiffany heart
  • Spare phone cables (3)
  • Spare watch band
  • Necklace
  • Worry stone
  • Wristlet
  • Business cards (1 small box)
  • Extension cords (2)
  • Chair
  • Side table (2)
  • Bench

The bedroom (30 items)

  • Bookshelf
  • Picture frame
  • Portable hard drives (3)
  • TV
  • Nintendo
  • Super Nintendo
  • Basket (4 - just got a set of 3 tiny nesting baskets need just the biggest one so will give 2 away)
  • Media stand
  • Side table
  • Nightstand (though this is exclusively used by my husband
  • Surge protectors/extension cords (3)
  • Bed frame
  • Mattress
  • Duvet
  • Comforter
  • Pillow
  • Pillow case
  • Fitted sheet
  • Fan
  • Alarm clock
  • Lamp
  • Wall clock
  • Apple TV

The bedroom hallway closets/cabinets (203 items)

  • Dresser
  • T-shirts (8)
  • Pants/jeans (7)
  • Shirts (2)
  • Lounge pants/sweat pants (7)
  • Sleep shirt
  • Undergarments (20)
  • Socks (4 pair)
  • Rings (3)
  • Necklaces (3)
  • Protective bag
  • Hangers (20)
  • Chair (2)
  • File tote (2)
  • Important papers box
  • Keepsake memory box (3)
  • Lamp (1 - unused)
  • Backpack
  • Travel pouch
  • Sailing gear
    • Jackets (4)
    • Pants
    • PFDs (3)
    • Harness
    • Duffel
    • Small electronics bag
    • Tote
    • Boots
    • Flip flops
    • Plastic shoe bins (2)
    • Sunglasses (2)
    • VHF + charger
    • Bluetooth speaker
    • Compass
    • Medicine kit
    • Race watch
    • Basket
    • Binoculars
    • Whistle
    • Hand crank radio
    • Emergency light
    • Flashlight
    • Head lamp
    • Rigging knife
    • Small gear bag
    • Baseball hats (7)
    • Gloves (4 pairs - though one is my husband's)
    • Command hooks (2)
    • Hanging hooks (2)
    • Hangers (18 - 4 unused)
    • Reference books/materials (15)
    • Spare aluminum hangers (8)
  • Autographed book (to sell)
  • Spare duvet (4 - 1 to declutter)
  • Spare fitted sheet
  • Spare bath mats (2 - 1 to declutter)
  • Spare towels (4 - 2 to declutter)
  • Spare pillow cases (8)
  • Christmas stockings (2)
  • Spare shower curtain (to declutter)
  • Plastic linens storage bins (4)

The en suite (41 items)

  • Hand towel
  • Hair towel
  • Bath towel
  • Bath mats (3 - though one is used just by my husband)
  • Scale
  • Trash bins (2 - though one is used just by my husband)
  • Baskets (4)
  • Bamboo drawer-ganizers (3)
  • Hair brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Body brush
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail file
  • Razor
  • Tweezer
  • Hair elastics (7 - though these are quickly consumable)
  • Soap "dish"
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Hairbrush holder
  • Q-tips holder
  • Command hooks (5)
  • Plunger
  • Toilet brush

So that's it... just about. 678 items? Wow, that's a lot. And I didn't even count my cat's furniture, dishes, brushes, toiletries and toys.

I suppose that's what I get for counting each fork, each basket/container, my toothbrush, a plastic curtain liner, and those pesky command hooks.

Also, I really need to get rid of some of those Allen wrenches. Who needs 20? I think I've used maybe two in the past year.

I also suppose I shouldn't have swapped out almost all my plastic containers for more sustainable options as I may have gone basket-crazy in the process. I've already gotten rid of two that didn't work out. And I have four more on the way (one to replace a plastic bin, two I hope to use in my pantry, one to hold my portable hard drives on my bookshelf). And I would love to find one to hold/hide my laptop on my bookshelf.

But even though I have four baskets on the way, I still suppose I should have waited to do this tally until after my next declutter (this weekend) which will involve me getting rid of a few spare linens, a pair of shoes or two, some other unused items, and a couple other plastic bins as I'll be able to move the items into some of those baskets I have lying around.

Still. Wow. It's a lot of things. No wonder it took so very long to pack up my stuff from my last place. Because even though I didn't take any/many consumables, many of the things I now have were purchased in and delivered to this new space, and I got rid of even more stuff since the move, there were still at least 500 items that had to be cleaned, considered, cared for and ported just to find their way into our new space.

And if I were to dive into those keepsake boxes I'd have to add about 40 things to the tally - as the boxes contain journals, license plates, a signed baseball, and many, many scrapbooks.

