How I Stopped Shopping

I used to have a problem with purses.

I still absolutely love them and imagine that I always will, but at my worst, I was acquiring a new purse every month, feeling overwhelmed and guilty, and when I wasn’t spending every minute checking the delivery status of my online order, I was researching my next purchase. Suffice it to say, it was a giant waste of time, energy and money and I’m going to share with you what helped me break that cycle. Maybe this information will help you and although this information is specific to purses, I’m hoping that it can apply to other types of over-consumption of material goods.

1. Identify the why behind the action

This was the most challenging but most crucial step to overcoming my shopping addiction and it is vital that you take the time necessary to uncover and understand your own why. I knew that every addiction had a psychological compulsion to it and if I wanted any chance of changing my behavior, I had to figure out why I felt compelled to continually be in the cycle of obsessing and acquiring purses.

For about a week I didn’t focus on changing my behavior, but instead simply checked in with my emotions before I was engaging in the behavior I wanted to remove and wrote it down in a journal with the date and time.

I found that for the overwhelming majority of the time my primary emotion prior to engaging in the cycle was boredom. And evidently I was bored a lot of the time and purse shopping was my automatic reaction to snapping me out of that uncomfortable state.

2. Make it hard

After I understood that this was an easy distraction that I was getting sucked into, I made it not so easy by blocking all of the sites that I was stalking on my phone and laptop, unsubscribing from marketing emails, unsubscribing and unfollowing people on social media who promoted the type of lifestyle I was trying to eschew, and removing apps such as eBay from my phone. This forced me to get up and find something else to do when boredom hit.

3. Yield temptation

Everyone has certain things they like and that’s what makes us different and interesting. I love purses and I’ve come to accept that. I wasn’t attempting to completely remove them from my life and come out of this a one bag lady. I simply needed to find a more satisfying and sane way to engage with them.

There’s a quote by Oscar Wilde from “The Picture of Dorian Grey” that applies directly to this step, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.”


If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ll know that I am all about allowing oneself the pleasure of what delights you and curating a life of elegance and style. Resisting and denying are very uncomfortable and exhausting states of mind that can only lead to  buckling under the burden and ultimately engaging with what you’ve attempted to resist in a way that is unpleasant and vulgar.

This is why I’ve allowed myself any bag purchase (in cash!) once a year. For me it was important that I give myself full reign to consider any bag I wanted because once I started putting limitations, I could start to feel the temptation beginning to pull me into make a decision that I may later regret. I can’t tell you how many times I would fall in lust with a bag because it was “exclusive” according to someone, purchase it and then turn around and sell it in the space of a couple of months. Giving myself the time to consider my purchase and make the right decision for me and not what is trendy was going to allow me to enjoy my purchase with only joy and excitement.

It’s so freeing to be able to see a beautiful bag and not feel that twinge of temptation gnawing at me. I can feel that admiration and love and then simply let it go either because I know I can eventually have it if I really want it (once a year!) or because I know that just because it’s beautiful doesn’t mean it’s for me. Now, when I purchase a handbag the experience is completely rewarding and fulfilling in a way that hundreds of my previous purses never could be. I hope that if you are struggling with a similar issue that some of these tips will help you see yourself out of that.

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Purse Rehab: Balenciaga Work Bag

There’s very few things in the world I love more than purses.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a full obsession with them. Despite my insatiable love for them, I don’t love the prices that come from buying them at retail. It is always much more satisfying to have a designer purse without the designer price. Not only is it more economical, but purchasing pre-loved goods is also environmentally friendly since you’re essentially recycling existing products.

Some of the best deals to get are ones that require a little more patience and elbow grease. I’m going to share my most recent purse rehab with you today: a black Balenciaga Work bag. I’ll show you what the damage was, how I fixed it and a before and after comparison.

The Damage

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Good leather but could use some conditioning and a fresh dye

 

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All 4 corners had the black rubbed off from normal wear
Resin was rubbed off from both handles
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More resin removed

 

The Materials

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Tarrago Black Leather Dye was used to touch up the corners and to dye the entire bag

I followed the instructions on the box and dyed the corners and the entire bag black. The good thing about repairing a black bag is that the dye is very easy to match. I dyed the bag in the evening and let it sit overnight to make sure it dried. The dye was not overly messy — it seemed to dry within a few minutes of the application, but I left it just to be safe.

