Confession: I am a Minimalist (kinda, sorta)

asiancajuns-fall-layers fall-layers-blue fall-layers-minimal

It’s been two years since Matt and I left our friends and family stateside and hoofed it to Scotland. Man, time flies when you’re having-fun-but-also-experiencing-an-exhausting-time-of-LEARNING-THINGS.

And learning stuff is painful, isn’t it? It usually involves changing and change is a cranky, inelegant process. I don’t know about you, but I get grumpy and petulant and just want to zone out in front of Netflix with a big plate of cookies bowl of oatmeal.

But the annoying thing is, the pain and the crankiness and bumbling around usually leads to good things. Most of these things I’m sheepish to own up to because the grumpy part of me wants to stay mad at how annoying the process of learning was. “Oh so you want me to stop eating all that’s delicious in life like sugar and wheat and meat and cheese because of a chronic disease?! Talk about adding insult to injury, body! Thanks a lot.” Now a year and half later (after much, much sniveling) and I feel healthier and actually excited (cue sheepish look) about living a healthier lifestyle. I feel a bit embarrassed because I used to be the sweet-tooth queen and now I’d choose a bowl of oatmeal over a stack of cupcakes.

You want to hear another batch of crazy (oatmeal over cupcakes?! uh-huh)? When I was living in Atlanta my favorite thing to do was guilty Target shopping. You know where you tell yourself, oh I’m just going to pop in just to look and then leave $100 poorer with a designer-collaboration outfit, two new lip glosses, Method floor cleaner, and a festive utensil jar.

Well, I don’t do that any more. And it’s not just because there’s no Target equivalent in the UK (I could force Primark to be Target’s doppleganger if I squint real hard and look sideways). And it’s not because I don’t get hit by the compulsive shopping bug every once and a while. What’s changed is 1) I don’t have the space to put an extra utensil jar and 2) I’ve learned more about how unethical a lot of shops are.

If you are a long-time reader (hello, you!) you’ve heard me talk about #2, so I’ll stick to #1 for a minute: lack of space to put impulsive buys.

Exhibit A: Our shared wardrobe.

Small-wardrobe

Matt and I fit all of our clothes in this and a shared dresser. Erm, obviously Matt hogs most of the space (cough, cough).

Exhibit B: Make-up storage

minimalist-makeup-storage

This biscuit tin and tea cup hold all of my make-up and most of my skin products. I’ve tried to reduce the amount of products I think I need and have been slowly replacing my chemically make-up with more natural alternatives. Next up? Home-made deodorant. I know that’s a bit cringe-worthy, but anything that might be healthier for my body, I’ll give it a go. Aren’t you glad I live in a cold climate?

Exhibit C: Our Kitchen (corner in our) Family Room.

small-room

You can’t add more stuff to a kitchen that’s basically your couch’s side table.

I never meant to become a minimalist. And I’m not really. I think a real minimalist would poo-poo my unnecessary decorating or some bits and bobs I keep on the shelves because it makes me feel like I’m Emily Henderson. But generally, Matt and I kinda sorta are minimalists. If we buy something, a new shirt for instance, we’ll give another piece of clothing away to the local charity shop. There just isn’t room in that dinky wardrobe for more stuff.

And our kitchen corner? We have just the right number of pots and pans that we need and no more. Everything we have gets used and used a lot. The thing is (cue sheepishness again), I like it. I really like it.

There are days when I bemoan the fact that I wear the same clothes over and over again and don’t look like my former fashionista self. But I like knowing every single item of clothing I have. It feels liberating compared to my former self who would walk into her closet (walk-in closets?! what are those?!) and get overwhelmed by choice. Maybe I was never a true fashionista to begin with because I know a lot of stylish ladies love expressing themselves through their clothes. I would get confused instead of creative. A quasi-uniform always sort of appealed to me.