Oh, and I haven't counted the car, though it's my husband's, and I don't keep anything in it aside from items slated for donation/recycling (wire hangers, a broken shelf, etc.). Still, as I use it, it's technically an additional "item' for the tally.

I am clearly a long, long way from minimal.

To be continued...

Monday, July 9, 2018

having more than enough

After all this time of assessing and reassessing my needs, I still haven't quite figured out how much stuff is enough. And while I have reduced the things in my cupboards somewhat drastically, I still feel as if what is left is more than enough.

I don't want there to be too few items in my cupboards, but I also don't want there to be too many.

I will never be the girl that has just one spoon and one bowl. But these days having four dinner plates, four small plates, two soup bowls, two salad bowls, four cereal bowls and two fruit bowls seems excessive.

I use most of these items on a daily basis, because I rotate them. But I don't find myself using four of any item at once. And as I hand wash all my dishes after each meal (mostly), I only ever use two, or possibly three plates or bowls before they get washed and put back into my cupboard.

I watch a lot of YouTube videos where minimalists let their household items serve double-duty. But I don't know that I'd be happy using a big plate when a small plate would suffice, or eating a small bowl of oatmeal out of a large bowl.

For my household, "enough" might amount to two large plates, two small plates, two small cereal bowls (instead of the four of each we currently have). Having two of everything would likely be enough. Most of the time.

Because, while we rarely entertain or have people over, I imagine that on occasion we might. And I would hate to be in a situation where we didn't have enough, or have to serve food to our guests on disposable dishware.

I also think I have more than enough when it comes to specialty items like wooden spoons, measuring spoons and cups, and the like. I rarely open this drawer packed full with cooking tools and utensils

I haven't even used the can opener, tea ball, spare ceramic knife, or two extra placemats. And yet I don't want to find myself without any of these items should the need arise. Because I don't know of another item that can easily open a can but a can opener. And if I found myself in possession of some looseleaf tea, I would need a way to steep it.

But I despise having "just in case" items. Even if that "case" is one that's a very real possibility versus a pipe dream.

Of course, on the opposite side of things, I am also trying to remind myself of the fact that I have more than enough. Because our new space is much larger, with more drawers and cabinets, and some of them are very sparsely filled - with just one or two items - and some of them are completely empty. Which sometimes leaves me with the feeling that they need to be filled... or if not filled, have at least one thing in them.

Twisted, right?

Maybe I should learn to appreciate "empty" a bit more. Or maybe I just add a little note to self in each empty cupboard and drawer that reminds that "empty" is a good thing. Even if it means the guest bathroom looks strangely vacant. Even if a particular wall looks especially lonely without something bringing it to life.

Maybe I should spend more time thinking about the fact that as it stands I have more than enough to live comfortably and happily and that I love most of the things I have and that if I acquired more I just might not love everything quite as much.

To be continued...

Sunday, July 8, 2018


I hate to admit it, but I'm a huge procrastinator. When it comes to procrastinating, I procrastinate everything from blogging, to reading, to writing, to organizing, to decluttering, to completing my log book, to responding to texts, to going through email, to posting things on craiglist (for sale or for free), to deciding what I want to do with my life.

Sometimes I even procrastinate dusting (my least favorite of household chores).

But after much thought, the main reason I procrastinate is decision fatigue.

I spend so much time thinking about all the things I have to do, making lists, thinking about how I'm going to do those things - and in what order I will do them - that I don't actually get around to doing most of them, if not all of them.

I'm almost six months behind in updating my sailing log book (the print version) and about a year behind in the digital version online. I'm about two months behind on my reading and reviewing pile. And I'm several weeks behind in making decisions about a hanging lamp, hanging coat rack, and two pieces of artwork.

But I've been delaying decisions on some of my keepsakes, "important" papers, digital clutter for years and years. And it weighs quite heavily.

Every time I take a staycation I set these lofty goals of tackling each of these things, but rarely accomplish even one of my goals.

There is always a reason why I can't do X, Y, or Z. There's always a good excuse to procrastinate. There are always so many more things I can do instead - like watching YouTube videos on how best to accomplish some of these things, amalgamating the lists of things I need to do, buying storage solutions for things that need to be kept and organized.

There is always a reason to procrastinate those tough decisions.

But as I creep forward on my journey toward that simpler life I desire, there are fewer and fewer things that need to be accomplished and therefore there are fewer things to procrastinate and there is less decision fatigue.

With fewer things there are less decisions that need to be made about them. With fewer things, there are less things to have to dust. With fewer things there are less excuses to be made to procrastinate.

And with fewer things there are less excuses not to pursue the life I want.

Of course, right now I'm procrastinating by just writing this post.

To be continued...

Saturday, July 7, 2018

it isn't easy being green

In my quest for simplicity I've decided to try and be a bit more green. But it has not been easy.

