I’m Grateful for Anti-Hauls!

Confession: I’m a YouTube beauty junkie. I love watching makeup tutorials, vlogs from my favorite You Tubers, and makeup hauls. The tricky thing about watching these types of videos? It makes me want to buy, buy, buy! The latest foundation from It Cosmetics? I must have it! The new Tarte eye palette? Yes please! A ridiculously expensive and unnecessary Hourglass powder trio? Gimme!!!

My YouTube love does NOT help my attempts to become more minimal. At least it didn’t until I discovered Kimberly Clark’s Anti-Haul videos.

She creates highly entertaining videos about why she isn’t going to buy a certain product. I find them equally as addictive as makeup haul videos, except I don’t leave them feeling like I need to spend every last penny at Sephora.

So, if you’ve never seen Kimberly’s videos, happy Wednesday, my friends:

The Perfect Lip Color

When it comes to lips, I’m low maintenance — just a frequent application of lip balm (this Hurraw one is my absolute favorite).

I don’t usually wear lip color because 1) I end up eating it off right away — not intentionally, I just must bite my lips a lot, or 2) if I remember to not bite my lips, they go dryer than the Sahara and the color clumps up in a really attractive way.

I also think I look really odd in a  lot of lip colors. It doesn’t make sense because I think Cath looks great when she wears lipstick of any hue, but I just can’t pull it off.

Until recently! I’ve finally made an exception to the rule of no-lip-color-wearing because I found two colors that look great together and are fairly moisturizing.

Here’s the trifecta:
Wild Child by Ila (this is more orange and less magenta than it looks on their site)
Diabolique by RMS Beauty
• a bit of lip balm on top

I do the Jeanne Damas thing and try to really pat the colors in really well with my fingers — making it a bit messy. It makes it look less like you have a painted lip color sitting on top of your lip.

I’m still not an expert at wearing lip color — my lips still go really dry (how do you effortless lipcolor-wearers do it?), but it does make me feel like a French It-girl and look like one too … well if I squint really hard in the mirror after a few glasses of red.

What’s In Lar’s Downsized Purse

A couple of weeks ago I talked about downsizing my wallet. And, you guys, I did it! I’ve been using just this little turquoise wallet for the past month or so. I’ve never once been caught out needing any of the cards that I got rid of, and my purse is so much lighter than when I used to carry my ginormous wallet(s) around with me!

Because of my wallet success, I thought now is the time to downsize from my tote bag to a real purse-sized purse — you know, the kind that don’t give you back problems and leave you with those purse strap gouges on your shoulder.

I didn’t want to go out and buy a small purse (I don’t own one because in the past I never used ones that I bought — I’ve since KonMaried them), so I used this mini Le Pliage that I found at Salvation Army in Edinburgh for £3 — a steal and environmentally friendly.

The mini Le Pliage is still pretty roomy and not as small as I’d eventually like to carry (this is my dream bag in all its vegan leather glory). But I’m really chuffed that I’ve been able to swing a tiny (in comparison) bag on my arm instead of hefting my tote straps over my coat. I’ve been a successful small-ish purse carrier for nearly three weeks!

Hi, my name is Lar, and I no longer carry my life with me wherever I go! (I seriously feel like I should get a badge for that — no, scratch that. No room for a badge in my now compact-bag lifestyle).

If I can keep this up through the winter, I might allow myself to get that Mat and Nat bag for the spring.

And if you guys are interested, you can see what’s in my bag in the pics below. I keep trying to trim this down, but I use pretty much all of these things every day. What are your tricks, small-purse carriers?

And in my make-up bag there are these essential bits and bobs: 

Basic Loungewear

This post could also be titled “Clothes I Immediately Change Into When I Get Home.” I can’t remember when it started, but I know I didn’t always change clothes as soon as I got home. Maybe it’s happened gradually over time with aging. The clothes I wear to work and for going out feel so uncomfortable as soon as I walk through the door to my house – my belt feels slightly too tight, my feet feel restricted by the leather shoes I’m wearing, my bra straps have left permanent indentation marks on my shoulders. None of this stuff bothers me during work, but there’s something about walking over that threshold that immediately makes me think, “Must have stretchy waistband now!!!!”

