All posts by Cath

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:

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!

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.

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.

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!

cuttube

Just look at that!

plentyofprimer

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.

filledsample

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?

primersfinished

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!

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!

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!

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?

A Mini Spring Closet Clean-out

For the past few weeks I’ve noticed that there are a handful of items I no longer wear in my closet. After my thorough KonMari-ing and inventory-keeping, it’s become easier to see which items aren’t making the cut (items I only reach for when I haven’t done laundry in a while). It only took a few minutes to clean out the following:

springcleaningwardrobe

1 workout tank that I’ve worn for the past 7 years. It’s gotten so stretched out that I have to wear a sports bra underneath even though it comes with a built-in bra.

1 pair of my (beloved) Frye boots. I’ve had these boots for years and years and I’ve gotten them re-soled a number of times, but now they’re just looking so tired that I can’t wear them to work anymore. Years of wear and tear has turned them into the leather boot equivalent of Uggs.

1 pair of Feiyues sneakers. Love these! I got them a long time ago when we hosted a Feiyue giveaway on this blog and fell in love with their shape (molded to the foot) and comfort. They’ve held up after a few washes, but the inside soles keep rolling up and no matter how much glue I use, they refuse to stay in place.

2 black shirts. Both have some sort of embellishment (one has a sheer back, the other has zips on the side), but I rarely wear them because I have so. many. other. black. tops.

1 Topshop ring – it was a favorite last year. I still love the style, but the metal is changing colors and the plastic gem is super cloudy – it was around $15 so no surprise there. I almost kept it, but wearing a ring that is obviously cheap makes me feel like I’m not winning at the whole adulting thing.

4 necklaces that I think are fantastic but never wear.

3 bracelets – they came in a set of four and I only wear one at a time.

1 Zara bag that Lar gave me last year. She used it for a few years and then I wore it to death. It was an awesome bag, but it started to fray around the handles. Once again, frayed purse handles = not adulting.

jewelryboard

Now that my jewelry board is so empty (my sad 5-year-old DIY tissue paper tassels had to go), I need to rethink my jewelry storage set up. Any suggestions?

This clean out also gives me the chance to see what I need for the spring:

1-2 work-appropriate skirt(s).

3 work-appropriate blouses that are not dry clean only.

1 nice gold ring in a modern shape (it might take me some time to save up for this one).

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty pumped about buying some new clothes. Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone!