About Me

I'm a newbie minimalist who loves art, design, fashion and shopping. On my blog I journal my efforts to break away from consumerism and into contentment while still being me.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Warm Minimalism: Blue and Yellow Bathroom

When decorating your house, think color, paint and wallpaper rather than displaying decorative knick-knacks. This bathroom has tons of personality just through the unique color of the lamp and the wallpaper. No other decoration is needed.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Butting Heads with Consumerists

For Christmas, my husband received a gift from an estranged relative: a decorative ashtray made out of a nautilus. At least, we think it's an ashtray. Maybe it's a paperweight. Hard to tell.

"Do you want this?" My husband said to his sister. "I have no use for it."

My brother-in-law threw up his hands and said, "What are your poor future children going to do, when you throw away their toys because you 'have no use for them'?"

Yes, he actually said that. See, brother-in-law is an enthusiastic consumerist and bit of a hoarder. He doesn't understand why we would throw things away, or why we would choose not to buy something that's on sale. When we get rid of things or sell things, he thinks that we are cold, uncaring, unsentimental people. I think he actually worries for our future children, afraid that they'll be deprived of toys and presents.

Maybe my brother-in-law feels threatened by our minimalism. I don't know. I want to tell him that it's not that we don't like stuff, it's that we choose to keep only what we love and use most. But as you may have guessed, this particular relative is great at arguing, poor at listening. It doesn't bother me much; except that this particular relative has a big mouth and who knows how he is describing our new lifestyle to other family members. "Don't give them any presents, they'll just throw them away."

On second thought, that may not be such a bad thing. Ha!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The post-holiday stuff purge

I just returned from my parents' house for the holidays, and so far my husband and I have received mostly useful, consumable, or small gifts. A minimalist win! However, we still haven't visited my mother-in-law, who tends to shower me with more cosmetics, body lotions, shower gels and perfumes than I can possibly use up every year. Several months ago I gathered up a whole bunch of them and donated them to a homeless shelter.

I feel another decluttering urge coming on, to make room for these new things we've received. Do you ever need to go on a stuff purge after the holidays?

Friday, December 20, 2013

I Enjoy Christmas

So many articles these days are about how to slow down and enjoy the holidays, how to have a stress-free holiday. Recently I blogger whose posts I enjoy wrote, "I still feel that we all struggle to truly enjoy Christmas."


I am not a busy person. Life brings me occasional busy periods, like anyone else, but they're the exception rather than the rule. I dislike busyness, and I love Christmas! Here's how I've been preparing for Christmas this month:

  • Make a list of gifts for friends and family
  • Purchase and wrap said gifts
  • Mail gifts and cards
  • Bake snickerdoodles
  • Mail snickerdoodles to lucky friends
  • Set up nativity scene

It wasn't hard, it wasn't stressful. It was enjoyable.

I realize that some people struggle during Christmas because of finances, or because they have to spend time difficult family members. But for the most part, I don't understand why people stress out about Christmas so much.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Minimalist Holiday Decorations

image via Martha Stewart

Recently I've discovered that one of my friends is also a minimalist! We had a long conversation about the lifestyle, and she asked me what I thought of holiday decorations. She comes from a family that goes all-out for the holidays.

Personally, I think that if holiday decorations make you happy, then decorate! Just keep the store-brought decorations to a minimum. Not only do store-bought decorations tend to be, well, kind of kitschy, but you have to store them for 11 months of every year. With a little creativity, you can decorate without adding to your possessions. Instead, try decorating with organic items and disposable items.

image via Martha Stewart

By organic items, I mean go out and find some nature! Pinecones, acorns, sticks, autumn leaves, pine branches and eucalyptus branches. Pile them up in glass jars or wooden bowls. Bare sticks in a vase can look surprisingly nice! If you don't live surrounded by nature, you can find pumpkins, squash, poinsettas, and unshelled walnuts at the grocery store. Natural objects always classy and beautiful, never kitschy, and you don't have to store them.

image via Martha Stewart

Disposable items and consumable items are another way to decorate. Paper snowflakes, popcorn garlands, and other paper crafts can be enjoyed during the holidays and then recycled. My mother used to take all the Christmas cards we received, staple them to ribbons, then drape them from the banister. After Christmas, we'd recycle the whole thing.

image via Martha Stewart

Candles, candy canes and gingerbread houses can be consumed (don't eat the candles, please). Your wrapped Christmas gifts and stockings can count as decorations, too!

image via mommyknows

Celebrating the holidays doesn't have to mean buying things from a store, and keeping multiple boxes of holiday decorations in the attic. Likewise, being a minimalist doesn't mean forsaking the holidays altogether. Use the items you already own, go outside and find some natural items, light some candles and display your holiday treats. Enjoy the holidays, then clear it all out with the New Year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Warm Minimalism: Simple Patterns

image source unknown

I don't know what those little cards are above the bed, but they're so cute!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Overdressed: Or, Why Your Closet is Full

As an aspiring minimalist with a love for fashion and shopping, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline was right up my alley. I read it in a few days, and I recommend it to everyone interested in fashion, simple living, minimalism, or who is just curious about how clothing is made.

Have you ever opened your closet and wondered why you barely have enough room to store all your clothes, but also feel like you have nothing to wear? Fast fashion companies such as H&M and Forever 21 make their money by selling extremely large quantities of clothing. To get those large quantities out the door, they convince us to shop more often by encouraging a constant rotation of trends, so we want to buy more often. By creating clothes as cheaply and flimsily as possible, they can offer us clothing at incredibly low prices, so we can buy more often. That clothing wears out quickly, giving us another reason to shop more often.

The result is that most Americans buy more clothing than we know what to do with. Clothing is so cheap that we don't put a lot of thought into buying it - this shirt is only $10, sure, why not get it?

Obviously, this is unsustainable. When clothing is cheap, we throw it away rather than repair it, burdening the environment. And instead of enabling skilled tailors and seamstresses to make a living practicing excellence, we are encouraging companies to find cheaper and cheaper overseas labor, cutting corners in safety and quality whenever it can save a few bucks.

I was so impacted by this book that I was soon thinking to myself, "what do I do now?" I love shopping for clothes!

There are several ways to shop more purposefully, and I am currently working on a list of fair trade clothing and jewelry companies. But one simple answer is to just buy less. All of this mess is created because companies are simultaneously trying to meet and inflame America's bottomless appetite for stuff. They'll keep up the supply as long as we keep up the demand.

Buy less. In the book, Elizabeth Cline, the author, points out that even if we all continued to shop at fast fashion stores, if we just bought less than we do now, it would make a difference.

Sometime soon I'll post a list of fair trade clothing and jewelry companies, for those who are interested!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Warm Minimalism: Polka dot pop

When you have an all-white room, colorful artwork really stands out. I love how, in combination with the simple polka dot duvet, it creates a cheerful feeling.

You can see the entire charming, warm minimalist house here at The Design Files.