Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

It’s that time of year again: the minimalist in me is screaming and kicking to be let out. I recently came across Project 333, which introduced me to the concept of the Capsule Wardrobe. Basically, this challenge holds its foundation on creating a completely functional wardrobe with 33 items, including shoes, accessories and outerwear, which you’ll be wearing for 3 months. However, being the extremist that I am, I just decided to empty out my closet, pick 33 items and throw everything else out, permanently. So no box somewhere stuffed back in a garage holding items from my non-33 items wardrobe for me to take out again after the 3 months are over. I do have to add a disclaimer to this: My 33 items list will consist, for now, only of clothing. Even though I’m taking a bit of an extremist approach to this challenge, I do take the advice I read somewhere on the website of making this challenge work for YOU seriously. So to make this challenge work for me, I’m not taking my jewellery into account as far as the list goes. 1. Because I want to. 2. Because my jewellery takes home in a very pretty inherited wooden case, so it makes no difference in counter or closet space whether there’s one pair of earrings or ten. 3. Because I want to LIKE doing challenges like these, I don’t want it to become an unbearable suffering. Same goes for purses and bags. I already threw out about eight or nine purses and bags during my last cleaning spree, but I still have more than necessary. Not sure if I’ll be cutting down on those yet 1. Because I don’t want to. 2. Because I store a purse in a purse in a purse, so it takes up little extra space. 3. Because see above. I do however want to keep track of which purses and bags I do and don’t use for six months and throw out the ones I haven’t been using after that period of time. Same concept for shoes, coats and jackets. I might be downsizing even more in the future, but for now, I’m just sticking with the clothes.

Because I had to start somewhere, I took the list form one of the articles on the website and started tweaking it for my needs. For instance, on the list you can read that there’s only one pair of jeans and some other forms of pants, such as dress pants and chinos. The only kind of pants I wear are jeans and shorts… Same with blazers. I own one, a black one I’m not even sure I can close anymore, and that’s all I need, because I rarely have to dress formal. Dresses; I dislike those things with a passion. I love how they look on others, but I just feel incredibly uncomfortable when wearing them. So I basically keep about three of them just in case of a funeral or wedding, that kind of stuff. Same goes for heels, I hate walking in heels, but keep one pair just in case. I do own a ton of jackets and coats though, along with a huge stack of t-shirts, long sleeved shirts and tank tops.

The way I usually clean out my closet, is by just throwing everything on the bed and put things into four piles:

  • Love
  • Like
  • Want
  • Broken

However, because I gained some weight recently, something which never happened to me before, I now also have to take an extra point into consideration:

  • Fits

The system is really simple: if I love it and it fits, I get to keep it. If I like it, it has to fit and somehow has to go well with the clothes I love and there needs to be space for it. If I want it, it’s usually something I don’t fit anymore or that doesn’t pairs well with my other clothes. I do keep two items in my closet that I don’t fit anymore, but are so pretty I can’t let go of them yet (one pair of flared legged jeans and a beautiful black polka dotted dress). Also in the ‘want’ category, I have one floral printed dress, completely out of my colour chart, but which I like so much, I keep it (luckily, it still fits!). The ‘broken’ pile is easy: trash bin. All the other clothing that’s still fine, but which I don’t want to keep, I’ll donate or give to friends.

As I was trying things on, I came to the conclusion that none of the three shorts I had still fitted. One I could still put on, but it was so tight, it almost amputated my legs. So a new pair of shorts is something I need to buy. UPDATE: I went out the next day and bought a new pair of jeans shorts and a pair of bootcut dark washed jeans. So when I got home I switched out the too tight pair of shorts for the new pair and added the extra pair of jeans to my clothing collection. A good rule to live by is “One in, One out”. If you buy something new, get rid of something old. In this case I only followed this rule partially, as I only took out one item, while I bought two new ones. However, I felt the need to add an extra pair of jeans to my wardrobe and that extra pair brings me to the amount of three pairs of jeans, which makes me more comfortable than owning two pairs. Again, make things work for YOU.

Funny thing that happened while cleaning out my closet: I came across an adorable black jacket that I forgot I owned. For most of the time when that happens, I just throw the item out. However, I tried this jacket on and it looked really nice! Jackets and coats are not part of my 33 items, but they will all be on my watch list to check if I’ve actually worn them by December 31st.