Over the years and through minimizing my closet, I’ve curated a small loungewear collection. It might sound weird to edit what you wear at home when no one else is going to see you, but it makes a difference. I feel comfortable, not sloppy (notice how I said feel, not look).

Marie Kondo has a great section on loungewear in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She writes about how a lot of her clients keep items that they don’t want to wear outside of the house as loungewear even if it doesn’t spark joy for them. Because the items don’t ultimately spark joy, her clients end up never wearing them.

My loungewear sparks joy*.

I have three pairs of fitted sweatpants that I rotate between washings. I wear them about twice before putting them in the hamper. The ones I’m wearing in these photos are from Alternative Apparel and my other two pairs are from Target a couple of years ago. The Alternative Apparel ones aren’t cheap, but for the amount of times I wear them, they’re totally worth the cost. Plus they feel amazing and are from a socially responsible company. It’s a win win for everything but my wallet.

I also have two hoodies. Why two instead of one? For someone trying to be a minimalist two hoodies might seem excessive, but I need to have one while the other is in the wash. My love for hoodies knows no bounds; so much so that I freak out when I don’t have one to wear. Seriously. I owned one hoodie for about two years and would dread laundry day when I’d have to resort to a cardigan to stay warm (first world problems, I know). So I purchased the one in these photos by CHRLDR and my hoodie collection has been complete ever since. I can’t tell you how envious I am of Mark Zuckerberg – not because of his success and wealth, but because he can wear a hoodie to work. Ah, the joys of 24/7 hoodie-wearing!

Under my hoodie, I’m usually wearing a v-neck from Madewell or H&M that serve the dual purpose of loungewear and going out weekend wear.

Last but not least, I wear socks from Pure Barre, which is like wearing yoga pants when you’re not working out, but I have no shame! These socks are thicker than most athletics socks and they have grippies on the bottom so they don’t get soaked when you walk by your dog’s water bowl in the kitchen that is always inevitably surrounded by puddles of water. And they’re black, my favorite color 🙂

*If you think this statement is ridiculous or overused, please read or reread Marie Kondo’s books. There’s substance to this type of thinking and it’s not nearly as woo-woo as it sounds!

Clean With Me Videos — and Kittens!

Are you guys pulling your hair out too every time you check the news?

It puts me in a perpetual state of disbelief, despair and discouragement. I will still continue to protest, call my representatives and give to organizations that need our help — but I do think it’s important to balance out activism with sanity breaks.

That break might be different things for different people, but I really like to watch cleaning videos on YouTube. Yes, videos where people wander around their homes and dust, and put things in the dishwasher, and fold their laundry. It’s calming and soothing. And even when my own house is messy, watching these videos still (inexplicably) feels calming. My personal favorite is How Jen Does it. Outwardly, I have very little in common with a stay-at-home-mom in suburban Michigan who has two teenage boys, but I love how clutter-free yet homey her house is. I think she embodies “living with less” but still having her own style really well.

I know watching someone clean doesn’t do it for everyone (the videos made Matt want to run for the hills — houses that are too clean give him the heebie jeebies), but I encourage you to find or rediscover your guilty pleasure. And then, let your brain focus on that, instead of the news, for at least 15 minutes a day. The world may be blowing up around you, but somewhere near Detroit there are gleaming, clutter-free granite countertops and cookies baking in the oven.

And if that doesn’t work, try this. If you are a Chrome user, install this widget (Make America Kittens Again). It turns all photos of Trump to pictures of kittens. If that doesn’t lower your blood pressure just a wee bit, I don’t know what will. Oh. Baby sloths. Those work too.

