Back when I told you guys about my first attempt at a capsule wardrobe, I mentioned that Bea Johnson inspired me to do more than just clean out my closet (if you've listened to this podcast interview with her, you know what I mean).
The last few weeks I have been thinking about and taking tiny steps towards reducing my waste. Portland (where I live) only picks up trash every two weeks in efforts to force residents to reduce waste. It also has a compost collection (which is great). So my city is doing what it can to help facilitate my waste reduction. My husband and I currently share a house with another couple, so for the last 2 weeks we added another trash can under the sink to see how much waste each couple is contributing to our overflowing garbage bin. We also miniaturized the bathroom trash can to a lined mason jar, and removed the garbage bin in the craft/office room.
The results were that it took us 2 weeks to fill (stuff) our trash bags. combined that makes 1 trash bag a week. The separate trash can challenge caused us to recycle more (not throw any recyclables away because it was "easier") and it caused me to think about what it was I was throwing away. We did reduce the volume of our trash, whether by recycling or stuffing I'm not sure.
Most of our garbage is thrown away in the kitchen, and is often related to food. Which is convenient since the other project Bea inspired me to begin is to change the way I buy food. I want to buy as little food packaging as possible. I am not ready to completely remove all packaging, but I think we can greatly reduce the things we buy in packages. Especially non-recyclable plastic packaging.
Bea's approach to shopping is to buy bulk (the bins you scoop from and label bags with PLU twist ties) and from farmers markets. Currently it is our habit to shop at Fred Meyer, the moderately priced Kroger chain near us. We may not give up shopping there entirely, however we also have a WinCo within reasonable distance. WinCo has a greater bulk selection, and is even more cost effective (win win win!), we have "intended" to start shopping there for quite a while just to save money, but without extra motivation, we stayed with our Fred Meyer habit.
I already buy a handful of things from the bulk bins, and therefore have a nice pile of food stored in those thin plastic bags. To reduce my waste I needed to replace those plastic nuisances with a reusable solution. I also needed to find new storage containers for my purchases.
Last week I searched Fred Meyer, Target and Bed Bath and Beyond for reusable mesh produce bags with no luck. I was close to placing an order on Amazon, when I thought to look at Natural Grocers. Of course, amidst the grow your own sprouts items I found the bags I was looking for (and I got 6 instead of 5 for same price as Amazon). Pro Tip: check the natural stores first for items like these.
While searching the afore mentioned stores for bags I also looked at their storage jars. Target and Fred Meyer had a few options I might consider in the future, but over all new canisters cost more than I want to spend right now. So I raided my ever helpful saved jars shelf. I soaked the various jars over night with water and vinegar to deodorize them, scrubbed the labels off and filled them with my current bulk selection. [this justifies the months I've been saving jars "just in case" ;) ]
I also cleaned out our pantry shelves in this process, threw away everything stale, and reorganized, total bonus.
Because I used jars I already owned this change has currently cost me $12 for 6 reusable bags. This shift does take effort, and I am establishing different habits, however I think it is very doable. I encourage you to try it if it interests you. I'll keep you updated on how this impacts our trash can.
Fall is finally here. Last week the air here in Portland got chilly. I have been pretending it was fall, while continuing to wear sandals since September. All of us overcast dwelling people have been complaining that it is time for the sun and its heat to GO. Thankfully the clouds have asserted their dominance at last and are giving us crisp air, cold sunshine, and rain! What am I going to do with all this crisp fall energy? I have a list:
This year in my thoughts on seasons I perused a book and discovered there are things that you plant in fall! The one I am most excited about is garlic. But I also plan to sprinkle some wildflower seeds about.
This is the first year we have our own garden space at home (woohoo yard!). Harvest is past, and I have even collected seeds, and stashed them away for next year. but our garden is not yet dead (though I want it to be). I am taking a look at lasagna gardening for next year, but might have to leave a little bit un-lasagna for the garlic.
I use garlic every day in almost everything. We usually buy giant jars of minced garlic, but the idea of hanging braids of garlic we've grown ourselves is too enticing to pass up.
Move Plants Inside
Last year I forgot to bring my potted babies inside, so this year I moved them in early. They will miss the fresh air and the rain, but I'm glad of their company by my desk. Definitely bring them in before first frost though.
As you saw from the Starting a Capsule Wardrobe post I am also wanting to spend my time inside simplifying our house.
Bea Johnson is still inspiring me to find reusable options and get rid of clutter so I don't have to spend my time maintaining it.
My project this weekend was some wool dryer balls (no more dryer sheets). It was simple and I happened to have everything I needed already, so that made it easy. I made mine out of wool yarn and wool roving since that is what I had. I used synthetic yarn for the cores so as to make the wool go farther. There are many tutorials online, I looked at this and this.
Bake Pumpkin Seeds
I accomplished this over the weekend as well. We had friends over to carve pumpkins, but I just focused on getting and roasting those seeds. I have tried several flavor variations, but noting beats plain salt.
-Pre-Heat oven to 300
-Sort out and wash off your seeds
-Melt a half stick of butter and mix in salt ( 2-3 teaspoons, I just eyeball it)
Sea Salt is my favorite.
-Toss seeds in the butter and salt to coat
-Spread on baking sheet in one layer
-Bake 45 min
Make Christmas Presents
I have a tradition of making everyone a christmas ornament every year. I also enjoy making presents. The last few years my husband and I have most bought our presents, but this year we are focusing on making many of our gifts. We have made a batch of soap, and now we need to focus in on making what is left before December is here.
Fall is one of my favorite seasons. I really am so excited the crisp air is here. This is the time of year for walks and apple cinnamon tea. What are you doing this fall?
Somewhat recently I heard about this thing called a capsule wardrobe. From the back of my mind a small voice said "Hey I like that idea!" (this is the same voice that's always muttering about how I have too much stuff).
I have always been very cheap. In all ways, but especially when it comes to clothes. I rarely spend more that $10 on an item ($20 for shoes). This means I basically shop the Target clearance rack (I mean the 50% off and 70% off racks) and Goodwill. I don't mind shopping at these places, I have found some really good things at Goodwill. And I love the styles Target sells.
I don't shop very intentionally however. If you read my last post, you know my husband and I are just baby budgeters. Up to this point we have sort of just binge shopped. We'd know we need some new clothes, so we'd go to goodwill or target and see what we could find cheap, that sort of matched what we were looking for. If I wanted something specific, I would wait and try to get it on sale, or just get it as cheaply as I could.
As I am getting older and wanting to look more put together I'm not entirely satisfied with my wardrobe, or the way I shop. I want to be more intentional with my clothing selections, and I want to have less clothes I never wear. I also think I am beginning to be ready for higher quality items. I am cautious of spending a lot on something I might not like in a year, but I have made a couple of investments and love them. So I'm going to proceed with caution.
Last week I listened to episode 89 of the Lively Show (yet another new podcast I've stumbled upon). In it Jess interviews Bea Johnson, who has radically shifted her whole lifestyle as well as simplifying her possessions. I love the ideas shared in this episode, and highly recommend listening to it.
That little voice in that back of my head got a lot louder, it put simplifying and capsule wardrobes together and with all the excited post-podcast energy I made it to my closet. (There are a few other things I want to implement in my life after listening to Bea's story, but maybe those will go in a future post).
So I googled capsule wardrobes and found Caroline's lovely site Un-Fancy she is not currently writing there, but it is still a tremendous resource. I read her definitions and how-to's, and then -gulp- took everything out of my closet, and pulled out my dresser drawers.
Caroline suggest taking everything out (just do it) and sorting into LOVE, maybe and goodbye piles, as well as setting aside things that are out of season. So I started putting back into the closet what is in season for fall/winter that I knew I was keeping. I sorted out all of my summer and spring items, and began to fill the goodwill bin with the things that little voice told me I rarely use.
I started with 108 items in what will be my trackable capsule categories.
What is NOT included:
sleepware, active wear, snow jacket & boots, underware, socks, accessories, work uniform shirts, accessories (scarves, bags), fancy clothes (slacks)
What IS included:
tops, bottoms, coats, shoes, dresses (everyday clothing)
So I had 108 tops, bottoms, coats, shoes, and dresses that were more or less for everyday outfits.
Of those I put 19 in the Goodwill bin, 29 into a bag for spring/summer, and 8 in the basement with spring/summer because I'm not ready to let go but I know they are uncomfortable/not my style.
That leaves me with 52 items upstairs in my closet and drawers. this is a little high for my ideal capsule, but I still feel like this is a good start.
TIP: I put all my hanging clothes in with the hangers backwards, when I wear something I will put it back the normal easier way. Then at the end of the season, anything with a backwards hanger HAS to go. This way I have a system for weeding out those clothes I am being stubborn about.
Caroline used a 37 item limit for her capsules, and by that standard my total original number of items is a little short of 3 seasons worth. And my current total of 52 includes fall and winter items (and is 22 items short of 2 Caroline seasons).
Before deciding to experiment with the capsule idea, I was trying to buy clothes with multi season functionality in mind. So a few of my fall staples, I use in the spring and summer as well. but I wanted to keep them out not put them away.
All of that to say I'm not sure what kind of capsule system I will develop. Maybe I will just have two capsules, maybe I'll find the difference between fall and winter, and expand into 3 or 4 small capsules. I have room for new items either way, and some ideas for what I want to save up for.
