Purge Your Closet!

I am posting today on a serious issue. It is a problem that is sweeping the nation: closet obesity.

My closet before purging

Both hard-hitting and close to home, this issue has infiltrated even the savviest of shoppers’ closets, wreaking havoc on their closet goals and dreams. Does this sound familiar?

Wardrobe Bulimic – You consistently have buying binges at thrift stores and discount clothing joints. You have perhaps 10 things in your closet you’ve owned for more than 5 years. Your style changes as often as your underpants. Your most inspired outfit is the one you just bought.

-From Painfully Hip

Interesting. I think that so often, we impulsively buy crap clothing in heaps, things we don’t necessarily like or need, can’t afford and get sick of very quickly. Then it just piles up in our closets, and although we have tons of clothes we don’t feel like wearing any of it! This is unhealthy for our personal style, our closets’ waistbands (they’re fat!) and, of course, our wallets. So how to prevent, avoid and cease this vicious cycle? Careful thought.

What do you want your wardrobe to do for you?

As my style has evolved, I’ve realized that I have a preference for classic style: pieces that can be worn over and over, reinvented and go with everything. I still adore my accessories: scarves, jewelery, hats, etc, which give my outfits personality and pizazz, but I keep finding myself returning to my easy, classic pieces that never get old. My wardrobe wishes are to have pieces that make sense, make me look great, can be mixed and matched easily and are stylish and fun to wear.

My Wardrobe Wishes

  1. Non-dressy blazer which goes with jeans, skirts, dresses
  2. Simple silk shift
  3. Perfect-fit red & white striped shirt
  4. Boyfriend jeans
  5. Pretty flats and perfect brogues
  6. Trenchcoat/nice outerwear
  7. Basic white t-shirts
  8. Men’s-style dress shirts
  9. Pouffy skirt
  10. Simple sundress

So I ask you: what are your closet goals? This is the first question you must ask yourself before the big purge.  What do you want out of your wardrobe? Is it trendiness, perfect fit and good quality? Or is it comfort, longevity and affordability? Once you have decided what you want out of your clothes, it becomes much easier to get rid of the clothes that don’t fit into your ‘ideal style’. That’s where the purging comes in.

How to Successfully Purge Your Closet!

After the purge!

The trick is to target pieces that don’t really work. Chances are, you probably know which ones those are: the ones you never reach for while getting dressed, because you know they fit you badly, don’t go with anything, or are outdated. Why do you want these clothes clogging up your dream closet anyways? You don’t! So here’s what I think you should do: get rid of them. I know, it’s big and scary. It’s hard work. It’s mentally frustrating. But guess what? It’s doable! I just did it! Here are three tips I have for losing your bad clothes without losing your mind.

#1. Reflect.

Remember how earlier we decided what our closet goals were? Well, while performing this great feat of closet destruction, keep reflecting. It is easy to lose focus, lose motivation and end up right back where you started. Every time you pick up a piece of your clothing, really think about it. Ask yourself: When was the last time I wore it? Does it look good on me? Does it fit? Is it cheaply made and falling apart? or Is it a keeper? Is it good quality? Is it interchangeable with my wardrobe?  If you keep asking yourself questions and giving honest answers, you’ll be purging in no time!

#2. Be ruthless!

Don’t get all mushy-gushy on your closet. If you’re like me, you have plenty of clothes from another stage of your life: clothes you wore when you were with a boyfriend, in a certain key year of your life, etc. Don’t get sentimental! You have photos and memories of yourself during those times. Keeping the clothes in the back of your closet collecting dust will not help you! If one piece was especially important in your life, then hold onto it, by all means, but keep it separate from your wardrobe, maybe in a box of memories? And remember to give yourself a couple days before getting rid of it all, just in case you change your mind about anything. But overall the mission is: purge, purge, purge. Always remember your closet goals!

#3. Recover.

So you’ve lipo-suctioned off a large chunk of clunky, useless clothes from your poor closet’s body. Great! This is good. It will thank you later. Right now, it’s a bit sore and scraggly looking, so fix it on up. Grab some fancy Ikea hangers/boxes, arrange your dresses in a pretty way, display your shoes, etc. This will get you excited about your clothes again, and forget the pain of the slight emptiness your closet may now display. While you’re soothing your burns, look at these closets to further inspire you: Sea of Shoes, Le Fashion Image, various others..

#4. Share.

I know, you’re still licking your wounds. But now is the time to rejoice! Be strong! And see if you can pull it together enough to share. You now have stacks of unwanted (by you) clothes in your hallway, but who says that just because they don’t match your style, they won’t match someone else’s? Offer them up to your friends and siblings! Have a clothes-swap party with friends! See if anyone can re-love any of the things you no longer need. If not, donate them to the Goodwill or sell them to a consignment shop.

Then, dust off your hands, breathe a sigh of relief and relish in the fact that you’re now free to slowly re-build your closet with good quality clothes that fit you perfectly, look amazing and that you love wearing.

What do you think?

Could you bear to get rid of your clothes? Do you have closet goals you’re not reaching? Have you considered a closet purge? Let me know!

xoxo, S.


15 Productive Ways to Spend 15 Minutes

Photo Thanks to orangeacid

So, picture the scene. You’re fifteen minutes away from

a) A lunch date

b) A big meeting

c) Class starting

d) The library/store/whatever opening

It’s too short a time to start a big project. It’s too long a time to sit idly, what with the busy life you lead. You want to do something quick and ultimately productive. Something that’ll make the rest of your day a little easier, or your to-do list a little shorter. You’re always complaining about how there are too few hours in a day, so packing productivity into your stray minutes may give you more cozy time! Here are fifteen ways to be productive with little, inconvenient spurts of time.