There are still some items on the ‘maybe’ pile, despite me kicking and screaming that I wouldn’t be keeping a box with clothing I’m not sure about yet. On the ‘maybe’ pile right now are one light blue t-shirt, one jeans button up, one purple fleece sweater and one beige cardigan. These items are allowed to stay in my closet until September 30th (so, till the end of summer basically). If I haven’t worn them by then, they need to go. I put them in with the rest of the stuff to see if I will grab them when getting dressed.

UPDATE 01/05/2014: Two items on the ‘maybe’ pile went straight to the trash today: the jeans button up and the purple fleece sweater. I was folding all my clothing neatly today and came across those two items and thought to myself: “Why do I keep these items? I don’t feel all that comfortable wearing them and I haven’t worn them last year, so it’s highly unlikely that I will this year…”. So I got rid of them.

UPDATE 04/05/2014: On the list, nr. 24, you can see that I had a white t-shirt in my wardrobe. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? It was the only white shirt that was left after the big purge (to be honest, I only had two white t-shirts to begin with and threw out one of them during the purge). But every time I opened the drawer with my shirts in it, I saw that shirt and it made me feel uncomfortable. I liked the butterfly print on it, but the fabric and the cut of the shirt was just not working for me. So why did I keep it, I asked myself? Because I think a white shirt should be a staple in every person’s wardrobe. So I went on a quest today to find a replacement for that white t-shirt. It had to be figure flattering, reasonably prices, comfortable and no need to iron. And I found one! As soon as I got home, I threw the other white shirt in the trash to make room for the new one.

I initially intended to keep a dark blue dress as well, for more formal occasions. But the thing with that dress is that it wrinkles like crazy and I NEVER iron anything. So that dress needed to go.

So now it’s time to present to you *drumroll*: My final list!

  1. Black dress
  2. Flower dress
  3. Grey skirt
  4. Jeans (skinny, light)
  5. Jeans (skinny, dark)
  6. Jeans (bootcut, dark)
  7. Shorts (jeans, distressed)
  8. White sweater
  9. Black knitted sweater
  10. Blue sweater
  11. Green sweater
  12. Grey vest
  13. White vest
  14. Black vest
  15. Blue cardigan
  16. Grey cardigan
  17. Black cardigan
  18. Beige cardigan (short)
  19. Black blazer
  20. Blue tank top
  21. White tank top
  22. Blue t-shirt
  23. Blue t-shirt
  24. White t-shirt
  25. Black t-shirt
  26. Grey long sleeved shirt
  27. Purple long sleeved shirt
  28. Brown long sleeved shirt
  29. Blue long sleeved shirt
Just a few of the items that are left in my wardrobe which I really love

Just a few of the items that are left in my wardrobe which I really love

I’m actually really proud of myself that I’ve managed to keep my list even below 33 items! To be honest, when I started cleaning out my closet, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to get the list down to 33… Sure, I might still add some items to the list in the future, such as a new dress or skirt that makes me feel comfortable and maybe a grey t-shirt. But I’m also pretty sure that I’ll take some things off this list as well. Maybe shirts that I turn out not to like as much as I do now and vests and sweaters that get worn down by the end of next winter.

But for now I’m down to 29 items and 4 items still on the ‘maybe’ pile. Keep in mind that this list of items consists of a year-round wardrobe, so there are no separate lists for each season. Partially because the seasons in the Netherlands are not all that extreme and some years even non-existing, and partially because I didn’t really even think about that when cleaning out my closet.

I fully recommend this challenge, whether it being in it’s original form or adapted like I did, to everyone. I went with the 33 items of clothing as a maximum, but you can also opt for 50 items in total or whatever feels right to you. I just feel so much calmer now I don’t have to open my closet every single day with all those items just laying there, making me feel stressed and guilty that I’ve spent money on those things and am never wearing them. Because of this challenge, there are now only things in my closet that I either definitely will be wearing (about 75% I guess) or items that I’ll either will start loving again or that I’ll be throwing out by the end of the year.

I feel as if the more items you own, the more energy it takes from you, the more it will clutter not only your home, but also your mind. By giving minimalism a try in a way that makes you feel inspired, motivated and happy, you’re giving yourself the chance to make more out of life.