It’s shocking to find out that as a former shopping-happy, Louboutin-yearning, cake-devourer I could become a quasi-minimalist, gluten-free vegan who almost happily chooses chamomile tea over a Pumpkin Spice Latte, all in the space of two cranky years.

p.s. Did you guys notice how I dropped in those outfit pics at the top of the post like I was going to talk to you about fall layering? Thanks for sticking with me this long if you’ve made it down here. Instead of layering tips, I gave you cranky change and minimalism. Don’t hate me. Cath will make it up to you with a Give-away post tomorrow!

p.p.s. If you want some true minimalist inspiration and how-to, read about Emily’s 30 Day Minimalist Challenge on Spatial Drift and Esther and Jacob’s 100 Days of Less Challenge.

——–

Dear Cath,

Sheesh, I was long-winded in this post. Did you make it through all that? What do you make of this whole minimalist thing? I think you would slip into this groove much more elegantly than me. When we were teenagers and early 20ers I felt like I was the one that always bought lots of crap and you were always on the look-out for nicely made, quality items. Maybe we are both quasi-minimalists at heart? Sacre bleu!

Miss you like mad and wish it were Christmas already so I could see your face minus a pixelated Skype window.

Love you like I used to love cookies and now love oatmeal,

Lar

 

 


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28 Responses to “Confession: I am a Minimalist (kinda, sorta)”

  1. Tonya Price Says:

    I really loved this post. Life is about changing and experiencing moments of great growth. Quality not quantity. I love the idea of less is more and while I have not exactly lived it,I do attempt it often:) You seem very wise and profoundly happy.I wish you and yours continued good health and happiness!

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    Thanks so much, Tonya! Your comment totally made my day! I too struggle to stay minimalist-ish, so I completely understand. But I think the striving for it/the journey is the most fulfilling part.
    xoxox, Lar

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  2. Dianne Says:

    Tonya said it very well above, and I wanted to add that I also really appreciate this post. Paring down belongings has always felt liberating to me and I’m really trying to focus on owning less, but more awesome, things. Love reading about your journey over the past 2 years, it’s very inspiring!

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    Thank you so much for your comment, Dianne, and being a wonderful reader! It is liberating choosing less and better over more and not-so-good, isn’t it?
    xoxox, Lar

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  3. AsianCajuns (Cath) Says:

    Dearest Lar,

    I’m jealous of your pared down lifestyle! When you moved away and left me all of your wonderful clothes, I was so excited! Still, after two years, when I wear something of yours (boots, jewelry, dresses) I always get compliments. A lot of that is because you would buy a lot more fun stuff than I would and I loved it!

    That being said, lots of fun items only get you so far. Eventually you tire of them or just get overwhelmed by everything. For the past two months as I’m transitioning my wardrobe from summer to winter, I’ve been a lot more ruthless about getting rid of stuff. The hardest items have been the stuff you left me! I don’t want to give it away, but I know you won’t want most of it when you move back to the states.

    So slowly, but surely I’m culling through my closet. It’ll take some time and I’ll probably never get it as pared down as yours, but that’s what I’m aiming for.

    Also, I want you to make me a bowl of your amazing oatmeal!

    love, cath

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    I am so proud of you paring down, Cath! Especially because it’s much harder for you since I dumped all my extras in your closet! I’m glad you’ve gotten good use out of some of them, but definitely feel free to give away what you don’t want. I don’t remember anything I gave you but two items: the Madewell pink necklace and the pink cowboy boots (or did I thrift those). It really is out of sight, out of mind. All those things I thought I had a sentimental attachment to or couldn’t get rid of until I had to — fast!

    Miss you so very much, Kitcath! Don’t forget the blackstrap molasses for your oatmeal ;D

    xoxoxo, Lar

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  4. Jackie Says:

    Girl can preach!

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    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    Haha! Thanks, Jackie!! xx Lar

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  5. Lisa Says:

    I love this post. The boy and I moved into a 655 square foot condo a year ago, and while we’re blessed with lots of storage space (hello, walk-in closet and a good-sized den!), we’ve really worked hard to keep clutter to a minimum.

    The other thing is, more stuff costs more money! I’m trying to balance selective shopping with the sobering realization that we need to save (a lot) for big ticket items within the next 5 years.

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    That’s totally the same case with us, Lisa! Maybe it is a maturity thing too — realizing you have to not impulse buy so that you can pay for a mortgage, travel, etc. Being an adult is tough work!
    xoxox, Lar

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  6. CurryLove Says:

    I just finished putting away a bunch of clothes in to my closet (that was already full) and I still have a laundry basket (also full) of clothes to wash and dry. I have TOO much. I’m so disgusted with myself (never met a sale I didn’t like) but I also justify it by thinking “I wear everything I own” – which isn’t 100% true, but … ;) Sigh.

    I may never be able to go minimalist, but I do enjoy reading about your adventures in doing so :)

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    Thanks so much for your support, CL! And you know I totally understand not wanting to go minimalist. I don’t think I would have done it if I hadn’t moved out of my apartment with the walk-in closet and overseas. It’s not an easy transition and I in no way did it gracefully ;D

    xoxoxox, Lar

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  7. Rianne Says:

    Lar… you’re totally my hero.

    :)

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    Awww, Rianne, you are so sweet! Well you are my vegan-shopping hero! I buy a lot less leather because of you!
    See you Friday — yahoo!!!
    xoxoxo, Lar

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  8. Ashley Says:

    I think this is great… I’m kind of in the middle of it all myself, but I’m in the grumbling, not-really-facing it stage. :/

    As for the homemade deodarant, let me know if you find a good recipe! I’ve been using a deodarant cream by Soapwalla on etsy and love it. The ‘natural’ ones like TOMS just don’t cut it for my active lifestyle.

    xoxo

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    Oooo Ashley thank you so much for mentioning Soapwalla! I’d never heard of them before and YES Toms et al do NOT work. The reason I thought of making my own was because I was so frustrated buying rather expensive natural deodorants that did not work. Definitely going to check them out.

    The recipe I’m using is a quarter cup arrow root powder, quarter cup baking soda and a quarter cup coconut oil. I’ll let you know if it’s worth it!

    xoxoxo, Lar

    [Reply]

    CurryLove Reply:

    Do ya’ll ever check out the blog “One Good Thing by Jillee” ? She posts home-made things all the time (I remembered because I think she made blush using arrow root) – anyway, I had some issues trying to read it the past couple of days, I kept getting a malware warning (so I went no further), but hopefully that’s fixed. I want to say she’s made home-made laundry detergent as well… maybe she’s done deoderant as well? I’ll never make any of it myself, but it’s nice to know how ;)

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    Ooo thinks so much for the link, CL! I’d never heard of her blog before but it looks schmazing! I kinda suck at making my own household cleaners, body products, etc. So I might be talking a big talk about the deoderant — I’ll let you know if I do it! ;D
    xx, Lar

  9. Amanda Says:

    Oh Lar! That one little wardrobe for the two of you?? Here goes another ramble… I know all about this, girl. When we moved to Switzerland, we hardly brought any clothes with us and I just never had the desire to shop while I was there (we did, however, have two of those wardrobes, one for each of us). Our apartment was sparsely furnished (because house decor was soooo expensive), so it always stayed clean. I LOVED it. Now that we have been back stateside for 3 years we’ve acquired so much stuff again! (Ok, a bunch of it is baby stuff, but still.) I yearn for that minimalist time in our lives and am not sure how to achieve that again, since the first time around it happened by accident. And as for the healthy food stuff, when I was on that very strict diet to get pregnant, I have never felt better. But now that I have a nursling, I’ve given myself carte blanche to eat whatever I want. And sometimes that means 3 cookies and a slice of cake in one day! Wanting to have a baby was such huge motivation, and now I don’t have that kind of motivation. I still eat really healthy meals, but I am constantly indulging in sweets. I wish I could be more satisfied with a bowl of oatmeal (sweetened with real maple syrup?) than cookies…

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    Hi Amanda!

    Thanks for your ramble — I love it! I remember being inspired by your posts about your time in Switzerland. And let me tell you, I think it’s much harder to be minimalist in a place you know you are going to be staying long-term. Matt and I will probably move next year, so our nomadic ways help me keep clutter at bay.

