Travel

FAVORITE PLACES IN Miami Beach, FL

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!

 

 

 

Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe: #3

Here she is, Capsule #3 in all her glory! (First, I suggest reading about why I started this thing and the rules I follow.)

I've been in most of these pieces since December, when I started my winter capsule (Capsule #2). I recently made a few purchases and swaps with storage, so I felt obligated to give this capsule a new name, even though it's reallynotsoverydifferent from Capsule #2. I'm thinking of this as a transitional wardrobe that'll carry me through until the end of March, when it's going to be warm and springlike and perfect every day (right, Chicago, right?!).

Seeing all of these items together (outside of my closet, that is) helped me realized three things:

First, it's really trippy to see all your real-life clothes on one web page! Super weird, but I kind of like it. It gives me lots of ideas for #4. I think it might be a good exercise to look at my wardrobe from this vantage point, which is very different from the sight that greets me when I fling open the wardrobe* doors. 

Second, I'm a jeans-and-a-tee-shirt kind of girl, apparently. It's basically all I own, and I'm not quite sure when or how that happened. I'm lucky to work in an office with a really lax dress code, so I can wear jeans but I usually try to pair them with something more professional because, you know, balance and stuff. 

Third, I definitely need to get some dresses up in here. We'll work on that.

*It probably feels like I'm overusing the word wardrobe. Colin and I actually share an IKEA wardrobe because our bedroom doesn't have a closet, so I'm not just putting on airs, I promise.

So without further ado! Ahem! Capsule #3!

 

// the blouses // four

BLACK SILK BLOUSE (SIMILAR) // It's black, which means I wear it boundlessly. A higher neckline makes this a good one for when I need to dress a bit conservatively, too.
VINTAGE PEASANT BLOUSE (SIMILAR PICTURED) //  This was a lucky secondhand find, a vintage Emmanuelle Khanh blouse that's excellent with skinny jeans and boyfriend jeans alike. A lower cut, sexier alternative to the black silk blouse.
LACE-TRIMMED TEE: A dressy tee shirt alternative. 
SILK ROUND-COLLAR BLOUSE: A feminine button-down in the perfect shade of blue. Most often worn to work.

 

// the tees and tanks // eight

CHEEKY FRENCH TEE // I'm not usually one for graphic tees, but I fell in love with this one. It so perfectly sums up my attitude toward fashion.
BLACK DOLMAN SLEEVE TEE (SIMILAR) // This tee is made of such luxe fabric in a generous yet still flattering cut, so I can wear it out to dinner or for running around the city on a Saturday morning.
DRAPEY TEE // Nice and long with pretty draping in the back, this is another one that feels (and looks) elegant. 
SHORT SLEEVE SWEATSHIRT // This is a comfy piece that's surprisingly structured. I wear it alone or layer it over a collared shirt.
BASEBALL TEE (SIMILAR) // I only own two pieces of clothing that aren't solids; this two-tone shirt is one of them. Bold, I know.
SOFT HENLEY // My current favorite with black jeans and boots. The wide neck is just a little bit sexy.
RIBBED CAMISOLE // I wear this as an undershirt most days.
DRAPED TANK // I have this tank in burgundy and feel sexy when I wear it under my leather jacket with skinny jeans. 

 

// the sweaters // four

TURTLENECK TUNIC // This used to be a dress until I foolishly handwashed it. Now I wear it over jeans or leggings. It's unbelievably warm and I'll absolutely buy it in other colors next year if Madewell brings it back.
LIGHTWEIGHT V-NECK // This is the perfect sweater for transitioning to warmer temperatures. It's cashmere and so doesn't itch (which makes me crazy!), and I love the boyish shape. 
COCOON SWEATER (SIMILAR) // My only cardigan, I wear this around the house, at work, or as an extra layer under my down coat on frigid days. In other words, I wear it all the time.
GRAY SWEATSHIRT // A classic. 

 

// the pants // six

SKINNY BLACK JEANS // A slightly high-waisted pair to wear with, well, everything.
SKINNY GRAY JEANS // My most favorite pair of jeans. Absolutely perfect no matter how I wear them.
SKINNY WHITE JEANS // Admittedly, I haven't worn these yet this year. They're replacing a pair of burgundy coated jeans that feel too wintery. I think these white ones will look good with a sweater and boots while it's still cold, and later they'll be perfect with ballet flats and blouse.
BLUE BOYFRIEND JEANS // A basic blue pair for wearing everywhere. 
COATED JEANS (SIMILAR) // I love the slight sheen these have. They're my go-to for evenings out.
LEGGINGS // I chose an ultra thick pair whose fading and seams make these acceptable under a tee shirt or loose sweater. Sadly, I can't find them online anymore. I'll probably store these soon to make room for another skirt.

 

// the skirts and dresses // three

BLACK LACE SHIFT //  An easy-to-wear LBD in pretty lace. A straight cut makes it equally good for casual wear.
FLORAL SHIFT // My zaniest item of clothing is this silk shift, which I usually wear to work under my leather jacket with tights and boots. Slap on some red lipstick and it's a fun party look, too.
JACQUARD MINI SKIRT // A wear-with-anything pattern in my favorite blue.