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213 Items less to weigh me down

213, seems like a bit of an odd number, doesn’t it? Well, let me explain. A few days ago I suddenly felt the urge to clean out my house, to get rid of all the stuff I don’t use. So, I grabbed a few trash bags, boxes and other bags and started with my closet. I took everything out, threw it on the bed and just started dividing the clothes into three piles: 1 pile for clothes I wanted to keep, 1 for clothes that I wanted to donate and 1 for clothes that needed to be thrown away (because they had holes in them and stuff). After that came the shoes, and then the belts, and then the books, DVD’s, CD’s… And after all was done, there were 213 items that I’m either donating or selling. And here’s what that looks like.

Untitled-1Look at all that stuff. I really have no idea how I’ve ever managed to fit all that, AND all the clothing that’s still left, in my Ikea MALM 6-drawer chest (especially because I only use 4 out of those 6 drawers for clothing). I must say, in this case, I’m a bit amazed by my own packing skills…

Untitled-2I’ll be selling all these items to a second-hand bookstore. Whatever they don’t want, I’ll give away.

Just a quick observation which came to mind while typing this blog and having the TV on at the same time: Commercials (whether they are on TV, in magazines, out on the streets or whatever) are all about separating you from your money. It’s never about making your life better.

Anyway, I’m glad I’m going to get rid of all this stuff. I feel so light and free!

Hopes, dreams and thanks

My birthday is coming up, it’s on saturday to be exact. I’ll be turning 23 and the last 10 or so years have been challenging. There have been good times, but also many bad times. I won’t be going into it too much, but I’m just glad I somehow found the strength to carry on. So, 23. Not really a magical number and I never feel any older when my birthday comes and goes, but still, it has been another year on this wonderful planet, which gives some food for thought.

First, I have many thanks. I have a great family who stick with me no matter what, a wonderful boyfriend whom I dearly love, great in-laws who are always there to help, I have amazing friends, I have a roof above my head, I never need to worry about food or water, I have clothes to keep me warm, books to widen my imaginary horizon and I’m going to college to study to become something, out of many other things, I’ve always wanted to become (when it comes to my career that is). I also have the great pleasure to have two feline friends in my life. They thought me one of the most valuable lessons in life: The best things in life are free. For that, I’m enternily grateful.

So, what about my hopes and dreams… Because a girl has got to dream, right? My first and foremost dream is to have as little stuff as possible. Over the past few years I’ve gone from being a over consumer to a semi-minimalist and I’ve never been feeling better. I no longer define my self-worth by the amount of stuff I own. Owning less makes me happy, peaceful and humble. My second dream is to keep up the good spirit I’ve been having for the past year. Of course, there have been ups and downs, but so far, when it comes to my mood and view on things, this year was one of the best years I can remember. My third and last wish is to forgive myself when things do not go the way I planned it. I’m my own worst enemy and I would really like to be my best friend. I have some goals I really want to work on, like staying vegan at least most of the time and focusing on college, without forgetting to have fun. And because I’m a true believer in making your own dreams come true, I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine!

Once-a-Month Grocery Shopping

Usually I go to the supermarket a few times a week. I always buy things I don’t need and, shame on me, most of the food gets thrown away because I didn’t used it. I’m not a big fan of spending lots of money on groceries, and I always try to set a budget for myself, but I usually fail. So I went online to search for some tips on how to spend less on grocery shopping and I found something I at first thought wasn’t possible: Only go once a month to the supermarket to do your groceries. Once a month?! I mean, once a week, OK. Once every two weeks, maybe. But ONCE A MONTH?! How?!

Well now, before I was about to have a panic attack, I did some more research. The trick is to eat all the fresh products in the first two weeks of the month. Because I also want to eat veggies and fruits in the second part of the month, I decided to go with veggies and fruits that have a bit of a longer lifespan when stored correctly.

Well, wonderful, only go grocery shopping once a month, but what about the budget? Please, I ask you to sit down (if you have severe heart problems, you might want to stop reading).