Lar’s Skincare Routine

So that you can decide if you want to incorporate any of these steps into your routine, I’ll give you a wee background on my skin and what we’re working with:

• I’m 33, so some fine lines are starting to become permanent (I’m totally okay with that. I’m totally okay with that. I’m totally okay with that. Ha! Aging is hard.)

• My skin is very reactive — or what is usually termed “sensitive.” It doesn’t like to be scrubbed hard, touched with harsh chemicals (benzol peroxide makes it mean and red), it doesn’t like sun, wind, air, cold, heat … life basically. If I eat lots of refined sugar, I break out and/or my pores look bigger. If I don’t drink enough water, it looks dull. On the upside, my pores do shrink if I eat cleaner, but where’s the fun in not eating chocolate cake once in a while?

• On top of being hyper-sensitive, my skin is also lazy. It won’t look bright and happy on it’s own. I need to exfoliate (difficult with sensitive skin) and it needs more than all-natural products to do the heavy lifting. I so wanted to be the girl that can just slather on coconut oil and just glow, but instead I break out and my skin looks dull, dull, dull without a few meanie chemicals thrown in. (But again not too “mean” because then my skin will go red — quite high maintenance, this skin of mine).

• Breakouts: these still happen, but are controlled by birth control (which I take non-stop for my endometriosis). On most days, my skin is clear of acne, which is still unbelievable to me because as a teenager I had terrible acne (3 doses of accutane that I wish I never took, worked temporarily) and I was still fighting with flare-ups in my mid-twenties. My skin is still oily though — especially my t-zone and eyelids (nothing keeps eyeshadow on!). That said, my skin can still feel flakey and dry at times. Combination it is!

So now that that’s out of the way, here’s how I get my skin looking the best it possible can without genetically engineering it to be better skin (wait, can we do that yet?):

Daytime
I don’t actually wash my face in the morning — is that weird?
1) I give it a good rinse in the shower and then
2) before I put my make-up on, I prep it with this cheap, but mostly natural serum from The Dollar Shave Club. Yup, this is the stuff that gents use to prevent razor burn on their face. It’s not a miracle serum, but it does give my skin an extra dose of moisture and does seem to keep a little bit of my redness down. And for a $12 serum, that’s worthy in my book.
3) On top of the serum, I put on whatever natural-ish lotion I have going at the time. I’m currently using Pacifica Dreamy Youth, but I use whatever I find at Whole Foods that’s on sale. This is nice and light-weight and sinks in quickly without being too oily. Come to think of it, I might buy this one again even if it’s not on sale.

Nighttime
1) I use two-three drops of organic, cold-pressed jojoba oil mainly to take my eye make-up off pre-washing. I’ve been doing this for years instead of using a proper make-up remover — works just as well as anything more chemical-laden and I swear my eyelashes seem healthier giving them a good dose of jojoba every night.
2) Cleansing time! Again, I use whatever natural-ish cleanser I can find on sale at Whole Foods. I really haven’t found one I’m willing to be monogamous with, but I do think a cleanser is one skin product you can be a little less particular about because it doesn’t sit on your skin and get absorbed like a serum or lotion.
3) About twice a week I’ll use this Aesop exfoliator instead of a cleanser (I suppose I could do it after cleansing, but I’m lazy). Now, this is by far the spendiest thing in my whole routine, but it really does clear away any dullness without rubbing my skin raw like a lot of exfoliators do. I’m careful to just gently rub it on my damp face even if a good scrub seems like it will work better (It won’t. At least not on my skin.).
4) After either cleansing or exfoliating, I’ll follow up with this toner from Kiehls. Okay, this is also more spendy — so I lied about that Aesop exfoliator, but I swear this is another product that totally makes a difference. It’s also not totally natural and organic. And I can’t describe exactly what it does, but my skin looks brighter and less red in the mornings when I use this at night. What is this magic? Chemicals of some sort! I’ll just pretend I can’t read the ingredient list because I got some jojoba in my eye!
5) And finally! Moisture! I’ve been using this almond oil from Weleda for a few months. I think I would prefer a heavier night cream, but I like using a more natural oil for the time being. If you guys do have any magic potions for slowing down the aging process, do let me know.
6) There isn’t actually a number 6, but there needs to be. Eye cream. That’s where my pesky wrinkles are most pernicious. I dream about purchasing the SK-II eye cream because the guru-est of all make-up gurus Lisa Eldridge says its a miracle, but I’m balking at the price a bit. I tried this eye cream from Kiehl’s but I didn’t notice much except that it burned my skin a little. If it burned away my wrinkles, I would have kept at it — but no such luck!

