And out it goes…

So as you know part of my minimalist living journey is about living with less ‘stuff’. I’ve been really inspired by a blog by fellow Yorkie Catherine, who’s blog Mindful Minimalism talks about reducing her belongings quite radically. I think it was her who inspired me to get serious about decluttering.

I have tried different methods. One of the first was getting rid of one thing a day for 90 days. However this really didn’t work for me. Once I got stuck in I wanted to get rid of lots, and then if i was busy I didn’t do any for days.

Now I tend to hit one drawer, cupboard or corner at a time and try and be ruthless. The two questions I ask are ‘Do I love it? Do I need it?’ and if not it goes. This is the second lot of car boot sale stuff we’ve had this summer. I start a box and just put things in I think we won’t need (and if the wife agrees, otherwise I might find myself in the doghouse!), and then if we do it comes out again. I have to say it mostly stays in the box! I can’t believe how much clutter I keep, or have kept through the years. I think some of it is impulse, and some of it is just a case of if there’s a drawer it can go in I can think about it later.

There’s something really satisfying about removing all these things from our home, and really weird how we don’t miss any of it. Now I have hit the hard stuff though; things I keep for sentimental reasons, gifts and things that aren’t old, broken or unused? So where do I go from here? One of my main reasons for decluttering is so we can live simply, with better energy, more light, more space and so we don’t have to buy more storage, and a bigger house to put it all in. I need to find a way to work out how to move on. I want to only have objects in my life that mean something. That I love, or that I use all the time. Anything else  can go in those car boot sale boxes.

Car Boot stuff

So onto a new box…

Facing up to the reality I can’t cook-won’t cook and the lure of Tupperware

I feel like I’m on a roll at the moment. Today I have decluttered the cutlery drawer to within an inch of it’s life, getting rid of a garlic press…great gadget, hardly ever use it, some BBQ tongs; same, and a load of batteries that we have had in that drawer since we moved in three years ago.

I am great at getting rid of stuff now, but not so good at not buying completely random unneeded things. Today I was lured by some Tupperware in Adsa. First problem, it’s half price. If you’re anything like me, the lure of the sale sticker can be too much. Half price? What a bargain I think. No matter I will never use said item, and it will be then decluttered in a later fling out of items I ‘no longer’ use.

So I see this Tupperware box. It’s got a flip top lid at the front. So not only can you store things in, but it’s easily accessible! I have visions of cat food and cereal being easily poured from this amazing item, saving time and effort every morning. Just as I am imagining this enlightening life changing scene, my wife poured cold water on the idea by saying ‘What’s wrong with the box that it came in?’ Suddenly all my heightened ideas of space saving and time saving crashed and burned as I realised she was right, it’s a complete opposite to my plan of #minimalistliving and I left it on the shelf.

Another object of my attentions today has been my recipe box. I mentioned in my first blog I want to simplify my eating habits (as does my wife) and so I am planning to learn by heart 10 healthy and tasty recipes that I can rotate with her hearty cooking, the odd take away and meal out. My plan is I will be effortlessly prepared, cook more, eat more healthily and  have a rotation of 10 meals giving me a more simplified life. This process involves being realistic, which is somewhat painful I find. As I opened my recipe box I had to face up to the fact that I am never going to cook a warm pea and mint salad? It’s not going to come up trumps on a cold Tuesday in Yorkshire. Endless stews – out. Easy but apparently not that appetising according to the wife. Am I ever going to make my own doughnuts? No. Ditto Falafel.

After sifting through every recipe I have meticulously collected over a probable 10 year period I am down to about 10. Sadly half of those are fruit crumbles and the rest are soups. Back to the drawing board!

Recipe

Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

Last season I decided to embrace the concept of a capsule wardrobe, and brave the serious reduction of clothes in my wardrobe which always seem to be packed, full of stuff I didn’t want to wear, and a source of frustration.

A quick flick on Pinterest (my favourite inspiration for minimalism, capsule wardrobes and simple living) and I found a load of people who were living the capsule lifestyle. Most of them are in America, and often that means capsules need amending, particularly with our beautiful British weather. However one blog stood head and shoulders among the rest, and has pretty much revolutionlised my life. Unfancy. A pretty cool, laid back wardrobe of a home working freelancer who blogs all her outfits to show you how it can be done and provides a fabulous ‘How-to’ guide to building a capsule. Check it out at www.un-fancy.com

THe Capsule Wardrobe

So I decided to have a go with a summer wardrobe. First of all I brought out all of my clothes on the bed – almost burying Sophie the pomchi in the process. There was a lot…I also decided to dispense with plastic hangers and invest in wooden ones. Somehow that seemed like a way of feeling  my £20 quid dress was a bit more luxury.

Using Caroline from Unfancy’s guidelines I built my wardrobe into 37 pieces; 9 pairs of shoes, 2 coats, 15 tops, 6 bottoms, and 5 dresses. Accessories are unlimited, a bit like a Premier Inn Breakfast, all you can wear but don’t pile on too much.

Her idea of the rule of 3 is great. Have one statement piece, one plain neutral and one in between. In my summer capsule I followed the 37 pieces to the letter, and found that pretty much it does work for me. However as I have a more corporate job I have created a mini work capsule. I work from home about 50% of the time, so this is only a small proportion of my clothing. However moving jobs in September means I am going to have to rethink the autumn version.

