Makeup Cleanout

Hi Dear Readers, so sorry to leave you in the dark for two months. This summer has been busy and not-so-great for me personally. Without getting into details, just know that I never meant to leave AsianCajuns gathering dust and have been itching to get back into blogging for a while. In fact, I had this post partially done in late May and was excited to share it. And since I’m not ready to get into personal nitty gritty details online, let’s just jump right into the post, shall we?

Vanity_beforeandafter

My makeup collection has tripled in the past two years. I blame all the amazing YouTubers out there that make the latest and greatest blush/foundation/primer look completely transformative. Plus, I am always tempted every time I go into a drugstore to pick up a “cheap” lipstick (which is never that cheap and adds up fast, btw).

I started to feel overwhelmed by all the items I had cluttering my vanity (a.k.a. an Ikea desk and makeup mirror). So I figured the time had come for me to minimize my makeup collection.

vanity_makeupsorting

I sorted my makeup into three piles (left to right): items that spark joy and/or I wear frequently, items that were expired and just needed to be tossed, and items that I would give away, give to friends or bring to work.

makeup_organizations

Since my desk vanity was getting so cluttered on the top and my shoebox storage solution wasn’t cutting it, I decided to purchase a Helmer drawer unit from Ikea to keep everything stashed away. You can’t tell from the photo above, but after cleaning out my collection, I had tons of room left over in my brand new Helmer to store other necessities: a couple of phone chargers, essential oils, and lint roller, etc.

makeupbrushes_perfumetray

The only things on the top of my vanity now are my (ahem, unwashed) brushes, perfume, and some jewelry. I know it might still seem too busy for some, but it’s made the world of difference to me. Just like cleaning out my closet, cleaning and reorganizing my makeup has made getting up in the morning much less stressful.

vanity_top_beforeandafter

Since this cleanout happened over two months ago, I’ve been able to keep my vanity looking organized and clutter-free without having to try too hard. I now feel like I really use all the makeup that I’ve purchased over the past year or two and have yet to miss any items I threw or gave away.

Maybe someday I’ll truly join the minimalist makeup bandwagon (using the bare minimum products daily), but I still love playing around with a concoction of stuff and would get bored of wearing the same exact thing every day.

Downsizing my Purse

I’ve always carried around big purses – like the Baggu tote bag on the left. I don’t know when or how it started, but I can’t imagine not carrying around my wallet, makeup, coin purse, sunglasses, hand sanitizer and lotion, meds, a pen, and any other items that seem necessary.

But I’d like to try to minimize what I’m toting around every day. For one thing, I know that I don’t use all of the stuff in my purse every day. Plus, it probably doesn’t do my shoulder any good to be lugging around a heavy bag.

Largebag

Over the past year, I’ve attempted to downsize the number of items I carry with me, but it’s still a lot. Currently in my bag (above), I have my Marc Jacobs sunglasses and sunglasses case, a small bag for one chapstick, one lipstick and one lip gloss, my wallet, a change purse, my keys, a compact mirror, a reusable grocery bag, antibacterial gel, hand lotion, a worry doll (a gift from Lar), a pen, medicine, blotting papers, and a small wallet for my business cards.

I’d love to be one of those women that can carry a small, crossbody bag instead of a large tote, but I’ve been carrying around large purses for so long, I feel like I’ve become dependent on their size. So I’m going to try to carry around less for a week or two and see how it goes.

Smallbag

I have a small Michael Kors handbag that I use for evenings out. It’ll fit my wallet, a pen, my sunglasses sans case (I’m a little worried about that), meds, keys (I removed some pieces that I don’t use often), antibacterial gel, chapstick, and one lipstick.

I’m not totally confident that I can spend a whole week with just a few items in my purse – as silly as that sounds. Sometimes I feel like all the things I carry around in my purse are more of a security blanket than something I really need. I’m hoping a week or two with just the basics will help me get over that.

smallbagfull

I’ll have a follow-up post in a few weeks about how it goes. Wish me luck!

Change in Style (aka I went shopping)

Larbw3

See that t-shirt I’m wearing? And those shoes? And that bomber? Alllll new! And I blame my shopping on the seasons. Namely, spring and summer.

Who would have thought seasons could be so complicated?! I mean, I grew up in D.C. and we had four solid seasons. 8 years in Atlanta – there were also four seasons with a blink-and-you-miss-it winter. But after just four measly years in a place with 1.5 seasons (yup, I’m talking about you, Scotland) you wouldn’t think I would have forgotten so quickly about the wardrobe changes that shifts in seasons necessitate.

Scottish seasonal weather could be summed up by Billy Connelly’s apt quote, “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and winter.” And even June isn’t guaranteed to stay too warm.

So, whilst living in the wet isles of the UK, I never needed to switch out my wardrobe. It stayed the same year-round except when I would swap out my coat out for a less heavy coat. Yes, even in a Scottish summer, you’ll want those cozy layers.

Well, I tried to do the same thing here in Seattle. I thought how different can one wet place be to another? It turns out, plenty! For one, Scotland makes Seattle look like a desert in comparison. I’ve had more sunny days here in 9 months than I had in all four years in Edinburgh combined. Also, on a blazing hot summer’s day in Scotland, you might hit 68°F if you are very lucky. We surpassed that the beginning of April here in the Pacific Northwest. And my wardrobe doesn’t know what to do with itself.

Neither does my attempt to live a more minimal lifestyle.

I’ve had to shop. I mean, I improvised for a while but eventually I got tired of being muggy and feeling over-dressed. And even though I do feel a twinge of guilt that my closet has grown instead of stayed minimal these past few months, I’ve gotten more excited about clothes again.

But I still feel in flux, if that makes sense. I feel a little startled at warmth and the ease of being outside without battling the elements. So it’s taking me a long minute to figure out how to keep my closet stream-lined when my giddy summer brain keeps bubbling up.

Now that I’ve bought a some new things, I’m going to take a hard look at some of the things that I loved to bits and pieces in Scotland, but don’t really serve me as well in the land of gentle breezes and rays of sunshine. (I’m sorry, tweed dress, but I just don’t see us working out any more!)

Have you guys ever had this experience being in a new place or making a change in your life that dictates a shift in how you dress (for instance, graduating college and taking a job in a conservatively-dressed office environment). I’d love to know how you adjusted and how long it took you to adjust.

Cath’s in Seattle!

Hi Lovely Readers!

Cath and Troy are here all weekend! We’ve been painting the town red (eating and eating and eating). So please forgive us if things go quiet here this coming week. We’re planning lots of fun posts after we eat ourselves silly.

In the meantime, we’ll instagramming (click here for Cath and here for Lar) and Snapchatting (AsianCajunsCath and AsianCajunsLar) frequently.

Hope you guys are having a wonderful weekend too!

xoxo,

Lar

My Spring Capsule Wardrobe

I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of a capsule wardrobe but felt like I needed to purge my closet before I could focus my brain on a set wardrobe. It’s been over six months since I KonMaried my closet and I’ve gotten comfortable with having a paired-down selection of clothes. Now I’m ready to figure out what I really have left to work with.

A few weeks ago I pulled out all of the spring items in my closet, photographed them, and then took stock of what I had. For the most part, it felt like a pretty complete spring wardrobe. The only glaring hole was the lack of work appropriate blouses. So in the middle of photographing my clothes, I purchased a few more workwear items and I feel pretty excited about the end result.

I’m not aiming for a specific number of items to create a capsule wardrobe. Right now I have 37 items in my closet and I don’t see me needing to buy anything else in the near future. That might change once the weather gets too hot to even wear short sleeves and I’ll address that in a future blog post when that time comes.

Here is my 37-item Spring Capsule Wardrobe:

Tops

capsule_wardrobe_tops_spring2016

Loft pocket shell | Uniqlo oxford | Sincerely Jules t-shirt | Madewell top
H&M blouse | Primark t-shirt | Penfield oxford | Loft pocket shell
Marshalls blouse | Madewell v-neck | Anthropologie blouse | Loft sleeveless top
Secondhand black t-shirt | Primark short-sleeve oxford | Cos short-sleeve cardigan | Everlane cardigan

Bottoms

capsule_wardrobe_bottoms_spring2016

Uniqlo jeans | H&M jeans | Old Navy jeggings | Blank NYC jeans
Isaac Mizrahi pants x 2 | Loft skirt | Squash Blossom Boutique skirt

Outerwear

capsule_wardrobe_outerwear_spring2016

Etsy wool jacket | June leather jacket | J. Crew jackt
Everlane rain jacket | Joie blazer | Zara bomber jacket

Shoes

capsule_wardrobe_shoes_spring2016

Adidas sneakers | L.K. Bennett flats | Yosi Samra slip-ons | J. Crew Factory flats
TopShop flats | And Other Stories pumps | Office oxfords

Some thoughts on my spring capsule wardrobe:

  • I took a page from the Unfancy blog and did not include active wear, lounge wear, underwear, socks, accessories. None of that stuff really changes for me season to season.
  • Most of my spring wardrobe consists of items that I wore throughout the fall and winter and I’m sure there will be a lot of overlap in the summer.
  • A lot of folks who create a capsule wardrobe store their nonseasonal items in boxes. I’ve kept all of my clothes in my closet per Marie Kondo’s advice. You can see my full closet inventory here.
  • I’ve noticed that since minimalizing my wardrobe, some of the items look pretty worn after six months to a year. I usually hold off for as long as possible before giving them away, but this capsule wardrobe project really helped me objectively look at the condition of my clothes.
  • I’m not sure how long this spring wardrobe will last in its entirety. It’s already starting to feel like summer in Atlanta and I might be breaking out my sandals well before June!

Quality over quantity?

One minimalist maxim is idea of buying “quality over quantity.” The idea of saving up for one really good thing rather than lots of cheapie versions of that same thing, totally rang true to me when I started curbing my consumerist habits.

Now after nearly five years of being a more conscientious shopper, I still agree with the idea, but I’ve changed my expectations a bit. Let me explain:

When I first heard the idea of buying less, but buying better, I had visions of myself wisely shaking my head “no” to every overpriced but cheaply made Urban Outfitters or F21 purse. Instead, I would magically save my money and be blessed with the ability to purchase a Celine bag — or at least a classic, well-made and hand-made leather carry-all that would last me for years, maybe even be passed on to future generations.

But just because I love the idea of buying better (and knowing the origin of a purchase) doesn’t mean I now can afford an expensive bag of my dreams.

A large part of this is due to my own priorities: I much prefer to save up to travel or spend more time with my far flung family than use thousands on a bag. But it’s also partly to do with coming to terms with what kind of consumer I was and am.

Even if in the future I have much more disposable income, I think I will still have a problem with spending thousands of dollars on one item (even if it’s “timeless” and will “last forever”). Apart from indulging in really expensive smells (see soap photo at top of post or my bottle of Le Labo perfume tucked in my drawer), buying things isn’t my favorite way of spending my hard-earned cash.

I know some people love bags and love shoes, and to them, spending money on those things is the best idea. I’m just saying I’m surprised I’m not doing the same! In my 20s I really enjoyed shopping things and getting them at a discount. So I assumed in my 30s I would be doing the same, just buying less, but better versions of the same things. Apparently, I’m not just changing how much I buy but also what I consider important enough to spend it on.

This realization is so freeing! It made me realize that not only do I not really need or want those cheaper purses, I also don’t really want the uber expensive one either. Just because you can afford the cheap version of something isn’t an indication of actually valuing the more expensive thing.

Maybe that seems obvious, but it really didn’t to me. And again, this is no judgement on people who love to use their “quality vs quantity” money on bags or shoes or fancy kitchens. Things are great too (again, see expensive soap above)! But knowing that it’s not always about the thing in the first place helps me make better purchasing decisions now.

Minimalist Target Challenge

I just made up this challenge in my head this weekend (I’m trying to look defiant in the photo above, btw). I was thinking about how I need to save money and buy less, but how I also needed to make a trip to Target to get a lamp for my living room. Even though I love me some Target, I’ve been putting off the trip because I know as soon as I walk into the store, I start realizing all the things I “need” or get distracted by a cute bag or decide I must have the newest NYX lip gloss/stick/liquid goop there is.

Target_dollar_spot

I know I’m not alone. It’s scary how easy it is to walk into Target for one or two things and leave with twenty things. So I decided to challenge myself today and only purchase the items that were on my shopping list:

  • Table lamp for living room (must be under $50 including tax)
  • Shampoo
  • Bananas
  • Kind Bars

Yes, it’s a random list, but those are really the items I needed. To some, this challenge might seem easy or silly. I’m sure there are people out there who can resist the siren song of bright, shiny, perfectly-merchandised items, but that’s not me, my friends! Leaving Target with only four items is not something I’ve ever done, but I’m determined to stop buying mindlessly – or at least convincing myself that I need something when I really don’t.

Here’s how today’s trip went down:

Not surprisingly, I was tempted by many things.

Target_beautyaisle

See me pouting over not buying the NYX suede lipstick? I swear the beauty aisles are my Achilles heel. Over the past few months I’ve gotten so good at not buying clothes, but I haven’t worked on minimalizing my makeup collection yet and find it too easy to justify purchasing a lipstick when it’s under $10.

Then there were the super cute Bauble Bar phone cases – with faux marble! Luckily their $30 price tag tempered my desire.

I pretty much love everything that Nate Berkus has designed for Target. Gold vase thing with triangular arms? Uh, yes please!

Did you know Design Love Fest designed paper plates and cups for Target?! I started justifying my need for them as soon as I walked by the display: “These would be so cute for a future party I don’t have planned yet!”

Target_thingsIwant

Ah, the good ol’ book and magazine aisle. What is it about the printed word that calms me down and then makes me want to spend, spend, spend? Target has the newest Kris Carr book. I have all of her other books and love them, so why don’t I buy this one to add to the collection? Plus, it’s all about juicing, which means it’s healthy, which means it’s promoting self-care, which means I should buy it, right?!

Who doesn’t need another fake succulent in their life? This one was in the dangerous Dollar Spot section of the store, which slaps you in the face as soon as you walk into Target. I’m a sucker for all of it.

The Who What Wear collab is killing it these days. I legitimately need more work-appropriate tops, but this navy one had long sleeves, which is too impractical for Atlanta’s spring and summer weather. Plus, I didn’t have clothing on my list.

I’m a sucker for awesomely-branded, all-natural cleaning products. I’ve never heard of Common Good before, but the packaging is so fresh and minimalist and would look so good on my cleaning supply shelves!

So did I do it? Is the suspense killing you 😉 ? Believe it or not, after all those temptations (and there were more than I mentioned in this post), I succeeded. I only bought the four items on my list:

Target_checkout

Bananas, shampoo (all natural and sulfate-free), Kind Bars (dark chocolate sea salt in my favorite), and a French Bulldog table lamp that I already named Frenchie ($34).

It’s amazing how quickly I forgot about all of my non-purchases as soon as I walked out of the Target doors and into the sunlight. NYX lipstick? Didn’t even think about it until I started typing this post. I didn’t think once about the cute Who What Wear blouse while I was planning my outfit for tomorrow. And as much as I love Kris Carr, I don’t regret not buying her book because I still need to get through the recipes in her books that I do own.

I’m fully aware that this is a first world problem and am embarrassed over how much I do fall for great branding and “oh, I should just treat myself” thinking. This challenge is just a baby step towards buying less and living a more minimalist lifestyle. I want to be more disciplined and expand the challenge to other stores I frequent like Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, or heck, even Kroger.

What are your thoughts? Think you’re up for the minimalist Target challenge?

Tip #3 Living with Less

You’re out shopping and you see something that catches your fancy. Even before trying it on, you think, “I must have this thing!”

Now, pause.

Take a hard look at it, that thing you must have. And now imagine it rumpled and crumpled in your laundry basket. Or how about how it will look after a few washes — hanging forlornly in your closet with the hem slightly askew and the color dulled.

Do you still love it? Or was it just the “new car smell” that wooed you?

I know I’m totally guilty of buying into a store’s display. Color-coordinate like items and place it on the rack with room to breathe, paired next to an air plant and a brimmed-hat for “this-could-be-your-lifestyle” inducement. Gets me nearly every time.

Visualize that-thing-you-must-have away from the yummy scented candles of the store, and it gets way easier to put that item down. I know I really want an item if I imagine it a few years old smushed in a Goodwill rack (with that second-hand smell). If I want it after that visualization, it’s usually a keeper.

Have you ever done this — visualizing new clothes worn? Let me know if you have, or if you give it a go!

Pic above is from the Iris Van Herpen exhibit at the High Museum (closes May 15).

Moment of Zen

I think one of the reasons I’m sometimes tempted to buy things is because my brain is going a mile a minute. It wants to be soothed by something/anything! And shopping can seem soothing: you see pretty things you love and you have it within your power to obtain that thing. Such a wonderful, though sadly, temporary feeling.

Well, what if we soothed those feathers in other ways? Usually my other way would be food, but I just cut out my ultimate soothers out of my diet again (I miss you, gluten and sugar!). Maybe this won’t work for everyone, but Cath and I are going to post images every once in a while to soothe your soul, relax your forehead and help you take a deep breath. Tall order for one image, but we’ll try!

The first pic to help us with our moment of zen? A dusky sunset off the coast of Croatia from my trip last summer.

Deep breath in … an outttttt.

One In, One Out

The one in, one out policy is not a new concept for minimalism. I always admired the idea of not increasing the amount of things you own, but didn’t think it was really possible. Now that I’ve minimalized my closet, it’s pretty easy to keep a handle on what I have, what I need, and what I need to get rid of.

So when my beloved Feiyue sneakers bit the dust last month, I replaced them with a shiny new pair of Stan Smiths. I know, I know. Stan Smiths are everywhere and almost passé, but I love the shape and simplicity of the design.

shoes_stan_smiths

Just like my Feiyues, these Stan Smiths are the ultimate weekend shoe. There’s no need to break them in and they’re really comfortable without socks.

So in honor of my first legit one in, one out attempt, here’s a good ol’ fashion outfit post!

cath-full-body

Truly Madly Deeply tank from Urban Outfitters | Baggu tote | Jawbone | Everlane cardi | Old Navy Jeggings | Adidas Stan Smiths

cath-purse-closeup

cath-close-upSimple weekend make-up: Physicians formula tinted moisturizer | NYX brow mascara in Espresso | Milani lipstick in Rose Femme | Tarte blush in Exposed