And there you have it! Let me know if you guys use any of these products and have holy grail items. I’m also thinking I’ll try getting regular facials (if I can afford them!) — and seeing if that makes my skin any happier. I feel so grown up saying that. Spending money on skincare instead of lipstick colors does that to a girl, I suppose!

KonMari Clothing Organization

Lar and I are still riding high from the marches on Saturday, so I figured, what better way to celebrate than with an organization post?

I kid. A little. Ever since starting this KonMari/minimalism journey, nothing gets me as excited as a well organized. . . anything. I’m only slightly ashamed to say that having everything in its place and organized makes me unbelievably giddy.

Over a year ago, I showed you how I culled through my wardrobe that was full of things that didn’t spark joy and reorganized everything. Well, since then, I’ve moved my clothing around a bit and reworked my storage. Now every single item of clothing I own either fits in my chest of drawers (the star of this post), my tiny 1940s bedroom closet, or a small box under my bed for out-of-season clothes.

I’ve been on the hunt for a great dresser for the past few years and could never find something I could afford loved. Then I realized my parents had one that they weren’t using in their basement. If you follow me on Snapchat (AsianCajunsCath), you would have seen my week-long process of sanding and painting the dresser with white chalk paint (I’m telling you, there is riveting stuff on my social media accounts, you’re missing out!).

There are a couple of reasons I love this dresser:

  1. I didn’t have to buy it. You can’t beat a free piece of furniture!
  2. It’s such a classic piece. I thought about replacing the hardware, but I love the curliness of the handles too much.
  3. And most importantly, it’s originally from my dad’s childhood bedroom. That’s right, its first home was in a townhouse in Chinatown, D.C. Decades later my mom painted it and added some beautiful gold detailing too it. Then, last November, I made it less pretty (but more fitting with my neutral decor) and painted it white.

But I digress. This post is suppose to be about organization and not furniture after all. So here’s everything that I fit into this dresser (minus my underwear drawer, which felt weird to photograph and share):

The top/smallest drawer holds my hair things and non-necklace jewelry. My straighteners, combs, brushes, hair spray, dry shampoo, bobby pins, rings, safety pins, and bracelets all cohabitate nicely in one drawer.

Next up is the tote bags, tights and socks drawer. Nothing too exciting here, but I do try to keep things nicely folded and rolled, which is recommended by Marie Kondo. I know it doesn’t really make sense to have tote bags with socks, but I had some extra space and needed a spot for them, so there you have it. And it works.

These are all of my tops that don’t need to be hung up: sleep shirts, weekend shirts, and workout tops. Now that I look at this photo, I’m thinking maybe I should organize by color, but maybe that’s getting a little too extreme. . .

The bottom drawer is filled with bottoms! Pants, that is (or trousers to you Brits!). I find that in my old age the leggings/sweat pants sections seem to be overtaking the jeans section and I’m really okay with that.

So there you have it, all of my folded clothing in one place.

Here’s one questions that I think folks might ask: Do my drawers always look so organized? The answer is yes! Ever since jumping on the KonMari bandwagon, organizing my clothes and keeping them organized has become easier. I have less clothes, so I know there’s room for everything. Plus, I just spend a little bit of time each week doing laundry, folding everything and then putting them away where they belong. There really isn’t any magic to it except the initial hump of purging what you don’t really wear. Also, you know, you have to actually fold your laundry and put it away, but I swear that it’s easier once you own just what sparks joy.

