Book Minimalism for the Bookworm

In a continuation of Friday’s theme, let’s talk about curating our book collections. (Where my fellow bookworms at?). I love books – I especially love physical books, so I know how easy it is for those bookshelves to start overflowing with beloved “I’ve read this a million times” books, “I should keep this for reference” books, and the ever famous “Some day when I have a million free years I will tackle this To-Read pile of thirty books” books.

So how can we start taming our collection and reading voraciously without being buried under a mountain of books? (Which to me doesn’t sound like a bad way to go, but I digress…)

1.) Get an e-Reader: I am Team Hardcover, but e-Books definitely have their place – they obviously take up much less space, allow you to carry around an entire library, and (especially important for those of us who have 5-6 books going at the same time) automatically bookmark your place for you. If you prefer e-books, then rock on with your bad self, ditch the physical books, and enjoy. The one caveat I will give is that it’s easy for your eReader to become cluttered too. Make sure to delete books that you won’t be rereading and organize your files if possible. Otherwise it can still be impossible to get your arms around your collection.

2.) Donate books to your local school or library: Almost all libraries accept donations to either add to their collection or use during book sales to raise money. If you have childrens or YA books the local schools or children’s hospitals may be interested. I always find it easier to let go of things if they’re going to a good home. (I had an original Atari 2600 that I knew I never used but was sentimentally attached to (#GenXProblems) and was only able to declutter it when a good friend of mine said she’d take it off my hands.)

Speaking of libraries….

3.) Get a library card: Take full advantage of your local library, especially if you’re the “only read once” type of reader. Even a small-town library can really expand your selection. As a bonus, librarians are often happy to help you find new reading material that you wouldn’t have even considered before.

4.) Toss the reference books: I’m pretty sure you don’t need a dictionary in the day and age of the Internet. (OED> than Merriam-Webster, fight me.). Separate out all of your reference books with the intention of tossing them unless proven that the information can’t be found online.

5.) Shop Intentionally: We all have those books that changed our lives and we will read over and over again (Some of mine are the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, A Moveable Feast, and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up). For those few, shop locally and find the most beautiful illustrated hardcover version you can – then you will have a small quality collection of your favorite books. With fewer books on the shelf (and more eye-catching versions), this will have the bonus of being more noticeable, sparking fun discussions with guests.

These are tips that have greatly helped me get my books under control. I’d love to hear from you – what are some of your all-time, “changed my life” books (or just ones that you love to read over and over)?

Honoring your best you,

Veronica

Friday Five #1: Books

Welcome to the first installment of the Friday Five.

Today, five books you need to read. (I’ve included the Amazon links but highly encourage you to purchase at your locally-owned bookstore.)

1.) Soulful Simplicity. My copy is nearly worn out. I love Courtney’s “voice,” her story, and how she simplified not just her belongings but all facets of her life.

2.) The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. I read this essay over and over on Mark Manson’s site before it was fleshed out and published as a book. This is required reading for everyone. At the very least, read the essay for free at: https://markmanson.net/not-giving-a-fuck.

3.) The Little Book of Hygge. The days are getting colder and shorter for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Perfect time to brush up on the Danish art of hygge, sometimes translated as “coziness” (but means so much more).

And a couple fiction books:

4.) A Moveable Feast – Hemingway at his finest. It’ll make you want to move to Paris and he dishes on all the well-known writers of the time.

5.) A Song of Fire and Ice – Sure, you’ve seen “Game of Thrones” (Which is the name of the first book in R.R. Martin’s series), but the writing is great and after all – Winter is coming.

So curl up by the fire and enjoy! I love a good thought-provoking (sometime note-taking-necessitating) non-fiction when I have a bit more energy and an escape-worthy fantasy/fiction book when the brain is done for the day. If you read any of these, drop your comments below!

Honoring Your Best You,

Veronica

Dress for the Life you Want

We’ve often heard of “Dress for the job you want.” Well I say, dress for the life you want. Especially with so many of us still in quarantine, it can be easy to get stuck in the “sweatpants and no bra” rut that is Corona Life. While joggers and baggy hoodies certainly have their place (you can pry my gray velour sweatsuit out of my cold, dead hands), living in them 24/7 will eventually start to affect mood, productivity and keep you from feeling Your Best You.

