Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Recent purchase recap

I'm always amused by the way irony pops up in my life.  I'll make a decision to attempt to make fewer, but more ethical, purchases and then suddenly have a list of items I need to replace or simply acquire.  I think I still shop less than most people but here is a quick recap of the non-grocery items I've purchased since November 26th:

  • 3 pairs of black tights (for use with uniform), 2 plain white Ts and 2 plain shirts with 3/4 length sleeves - all from American Apparel (hate their advertising and corporate culture but their manufacturing is done in the US).
  • mini-Christmas tree and stocking holder - purchased secondhand, not exactly a minimalist purchase but I caved and wanted holiday decor.  
  • serving tray & bowl, pitcher, 4 tumblers, salt shaker, cashmere sweater, half roll of wrapping paper - purchased secondhand, sweater will be hacked for an ugly sweater party then reused in my regular wardrobe, the kitchen items replaced items that broke in my move or that were needed when I planned a dinner party larger than what my place settings could cover off
  • Teflon fry pan and oven thermometer - NOT an ethical purchase but my sister had requested a new frying pan for Christmas and I had a gift card to use at Winners/Homesense.  She's very brand loyal so buying a brand she wasn't familiar with would have upset her (she would feel like I was being cheap) and I needed the thermometer for my oven which is really and truly having some temperature issues and will, apparently, require some kind of repair.
  • pair of black Madewell ponte pants and chambray button down shirt - purchased secondhand as I needed another pair of pants and have been looking for a chambray shirt for awhile.
Exciting?  Not really.  Looking at my list I even feel like I've done way more shopping than I usually do but with my weight fluctuations and items that didn't survive the cross country move, I suppose its bound to happen, no matter how long I put it off.

This experiment will be interesting moving forward as, frankly, my budget is ridiculously tight now that I live in Calgary and making more ethical choices when purchasing new items isn't cheap because there are higher labour, material and manufacturing costs to consider.  It looks like I'll have to try to stick to secondhand shopping as often as possible which doesn't really do much to support local or ethical companies but at least is a better choice for the planet by stepping out of the supply-demand production cycle and keeping usable goods out of landfills.

I'm on-call quite a bit from now into the New Year so I might be blogging much but I'll try to get back on that wagon in 2016.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A new take on shopping

Anyone who knows me IRL or who has read through some of my previous posts know that I'm a pretty big fan of thrift store shopping.  This has usually been because I could cover my needs by buying clothing/goods that someone else decided they didn't like/need and save money at the same time.  Yeah, I can be a cheap mofo but how else do you think I managed to buy a house and do all sorts of renos on a flight attendant salary?!

I decided to up the ante by trying to choose more ethical sources for any new purchases I do make.  "Ethical" is a tricky term and I have to admit, I'm not as hardcore as some of the ethical consumers I've found online.   Since about mid-November, I've been trying to make sure my purchases are more responsible by either being secondhand (so its outside of the usual supply-demand cycle that drives manufacturing) or being a better choice either environmentally and/or through labour and manufacturing practices.

This has not proven to be a cheap decision but I'll do what I can, when I can.

I thought I'd post some pics of an example of how this new take on shopping has affected my choices.  I had been debating getting some Blundstone boots (retail at about $200).  These are the (similar style) Steve Madden brand Chelsea boots I found at Feisty Consignment, a cute little consignment store in my neighbourhood.  Yes, they needed a good polishing and to have some new rubbery-sole-thingies put on but a) they're secondhand so buying them keeps them out of the landfill until they are truly beyond repair and b) even after repairs, they came to less than half of what a new pair of Blundstones would cost me.  They've already gotten some use by their first owner so they likely won't last as long as a new pair of shoes but I still think I've made the right choice.  I'm just bummed that I can't wear them as often as I'd like due to it being winter...

I'm not sure how to get the pics all on one line but the lower right picture is after polish/repair.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

I moved to Calgary!!

It's been a difficult year, filled with personal change, renovations, selling my house, buying a condo, selling/donating almost all of my personal possessions and then moving across the country.  Now I'm in a new city and having to settle in/make new friends.

The move definitely cemented my minimalist beliefs.  I went from about 1600 sq ft of living space to 740 sq ft of living space (plus a small storage shed, probably about 25 sq ft).  I got rid of a lot of clothes I was hoping to fit into again one day and a lot of items that I simply held onto because I had the space to store them in my home in Ontario.  There is definitely not a lot of clutter at my new place.

The move has meant a significant change in my income, about $25k less a year.  Crazy, right?  I'm currently only working one job and my schedule at my new base involves fewer hours so I'm having to be really strict with my finances right now.  2016 will involve some serious decisions about having to increase my income.  I'll either have to go back to working 2 jobs or by taking a demotion so that I earn less per hour but have the opportunity to work more hours with a better schedule.  Right now, I'm trying to get by on what I earn and focus on making connections with people here in Calgary.

I'm attempting to maintain my minimalist lifestyle and also be a more ethical consumer.  I'll try to keep you updated on the challenges and progress I make.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Killing time, waiting to be called out

The purging has continued and, happily, it's starting to become more noticeable.  My closet isn't necessarily much emptier but its (mostly) filled with items I like to wear.  There will be a bit more culling done but its gotten to the point where I'm not sure which of the remaining items can go so I've re-hung everything with the hangers facing the opposite way (this is sometimes referred to as Oprah's hanger trick).  After about 2 months, anything that is still left hanging in that direction will be sent to the thrift store.

