I Totally Kate Middleton-ed This Dress




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!


Just look at that!


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.


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?


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:


And have a house that looks like this:


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)


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


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:


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):


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?


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:


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:


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.


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


Ever since I started this journey towards minimalism, I’ve been practicing this not-so-novel method: not buying replacement products until I completely run out of them. I know, it’s not groundbreaking, but for me it’s a complete mind shift – especially when it comes to beauty products*.

Pre-minimalism-journey, if my favorite foundation or cleanser was feeling every so slightly empty, I would rush out to Target/CVS/Sephora to replenish it. So for at least a couple of weeks, I would have two of the same product in my bathroom cabinet. I blame my dad for having this mentality. Growing up we never ran out of shampoo, nail polish remover, toothpaste, canned goods, paper products, body lotion, or any other number of products because we always had extra in the house. This was due to the fact that my dad would alway buy products that were both on sale and had a coupon regardless of whether or not we needed said item at that moment.

I’m sure he saved our family a lot of money in the long run, but with minimal storage space and a *ahem* slightly more expensive taste than my dad (goodbye Suave and VOL shampoos), coupon cutting and stocking up doesn’t work for me. Plus, the more I buy, the less I know what I have – stuff always gets stuck in the back of a closet somewhere and I never see it again.

And there is an added bonus to waiting. Now that I’ve been using this method of only purchasing items when I’m completely out, I find that I can live without some products. I used to use a fancy toner. When that ran out, I spent a few days using witch hazel before rushing out to replace it, and found that witch hazel worked just as well.

So that brings me to the topic of this post – empties! I always like watching empty videos on YouTube because it’s so satisfying to see things that have been completely used up. For those of you who feel the same, here are my most recent empties:

Bumble and Bumble Dryspun Finish – This is basically the same thing as Oribe Texturizing Spray. It doesn’t smell quite as good, but it works just as well and I can get it at my local salon. I really love how it makes my hair look piece-y and it adds the perfect amount of volume. The main drawback is the price. It’s $31 and the bottle runs out super fast. I’m on my second can and I probably won’t repurchase it again unless I win the lottery or throw my budget out the window.

Bioderma – Lar got me hooked on this micellar water years ago when she was living in Scotland. I purchased this bottle a while ago in Canada. It’s available online in the states, but I don’t know of any stores that sell it (it’s available everywhere in Europe). It’s lightweight and non-greasy, but also really effective at removing makeup. Once I finished the bottle, I purchased Garnier’s michellar water at CVS since I didn’t feel like ordering a bottle of Bioderma online. It’s a nice dupe, but not quiet as good.

Korres Greek Yoghurt Primer – I go through periods where I try to purchase only all-natural makeup products. I grabbed this at Sephora when I was going through one of those periods and fell in love with it. It’s hard to describe the smell – yogurt-y, but in a good way and not overpowering – and it works just as well as other primers I’ve tried. I couldn’t find it the last time I was in Sephora, so I couldn’t replace it when my tube ran out – sob!

Pixi Glow Tonic – I don’t know why, but I feel like such an adult by upping my toner game with an exfoliating toner. Fancy-sounding, right? It’s not the cheapest skin product out there, but it’s available at Target and makes my skin feel so refreshingly smooth. I’m almost done with my second bottle and will repurchase it again as soon as I’m out.

Josie Maran Whipped Argon Oil Body Butter – I got this in a gift set. I loved the scent and it reminds me of a lighter version of the Body Shop’s body butters. The only downside is that I used it up too fast. I didn’t repurchase it because I’ve tried to be a little more money conscious and have started making my own body butter. More on that in a later post 😉

Holly Beth Organics Chamomile Cleanser – I love everything that Holly Beth Organics makes and it’s a local Atlanta brand – woohoo! The only reason I didn’t repurchase this is that I find foaming cleansers, no matter how gentle, are just too drying on my skin.

Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation – This is hands down my all time favorite foundation. It has a light-to-medium coverage, smells amazing, and never ever broke me out or felt greasy. I purchased this over a year ago in Scotland and I should have bought out the store’s supply. You can purchase some Bourjois products online in the states if you do a quick Google search, but you can buy directly from Bourjois’ website. So I’ll just have to stock up next time I’m in the U.K. If anyone knows of a good substitute or a reliable online store to purchase Bourjois foundation, let me know!

Acure Eye Cream – All natural, affordable, and easy to find (Whole Foods, Target, Earth Fare etc.). I haven’t repurchased it because it didn’t blow me away and I wanted to try some other brands. What I did like about it is the feel, it’s light and non-greasy, and the fact that it lasted forever.

*Obviously there are some products that this process doesn’t work for as well: toilet paper, dish soap, wine. . .

Goodwill Hunting Part 2

goodwillhunting8  goodwillhunting9

Top: shirt from Goodwill (drawn on by moi), cropped shorts from UK charity shop, shoes Superga. Bottom: Club Monoco dress from Goodwill.

Since taking these photos last week, a strange thing has happened — a new season. Somehow the end of summer rolled into town. Why and how and why so fast?

I’m sure Cath is rolling her eyes at me in Hot-lanta where the temperatures still soar and the humidity smothers. But here in the temperamental PNW, we’ve had one or two 90 degree days nestled between chillier 60-70 degree weeks. I’m not complaining — nooooo. It’s far summerier than the summery of summers in Edinburgh, but it’s still ending too soon.