    I also think it’s harding not to consume (everything!) in the states. It’s just so easy with big box stores and big cars to load things in. No walking/lugging bags of things across town and up flights of stairs to your flat. So that said, I can totally understand the struggle to maintain that stateside!

    Also, having a baby! I won’t even pretend to understand how I could manage that — I’m sure I would buy a ton of stuff and indulge in sweet stuff too! I’m impressed you still eat healthy meals — that must be a challenge in it of itself. But do try oatmeal with maple syrup (genius), pecans and sliced banana. It really tastes like dessert! For a slightly less sweet option I do chopped dates, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds and black strap molasses.

    xoxoxo, Lar

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  10. laura Says:

    Lar, I LOVE this post! And I love your closet, kitchen, makeup, outfits! :) I love your “minimalist” approach to everything too. You know, living within the grad school budget pretty much forced B and I into some sort of minimalism, too. And now, we pretty much employ the “spend more and buy less” mentality as much as we can.
    PS. you are a fashionista no matter what you wear! You are stylish forever!

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    Laura, your comments always make my day(s)!!! And I totally know the grad school budget (not that I have a higher degree, but the husbando does). I really do feel like the upside of having to budget (because who would budget if you didn’t really have to?) is getting to know what is important to you and what you want to keep in your life and what you can most definitely live without.
    xoxoxox,
    Lar

    [Reply]

  11. Lovely Links: 10/25/13 Says:

    […] the story of how a style blogger was forced to become a minimalist. And how she’s learned to loved the pared-down […]

  12. estherjulee Says:

    ooh i love that you wrote this post! and thank you for including our blog link in it. totally didn’t expect that. :)

    i know the next thing on my list is to figure out what to do with all the make up i don’t use.. and inventory my clothing! i love your make up storage btw! :) I love how it fits in with the color scheme of the rest of your home.

    i don’t think there’s anything wrong with a minimalist decorating! i read a rule somewhere that as long as it serves a good purpose, you can keep it. if it makes you happy looking at a decorated place, that’s good enough reason for me!

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    Ooo I love that thinking about minimalist decorating, Esther! Genius. I’ll go with that!

    Thanks for the inspiration on your blog. You guys are the bees’ knees!

    xoxoxo, Lar

    [Reply]

  13. Céline Says:

    Hi Lar!
    I really like reading your post! I guess it’s part of growing older and becoming wiser (!) to buy less and to ask you the question “do I really need this?”. It might be a bit exaggerated but I also tend to think that living in European cities is more expensive so you are forced to consume less. European flats and houses are also smaller than in the US. The less room available you have, the less you accumulate!
    Anyway, I admire your change of lifestyle in such a short time. I tend to have the same issues (we have pretty much the same make-up storage and the same natural products!). My cooking is becoming more and more vegetarian and gluten-free (vegan is too much for me!). But it’s really hard to go against what you have been used to for almost all your life!!!

    Here’s a post on a cooking blog (!) with a recipe for homemade deodorant : http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2013/06/homemade_natural_deodorant_travel-friendly.php
    This travel-friendly recipe might be useful if you’re back in Atlanta!
    The blog is written by a French girl who speaks perfect English. You might also find gluten-free recipes in there!

    [Reply]

    asiancajuns Lar Reply:

    Hi Céline! So good to hear from you! And yes, I totally agree that part of the minimalism has to do with growing up and maturing and with living in Europe — much teenier spaces.

    Oh and I know vegan all the way is hard — no dairy! No cheeeese! I’m just getting over my I-miss-cheese hump.

    Thanks so much for the link to Chocolate and Zucchini. I used to read her blog all the time, but I need to keep that up!

    xoxox, Lar

    [Reply]

  14. Tamika Says:

    Lar, loved this post. Confession: I need to get rid of some stuff, but not before getting that adorable mustache pillow! :) Glad to see you are much better. That’s one cool looking tree too!

    [Reply]

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