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Fiebing’s Black Edge Kote was used to repair the resin

While the bag was drying from the dye I started touching up the handles. Again I followed the instructions on the box and let this dry overnight as well. This was probably the most time-consuming part of the process. The consistency is between glue and water so it would set into the crack where the leather met in the handle and I would have to apply more coats on top of it. I used a thin paintbrush to apply the Edge Kote and I lost count of how many coats I applied to get the right thickness, maybe 20 or so coats.

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Leather Honey was used to condition the leather as a final step

The next day once the Edge Kote and dye were dry I finished the job by applying Leather Honey to the entire bag. It really made a difference in the condition of the leather. It because much more supple and brought richness and depth to the color of the bag. I used a foam brush to apply the thick conditioner. Unlike others I’ve used that are very watery, this conditioner is truly the consistency of honey. Despite the thickness of the conditioner, my bag soaked it right up within a few minutes so I applied three coats all over and let it dry overnight.

The Final Product

The picture on the left is the after and the right is before. The pictures don’t show it very well, but the leather is more supple and moisturized and the color is richer and more pigmented.

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A larger after picture

Below is a picture that shows the difference better; I did not condition or dye the leather patch that is inside of the front pocket. Compared to the rest of the bag, the leather patch looks drier and faded.

The Edge Kote completely replaced the missing resin. Now the handles are properly protected from any further damage.

The dye worked perfectly on the corners.

The leather tassels often become bent and scraggly with time. I simply conditioned the tassels with the Leather Honey, let them dry overnight and then ironed them straight on the medium setting while protecting them between a hand towel. Worked like a charm!

And that’s it! I paid $275 on this pre-loved Balenciaga and invested about $25 into the leather dye, conditioner and Edge Kote to bring it back to great condition once again. For $300 I found myself a beautiful designer purse, saving a bundle and helping the environment by reusing what was already there. I hope this helped you see how these products work and maybe will encourage you to purchase a purse that you think is far too damaged but just simply needs a little repairing.

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Minimalist Maintenance: Jewelry

The second part of this series is dedicated to cleaning out my jewelry and keeping only those pieces that I love to wear. I was determined to give away anything that I didn’t wear or had lukewarm feeling about, so I actually ended up donating about 80% of my necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Now my pieces are displayed in a pleasing manner that lets me truly enjoy and appreciate their beauty.

Take a look at the before and after:

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Not very appealing, is it?

Previously, I kept the bulk of my jewelry in this box. Everything from bracelets, anklets, necklaces, watches and earrings were tangled together which made it a headache to try and find what I wanted to wear. About 90% of everything here ended up being donated.

 

I found a lot of pieces that I hadn’t worn in about two or more years, so those definitely ended up going. The rest of them were no longer my style but were in perfect condition so I knew that someone else would get use out of them.

Now all of my jewelry is in my closet and put on display as if they are in a store. It’s so easy for me to see everything all at once and choosing my pieces for the day are so much more enjoyable!

 

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All of my jewelry in one spot and one glance!

 

This might have been the one of the more gratifying reorganizations that I completed. I just love how everything is easy to access, beautifully placed and of course, including the Hermes orange boxes and bags are a fun way to make use of them. One of these days I would like to upgrade the metal shelves to white wooden ones, but for the most part, I’m happy with my work. Now, getting ready in the morning is like going on a trip to the jewelry store and the best part is everything is already mine!

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Minimalist Maintenance: Nail Polish

For some people minimalism comes naturally. They easily remember to remove what is not needed, used or loved and their space is always organized in a way that thoughtfully showcases only their most precious possessions. They also don’t keep bringing clutter into the house.

*Le sigh*

I wish I was like that!

Last December I did a clean sweep of my entire house, room by room, and posted about it on my blog here. But here I am six months later and I’m beginning to feel that I may need some “Minimalist Maintenance”!

I’ll be posting weekly the different areas that I am pruning down, and this week is a small project: Nail Polish.

To be fair, I think a large part of the reason why I feel I could use some maintenance is not because I’ve brought in a whole bunch of things, but because what I realized when I spent the large part of this Saturday cleaning out my room was that I was ready to part with things that I wasn’t ready to part with six months ago. Suddenly I was ready to throw away, donate or sell jewelry, clothes, makeup and other cosmetics. I had absolutely no plans on doing this; I started with my nail polish and from there it kept going.