There isn't much excitement going on so I thought I'd add a picture of what I'm wearing today while bumming around the house waiting for a call from Scheduling (ignore my house shoes/slippers!).  What I've realized is that the clothes I tend to reach for most are black, grey, white, blue or denim and that my sense of style is pretty casual although I try not to end up looking sloppy.  The fleece blazer/swing coat here is a departure from that colour scheme because of the orange stripe but I really like it because its comfy and more put-together than a hoody.  It's been great for travelling and I can even wear it at the office so we'll see if I start pulling it out of the closet more often.  I think this outfit is pretty typical for me on a day off.  If I was headed into the world I'd grab my black tote bag and black boots (if snow didn't force me into giant Sorels).

Outfit cost:
Jeans* $8
Fleece blazer* $7
Tshirt $6
Belt free (from work uniform, provided by employer)

*purchased secondhand

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Decluttering with no noticeable effect

I've been really trying to cut back on the amount of possessions that I own in order to declutter my house and prepare for downsizing later in the spring.  The irony of the situation is that, even after hauling an extra bag of trash to the curb and taking 3 boxes of clutter/duplicates/stuff I never use and a giant garbage bag of clothing to the thrift store, it's unlikely anyone would notice a difference at my house.  *I* barely notice a difference and I've been the one sorting through everything!!  I was really good at hiding my excess items or keeping them in rooms that are currently unused.  It was a case of out of sight, out of mind and unfortunately, even now that those items are permanently gone...they weren't really stressing me out to begin with.

It's a bit discouraging because I'm missing out on that feeling of relief one gets after clearing their space but I know that I'm still doing the right thing.  Not only will I have less to move when I find my next home but eventually, as my decluttering continues, I will notice a tidier, less-stressed lifestyle emerging as my home routine becomes easier.  I still have a long way to go; my wardrobe, vertical surfaces and paper monster all still need to be tamed.

My wardrobe is probably the most frustrating.  I've been trying to lose weight for awhile now and as soon as I start to fit into my old clothes, I fall off the bandwagon due to some personal drama in my life (yay for emotional eating!!) and get stuck wearing the "fat clothes" I've been trying to eliminate.  I've more or less given up on fitting into some of these items and have gotten rid of most of the clothing that doesn't fit.  The rest is on a 2 month pardon.  Most of the remaining, smaller-sized clothing is actually Spring/Summer clothing so by the time its due to be hauled out of storage, I really should have lost that weight.  At the moment, between the items hanging in my closet and the clothing in my dresser, I have over 56 items that are more or less seasonally-appropriate (I counted 56 but still have items in my crew bag and laundry to do...this will bump the number even higher).  This number doesn't include outerwear, activewear, socks/undies/PJs, shoes/boots or accessories.  This seems incredibly excessive to me although I know I only own a fraction of what most people have in their wardrobe.  I'm re-hanging all the items in my closet with the hanger facing backwards...that'll help me see what actually gets used and the unworn items will get donated after 2 months.

I'm really excited to whittle this down to a capsule wardrobe as I think it'll help me develop my personal sense of style.  I have a few outfits that I LOVE, I want to get to the point where everything in my wardrobe is something I love and feel great in.  I promise to keep you updated. ;)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Shortly after my last post, someone totalled my car...

And things got super hectic. :(

I knew that Betty would need to be replaced but thought I would be able to take my time shopping for my next vehicle.  When the giant pickup truck decided to turn left *into* the driver's side of my vehicle, I was left more than a little shaken.  Seriously, when I looked out my side window, all I saw was his grill.  I had to crawl over the passenger seat and use that door to get out of my car.  Betty was a write-off and my search for a replacement became frantic.  After I replaced her (with Betch, a 2010 Toyota Rav4) I spirited a friend away to Dublin for a much needed vacation.

Unfortunately, I have felt like I haven't been able to catch up since then...I had certification training at work, have been trying to fly extra hours/work shifts at the office to put some money aside for savings, had a minor mental breakdown (not ready to talk more about that yet) and spent wasted a lot of time online, hiding away from the real world by substituting it with social media.  I always felt super busy but didn't always seem to be accomplishing a lot (and certainly couldn't seem to keep on top of simple household tasks).

Remember how I had mentioned my priorities were shifting?  Well, it seems there's been another change too.  I hesitate to call myself a minimalist because I'm so far from their ideal but I definitely feel myself drifting towards minimalism.  I've spent much of my downtime so far in 2015 (ha, I realize that's only been a few days) going through the contents of my home and purging what isn't necessary.  I should clarify that this isn't a easy or quick experience.  My closet, for example, only seems to lose one or two things at a time but that can still add up.  My frugal, non-consumerist side has helped as well as hindered at various points of this process.  My linen closet was tricky because other than being faded/stained, my towels are actually in decent shape.  Frugal Kristyn says "Don't throw then out, they're still good!!" and Minimalist Kristyn says "But do you really LOVE these stained towels?  Get some pretty new ones!!".  Compromise Kristyn is hoping fabric dye will cover up the stains and give the old towels a fresh new look.

I've definitely decided to sell the townhouse I've called home for 3.5 years now.  I love my home. :( The layout is great for me, there's more than enough space, I'm close to all the amenities in my small town...but the stress of cutting grass/shovelling snow/cleaning the more than abundant space is too much.  My neighbours have always been kind enough to help with some of the exterior work but that's not their responsibility and makes me feel guilty.  I'm in the process of finishing up some upgrades/reno's and am hoping to list my home in the spring.  I'll likely look for a condo.  I used to be adamantly against condo ownership but I can see why, for someone single in my line of work, its almost the only reasonable choice.

2015 will be about attempting to simplify my possessions (less stuff = less stuff to waste time cleaning/maintaining) and in turn, simplify my life.  The standard resolutions of being healthier, learning new skills and travelling will all apply too but right now, I'm just trying to weed out what's just cluttering my life and my mind.  I'm hoping to use this blog as an online journal of sorts but I'm only planning to post once a week and spend more time living offline. :)

Happy New Year!  Let's make 2015 great!