I know that consuming less helps and I've been doing that. Somewhat. And recycling helps. And I've been doing that too.

But trying to find items that are made locally, made sustainably, are eco-friendly, and function as well as those that aren't any of the former is HARD.

Everything seems to be mass-produced, made in a country not known for their sustainability, or has some element of plastic involved.

I'll never be zero waste - I'm too much of a consumer. I do enjoy the conveniences of things like disposable razors, microwave meals, tea in bags not bulk, pre-made (if eco-friendly and non-toxic) cleaning products, toilet paper, and paper towels.

But trying to keep my home as green as possible is a challenge. And shopping trips for necessities has become enormously stressful and hugely time consuming. Even when shopping online.

There is so much packaging that comes with even the littlest things I buy - and even when it is recyclable it's still such a huge waste of resources. And while there is less packaging if I buy locally, the amount of fuel used to travel between shops in my area seems like it is a less green option than buying online.

Buying in bulk can help with packaging, but as someone who's trying to live minimally, it's not the way to go, either.

I try to convince myself that every little bit helps - and I suppose it does in some ways, though it doesn't ever quite feel like I'm helping enough.

And right now my pursuit of living a greener life seems to contradict my goal of living a simpler life.

I'm going to have to try and figure out a balance, I suppose.

To be continued...

Friday, July 6, 2018

Use it or lose it

While I have not fully settled into my new space - I blame decision fatigue - most of my things have found their permanent homes.

I still have a few decor items to make decisions on (my hanging lamp, a hanging coat rack, a desk lamp) a file box filled with papers that I have to go through and purge/declutter, a few keepsake things I need to make decisions about once and for all, some sailing gear and reference books I need to organize, and my work supplies that aren't situated in the most functional way.

But overall everything is where it should be (or near where it should be). And when I open my closets and cupboards everything is easily viewable.

So it makes it easy to take stock of what I have and whether it's being used on a daily, somewhat daily, weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly basis.

Because of this - and because I want to make sure that I'm continuing to stay on track with my goal of living with less - I've decided to do these daily, weekly, semi-monthly, monthly checks to see what I'm using and what I'm not using - and if I'm not using it, I'm losing it.

I have a number of items that are for specific occasions or activities, that won't get used regularly, but that I must keep - foul-weather gear for sailing, safety gear for sailing, a hand-crank radio should we have a power outage, various tools, screws, nails, spackling paste, and the like. I also have a few extra cleaning supplies that will take some time to use - but will be used.

But even still, I am looking (and plan to look) through everything just to make sure that they are items I still need, use or will use.

While it is still early days, I've already opted to part with a few things:

  • VIPP bath hooks. We used them in our old space, but decided not to put as many holes in the wall here. I had planned on keeping them for "someday" when we owned our own space, but decided it wasn't worth hanging onto them for that possibility. So I sold them.
  • Rothko framed print. This was tough - it was a recent purchase and I always wanted it. But it was dark (not one of his sunnier pieces) and I bought it during a dark time. And I didn't want to hang it here because it didn't fit with the lightness of our current space - and also because it was super heavy. So I sold it.
  • Two bowls and mugs. All were hand-crafted and beautiful but I wasn't reaching for them like I was our other bowls and mugs, and while I imagine I'll acquire another mug or two - as I love mugs - I knew these were going to continue being dust collectors.
  • A Shabby Chic duvet. I love Rachel Ashwell's duvets, but this one's color just wasn't one I loved, and while I did use it - and it would work well with the current color scheme in our place, I never wanted to dress the bed with it, so I gave it away.
  • Two jute containers. I just bought them online but knew when they arrived I didn't like them in real life. However I knew someone who would, so instead of returning them to H&M I gave them away.
  • A towel that was of poor quality that already showed signs of wear after just a few uses.
  • Several cleaning towels and sponges and scrubbers. They either fell apart after one use, did not function as well as I'd hoped, or were seen as playthings for my cats - so out they went.
And there are a few things I will likely part with in the coming weeks that keep grabbing my attention during my weekly checks.
  • A handblown glass bowl that is beautiful but we just don't use.
  • Another Shabby Chic duvet or two - one that is lovely but worn and torn, one that I don't love quite as much but I have a sentimental attachment.
  • A hand towel and bath towel - that are good quality but I don't love and my husband doesn't need (he prefers the bath sheets).
  • A grey round basket/container I just bought but was smaller than I thought and while I like it I haven't found a use for it yet.
If I don't use it I have to lose it. And while some items have the potential to be used, I'm going to make the commitment to say sayonara if I don't actually use them by the end of the month. No matter how painful it might feel in the moment.

Because once they're gone I won't have regrets - even if I might miss them just a little bit - but I won't have to see them and think about the fact that I'm not using them or loving them, which makes it all worth it.

To be continued...