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Twenty-two nail polishes total to start with

I didn’t have a ton of nail polish but the way they were thrown into a big makeup bag made it a pain to see the colors clearly and quickly. Plus, it was obvious that I needed to organize them because I found this:

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Oops

Two clear polishes from the same company. I remember buying the second one a couple of months ago because I couldn’t find the other one even though I was sure that I still had some left.

After some humming and hawing, I separated what I was going to keep and what I was giving away. All of the ones that didn’t suit me, never used, or didn’t like the formula got the boot:

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So long!

And now I am left with a small variety of polishes that all fit snugly inside of a small makeup bag that was previously not being used:

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In the end there were thirteen, including 2 clear polishes 🙂

Now I can see exactly what I have so that I don’t have a repeat of purchasing anything twice and I’m excited to use some colors that I haven’t in a while. I also was able to use the bigger makeup bag for my actual makeup storage, which really needed it more than my nail polish did.

This small project was a great way to motivate me to tackle other areas that would require more thought and care like my clothes and jewelry. Next week, I’ll post my jewelry maintenance. I’m very proud and excited about the new way I’ve organized it all!

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Hermès Ulysse Notebook PM & MM Size Comparison

Today I thought I would offer a size comparison of the Hermès Ulysse notebooks in the PM & MM sizes. This notebook is nowhere near as popular as the Filofax, Traveler’s Notebook or Moleskine so it was difficult for my to get a sense of the sizes while I was searching through pictures online. The Ulysse notebook does not follow the usual “personal” or “A5″ standards of most agendas which makes it even more difficult to convert sizes as you’re thinking about what may or may not fit inside of it.

Below are pictures of the notebooks side by side to each other and other more commonly known notebooks. I also made a video of the notebooks, click the link in the post to view it. I’ll finish with some quick thoughts about the notebooks themselves.

MM size: 9.1″ tall x 7.5″ wide, retail $765.00

PM size: 6.3″ tall x 5.3” wide, retail $555.00

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MM size is in Étoupe and PM size is in Bleu Électrique

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Midori Traveler’s Notebook comparison

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Standard composition notebook comparison

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The MM size is almost exactly the same size as a standard composition notebook. The composition notebook is around 1/2 inch taller, but the width is the same.

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Standard “Moleskine” style notebook comparison

The sizes are not easy to pin down, but those pictures should give you a better idea. I also made a youtube video of the sizes if you’d like to see them in action:

Hermes Ulysse Notebook Size Comparison & Review

Overall, the notebooks have yummy leather and wonderful colors. However, there are two aspects that you should be aware of:

  1. Flexibility of the leather
  2. Refills prices

If you’ve used any other agenda like a Filofax, Traveler’s Notebook, Leuchtturm or Moleskine, you will know that you can use the agenda itself to write against since the leather or the cover will offer support. The Ulysse notebooks do not share this in common. This was something that I did not even think to consider until I had already purchased it and realized just how floppy the leather was. In the video I give you a good idea of what I’m talking about. This is not a problem if you are at a desk or another hard surface to prop up the notebook.

Secondly, the refills are very high-quality but also high priced. Here are some prices from the website:

MM plain notebook refill, $65.00

PM lined notebook refill, $75.00

PM Annual agenda refill, $90.00

If you use these agendas as much as I do, this will start to add up. A lot of Ulysse notebook users refill using an alternative that will fit in the same plastic strip. In the video and at the moment for my MM size I am using the Minimalist JournalBook but as I explain the video, the width is not exactly ideal. After I’m finished with the current refill I plan to use the TOPS Sophisticated Business Notebooks since the width is just a bit shorter than the other one. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find an alternative refill for the PM size, so I’ve been purchasing the Hermes ones from the website.

I hope that this helped if you are considering purchasing these notebooks. There are a couple of drawbacks, but overall the leather quality is unparalleled and the colors are stunning so I would recommend purchasing these if you can overlook the refill price.

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My 3 Summer Self-Honoring Rituals

In a couple of weeks summer will be here, and while it may or may not feel like it where I live (you never know until you know in the Pacific NW!) I’m looking forward to partake in some of my favorite self-honoring rituals for summer.

