Encapsulated

I’ve committed to not buying any clothing for this year. So far, I haven’t seen anything I want to buy. I’ve been steering clear of my favourite thrift stores and websites, and even survived a recent trip to Uniqlo without a twinge. I don’t need anything, and I’m trying to streamline the healthy amount of stuff I already own.

I’m no stranger to the concept of a capsule wardrobe. I’ve been on that train for a while. I frequently rotate pieces in my closet both for the sake of variety, and to avoid the Paradox of Choice. You may think those two reasons seem contradictory. Let me explain.

My closet is a decent size. It could hold all of my clothing at once. That doesn’t mean it should.

Many people rotate clothing twice a year, swapping out shorts and flip flops for sweaters and boots when it gets cold, and doing the reverse when it warms up again. This is good. This is normal.

I tend to rotate my closet every 4-8 weeks.

The place I live has four defined seasons, and within those seasons, temperature and precipitation can swing drastically from one day to the next. This fall, I went from bare legs to fleece tights within about a day-and-a-half. What I wore in September wouldn’t work now, and October’s wardrobe may not make it to Christmas.

Every month or two, I swap out what no longer works for something else, keeping a consistent level of about 30 items in my closet at any given time. Some things never leave. It keeps me from getting bored with my choices, and it helps me weed out the stuff I really don’t like wearing, which goes on the Give Away Pile.

Sometimes I get into the habit of making capsules out of my capsules, like grouping five or six complimentary separates and only wearing those items for the whole work week. When I do this, it saves me immeasurable time in the mornings.

Fewer options = fewer decisions = more time to pack a lunch.

I never fully pack away my off-season clothing. I like to have everything stored out of sight but not reach. This makes frequent reshuffling quicker, and also allows me to easily access things I might need for traveling to different climates. I have capsules I keep only for travel, too.

(I realize this may be excessive. It’s a key part of my packing process.)

If you’ve never tried putting together a capsule wardrobe, I refer you to this great resource.

Give it a try. And tell me all about it. I love this stuff.

Week 8: When Free Isn’t

1. I had a slip-up this week. My son got hurt at school (he’s fine), and I had to take him to an urgent care centre to get patched up. The visit to the doctor was free (O Canada!) but we had to wait four hours to be seen. I hadn’t eaten and had come straight from work, so I bought a coffee and a muffin while we waited. It could have been worse, I suppose.

2. While the medical care is free, the parking isn’t. Between that emergency visit, a specialist appointment I had a couple weeks ago, weddings, and trips to the airport, I estimate that I have spent $30 in parking fees since the beginning of September. With a little more planning, I could have avoided most of those. We in Halifax are relatively lucky to have ample street parking available much of the time, not to mention free meters on weekends. Our recent trip to LA reminded me how much I used to have to think about parking when I lived there.

3. You know that place in your town that lets you borrow books for a long time for free? Well, the books aren’t free when you don’t return them on time. I’ve been carrying a balance at the library for a while now. Did you know that you don’t have to pay your late fees at the Halifax Public Library if they are under $10? I knew it, and I exploited it for a good long time. My son took a field trip with his class to the public library last week, and I didn’t want to hold up the borrowing process when Madame had 18 library cards to deal with, so I figured now was the time to settle up. I owed $8.90 between my card and my son’s card. Totally avoidable and a vestige of past bad habits.

4. Yesterday, I spent a chunk of the day in the kitchen making soup for lunches, oatmeal breakfast cookies, and Sloppy Joes for supper. I feel I have perfected my whole wheat roll recipe, but my bun-forming technique needs work. Tell me about your buns. How are they formed?

5. I spent only $11.27 on groceries this week, but some of that was on a Dairy Milk, which is prohibited. I was cranky and I wanted chocolate. It was a mistake that did not precipitate another one, so I have accepted it and moved on. I spent $44.81 on gas, and drove more than usual due to the injury at school. I stayed home most of the weekend to make up for it. I also had the pellet stove professionally cleaned for the start of the season, which cost me $125. I hate, hate, hate cleaning the pellet stove, so this is a worthwhile expense for me once a year.

Toilette Confessions

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I spent a couple of hours this evening sorting all of my travel-sized toiletries.

I will not need to buy anything for at least a year. Probably two. I stopped buying shampoo almost a year ago, and I’ve only now nearly reached the end of my full-sized bottles.

Using up hotel bath products is something I’ve avoided for a lot of years. Having them around was a  reminder of the trips we’ve taken in the past. Olfactory nostalgia.

This is going to be a tough one for me. I am not looking forward to the day when I use the last of the Aesop Geranium Leaf Body Cleanser. Liquid gold, that stuff is.

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Some Things I Didn’t Buy

I took a walk to the Sears Outlet (the Bargain Basement for you locals) today. As I chewed over whether or not I should cancel my Sears card (I’m probably going to need a fridge sometime, right?), I decided to take a few pictures of stuff that, not so long ago, I would have bought without a second thought.

Exhibit 1: These Shoes

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Espadrilles are in. These ones have a leather-like material on the inside of the upper, and I have a weird thing where I can’t have leather touch my bare skin, but the threat of a rash would not have kept me from buying these. Maybe I would have worn them. Maybe not. We’ll never know.

