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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Minimalism Challenge: 3rd Update

The storage room. The room that I was dreading the most to clean out. Partly because its full of things that I don’t want to sort though but mostly because its in a dark and drafty part of the house that I’m afraid of being in alone.

We moved into our house this summer and since then we’ve acquired all sorts of odds and ends that go into maintaining a house. We’re also using the room as a holding place for anything that we don’t know where to put or aren’t sure of what to do. It’s actually started to overflow outside of the room itself, so this purge is definitely needed.

My goal at the end of this is to know what is actually in that room, throw away the things we won’t use, and bring some organization to the area.

Stepping into the room I see the work before me. There are boxes of things I’ve forgotten, spare blankets and comforters, plastic bins of electronics, paint cans and paint brushes, roller blades, and so many other things.

First thing I do is get rid of the empty boxes that I thought I would use one day but probably never will, which frees up a lot of space. The bins of tools and painting equipment are set against on side of the room. Since I’m not quite sure what tools we will or will not be using in the future, I decide to keep them all since they are already organized into a plastic bin and don’t take up much space. I examine the plastic bin full of electronics and wires and I’m glad to see that I can actually discard most of them. The bins are mainly filled with random computer cables and headphones which I know we don’t use. The comforters and blankets I will keep. They were given to me by my grandmother and now that I have 2 spare bedrooms they will be used once the rooms are set up. The paint and equipment I will keep because we are actively painting and touching up various areas. The suitcases I will keep as well, since they will be used in the future.

…and with that, the storage room is done. Surprisingly, there wasn’t that much that I could get rid of. Maybe because I avoid going into this room, I don’t really put that much in it. I mainly reorganized what was inside and at least I now know what there is if I need it.

The last area that is left to purge is my closet. This is where I keep my clothes, my shoes and my beloved purses. It’s my favorite part of the whole house and its going to be tough to part with my purses, but I just have to keep asking myself if it is something that I use, value or love and all that remains will be a space that I adore even more.

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3 Ways Elegant Women Remain Collected

We all want to feel more in control when things go awry. I’ve never met anyone who enjoyed feeling nervous and helpless and I’ve also met some women who seem to defy all characteristics of normal human reactions when it hits the fan. It made me wonder what this quality was and if I could learn it too. After some study of their behavior, I realized that this quality was “elegance”.

Now, elegance is not snobbery and high tea with lace fans and finger sandwiches.

Elegance is a state of mind and therefore anyone can be elegant — strands of pearls and diamond rings are not compulsory. What elegant women share in common is their mind. They are focused, clear, and decisive in their thoughts which leaves very little room for them to feel “off”, worried or hysterical. After much study, I’ve reduced their behavior down to these three ways to that use to stay calm, cool and collected.

1. They know their priorities

If you ask most women what is important in their lives, you’ll be inundated with an avalanche of things which is no wonder most women feel like their running on steam much of time.

Elegant women are not super-human. They have the same amount of time and energy as anyone else, but they know where to focus it and not give it away to unimportant people and things.

To feel in control, you need to be able to constantly decide what is truly, deeply important to you and be at peace with your decisions. There is this phenomenon called “FOMO” today. That stands for the “fear of missing out” and that has no place in an elegant woman’s life. If you find yourself at the mercy of FOMO and afraid to cut off things and people, just remember that if everything is important to you, then nothing really is.

2. They abhor drama

In a world where vulgar, outrageous personalities are gossiped about, emulated and celebrated, elegant women take a step away from these people and prefer to acquaint themselves with those who uplift and inspire others to our highest ideals. Choose the high road all the time and soon you’ll find yourself among others who have done the same.

There’s also the drama that women create within themselves by giving away their feelings self-worth to other people. How many women do you know always think about what someone else is thinking about them and base their decisions on what someone else thinks? These women torture themselves which shows up as social anxiety by trying to know the unknowable — and frankly, the not worth knowing. Elegant women are truly confident in themselves, not confident in what others think of them. There’s a distinction there that makes all the difference.

Lastly, an elegant woman does not create negative thoughts in less than ideal situations. She understands that things will happen that are beyond her control and all she can do is remain level-headed and make the best decision with the knowledge she has. These last couple of weeks have not been the best: my husband got in a car accident (thankfully he’s fine even though the car is totaled!), my car has some sort of electrical issue that even the car shop can’t figure out so that car can’t be driven until they bring in an electrician, my husband’s job interview did not go as he wanted and they chose another candidate, and due to all of the car issues there are going to be some hefty, unexpected bills coming our way soon. With all of these events, it is very tempting to succumb to the stress and anxiety and begin to weave negative thoughts into my days, but an elegant women sees the facts for what they are.

Have these last two weeks been an anomaly? Yes.

Does that mean my life is falling apart and that nothing good will ever happen to me ever again? No.

Can I handle this with grace and not let it affect my overall happiness? Yes.

Life happens and there’s nothing that can stop that. Sometimes what seems like a bad thing can actually end up being good for you. It was time for a car upgrade anyway.

3. They are disciplined and intentional

Like I mentioned before, elegance is a state of mind and the mind is an incredible thing. It takes a lot of discipline to control your thoughts and actions, most people just let the first feeling that comes into their brain decide their actions. An elegant woman knows that life is just a series of decisions between what is right and what is easy.

On the same line, if something is important then you have to truly intend to do it. An elegant women does this by putting it down in a calendar. This can come in many different varieties and can be electronic or old-fashioned pen to paper (my preference). For example, if you decide that writing that novel is truly important to you (this is key) then you will write in your calendar the steps required to accomplish that:

  1. Write the novel
  2. Research the best publisher for you
  3. Find an illustrator

All that’s left to do is to tap into your discipline to believe in yourself and do those steps.

Of course, elegant women have their days when they feel stressed out, get angry, make some drama and commit themselves to something that they don’t truly feel is important to them. No one is perfect. But they don’t stay in that space for long, certainly not long enough to ever make a real impact on their lives, but if you are ever feeling that like, just remember these 3 methods and get back to being and living your fabulous elegant self.

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Minimalism Challenge: 2nd Update

Continuing in my office, I headed straight for the boxes of craft paper, office supplies, and notebooks.

I threw away any notebooks that I knew I would not use because they were used up, torn or otherwise in pretty bad shape. I kept the rest since I knew that either my husband or I would use them eventually out of necessity. In the same pile, I got rid of a whole host of plastic accordion file folders, paper folders and binders. I like buying different types of organizational tools if their style or patterns catch my eye, but you can only go through so many of those before they start to add up.

I also had a box of pens, pencils, pencil cases, paperclips, erasers, binder clips, stickers, and different types of post notes. It was hard for me to choose what to get rid of with the pens and pencils because there were quite a few that I had spent a tidy sum of money on because I only buy and use rollerball pens, but only the .5 millimeter size — so all the .7 millimeter sizes could go. I ended up giving them to my husband because he is not as particular as I am with pens. I now only have office supplies consolidated in a box and only those supplies that I know I love and will use.

I’m a planner junkie, but there’s only so many planners you can use at one time. Lately, I’ve been trying out using my iphone as my planner (it’s okay but I still prefer writing things down and will switch back at the start of the new year) so I had a spare arc system notebook with all of the inserts, a personal filofax with all of the inserts, two 2016 week on 2 pages planners and midori traveler’s notebook in both sizes. I tend to acquire a new planner whenever I get bored with life and want a lift in my routine. I threw away the two 2016 planners since they were half used and listed the filofax and the arc system on eBay since they were barely used and decided to keep the midori notebooks. I’d had them for a over 5 years and they had a lot of sentimental value to me although I don’t use them at the present.

A while back I got caught up in the whole planner decorating kick, but it has long since fizzled out. I just don’t have the time or desire to do it and my tastes run more simple than that. However, I had purchased a laminator, a paper cutter and a set of Martha Stewart decorative paper punchers that I used perhaps twice, so those went on eBay too.

With that, my office is done. I now have my makeup items in one corner, a box of all of the notebooks and office supplies that I decided to keep in storage, and my desk with just the right amount of supplies in it. It feels good to get rid of what I don’t use and to know that I love what I have so that I can make smarter purchases in the future.

Next up is the storage room. I can’t even remember what’s in there at this point, but I have a feeling I won’t have trouble remembering once I’m done!

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