So, here’s a three-step process for getting in the groove with your wardrobe.

1.) Describe what your absolute ideal life would be. Write it down. Get as descriptive as possible. Now, what would you wear as that person?

2.) Shop your closet. What items in your closet match what you envisioned Your Best You wearing? Separate them out, and put them on the nicest hangers you have, all matching. (I love the thin copper ones, personally.) I like to put everything in one place – clothes, shoes, outerwear, etc. so I can see my entire wardrobe all at once.

3.) Clear out the clutter. Now, take the rest of the clothes, shoes, etc. and box them up. No need to part with them yet. Just get them out of your closet, and preferably put the box somewhere you won’t be tempted to “break into it” like the attic or garage. Be sure to put the date on the box.

4.) Take inventory. Your closet is probably a lot smaller now – perhaps too small if you didn’t have many clothes in the “Your Best You” category. No rushing to the store – that defeats the purpose here. Slowly curate a list of the key items you need to complete your new wardrobe. Perhaps create a Pinterest board.

5.) Curate your wardrobe. After at least 30 days you can start slowly shopping for the PERFECT version of each item on your list. No compromising or “making do.”

Hope this helps. It’s a fun little (or perhaps big depending on your closet) project that can really help give you clarity and get you out of the Quarantine Blahs.

Honoring Your Best You,

Veronica

The KonMari Step We All Skip (And Why It’s So Important)

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As everyone knows, the first step in the KonMari process is clothes. Dive in and tidy any shirts, pants, and other apparel that doesn’t spark joy, thanking them for what they have provided you before moving on to books, right?

Wrong.

In “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo says:

Before you start getting rid of things, take the time to…visualiz[e] the ideal lifestyle you dream of….Think in concrete terms that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space.

This was the main reason I have had trouble decluttering my wardrobe (if you’re a regular reader, you know this is a constant battle for me ), as I wrote about in “Find Your Wardrobe, Find Yourself.”  For me, not picturing (and being honest about) my ideal lifestyle didn’t effect tidying books, kimono, or even memorabilia, but showed in the large and completely incohesive closet (and dresser, and coat closet, and shoe racks (multiple).

However, this doesn’t just apply to clothes. Not clearly seeing whether you would like to start holding formal dinner parties could lead to unnecessarily holding onto fine china, not to mention the cabinet to keep it in. Not being honest about whether you’re really going to take up skiing could lead to boots, poles, and skis gathering dust in the basement.

So do not skip this step. Visualize the lifestyle you want to work towards (avoiding the Fantasy Self trap that is easy to fall into with the KonMari method), get as specific as you absolutely can (I literally planned what a weekday and weekend would look like from waking up to bedtime), and write it down.

And then? Knowing what sparks joy and needs to remain in your life to reach your goals becomes a breeze.

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

What I Learned from Another Failed Project 333

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. – Henry Ford.

Back in early April, Courtney Carver of “Be More with Less” sent out another Project 333 challenge (You can read up on the challenge and its rules here.) Although I had attempted Project 333 a few times before and always given up after two or three weeks, I  decided to give it yet another go.

So, two months later, I have finally quit. Except not really. This time I stuck with the challenge long enough to learn some very good lessons about how many clothes I really need, what I need in a wardrobe (hint: Not real pants), and what I really wear on a daily basis.

In early April, this is the 33 items I pared my wardrobe down to:

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Thanks to a never-ending winter, I had to include everything from a down parka and mittens to tank tops and a pair of shorts to accommodate temperatures from 10F to 80F and everything in between. It actually ended up being a Project 323 because I never wore that white button-down shirt.

So two months later, this is what I’ve learned:

  • hate black clothing. On myself, that is. I love it on other people but don’t feel right or comfortable in it at all. My go-to neutrals are white and gray.
  • I don’t need fancy clothes. Or even business casual clothes. Or real pants. I wore the khakis and nicer shirts to the myriad doctor appointments I had just to make myself feel more adult, but it was totally unnecessary. I would have done better to switch those out for more t-shirts and another pair of shorts.
  • finally learned how to pull together a cohesive wardrobe that goes together.
  • I do like having about 33 items in my closet to choose from.
  • I also like putting away non-seasonal items and getting them out of my closet.