Having a capsule wardrobe means I haven’t bought clothes in the 3 months since I set up my summer capsule. I ignore the emails that spill into my inbox offering me the latest style, 20% off and a guaranteed fun summer and know that come September I can rejig, buy a few new things, rest my summer stuff, and feel like I have a whole load of new outfits. The downside to my capsule is as a plus size woman I can’t seem to find good quality basics. Caroline from Unfancy’s blog follows the rule of investing in key basics that are good quality and last and last. Unfortunately the fast fashion on the plus size world doesn’t offer me that as yet. A gap in the market?

So I will share with you my autumn capsule which is coming up soon. Have you tried a capsule with success? Or found it’s just not for you? If it’s something you hanker after go and download the Unfancy guide and have a go. I feel like I really know my style now after using her guides. I like strong colours, even strong neutrals, print, texture and denim. Using my new found knowledge I  can test this against everything I buy and wear. And the result? A minimalist wardrobe. Result

Until next time

Jo

xx

Clearing the Clutter

When I started thinking about living a minimalist or a more simple lifestyle, one thing I knew was I wanted to live in a simpler physical environment.

Clutter surrounds us all. We often don’t notice it, but it creeps into our psyche, making us feel itchy, anxious, a bit ‘to-do’. In fact studies tell us that it’s harder to sleep in a cluttered bedroom, and much less productivity happens in a cluttered office.

I have found it difficult to be surrounded by clutter for a while now. I didn’t realise at first what it was. However I started to get anxious if there were lots of things lying around, clothes piled up, draws stuffed with things I don’t use, even hidden in cupboards started to make me feel uncomfortable. However to get rid of it felt really hard.

Everywhere we go we’re encouraged to acquire ‘stuff’, new clothes, changing your home decor every season, that gadget you can’t live without, the storage boxes to put all the ‘stuff’ in , and then ultimately you’re sold the bigger house with more storage to accumulate all your ‘stuff’; a consumerism wet dream. In fact storage warehouse companies are growing at a mammoth rate as people acquire more and more things and have to store their old ones in these giant metal storage boxes.

I seem to spend my life re-organising my ‘stuff’, finding new homes for things, shifting one draw of detritus to another. I’m fed up. I want to be a consumerism nightmare. I want to be able to have my belongings fit in four cardboard boxes. I have made a good start, but wanted to get this blog up and running to record my continued belonging purge, as well as the other areas of my life I want to ‘minimalise’.

So what is the aim of all this minimalism? Do I want to lead a smaller life? Am I hoping to live in a white box and accumulate money I don’t spend? No. I want to lead a life full of the things I love; to be able to write uninterruptedly, to spend more time with my wife, family and friends,  to give more to my animals and volunteer to look after others who don’t have homes, take long walks, eat lovely food, read, take siestas and generally live a full life of experiences rather than material goods.

I’ve got lots of ideas, but it will be good to hear from others of you on the same journey or perhaps a slightly different one. I’ve got loads of inspiration from others so far;

Below are some of my favourites

blondeonabudget.ca – I love her year long shopping ban

Mindfulminimalism.co.uk – A fellow Yorkie who is on a mission to clear her life of clutter

zenhabits – A really thought provoking blog which I often use to help my minimalist living

Everyday life on a shoestring – Great tips for living simply and being a minimalist

This week I am really proud of myself. We have a big chest of drawers which has four big drawers and two smaller ones. I have the full chest of drawers to myself, and my wife had a smaller one which was falling apart. I am very territorial over my space and always have been. However I felt it was time to really embrace what I am trying to achieve. I have got down to one drawer, and have given my wife the other four. It doesn’t seem much right? But I feel so free, like I own the possessions and they don’t own me any more.  Below is some of the stuff I am getting rid of…why did I even keep it? How many of you have stuff like this collecting dust in your homes?

I have a long long way to go. I would really like to have only a few possessions I treasure, but I also have some other goals for my #minimalistliving. I think goals are important as they give you a focus to achieve, and something to measure my achievements against.

What does #minimalistliving mean to me?

#minimalistfinance – No debts, low monthly expenditure allowing me to do the things I want

#minimalistbelongings -Owning only the things  I love and really need

#minimalisteating – Having a suite of good and healthy recipes I know off by heart so I eat healthily and well, without complication

#minimalisthome – Having a small home that meets our needs, but that doesn’t take up all our time, energy and money

#minimalistlifestyle – Only doing the things I love, rather than taking on lots of commitments, and surplus activities

#minimalistwardrobe – Following the Unfancy capsule wardrobe concept

What does #minimalistliving mean to you?

#minimalistliving is born!

So I’ve started this blog to track my journey as I move ever more into minimalist living. I wanted my own blog, both for my own personal reflection ,but also so that I can share with others how it feels to simply and minimalise every area of my life.

I’ve been fascinating with a simpler life for a couple of years now, and in the last six months I have hit upon minimalism, which I have fallen in love with.

Our world is so full of stuff; virtual, physical, emotional and spiritual and I think we can often feel  cluttered, claustrophobic and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ‘stuff’ we collect in life. This can be anything from an overstuffed wardrobe, to an out of date newspaper pile, to tonnes of Facebook notifications, to emails blocking up the inbox on random subjects.

But where do we start? It can seem like a losing battle, and isn’t it easier just to shut the door, and forget it exists?

I find I can’t. Even with the door shut, that wardrobe full; some things I love, some I don’t wear, some that don’t fit (OK a lot that don’t fit), things that are seasonable, still gets into my head. That inbox is still full, and takes valuable space in my head.

So I decided to dedicate myself to minimalism or #minimalistliving as I call it. It encompasses every area of my life. In this blog I will talk you through how I’ve done it. How i’m doing it. The challenges I have, how I feel about it, and what I have yet to tackle.

Hope you will join me on the journey, and share your thoughts, ideas , tips and struggles so we can travel together

Jo

xx