If I could encapsulate the feeling of summer in one word it would be joy. The days get longer, blooms are exploding into their prime, and the radiant sunshine gives everyone reason to be outside and be active. Fittingly, play and work become equally important as we plan our summer vacations and find ourselves thinking of any excuse to leave work early. These rituals are designed to enliven and soothe the body so that I can continue enjoying the fair weather as long as it lasts.

Here are three of my summer rituals that I do to make the most of it:

Peppermint Tea Bath

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I enjoy this concoction when I’m feeling drained from the excessive heat. Especially during Ramadan when I’m fasting, I love taking this peppermint tea bath to help restore balance and energy. Peppermint is naturally cooling, chamomile is calming, and lavender is perfect for summer. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup of peppermint tea or leaves
  • 1/2 cup of chamomile tea
  • 1 circular piece of cheesecloth
  • string
  • 4 drops of lavender essential oil

Tie up the tea leaves into a giant tea bag, taking care to leave enough room to allow the leaves to circulate within. As you fill your bath with hot water, drop in the bag and the lavender oil. Let your tea bag “steep” as the water cools down to a comfortable temperature. You may get tempted to stay in until the water gets cold, but dry off to a comfortable temperature and feel relaxed yet energized– not cold.

Take a Hike

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I am definitely not the outdoorsy type, but I still take time to release the expansionary energy that flows out of me during summer. Hiking doesn’t always need to be deep in nature; beautiful landscapes can be found in urban environments. My favorite spot is to walk down to the pier in Seattle during my lunch break and find a spot where I can enjoy a wide and far-reaching view. I’m fortunate to work in such a beautiful city so I love finding ways to make the most of it during the summer months. I focus on breathing deeply, feeling the cool breeze from the water, and feeling the warm sun from the sky. If you don’t already, find time to do some relaxing yet physical activity this summer in the big outdoors. It’s invigorating and balancing!

Fragrant Pillows & Handkerchiefs

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This one is so simple: apply 4 drops of lavender essential oils to cotton cloths and slip them in your pillowcases. The lavender is cooling and calming, which is perfect for those warm summer nights. For a daily afternoon wake-up call when I find my mood slumping, I love inhaling into my white, embroidered handkerchief that has been infused with a few drops of orange oil. Any sort of citrus essential oil will perk you right up, so I invite you to find the one or combination of oils you prefer!

These are the a few of my musts during the summer because of how alive and happy they make me!

What are some of your favorite rituals?

 

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Minimalist Challenge: Finale

I love my closet.

I’ve organized my clothes from light to dark, my purses are very prettily arranged along the wall and my jewelry is placed at eye level where I can easily see all of it.

To be honest, I don’t have many articles of clothing. I’ve found a good number of different outfits that I rotate and subtly change with accessories. I found a couple of dresses that I choose to donate because I didn’t absolutely love how they looked on me and so I barely wore them. I also don’t own a lot of jewelry. I choose simple pieces that I can wear with almost anything so I was happy with everything in my collection.

But my purses are a different story. Anyone who knows me knows that one of my most favorite things in the world is a fabulous handbag. So, my collection has more than just a few! This was where I knew I had an opportunity to sell down my collection.

There were models that I loved and had two colors of and I really couldn’t justify having two different colors of the same bag. For example, I had 2 Jerome Dreyfuss Billy bags (one in black and one in cognac), 2 Goyard St. Louis totes (black and blue), and 2 Gerard Darel 24 hr purses (beige and dark chocolate). I had to make a decision to get rid of both or at least one. I ended up selling the black Jerome Dreyfuss, the blue Goyard, and the beige Gerard Darel, along with a crochet Gerard Darel, a grey Gerard Darel Besace purse, a black Ralph Lauren purse I just never used, and my YSL muse bag. Selling all of these put a tidy sum back into my pocket and while I still have more purses than the average lady, I truly love each and every one of them.

With my closet cleaned out, that concludes the “Minimalism Challenge” for my house. I made a goal to finish this before the end of the year so that I can start off 2017 already streamlined and I feel so good that I did it. Now that I’ve got all of my material things under control I can focus on improving other areas of my life.

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