And for some reason, this change in season has me moving away from the above pictured minimalist style and into piling on rings and a sweater or two with a (gasp!) print or pattern.

Does that happen to you guys too? Change in season or time of life and your style asks for a shake-up without you realizing it?

It’s confusing because I thought in my 30s I would sort of start sticking to one style a bit more (Cath and I have talked about this repeatedly on the blog here and here). Maintaining one style is friendlier on your wallet and your closet (aka living with less). So I’m kind of baffled by this need to, stylistically-speaking, maximize my wardrobe — at the same time as limiting acquisitions.

But I’m going to go with it. I find any time I try to stick too closely to one school of thought — even when I can feel things shifting to explore new avenues — I end up frustrated and feeling stuck. So let’s embrace the confusion and the arm parties and contrasting patterns.

Happy almost-Fall!

Goodwill Hunting Part 1

goodwillhunting 1 goodwillhunting 3

Tee thrifted from Revival, Pants from Goodwill, Dress from Goodwill, Red bandana from Ban.do

I’d say roughly a third of my closet is thrifted, the second third is at least five years old, and the last third is stuff bought within the last five years. That’s pretty good, right?

Ideally I would find everything I needed (and wanted — such a bad minimalist) at Goodwill or a charity or vintage shop. But certain things (undies, a fresh white T-shirt, socks) are better bought new.

I’m always on the hunt for good ethical sources for closet staples. If you guys have any suggestions please do send them our way.

Thrifting has become my default for “ethical” — I feel I’m at least not adding to the overabundance of STUFF by re-using. And I honestly think being conscientious about our buying habits is a first great step to living with less.

I currently live about a 7 minute walk to the nearest Goodwill where I found these pants-that-feel-like-pjs (#winning!) and this dress that, with a red bandana, makes me feel like Rosie the Riveter. I really can’t ask for more sartorial dreaminess for less than $30 combined.

To sum up: get thee to a Goodwill (or similar establishment of thrifty repute)!

In which I (inadvertently) wear two pairs of underwear

queenieOne of the wonderful results of living with less is that you know exactly what you own. For instance, I used to have a mess of a sock drawer, but I now know exactly what’s in there: orderly wool socks, posh socks, sporty socks — the whole Spice Girls gamut of sockdom.

I also know exactly where to find the stuff I need because I don’t have to keep track of so many things. Generally speaking, things don’t go missing because there’s a space for everything. Since my KonMari weekend a few years back, nothing gets relegated to a miscellaneous closet that never sees the light of day.

Well, that might not be exactly true. I don’t actually know everything I have. But I really thought I did — until last week.

You know what they say, pride goeth before the fall, etc.

I bought this new hoody back in early spring. It’s light-weight and super soft – perfect for a bit of light layering. I ended up wearing it all day last week because Seattle hadn’t quite warmed up to a proper summer just yet.

I went to meetings, I went out to lunch, I had multiple water-cooler chats with coworkers. It was an unusually long day, but my super-soft hoody made me feel comforted even after blinking at a screen for 9 hours.

And then I came home.

I dropped my bags on the floor and shook off my hoodie and on to the floor falls a pair of undies. Mine, thankfully. And clean ones! With no holes (thankyoubabyjesus)! But still!

I have a sneaking suspicion that they were sticking out of my hood all day after comingling with my hoodie in the laundry. I’m praying everyone just thought I had a purple-lined sweatshirt.

So here’s a fair warning to you all: check your hoods before leaving the house, kids! You thought the pant-leg undie-rider was bad, just think what would happen if you casually popped on your hood and a pair of frilly knickers slides over your forehead. (I bet Queenie, pictured at the top of the post there, checked her hood and scarf before venturing out for a bit of fox hunting or what have you — one can never be too careful).

So this really isn’t a helpful post on owning less, but this incident has really made me seriously reconsider the true genius of days-of-the-week underwear.

Oh and guess what, guys?! I actually have two outfit posts lined up for this week and next. So hold on to your hats, kiddos, AsianCajuns is back in business!

Unintentional Minimalism

Like Cath said in her last post, we did not mean to take such a long hiatus from AsianCajuns. While Cath has been going through a bit of a rough patch in Atlanta, we’ve had a steady stream of visitors to Seattle, packed and moved apartments, traveled to Vancouver twice, Edinburgh and Amsterdam, and D.C./Maryland.

But busy times, as fun as they may be, always leave me feeling discombobulated. I have a hard time settling down with my own thoughts and after living out of suitcases and boxes for a while, I start to feel really disconnected from everything — including blogging and trying to live with less.

Even though I’ve lived abroad and traveled a lot, I am still, at heart, a nester and homebody. So I always feel more anxious and disconnected when moving and traveling, and Matt and I have crammed in all the above these two months.

Today is my first full day in our new place since we moved in three weeks ago. It’s still empty and not decorated — and very unintentionally minimalist — but do you want to see it?




vanity-new    kitchen-new  diningroom-new

I am honestly not trying to do the white minimalist trendy look. I do not think you have to live with that aesthetic to be a minimalist or when creating a life where you live with less. My true style is more squishy sofas and cottagey-sized rooms, but our nomadic apartment-living these past five years hasn’t really leant itself to my granny aesthetic. So, in the meantime, it’s simple and open (and easy to move) until I move into this dream home or apartment.