Things That Matter: #1

It may seem odd for someone who’s spent the past year trying to jettison as many of her earthly possessions as possible to wax poetic about objects. This is a minimal pursuit, I promise.

I’ve found that after months of careful culling, curation, and very thoughtful accumulation, the things that are left are things that really matter to me. With each edit, I increasingly only own things that are functional or or add beauty, and that’s such a good feeling and worth talking about, I think.

Here are a few of the things that have been bringing me sunshine this past week:

This hourglass, a spontaneous gift from Colin, to remind me to take time to write each day.

These wooden hangers, just because we've finally purged enough clothing to have room for them. 

This candle, with packaging just as pretty as its scent.

This sheepskin, for keeping my bum warm on persistently chilly mornings when I sit down for breakfast.

These wooden beads that look so pretty on a formerly lonely gold chain.

Favorite Places in Miami Beach

Well hello there, stranger! I'm sorry to have been away, but the past few weeks have been some of the busiest we've known, in a mostly wonderful way. Most importantly, Colin released his first EP, Could Be Anything and I started a new job. We're both thrilled by all of the forward motion, but it's been challenging to transition into a new routine with Colin so busy promoting the album. We've both been trying to take some time to slow down and fall back in step with our usual rhythm.

I'm so grateful to everyone who's wished me well in my new job, offered their congratulations, and given me some really solid advice this past month. At the top of that list was the recommendation that I take time off in between the old job and the new. The week I took created some necessary space, and also gave Colin and me a chance to escape winter for a bit. 

Remember how winter was killing us slowly? We took a couple of days to make a quick escape to Miami Beach. There, sunshine, ocean breeze and a good stretch of our stiff winter legs restored some of our usual vigor. Also, cocktails and guacamole. So much guacamole. 

Anyway, I hope to be back to usual programming here soon, but in the meantime, here are some photos and a list of the places that delighted us most in sunny Miami Beach. Happy summer dreaming!

Our favorites:

Freehand Hostel Miami and the Broken Shaker, 2727 Indian Creek Drive
Doraku, 1104 Lincoln Road
A La Folie Café, 516 Española Way
Rosa Mexicano, 1111 Lincoln Road

Progress, Not Perfection

Good morning, lovelies! I'm feeling rejuvenated after a a productive and relaxing weekend. We caught up on lost sleep, walked to our favorite coffeeshop for brunch, spent a relaxing evening sipping cocktails with our upstairs neighbor, and I hit the gym hard yesterday and again this morning.

You know those dark corners of your apartment where clutter lies in wait? The spare bedroom closet where you stash homeless objects? Maybe under the kitchen sink where crumpled plastic bags float amongst dusty cleaning supplies? I realized yesterday that there aren't very many "dark corners" left in our apartment. I started making a list of the projects I've completed since New Year's and felt so proud, I decided to share it here.

So far in 2015, I've...

  • Emptied and reorganized the kitchen cabinets and shelves here we store dishes and cookware
  • Decluttered and reorganized the closet where we keep cleaning supplies, medicine and spare toiletries
  • Decluttered and reorganized the linen closet
  • Decluttered and reorganized he drawers in our bathroom vanity
  • Rearranged furniture in the guest bedroom
  • Emptied and decluttered the closet in the guest bedroom
  • Rearranged furniture in the living room
  • Decluttered and reorganized the cabinet under the kitchen sink
  • Cleaned and rearranged furniture in our bedroom
  • Painted my desk and lined the drawers
  • Rearranged furniture and reorganized my workspace

I've also cleaned our apartment top to bottom, including some scary placed like the back corners of our laundry closet. (Sadly, unlike a good organizing job, a good cleaning job just doesn't last.)

It's pretty amazing what you can do in two months when you put your mind to it. Last night, I told Colin how happy it makes me to have put so many things in order. I know where to look for things, and I've even been better about putting things away since everything has a home. I know that the dozens of boxes and bags I've thrown away, donated or moved to the basement for a future yard sale have made the biggest difference, and I can't wait to move on to the next phase, where I can get rid of even more. It really is a bit addicting, this decluttering thing, but I'm okay with it. Really okay. Proud, even.

What's made you proud lately? Sometimes tiny victories add up. I'm looking for inspiration and would love you hear what's making your beam lately.

Winter Blues

It's been another quiet week around here, huh? I suppose I haven't felt like I had much to say.

In fact, I haven't really felt like a very good minimalist this week. Colin and I have both been distracted by some big life stuff—more on that later, I promise—and we've also been suffering from some pretty serious winter blues.

I'm normally short on patience when Chicagoans complain about winter, but seriously, this winter is breaking me. Like, impulse-booking-a-trip-to-Miami-Beach breaking me. (Yes, we did that. We leave in 9 days, 10 hours and 56 minutes, not that anyone's counting.) All we want to do when we come home every evening is eat heavy food and watch a show. We even caved and bought a television after managing for about 4 years without one. You win, Winter '15.

But then. Then! I read some inspiring/funny/uplifting minimalist things. First, I read Josh and Ryan's amazing book about their journey to minimalism. Then, this hilarious article, which reminded me not to take myself too seriously. Lastly, I started the book everyone has assumed I'd already read. Lower your eyebrows, friends, and don't look so surprised.

And somehow, before me now are several piles of objects destined for our ever-growing yard sale collection. I've recycled an entire bag worth of paperwork and old magazines, and earlier I walked down to our local used bookstore and came back lighter and a bit richer.

All this is to say that it's been tough for me to keep feeling inspired. It's easy to lose my determination to live clutter-free, especially in the dead of winter when things are so comforting. But every little bit counts, and I feel better tonight, with these little accomplishments hiding behind my smile, than I have in weeks. Next week will be better. See you then!