Exhibit 2: This Hat

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Who doesn’t love a gal in a cloche? And that tortoiseshell detail? Shut up. Sure, it’s polyester and plastic, and I have a melon the size of all outdoors, but it would have done a marvelous job of hiding my mousy roots which have recently made their return. Would I have worn it? No. Alas, I am not a hat girl. It would have taken its place alongside other aspirational items, like the black pencil skirt (not my silhouette) and every pair of heels I’ve ever bought.

Exhibit 3: This Rug, Though

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This rug was 40% off today. It has been there for over a year and no one in her right mind will ever, ever pay that much for a rug at the Bargain Basement. Not even at 40% off. I want this rug because it looks like giant knitting. It is huge and impractical and would be nearly impossible to keep clean. It shows every speck of lint and Fred would eat it immediately. The reason I still have a Sears card is because were I to cut it up, that very day this rug would be marked down to $99, and my Sears card would save me the tax.

Week 7: Stocking Up

Admittedly, I’m getting a bit behind on the weekly posts. Also, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of blog-worthy making do going on. Just the daily grind. Same old. Is this real life?

1. My kid and I were both sick for a lot of Curbside Giveaway weekend. Did anyone score any great free finds? Given that I actually don’t need any more stuff, there’s no fear of having missed out over here. In the past, if I’d been away that weekend, I would feel anxiety about all the potential free stuff that someone else got and I didn’t. You know that feeling? Well, it’s gone.

2. My son did, however, drag me out to Community Day at Cineplex Theatres to see Walking With Dinosaurs 3D for FREE. He used his allowance to buy concessions for $2 apiece, with all proceeds going to Free the Children. It was a nice outing, and he’s learning what his money is worth in different situations.

3. One week back from our LA trip, and I’m happy to report that ALL travel expenses and incidentals have been paid off. We have another quick trip coming up in a week’s time, so it’s nice not to have residual credit card charges hanging around, stinking up the place.

4. Should I cancel my Sears card? I should. I know I should. I don’t have any points left on it.

5. Since my fridge was pretty bare when we got back from our trip, I spent a LOT on groceries this week: $72.71 on people food and $101.18 (!!!) on dog food. I am counting on that bag of kibble lasting 2-3 months. A large portion of the people food was cheap meat: stew beef and a post-Thanksgiving turkey. I’m a big fan of “cook once, eat ad nauseum” recipes. Truly.

Love It

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I’ve been wanting a new collar and leash for Fred. Something lightweight that was easy for my son to use, plus washable. Luckily, I have a cousin who makes some great dog gear and I approached her about a trade.

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I made her this hooded cowl because it is apparently very cold in Winnipeg. Here’s my sister wearing it before I put it in the mail.

Leash

 Now, take a look at this swanky set I got from Lovett N Leash It Dog Gear!

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It’s made of fleece, so it’s unbelievably soft and light. It’s comfortable for the leash-er and leashed alike.

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Fred approves. Much better for checking out the fall leaves.

wpid-wp-1413498621904.jpegI happily recommend Lovett N Leash It. Not only is all the gear handmade and high quality (it’s tested pretty exhaustively!), but the prices are very reasonable. In fact, it cost me more to ship the cowl to Winnipeg than it would have cost me to buy the leash and collar with actual money. (Nice, handmade stuff is still stuff, however, and shipping costs are not prohibited.) If you’re in the market for some dog gear, check out Lovett N Leash It on the web or on Facebook.

Week 6: Making Do in L.A.

1. One mostly free, fun thing I’ve been doing lately is taking part in a book club. We meet once a month to talk about books, eat food, and drink tea. They’re a good bunch. I get to host in December! (I am actually now part of two book clubs, but the second one hasn’t met yet. If you live near me and you’re into YA, you should check out the Forever Young Book Club, founded by my pal and great idea-haver, Meghan. You should also read her blog.)

2. Last week on the Facebook Page, a friend suggested an app that would help me avoid paying full price for office coffee in the future. Thanks to Gill and the Flipp app, I have discovered this week’s Cheapest Cheese in the Land. I’m on Android, so I got it free from the Google Play Store. Very handy.

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3. We spent the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in Los Angeles, visiting with some great friends we’ve not seen in far too long. Since travel is not prohibited by my rules, the only thing I needed to be mindful of was buying extra stuff. Airfare, hotels, parking, and reasonable meals are all allowed. We had a lovely trip, and this was the first time I think I have ever declared “zero” on my customs form.

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4. We ate at Souplantation (Sweet Tomatoes in some states) one night, which is essentially a giant salad bar that also has soup and hot dishes, all buffet-style. We love it for family trips. The prices are great, everyone can eat what they like, and it’s reasonably healthy. My mother was with us, and she treated us all to lunch at my favourite restaurant in the world, El Cholo. I have been eating there for over ten years and it’s always the same. It’s also Green Corn Tamale Season, aka The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

5. I spent $94.64 on gas and food on the trip, which are the items I track at home. I did not need gas or groceries for the week leading up to the trip. A higher-spend week to be sure, given the travel costs, but one I budgeted for and that was most definitely worth it.

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