The budget for one month of groceries for two people:

€50,00 (that’s something like 63,00 USD and 40,00 GBP)

So, here’s my menu for the entire month and the grocery list I’ve made. Stuff I already have lying around in my cabinets are not on the grocery list of course. Also you can see (or can’t see actually) that there’s no cat food or litter on the list. I already have those at home and order them in bulk when I run out. My shopping list is divided into three categories: Albert Heijn (it’s a big Dutch supermarket), C1000 (another big Dutch supermarket) and at the bottom you see some products about which I wasn’t sure where to buy them, so I’ll just check in the stores to see if they have a good deal.

Of course, there are more than two kinds of supermarkets in the Netherlands, but these two are the closest to my house and after some research (yes, I even did some online research for every supermarket in the area to see if they had any sweet deals to offer) I came to the conclusion that going to another supermarket for only one or two products would cost me more on benzine, which harms the environment and my wallet.

Monthly menu:

Week 1

  • Monday: Rice with cucumber, peanut sauce and vega meatballs
  • Tuesday: Baked potatoes and green beans
  • Wednesday: Lasagna
  • Thursday: Endive stew with vega meatballs
  • Friday: Soup
  • Saturday: Wraps with avocado, lettuce, vega meat, pine nuts, tomato
  • Sunday: Rice with vega meat and scraps

Week 2

  • Monday: Potatoes with green beans and applesauce
  • Tuesday: Wraps with pineapple, paprika, beans and vega cheese
  • Wednesday: Rice with pineapple, green beans and vega meat
  • Thursday: Broccoli stew with pine nuts
  • Friday: Soup
  • Saturday: Kebab sandwich with lettuce, vega kebab and sauce
  • Sunday: Pasta with vega meat and tomato sauce

Week 3

  • Monday: Baked potatoes with lettuce, tomato and pine nuts
  • Tuesday: Wraps with tomato, cheese and vega kebab
  • Wednesday: Fried rice with peanut sauce
  • Thursday: Sauerkraut stew with mandarins
  • Friday: Soup
  • Saturday: Pancakes
  • Sunday: Pasta with scraps

Week 4

  • Monday: Potatoes with baked beans and applesauce
  • Tuesday: Bread
  • Wednesday: Wraps with paprika, vega meat, rice, apple
  • Thursday: French bean stew with cashew nuts
  • Friday: Soup
  • Saturday: Pancakes
  • Sunday: Leftovers

Grocery list:

Albert Heijn

  • Canned pineapple (AH Pineapple slices in heavy syrup for € 0.61)
  • Kebab rolls (Euro Shopper Shoarma Rolls 8 pcs € 0.58)
  • Canned mandarin (Euro Shopper Mandarins in light syrup for € 0.75)
  • Bread (AH 2 whole loaves for € 2.00)
  • 1 kg pack bread mix (Euro Shopper Breadmix multigrain 1 kilo to € 1,77)
  • Lemonade (AH Dubbelfris 1.5 liter 3 pieces for € 1,79)
  • Spreads (AH Peanut butter 600 grams for € 1.74)
  • Satay (peanut sauce microwave Remia AH 265 ml € 0.97)
  • Tomato sauce (pasta sauce Sugo AH herbs € 0.96)
  • Soup 4 meals (AH soup for € 0.66 and Unox soup for € 0.78)
  • Lasagna (AH Italian lasagna (2-3 persons) € 1.80)
  • Yogurt (AH yoghurt 1 liter € 0.68)
  • Custard (AH chocolate/vanilla 1 liter € 0.81)
  • Vega meatballs 2 meals (AH Vega balls for € 2.59)
  • Vega chopped 6 meals (AH pure & honest organic tofu meat for € 1.99)
  • Soy milk (Alpro AH Original for € 1.25)
  • Paprika (AH paprika red/green/yellow for € 1.49)
  • Brocoli (AH Broccoli for € 0.65)
  • Lettuce (AH Lettuce for € 0.59)
  • Avocado (Avocado AH for 1 piece € 0.99)
  • Sauerkraut (AH Sauerkraut natural for € 0.59)
  • Pancake mix 2x (AH pancake mix for € 0.54)
  • Carrots (AH Carrots for € 0.99)
  • Wraps (Tortilla Wraps AH 12 pieces for € 2.18)
  • Canned white beans in tomato sauce (AH beans, can € 0.59)
  • Green beans (AH Green beans for € 2.49)