So, like I said, I quit the challenge, but have just re-done my closet with a different 33 item capsule wardrobe with the following rule changes to make Project 333 work better for me:

  • I will be changing the capsule wardrobe when the weather changes. Having one pair of shorts to wear while my parka was still taking up space once the summer arrived drove me batty.
  • I will not be counting my Converse collection towards the total. (Yes, I have a problem. No, I don’t plan on seeking help for it.)
  • I will also not be counting jewelry. I almost never wear any in the first place, but I want to be able to accessorize on the rare occasion I do wear it.

So here’s my summer capsule wardrobe that I’ll keep until it cools off in the fall:

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Admittedly, with these new rules the challenge is a lot easier, but it’s also much more workable for me and my situation. I’ll provide an update either if something changes or when I switch to my fall wardrobe.

And the Converse collection? Here she is, with another pair currently shipped and on their way.

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Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

My Favorite Minimalism/Decluttering Books (Part One)

I thought I’d put together a list of my favorite books on minimalism and decluttering. This is named “part one” as I’m always picking up new books, so I’m sure I’ll do a “part two” in the future.

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Does it even need to be said? The granddaddy of tidying books that helped start the minimalism trend. KonMari’s method is an excellent one and her gentle, encouraging voice really comes through, even in the translation.
  • Goodbye, Things – Fumio Sasaki’s book is part memoir of his own journey to minimalism and the happiness it brought, part list of tips and tricks on decluttering. The bonus photo section is a joy to look at.
  • Everything That Remains – Another minimalism classic. The Minimalists are the fathers of American minimalism and this is my favorite book of theirs (Although the other two are also good.) They call this their “Why to” book.
  • The Life-Changing Magic of not Giving a F*ck – If it’s your calendar you need to minimize/declutter and you like a generous serving of cursing with some excellent advice, Sarah Knight’s book is for you.
  • The Joy of Less – If KonMari isn’t for you, you might enjoy Francine Jay’s STREAMLINE method.

Hope you enjoy this list! Get to reading! (And remember – if possible, get these books from your local library rather than purchasing – that’s why I didn’t include Amazon links.)

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

5 Mini-Decluttering Projects to Take on This Weekend

Although I’m a big fan of the KonMari method, sometimes ain’t nobody got time for that. Or perhaps the thought of going through ALL of your belongings all at once makes you break into a cold sweat. No worries – any small steps you take toward decluttering are better than getting overwhelmed and not doing any tidying.

Here are some small projects to either get you started or reassess your belongings this weekend.

  1.  Clear out the junk drawer. If you have multiple junk drawers, see if you can consolidate enough to empty one.
  2. Go through your jewelry box. Toss any broken items or earrings without a match (yes, even if you SWEAR you know where the other one is. Do a search. If you can’t find the other one, out it goes.)
  3. Clean out the medicine cabinet. (I actually need to do this one myself.) Since medicine expires, this should be done at least a couple times a year anyways. Dispose of non-narcotic medicines (OTC medications, antibiotics, etc.) in used cat litter or coffee grounds and set any narcotics (Vicodin, Valium, Percoset, etc.) aside for your local drugstore’s or police station’s pill reclamation day.
  4. The Closet.  Every home has one: THE closet. Empty it, vacuum and dust it, and put only what you need back in. (Depending on how cluttered and/or large the closet is, this may NOT be a small project – the first time I decluttered my office closet it took over a week. If the worst closet is too much at this time, select one that is smaller and/or less cluttered.).
  5. The Workbench. If you have a workbench or even just a lot of tools, gather them all in one place and sort through them. You might find you have 3 5/8 wrenches but no wood glue. An organized workbench will make the next project or home improvement that much more enjoyable.

Have fun this weekend!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

 

Gifts for Minimalists

It can be difficult to find a gift for someone who is trying to declutter and reduce the number of their possessions. What do you give someone who doesn’t want “things?”

