outfit: wearing a man’s sweater

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On my visit home, I found this simple cozy sweater in my dad’s closet, which he never wore and gladly gave to me.  I’m kinda in love with men’s sweaters these days.  They’re usually pretty hefty and crisper than women’s sweaters- perfect if you don’t shy away from bulkier tomboy silhouettes.  Just folding up the edges adds a bit of interest and character. Continue reading

7 Practical Feng Shui Lessons for Apartment Living

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Lately, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how people are affected by their home environments. The concept of simple living addresses the amount of stuff we have but doesn’t really offer guidance on how to best arrange our things. KonMari taught us how to arrange our wardrobes and knick knacks but pretty much ends there. Feng Shui offers guidance but so much of it is based on superstition and quackish ideas about good fortune. So I was so happy to find a book about Feng Shui by Cathleen McCandless that actually made sense, and quickly read through it yesterday afternoon. There’s a particular school called ‘form’ Feng Shui that offers practical advice on how to reduce semi-conscious anxiety and stress in ourselves by arranging furniture in ways that maximize a sense of security. Much of the advice is a common sense approach to home safety, that when implemented has a noticeable calming psychological effect. Here are some tips that I thought were most notable from the book and particularly useful for urban apartment dwellers. This list takes you from the outside to the inside of your home.

1. Make sure your apartment # is clearly visible from the outside (should you ever need to call for help, you’ll be easier to find this way).

2. The entryway should be a well defined area with partial separation from the living space (to psychologically transition you from an alert-outside state to an inside-resting state). Continue reading

good read: voluntary simplicity

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This week’s good read is a really interesting essay on simplicity by Richard Gregg, a social philosopher who is known mostly for his work on non-violent resistance.  In 1936, he first coined the term “voluntary simplicity” in an essay entitled The Value of Voluntary Simplicity.  It is thorough and still relevant– a total consolidation and refreshing reminder of why we choose simplicity.  He writes about the importance of simplicity as it relates to human relationships, personalities, domestic life, unity, society, equality, civilization, leadership, non violence, the environment, art, and beauty.  This is essential reading for anyone interested in minimalism.

Here are a few notable quotes from the essay:

Voluntary simplicity involves both inner and outer condition. It means singleness of purpose, sincerity and honesty within, as well as avoidance of exterior clutter, of many possessions irrelevant to the chief purpose of life….  It means an ordering and guiding of our energy and our desires, a partial restraint in some directions in order to secure greater abundance of life in other directions. It involves a deliberate organization of life for a purpose.”

Continue reading

clutter is how far away you are from your present self

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What is clutter? Webster defines clutter as a collection of things lying about in an untidy mess. But what about the things themselves? Clutter neatly arranged is still clutter, isn’t it? In learning more about minimalism, I’ve begun to learn to recognize clutter in new ways. This is the first step in removing it and preventing it from re-entering our lives.

So what is clutter? And how does it enter our lives?

Clutter reflects how far away you are from your present self.

It happens in 3 ways: Continue reading

gift ideas for a practical woman

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There are some interesting articles on how to manage the holiday season in the anti – consumerist – eco – conscious blogosphere recently.  A lot seems to focus on taking time out to care for oneself and how to talk to friends and family about not giving you excess material items.  It is hard to avoid consumerism around this time of year.  No amount of eco guilt is going to end generations of warm blooded American Christmas gift giving tradition.   Continue reading

good read: the anti-mcmansion

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I stumbled across a feature on the Apiece Apart blog inspiring woman series about Christina Kawabata’s beautiful house in upstate New York where she and her architect husband raise their two kids with very little material possessions in one large open concept space.  It was featured in the NY times, in an article titled ‘the Anti-McMansion‘ and also on the Remodelista blog.  In the interview with Apiece Apart, she talks about people’s general reaction to her home and how she has managed to raise two children with this lifestyle.  It got me thinking about the idea of creating “domestic calm” and how that might be important to have firmly in place before bringing children into this world.

[image credit:  Apiece Apart]

good read

ny times article

Stumbled upon a surprising NY times article by David Brooks on the evolution of simplicity — his analysis on the progression of minimalism / asceticism throughout history.  It is surprising to find David Brooks writing on this topic.  I usually find myself irritated by his right leaning political opinions, but found myself nodding in agreement with him here.  It’s a must read.

good read

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This week, I learned about ‘slow living’, ‘essentialism’, and ‘downshifting’ and how these lifestyles differ from ‘minimalism’.  I found a good read from Kinfolk (the slow living magazine out of Oregon) in an article about essentialism and how its focus is more on individuality through an emphasis on curation, not just downsizing.  I love reading about variations on how to simplify our lives.  It is reassuring and grounding.  I’m finding it very important to remind myself of why simplicity makes sense by writing and reading about it.  We need reminders because the world around us constantly tells us to endlessly buy and work more.

outfit: working class comfort

trade-mark clothing label four pocket top

This vintage Trade-Mark Label top was a great find at a local New Orleans consignment store.  I’ve been paying more attention to the quality of fabrics lately, and the fabric here is what got my attention first.   It is made of a hefty 100% cotton fabric.  The thickness not only means it will last a long time but also elevates the aesthetic by giving it a stiff-crisp-clean feel. This is a nice addition to a corner of my wardrobe that’s rockin’ a Mao-era socialist vibe.

[outfit:  vintage Trade-Mark four pocket shirt, Zara utility shorts, APC half moon bag, Cluse watch]