Total: € 34.81

C1000

  • Endive (Endive C1000 400 grams € 1.00)
  • Tomato (250 gram C1000 for € 0.69)
  • Apples (C100 Braeburn apples, Granny Smith or Royal Gala, 1 kg for € 1.00)

Total: € 2.69

Remaining products:

  • Bag of potatoes
  • Jar of applesauce 2x
  • Vega kebab
  • String beans
  • Cashew nuts
  • Fruit on sale
  • Lemon
  • 4x a treat

Total: Max. € 12.50

 

Appreciating the little things in life

For years I was feeling the need to buy all the latest gadgets, the newest trends, listen to popular music and walk, talk, do and dress like I thought I had to to blend in. I didn’t want to stand out. I got bullied real bad as a child, and when I grew a bit older, I never wanted to be bullied ever again. So I decided to blend in with the crowd. No standing out for me, I was just trying to be as less noticeable as possible, not giving anyone a reason to pick on me. It was working pretty well. I never became really popular or anything, but at least I didn’t got bullied and even made some real friends.

Buying all kind of things gave me the illusion of being happy. I got myself trendy clothes, the latest phones, beautiful shoes and bags, wore all kind of beauty and hair products and spend hours on dying, blow drying and straightening my hair. And yes, I did felt somewhat better when I was looking good, but I didn’t felt comfortable in the clothes I was wearing and having to make sure my hair and make up were staying perfect.

Every time I bought something I was feeling happy for a little while, but the bad feeling always came back. So I had to buy more to feel happy again. Like an addiction. An addiction to shopping …

My addiction to shopping went on for years, in which I spent a lot of money on stuff I never even used. Even while writing this I start to feel bad again. The memory of the compulsive shopping reminds me of times I would rather not be reminded of.

Compulsive shopping, officially called Oniomania, is something a lot of people suffer from. I wouldn’t say it might be as bad as having a problem with drugs or alcohol, but it certainly can prevent you from solving the real issue and it might even get you into trouble (think about debts that you can not pay, losing your job because you feel so bad you can’t focus on work anymore, or even losing your house because you can’t affort it anymore).

So how can you tell if someone is a compulsive shopper?

  • They often buy things they don’t need
  • They go to the mall to buy only a few items and come home with bags full with stuff
  • When people start to make comments about their shopping habits, they start to hide the things they buy
  • They can be compulsive about certain items (like shoes or bags) or just buy all kind of stuff
  • They usually have a lot of stuff at home with the price tags still attached
  • When things get really bad, they might even take a second job to pay the bills

How do you prevent compulsive shopping?

  • First of all, go see your doctor and get some help to talk about what’s really going on. Don’t be ashamed, you’re really brave for seeking help and admitting you have a problem
  • Pay for the things you buy using cash or a debit card. Get rid of your credit cards
  • Avoid sales and don’t fall for the discounts
  • Take only a certain amount of money with you when you go shopping and leave all your cards, checks and other forms of paying methods at home
  • When you feel the urge to go shopping, go do something else. Go for a walk, exercise, bake or cook something, clean the house or whatever will distract you from the thought of going shopping
  • Avoid watching TV shopping channels and catalogs
  • Every time you want to buy something, think if you really need it. If the answer is no or maybe, don’t buy it. When in doubt, get out!

What really helped me when I was feeling the urge to shop, was thinking about all those small things in life that made me happy. Genuinely happy, not that fake happy feeling I got from buying stuff.

Some of the things that make me happy:

  • The smell of freshly mowed grass
  • The smell of rain
  • My cats washing each other
  • My cats sleeping with me on the bed
  • Eating ice cream with a family member
  • The smell and colors of flowers
  • Sitting outside while watching thunder
  • Sitting on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate or tea when it’s raining outside
  • A beautiful colored sky
  • Getting a postcard
  • Animals that seem to be really happy
  • A smile from a stranger
  • A hug
  • Having the giggles
  • Blowing bubbles
  • A happy song
  • The feeling of grass or sand when walking bare footed
  • A thoughtful message
  • Baby animals
  • The safe and comfortable feeling of a warm sweater on a cold day
  • The smell of freshly baked bread

Of course, thinking about the little things in life that make you happy is always a good first step when feeling down. Embrace life, and life will embrace you.

My cat Tijger when he was only 10 days old. It is impossible to keep a straight face in the presence of one or more kittens