This current capsule is not organized or intentioned, I am not shopping for it now, I am just going to track where I am and what I wear and build from this point later.
Here is where I am starting:
My First Fall/Winter Capsule
Here are five things I have tried, started or gotten recently I think everyone should know about.
1. Savory Oatmeal
You, like my housemates may think this sounds gross. However it isn't fair of you to say this unless you try it (or are allergic to oatmeal).
I tried this while I was on the excitement high of researching for the creativity post, I thought I was out of raisins and so I googled "unusual oatmeal toppings" this is what I found. I have tried soy sauce green onion, the spinach garlic, and the bannana one. I love trying new things, and this green onion soy sauce oat meal is something I eat just about every day now.
makes 1 serving
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup water
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 green onion chopped thinly
(optional: 1 tsp sesame oil, i think this gives a fuller flavor)
Put oats and water in microwave safe bowl for one minuet.
Remove from microwave, add soy sauce (optional sesame oil) and half of the chopped green onion.
microwave for one minuet thirty seconds.
Top with remaining green onions.
I have at least two hours in the car everyday. Thankfully it is in small 30 minuet chunks, but still, that is a lot of time. Recently I discovered that time can be filled not only with NPR, but with podcasts!! I am sure many of you already have discovered the wonder that is podcasts, but in case you haven't you really need to give it a go.
I think what is hard about podcasts is finding them. Once you find a genere of podcast that you like, you just sort of naturally hear about more. I am constantly listening to small creative business podcasts. which are a complete education. I am learning so much. It is like going to school two hours a day in the car, which is pretty great. I also listen to a few just for fun podcasts for Thursdays and Fridays when I am feeling info overload.
Current Podcast List:
Mico Biz Tips & Inspiration:
Elise Gets Crafty
Dear Hank and John
Around The Table
Ted Radio Hour
Her Money Matters
So, I had never bought a pack of sharpies. Until it was my assignment to buy them for a group craft project. I am so in love. I completely recommend that you buy a fun pack of sharpies (but not for full price!) Or buy gel pens (loving those lately too) or whatever favorite pen you have your eye on.
Get something new and colorful that will make you want to draw and write. And then doodle away.
4. Pretty shoes
A couple weeks ago my housemate gifted me with a new pair of ribbon sandals. I don't generally chose to spend my own money on pretty shoes, but wearing those sandals changes my whole attitude. They make me want to dress up for work. My job is very casual, so I struggle finding ways to feel like I look good while I'm there. These sandals really help encourage me to wear a cardigan or just put that little bit of effort in.
So if you need any easy mood booster, or outfit update, get a pair of pretty shoes.
5. (Paper) Budgeting
Ok, I know. Budgeting is scary. It is hard. You are good at it or you aren't-
Actually not that last one. Budgeting is learned. It is never too late to figure it out, or make a better system.
We have really struggled to set a realistic budget, and stick with it. I think the main problem has been just over complicating everything. We have sat down several different times and made an excel sheet, that we then promptly never look at again. It was always stressful and we avoided it as much as we could. I set us up with Mint (great finance app) more than a year ago, and that has been really helpful in tracking and visualizing our spending. However we haven't been able to really budget through that system.
Just before last month I got reinvigorated by the Her Money Matters podcast (mentioned above), and decided just to keep things simple and made a 3 category budget. Food, Gas, Shopping. I set a limit on each category and then just wrote in bills and other expenses that were one time.
I also set a goal that I wanted to be able to get a haircut at the end of the month. That haircut goal really helped me save, because I didn't want to spend any money that could be going towards my haircut.
I also decided that to make it work we would have to sit down and track our spending once a week. So every Tuesday night I got out a paper, made my categories, wrote down all the transactions for the week in their categories, totaled them, and totaled the spending for the month.
It was hard work, but I got really into keeping track. One week Tuesday night didn't work out, and it really bothered me that I din't know how the budget was going.
I was so excited at the end of the month when I had enough to get a haircut, and we had extra money to move into savings. It was the most rewarding feeling.
I highly recommend working to find the budget system that is for you. For me I need to touch the numbers and tract the transactions myself. Maybe something like Mint, or a pre-made excel template is all you need, and that is great. Get to it.
Budgeting is hard, but highly rewarding. Not only when you meet your goals, but also because the goals that you set and meet are at the core of your lifestyle. Budgeting allows you to do what you really want, through the hard work of saying NO to everything else. But in the process you realize that what you are saying yes to is more important.
Have you started or found something great lately? Let me know! I love new things.
I'm Sara. I live in Portland, Oregon. I have chickens. I love coffee AND tea, I make stained glass pendants in my basement, and I love adventures and new ways to live. I have an Etsy store as well.
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