Here’s some ideas:

  1. Subscription Boxes – There are now subscription box services for nearly every interest. I would recommend one that comes with perishable items that must be used such as YumBox, which sends a box of snacks from a different country each month.
  2. Food Box Service – On a similar note, a meal subscription service such as Blue Apron may be much appreciated for busy people.
  3. Dinner Out – Either taking them out for a meal to catch up and enjoy each other’s company or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant.
  4. Babysitting Services – For those who have children, a homemade “gift certificate” for a night of babysitting will be much appreciated.
  5. Other Services – Know someone who hates to mow their lawn? Hire a yard service for them or show up with your lawnmower every couple weeks. Housekeeping, handyman work, and other services are other ideas.
  6. Tickets – A gift card to the local cinema for a movie night or tickets to a show they want to see or museum they’ve been wanting to check out.
  7. Discarded Item Disposal – If they are in the middle of decluttering (especially an “all-at-once” KonMari-type of decluttering), offer to take away their discarded items for them. As discussed in my article a couple weeks ago, this can be one of the most difficult parts of tidying. Offer to make that dump run, drop-off trip to the thrift and/or consignment store, or even put items of value up on eBay or Craigslist for them.

I’d love to hear other ideas that you may have, so please comment below!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

5 Free Things To Do This Weekend

I’m on Day Two of no sleep (chronic insomnia), so we’re going to keep today’s entry short and sweet.

On the weekends it’s easy to default into hitting the mall, seeing the latest movie (even if you’re not particularly interested in it), or eating at the same mediocre chain restaurant for the 50th time. (Note with the last two it’s about quality, not the fact that money is being spent.) It’s especially tempting right now with most of the Northern U.S. still in a winter weather pattern. (I’m sitting here looking out upon a snow-covered Shire as I type.)

So, here are some (indoor) ideas for those of us in places where it’s too cold to do much outside, but there’s not enough snow to ski, snowshoe, etc.

  1. Embrace the Hygge: If you can still stomach it after all these months, instead of fighting the weather, put on your softest pajamas or sweats, make some tea or hot cocoa, and curl up with a good book. (I’m over this myself, but hey – if you can do it, go for it!
  2. Host a Movie or Game Night: (Also quite hygge!) Being stuck inside at home is a lot more fun with company – host a horror (or your favorite genre – perhaps chick flicks and wine is more to your tastes) movie marathon or a poker night with some good friends.
  3. Explore a New Trail: This one is outdoors, but a lot of us are wanting for fresh air, so if you can, bundle up and find a trail you haven’t explored before. Or perhaps drive out to a different neighborhood and walk around – you’ll be surprised at what you notice when you walk rather than drive.
  4. Spa Day: Get some friends together and have a home spa day – manicures, facials, and good conversation with some wine. Only fluffy bathrobes allowed!
  5. Plan your Summer Vacation:  Start putting your next vacation together – the dates, the location, what activities you want to do. This will give you something to look forward to. Bonus points for making a mini-vision board of it to look at until spring comes!

Hope this helps my fellow Northerners still in the throes of winter.

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

The Right Amount of Things to Own

Yesterday Dr. MinimalistHobbit was inspired to sort through his bike jerseys. (Following KonMari’s observation that the best way to get others in the household to tidy is to tidy your own belongings.) After a while, he looked up from his pile of clothes and sighed, “I like all of these jerseys,” giving me a look of expectation for some words of wisdom or criticism with the “correct” number of jerseys he should keep.

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“Then keep all of them” was my quick answer, and so is my belief. I agree with the Minimalists and KonMari (and a lot of other minimalists I follow) that there is no magic number of items to own because we all live such different lifestyles and have different tastes. Dr. MinimalistHobbit owns around 40-50 t-shirts, but they all spark joy for him and he also wears t-shirts every day all year round, even when it’s -30F outside. I own a bookcase full of Pop figures because they make me smile when I turn around from my computer for a quick break from staring at my computer screen.

Conversely, I own almost no “real” pants because I work from home and live in yoga pants and Dr. MinimalistHobbit owns precisely one suit because he only wears a suit 2-3 times a year. Neither of these would probably work for someone who works in a business formal office all week.

So do not worry about the actual number of items you keep as long as you, to use the old William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica