A tale of three wallets

Apart from the number of face products I use, I’ve also been a maximalist in regards to my purse. And by purse I mean tote bag. And by tote bag I mean my life!

I’m definitely one of those women who like to carry everything with her just in case. And just-in-casers can not carry small bags because where would you put that hand lotion, hand sanitizer, extra pads/tampons, pain killers, hair elastics, bobby pins, stamps, band-aids, lip gloss, lip stick, lip balm, powder, blotting papers, loyalty cards, credit cards, debit card, coins, insurance card, I.D., bus pass, old receipts, lucky cat talisman, single small googly-eye, mustache-shaped paperclip, 2 still-pertinent and positive fortunes from fortune cookies … Okay, maybe those last few aren’t universal. But you get what I mean.

I have tried to down-size before. And I was totally inspired by Cath doing it (read how she down-sized her purse here). But somehow (again, like my face products), the fewer things I tried to have, the more I acquired. Math isn’t my strong point, but when has 2 minus 1 equaled 65?!

So I realized just recently that things have gotten out of hand. Why? Do you see those two wallets to the left of the turquoise mini-wallet in the pic above? I was using both of those simultaneously. That’s how much stuff I was carrying. I mean who uses two full-sized wallets day-to-day?

It seemed sane at first. I bought the Michael Kors wallet because my office building has a number of security doors with card beepers. Forget your card and you’re stuck in the 4th floor cafeteria when you have a meeting in the conference room on the 22nd floor. This wallet has a handy wrist band and holds my phone, so I could always have my card and phone and be kinda hands-free too. There are slots for a few other cards so I thought great! No more bulky wallet, I just need a credit card, debit card and my office pass!

But then I had to go to the doctor’s one day and didn’t have my insurance card. And then I realized I needed to carry two credit cards because one of them offers me cash back on groceries (aren’t you so proud, Dad?!). I couldn’t fit everything into my spiffy Michael Kors wallet so I pulled out my much-loved and seven-year-old Marc wallet and added that to my ever expanding tote-that-wishes-it-were-a-purse.

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But enough is enough! I’m sure, I have actually used the band-aids and the hand sanitizer in my stash of seemingly ultra-necessary things I carry — but not that often. Maybe once a year. So, I bought this cute little turquoise wallet and am going to see if I can handle at least a smaller wallet and then see if I can graduate to a smaller bag.

I mean, I don’t even own a small purse. All of my purses think they are purses because they are leather and not canvas, but cavernous totes they are. I figure this is safe though. I don’t get a bag unless I can live the lifestyle of the bag.

Something to work toward, but I’ll let you know if this just turns into me carrying three wallets instead!

 

Fall 2016 Minimalist Wardrobe Inspo

I wanted to keep myself busy this weekend so I wouldn’t get too down about the election and everything that it implies. It really helped to read Lar’s post a couple of times and to spend time away from the news. I busied myself with house stuff like painting an old dresser for my bedroom (follow that riveting saga on my SnapChat: AsianCajunsCath) and cleaning my sneakers (future blog post coming).

I also distracted myself with some fall clothes inspiration. Now that it’s finally getting a little, tiny bit cooler in the south, it’s time to start thinking about long sleeves, cardigans, and boots.

This year, instead of showing you want I want to buy, I’m going to show you what I want to wear. Once I gathered these six images, I realized that I have almost everything in these photos:

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I’m a big fan of ankle-showing pants. They might not be practical for other parts of the country during the winter, but there are very few weeks in Atlanta where ankle length pants aren’t warm enough. I need to get some that are work appropriate because right now I just have some cropped jeans, which don’t give off that pantsuit air that I’m going for. #pantsuitnation

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I still think white sneakers are the bee’s knees even though white is not traditionally appropriate during the winter. They’re also harder to pull off if you’re not showing a little bit of ankle (see a theme here?), but I think you can pull off that Scandinavian black jeans, black socks, and white sneakers look if you have enough confidence. For the two photos above, I have the slouchy blazer already, t-shirt, and jeans (both boyfriend and skinny styles), but I don’t have a wool 3/4 length coat and that’s definitely at the top of my list. Last year I wrote about how I ended up with this very practical winter coat after Kon Mari-ing all of my clothes. It functions perfectly for the winter, but not for nicer events like going out to a fancy dinner or going to the ballet (both of which I do all the time. . . ahem).