 

// the shoes // eight

BROWN LEATHER BOOTS (SIMILIAR) // I wear these boots almost every day. A rich leather boot with a walkable heel is a must in the city, and these are a pretty cognac color that work with black, blue or any other color. (Tip: Look for a heel slightly larger than the holes in the sidewalks grates in your city.)
SILVER BOOTS // A fun, flat alternative to my high-heeled boots. These'll be phased out soon, but I'll store them for next winter. 
BALLERINAS (SIMILAR) // If I could only own one pair of shoes, it would be these. I picked a soft pair that look polished enough for the office but are comfy enough to wear to bike or walk for a long, long time. 
BLACK OXFORDS (SIMILAR) // A great alternative to heels for work or date night. I like to pair these with skinny jeans, a skirt or cuffed boyfriend jeans. 
BENSIMON TENNIS SHOES // Quintessential French sneakers in deep gray. These have all the function of a gym shoe but look so much more chic. I'll have to wait for the snow to melt, but I like that I can wear these with or without socks, and they even look good with dresses.
PERFORATED LEATHER SLIP ONS // Sturdier than my Bensimons, these are my favorite shoes for running errands, lugging heavy things on the L, going for after-dinner walks or weekend morning coffee runs. 
RAIN BOOTS // For me, the best pair of rain boots is one I can subtly wear all day. I used to have a taller pair but rarely encounter a puddle higher than my ankles, so this pair,, which I can tuck under even my skinniest jeans, is perfect.
LEOPARD HEELS // For dressing up or feeling wild. I'm not usually one for an animal print, but I loved these heels from the moment I slipped them on. They pair with almost anything, even jeans, and bring a bit of fun to my otherwise neutral wardrobe. 

 

// the coats and jackets // three

PEA COAT (SIMILAR) // By the end of March, this one will go to storage and will likely make room for my trench coat to see the light of day. In the meantime, I'm wearing this one almost every day. 
LEATHER JACKET // There was one day in January when it was warm enough for me to wear this outside over a sweater. Mostly, I wear it as a blazer substitute at work. It's the most expensive piece I've invested in but also probably has the lowest cost per wear, since it's the only piece I own that never, ever goes to storage. Ever. 
DOWN PARKA // This was a rare mid-season purchase when my old down coat was ruined. Colin helped me pick out this parka,  and I love that it's lightweight and scrunches up really small if I want to shove it in my bag.

 

// the bags // four

VINTAGE LEATHER BACKPACK (SIMILAR) // A treasured gift from my dad. I use this most days for my commute to work.
LEATHER TOTE //  This one's new! When I need to look a bit more professional, I'll carry this instead of my backpack.
LARGE ZIPPER POUCH (SIMILAR)// I use this pouch as a clutch and love the size, which fits all manner of things, necessary and not-so-necessary. Also works to help organize the inside of my tote.
SMALL CROSS-BODY BAG (SIMILAR) // For concerts and dates. Also works as a wallet inside my tote.

 

Et voilà! What do you think? Is there something I'm missing that you can't live without? Something I've included that you think is totally silly? I'm still working out the kinks.

Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe: The Rules

Yesterday, I talked about why I decided to try a capsule wardrobe.

Bottom line: I was sick of wasting energy making decisions about mediocre clothes. I wanted to decrease the time and energy I spent shopping and getting ready in the morning, and to increase my enjoyment of my wardrobe and my ability to make more important decisions than what to wear.

Once I'd decided to take the plunge, the first thing I needed was to set a few rules. Of all the capsule wardrobe converts out there, everyone's rules are slightly different. Here are mine:

1. Keep the number of items in my wardrobe at or under 40 at all times.
When I talk about my capsule, people are most curious about how I count. I count tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, outerwear and—as of Capsule #3—purses. I don't count pajamas, socks, underwear, scarves or jewelry, though I've recently made an effort to reduce the number of those things, too.

2. One capsule per season. Sort of.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve been planning and building my next wardrobe, which I’m calling Capsule #3. Before, I would have called it my spring capsule, but seasons are a funny thing here in Chicago. March temperatures could be in the negative twenties, the forties, or even the eighties. I envy capsule wardrobe converts in cities with more predictable weather, but I have to work with what I've got. This means I sometimes need a to make minor shifts to my capsule to smooth the transition from one season to the next. My current capsule is a winter-to-spring transitional wardrobe, so I made a few updates but expect to fully embrace spring with Capsule #4 in late March or early April.

3. Stick to a budget.
It took a bit of thought to find a budget that's small enough to challenge me but large enough to be able to afford quality pieces that I can wear year after year. The budget doesn't grow if I need to make a mid-season adjustment, so I have to spend it carefully. For bonus spending money, at the end of every season I sell items I don't feel are worth storing. Extra money made selling clothes means I can spend a bit more on my next capsule! I track my budget in the same spreadsheet as my wardrobe, and I hope to reduce my budget as time passes.

4. Shop infrequently.
To stop myself from shopping on impulse, I use a spreadsheet to map out my current capsule, and only allow myself to make purchases that are part of a shift to a new season and within budget. I probably won't need to buy more than 1-2 things for Capsule #4. I can trade for anything else I need from the off-season storage container in our basement.

And that's it! If the rules seem easy to bend, it's probably because they are. I'm still figuring out exactly what works for me, but with every season I find a bit more determination and self-restraint, and feel a lot more confident.

Tomorrow, I'll finally show you the goods: Capsule #3! But first, does anyone out there have a capsule of your own? Are your rules different? I’d love to hear what works for you! Or if you’ve never tried a capsule wardrobe, would you consider it?