P.S.: For those of you who have been living under a rock have no idea what KonMari, Marie Kondo, or the term “spark joy” is, then I recommend you read this book. Cheers.

P.P.S.: To our regular readers, apologies that the comments aren’t working. Every time I think I’ve fixed the problem, WordPress proves me wrong. I’ll keep working on it and if you have any tips, shoot me an email at AsianCajuns@gmail.com.

The Women’s March

Oh, you guys! I still have such warm fuzzies over yesterday that I had to post just one more pic here on the blog. Hope you aren’t sick off looking at a sea of pink fuzzy hats!

Cath marched in Atlanta and I marched it Seattle (pic above). Joining 4 million amazing people around the world in peaceful protest against hate and fear, felt so good.

And this is just the beginning of our peaceful activism. I just signed up to get weekly updates about ways we can remain active on this site: Wall of Us. I know it can feel overwhelming — like nothing you do can make a difference — but after yesterday, we know that’s not true! As this little guy knows, we like naps, but we’re woke!

Political Clothing

Confession: I have been buying more stuff lately. But it’s okay, guys! Not only do I truly love this stuff, I truly love what they stand for. All of these clothing items and buttons support Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and Hillary’s campaign (pre-Novemember).

I know wearing politically-messaged clothing isn’t for everyone, but I love cozying up in my Femme sweatshirt at home or walking down the street and getting high fives from other “nasty” women. It brings me no end of joy and I hope, in some small way, helps keep the world a safer place for us all by supporting causes that help those who feel most vulnerable under the Trump administration.

If you guys feel the same way, here are a few of the sites I’ve been perusing and buying from:

The Pin Cause
The Outrage
Dynasty
Democrats/Hillary Clinton

I’ll be peacefully walking in solidarity at the Women’s March in Seattle (pussy hat at the ready!) and Cath will be marching in Atlanta. Let us know if you guys will be in DC or other cities around the country!

Cleaning White Sneakers

In the eight nine ten? years that Lar and I have been writing Asian Cajuns, I think I’ve written at least three posts about shoe care. I don’t what it is, but my love of shoe polish and shoe cleaning runs deep. I caught the bug early on when I discovered my dad’s shoe polish kit in his closet and watched him buff his work shoes. Newly cleaned shoes are as satisfying as a new coat of paint  and it’s so quick. Instant gratification, my friends.

stan-smiths-before-cleaning

A couple of months ago I was lamenting to Lar about how stained and sad my Stan Smiths were looking. I love having a minimal shoe collection, but it means my shoes start looking worn really, really fast because I wear the same pair almost every day. And because Stan Smiths are white and I live in a state that has mud that is as red as the president-elect’s face while he tweets, my sneakers were looking rough.

In the past, I’ve had some success with baking soda and water when cleaning my white canvas sneakers , but felt like I needed something was less harsh for leather. I think it was one of Lar’s co-workers who recommended this Jason Markk essential kit:

jason-markk-cleaning-kit

It comes with a brush and a cleaning solution that is 93% natural and biodegradable – and has a nice fresh clean laundry-like scent to it. To clean your shoes, you put a few drops of the solution on the brush, dip the brush into a bowl of water, and then start scrub-a-dub-dubbing away on your shoes.

sneaker-cleaning-supplies

I only used a few drops to clean both shoes and then just wiped off the soapy water from the shoes when everything looked clean enough. No need to rinse. The solution is so light, it doesn’t leave any residue on the shoe. And ta da!

stan-smiths-after-cleaning

Brand spanking almost-new shoes! They’re not perfect (there are some stains from the laces that wouldn’t budge), but once I put the laces on, they looked so fresh and so clean clean. See?

clean-stan-smith-sneakers

I cleaned the laces with my whites on laundry day (without bleach) and then did a little happy dance in my new-looking Stans.