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Now, when I do want to dress up I like simple pieces like color-block dresses (is it still color block when it’s just black and white?!) or black skirts with a statement necklace. I love chunky, big, handcrafted-looking necklaces and am thinking about making one or two for the fall/winter season.

So there you have it. I’m still a sucker for an aesthetically minimalist pieces. If you’re bored with that look, check out Lar’s post, Is Minimalism as a Trend Waning?

In the same vein (and if you’re looking for more post-election distraction), read this article on Racked about how embellishments are back – and minimalism is out.

P.S.: All of the photos in this post are from Cup of Jo. Her blog is another good distraction and I love her Style and Beauty Uniform posts that show what real women wear.

P.P.S.: If you still want to indulge in some retail therapy, purchase one of these shirts or pins that supports Planned Parenthood.

It’s the little things

Literally. Tiniest lucky cat in the world. #Iheartyou

This is just distraction really. Cath and I are still trying to process the heart-breaking election here in the States.

I feel angry and sad and embarrassed — and absolutely devastated that so many people here (and around the world) will be afraid to live in or visit the United States because of fear-mongering and cruelty supported by a racist, sexist and bigoted president.

Yes, Cath and I both believe in continuing to fight the good fight, but I know we both feel like we need time to process this before we pick up the pieces and can move forward through this hostility toward a united humanity.

And hopefully in four years or less, love and inclusion will triumph over divisiveness, racism, and fear.

Much love to you all!

We love you, we love her. Please vote.

In this election I’m not voting for the lesser of two evils. I’m voting for the person that fought for minority and disabled children after leaving law school when she could have gone to a cushy firm and made partner. I’m voting for the person who fought for healthcare for families and children and continues to do so. I’m voting for the person who said “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights” even though she was encouraged not to — and has continued to support women domestically and internationally. I’m voting for the person who worked across party lines as a senator and got money allocated for 9/11 responders (and to think when she was running for that senate seat everyone said she would be too polarizing and wouldn’t get anything done). I’m voting for the person who is the most qualified presidential candidate we have ever had in the history of our democracy.

Does she walk on water? No. Do I think she’s a perfect person? No. Do I agree 100% with all of her policies and choices? No. Has she made mistakes in her long, political career? Yes.

But I don’t expect perfection in the White House (even if you came close, Barack and Michelle!). I want a hard-working, strong and whip-smart, public advocate who embraces equality and can weather the undeniably complex issues of our present and our future.

A lot of stuff for my face

You know how you read those blog posts, magazine articles, and how-to-be-parisian books and they tease you with stories of frustratingly low-maintenance girls who just use a bit of coconut oil and a swipe of lip stain and they look (or at least sound like the look) perfect? Well, I wanted to be that girl. Doesn’t everyone want to be that girl?

So I bought the idea hook, (eye)line(er) and sinker. I hoped that in the process of becoming a coconut oil smearing, lip staining expert I’d also be using less chemicals on my face (mo natural, mo bettah, right?) and using fewer products (better for the planet because I’m curbing unnecessary consumerism). Win, win, win!

So I tried it for 5 plus years. I only used jojoba oil and warm water to cleanse and moisturize my face, and because I look dead to the world without eye make-up on, I focused my “look” on an eyeliner and brow filer instead of finding the perfect red lippie. I tried almost every natural (or natural-ish) beauty line at Whole Foods and every kind of cold-pressed, organic oil (avocado, almond, jojoba, sesame, olive and coconut oil — the latter which clogged my pores).

But somehow, even with all my water-drinking, mostly clean eating, oiling and staying away from bad chemicals my skin still looked red and splotchy, and dull and patchy, while simultaneously shimmering with oil toward the end of the day.

Turns out I’m not a low-maintenance girl. And maybe no one is (unless you’re 16 and blessed with acne-free skin). My skin takes work and a few chemicals to keep it happy.

I still try to keep my products as natural as possible, but now that I’m at the age where eye creams are my best friend (work, damn you!), I allow for a bit more power in my product even if I can’t pronounce all the ingredients.

I’m blogging about this because I’m a little frustrated that I care so much. Skin is skin and wrinkles happen (girl, you 33 and not 21 anymore). But I feel so shiny and pretty when my skin looks smooth and healthy — even if that means I have eschew the unattainable dream of being low-maintenance and 100% natural. An elusive, capricious thing to chase anyways, and maybe a disingenuous bit of marketing by the beauty world. I mean, Sephora and Ulta would be relics of the past if the low-maintenance myth were real.

Oh wait, one more snafu! This blog is how Cath and I are trying to live with less. And acquiring more lotions and potions was not my goal six months ago. Whoopsie daisies. So my intention is to try to use every last drop of all these products I own and not buy anything new until I’ve used them up. Cath showed you her empties and I hope to do the same in the spring!

 

I Totally Kate Middleton-ed This Dress

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Kate and I have soooo much in common: we both have brown hair, brown eyes, arms, teeth … the comparisons are endless really. But one thing we have especially in common — we like to re-wear dresses to events. Hashtag twinsies! (Wait, I’m already a twin. Tripletsies?!)

In all seriousness though, I think this is such a tricky thing to do. To find a dress that’s dressy enough, but not so dressy that it only works for one type of occasion, and you don’t get sick of it because it fits so dang well and lets you have a food baby without anyone noticing it — near impossible! But, guys, I found it!

This fairly nondescript dress was a last minute purchase in the wilds of Pennsylvania suburbia one summer when I was at a wedding and forgot to bring something semi-formal for the rehearsal dinner.

The pattern didn’t immediately catch my eye, but I knew that a halter top is usually flattering on me so I thought I would give it a go. And low and behold, this Banana Republic Outlet dress (yes, outlet) has since become my go-to for semi-formal events everywhere … around the world: the rehearsal dinner in Pennsylvania, a dinner date with Matt in Split, Croatia, just this past weekend at my friend’s beautiful wedding, and a number of non-photographed events.

The other genius quality of this dress? It does not wrinkle! I can roll it in a ball and stuff it in a carry-on and still look fairly presentable at the end of a 5 hour flight.

Do you guys have a magical clothing item that does all that? I seriously didn’t think they existed before I found this dress.

Kate probably wishes she could wear something this casual on her state visits to some far-flung former colony. I mean Alexander McQueen is nice and all, but a BP Outlet dress is apparently where it’s at.

Good to the Last Drop

This post is less about minimalism and more about trying to save money, but I find that the two topics overlap quite a bit.

I’ve been trying to get better about sticking to a budget for the past two months, which means all thing fun things eating out, clothing purchases, and makeup buying have been severely cut down.

I had my makeup budget set for the month when I realized I was at the end of my primer. So out of desperation I cut the container open and realized that I had at least another two weeks worth – score!

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Just look at that!

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I picked up a little sample container last time I was at the Nordstrom beauty counter (pre-budgeting, obviously) and used a small spoon to scoop the remaining primer into the container.

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Alright, I know this isn’t a groundbreaking post, but I love it when I end up being more of a minimalist when I’m not even trying. Instead of going out and buying some more primer, I’m fully using what I have. If that’s not minimalism – I don’t know what is.

Plus, now my face primer matches my eye primer and they’re both in my favorite colors – black and white. It’s the little things, am I right?

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And yes, I see how unminimalist-like it is to have two primers, but minimalism is a journey. . . not a destination. Well, it kind of is like a destination, but I’m obviously still working on that!

Is Minimalism as a Trend Waning?

Cath and I have always felt that minimalism and living with less, shouldn’t be thought of as a specific “look.” Living with fewer things does not mean your closet will look perfectly monochrome or your kitchen will have absolutely nothing on the counters.

Minimalism looks different for everyone. At least, I think it can.

And so here is where I make that argument that you can dress like this:

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And have a house that looks like this:

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And still be someone who is trying to be more a conscientious consumer.

It makes sense that the Minimalist trend coincided with the aesthetic trend of neutral palettes in both fashion and interiors. But if you look at the amount of color and pattern showing up in Instagram, on Pinterest, magazines and current fashion shows, I think it’s safe to say that that “look” is waning, if ever so slightly.

And I love it! I love a very neutral, clean look too, but I’m equally excited by the exuberance of saturated color and swirls of patterns clashing together.

Though this look is more layered and often more “cluttered,” I don’t think that means it’s because you buy more or have to buy more to achieve that look. In some ways, this more bohemian style works really well with using what you already own. Seriously, pull everything out of your closet and put it together — either on your own body or on your couch. Voila! Boho-ization!

(The street style pics in this post are Phil Oh’s via Vogue)

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(I particularly fancy what these Gucci ladies have going on this and last season):

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In fact, that’s what I’m trying to do. Instead of wearing more color and pattern by running to the shops, I’m scrounging through my closet and figuring out how to combine my existing clothes that didn’t appeal to me when I was doing the black and white thing. I have made some trips to Goodwill to mix it up a bit more, but I’m not interested in adding to me closet’s girth. So I’ve been weeding out things at the same time.

I haven’t gone full Gucci 2016 just yet, but you can see the style change happening in the pic below. On the left is an outfit photo from early spring and below right is from just a few weeks ago:

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These pics do a pretty good job of summing up how I was dressing and how I feel like dressing now. And who doesn’t love a little layer challenge come fall.

Are you guys feeling it? That change in the air?

If you are a monochromatic gal/guy for life, or have been missing your inner bohemian, I still think you can live with less. I’ll try to prove it the next little while and keep you guys updated on how my style progresses and whether I’ve slipped into buying more stuff just so my life looks like Justina Blakeney’s.

Your House Does Not Need To Look Like This

Back in July, a few weeks after Matt and I had moved into our new apartment, this was what was going on in my boudoir (aka the bedroom that also houses my $99 amazon vanity — fancy pants, you know):

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There’s a teeny shallow drawer in the front of the vanity that housed all my make-up. I was so proud of my efforts to keep almost everything for my face and hair in the drawer or my storage ottoman that I use as a vanity chair.

I mean just look how clean and white and serene that all looks, right?

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Okay, it actually looks a little too sparse in the above photo, but you can see the ottoman where my hair do-dads live.

I just loved the idea that most of my stuff was unseen. I don’t like the clutter of lots of little bits and bobs — especially all the different colored labels that come along with them and do not match my neutral palette (except for you, Aesop. You, you do can sit on any surface you wish!).

But you know what transpired after a few weeks of being settled into our new space? I noticed I was leaving all my stuff out — on the floor and on my vanity, sometimes my bed. Because in the morning, when I’m rushing out the door, the last thing I want to do is carefully wrap up my blow-dryer cord and open the ottoman to put it away. And my concealer? Brow powder? No time for putting you away either!

So even though all the beauty products I own can easily fit in my storage areas, it wasn’t working. My bedroom was only clean and clutter free when I had a moment to stop and put things away (you know, like that time when I took the above pics ;D) — and that rarely happened.

So that got me thinking.

As much as I want a space that looks like this:

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that is not how I live my life. I’m not saying things can’t be clutter-free, but I don’t want a space to not work. And it doesn’t work if you can’t use it the way you really use it.

So even though I initially thought — yeah I totes put allll my stuff away every single day. That was a lie. And I fought against it for months. I wanted to use my space how I thought it should look instead of how I really need it to function.

So I hushed my inner perfectionist (she’s so noisy and bossy most of the time) and decided to think about how I go about my day-to-day face painting and hair doing — and set up my vanity that way.

So now it looks like this:

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Yup still neat and tidy, but much easier to have my skincare and most-used make-up items at my finger tips rather than under my bum (that sounds weird — I’m talking about my ottoman storage again).

This also helps me remember the bits and bobs I want to use up. They won’t get lost in the back of my drawer or bottom of the ottoman — which has recently lead me to buying way more overpriced skin serums than one person needs.

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So even though it doesn’t look like I’m living with less now, I’m actually less apt to buy more stuff because I see what I have on a daily basis.

This goes back to the pic at the top of this post. I think it’s so lovely and serene, but apart form the obvious styling done we know even the most minimalist of minimalist don’t live like this. When real people sleep there (who are these fancy pants people, Architectural Digest?), they would have a bottle of loud-labeled hand-lotion on their bedside table and cotton balls scattered on top of that vanity (with the teeniest mirror known to womankind) and a pair of pink Target pjs that say “Turnip the Beets” strewn on the bed. Or, you know, the rich person equivalent.

Cath’s in Seattle (again!)

Cath has had a hard summer and it so sucks that I can’t be right next to her when she needs me. So for her birthday, we bought her a roundtrip ticket to Seattle for a week. It has been heavenly! The only problem? I don’t want her to leave.

Hear that, Cath? You. Can’t. Leave!cathseattle-4 cathseattle-3