Ways to Be Productive

  1. Write that email. You know the one. That response you were meant to have sent to your father/best friend/colleague that you just keep putting off. Just write it! Get it off your plate for good.
  2. Read a chapter of your book. Always keep a book in your purse or briefcase for this purpose. Look forward to these tiny pockets of time in which you can whip out your book and get lost for fifteen minutes (or more!)
  3. Stretch.
  4. Pay bills. A perfectly easy way to be productive. If, like me, your bills aren’t automatically paid, you can use your fifteen minutes to make sure everything is covered and paid for. That way, when you get home, you can use your time for you, not for silly little chores like that.
  5. Skim yesterday’s notes. A great way to stay on top of your work is to read over yesterday’s notes from lecture or a meeting. You’ll pick up on things you weren’t paying attention to, and save yourself from cramming later.
  6. Read the news. If you never have time over breakfast, use your quick stretch of time to consume as much news as possible from The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, The National Post, or any other paper of your choosing. Keeping on your toes about current events is a great asset in conversation and forging connections.
  7. Build your brain. Do a sudoku! Do a crossword, write an article, click on anything that sounds interesting on the Wikipedia homepage, or play Set online (one of my all-time faves), philosophize, etc. Do anything that will keep you alert and awake for the rest of the day.
  8. Tidy your workspace. Such an easy way to boost productivity! If you’re anything like me, you find it distracting to work at a desk/room that is messy, disorganized, and confusing. You can’t be productive if your desk is littered with papers and you can never find anything. Well, unless you’re Einstein. :)
  9. Write a to-do list. If you’re stressed out and panicky, chances are it’s because you have at least three upcoming items on your mind that need doing. The best way that I’ve found to diminish this panic is to get it all down onto paper. Write down every niggling thing that needs doing at work/school/home, and you’ll be better equipped to take steps to finish them.
  10. Brainstorm. Have you been feeling like starting a new project? Creating something new? Or maybe you want to plan a vacation or party. Whatever ideas you’ve got marinating up there in your wee brain, expand and explore them. Mind map online or on paper, adding details as you let the ideas develop. After you’re done, you’ll have lots of new tasks and ideas to build upon.
  11. Power nap. This may not seem productive in the traditional sense, but read between the lines! Taking a quick nap or rest will re-energize you for the rest of the day and put more productivity into your time.
  12. Re-organize. Is your agenda a complete and utter mess? Your file folders, your computer’s files, your email account, your bookshelves or your drawers? Well, take these fifteen minutes to tackle on of those problems. Clean, purge, tidy, re-organize and breathe better knowing you are hereby much more in control.
  13. Get outside! Weather permitting, get yourself outdoors! Go for a little walk to get the blood flowing, or just sit and enjoy the sunlight. Exercise will wake you up and keep you present for the rest of the day.
  14. Plan meals. Assuming you don’t do this on the weekend, take the time to write down little menus for each day of the week and grocery lists for each of them. This will keep you more sane at the grocery store, diminish impulse purchases, and give you time to ensure you’re eating healthy!
  15. Relax! You don’t always have to be doing something. Sometimes the best form of productivity is to relinquish stress by doing nothing! Take a few minutes to yourself. Listen to some music, close your eyes and breathe.

In conclusion..

Productivity is the key to having more time for yourself. If you don’t waste away the precious minutes you may currently consider too short for anything useful, you might find yourself with more free time to do the things you really want to!

So, what are some things you do with spare minutes? How do you manage your time?

xoxo, S.

Make Your Life Cozy

Just add tea and a book..

One of my favourite comments recently was from the Stir-Fried Dinosaur, who said that my blog was cozy. Isn’t that just the nicest? Thank you! This made me particularly happy because I try very hard to keep my life as cozy as possible. Today I’m going to share with you how I achieve coziness, and how you can too!

My Definition of Cozy:

1. Making your life work for you, so that your personal spaces always feel like home

2. Knowing what you love, and doing it

3. Feeling luxurious in your own way

How To Cozi-fy Your Life

Hot Chocolate and Magazines

1. Making your life work for you.

This means making the most of what you have. You may not have an unlimited budget, or you may not have unlimited space, or you may not have unlimited time to make your spaces perfect. What’s important is that you prioritize. What means the most to you? What will make you feel the most at home when you get home? Is it a big library? A doggie? Big windows and an easy chair? Photos of family and friends? Lots of delicious food? Zero in on what is most important, and make your lifestyle work around that. Budget your time, energy and money carefully in order to get the most out of your life, and the spaces you spend it in.

Marjorie Hillis’s book, Live Alone and Like It, was a bible written for the modern 1930’s woman, but still manages to be remarkably current. It’s one of my favourite books, and I always read it whenever I want to amp up the luxury/cozy in my life. She speaks about the importance of having a home that you really feel at home in, and how just because nobody will necessarily see your home, doesn’t mean you don’t need to make it fabulous! The time you spend nestled up in your rooms should give you lots of happiness – nobody will be happy and inspired if they don’t bother to make an effort in their living spaces!

2. Knowing what you love.

For many people, this is very intuitive. When we walk into a store, we can immediately say exactly what we love and what we hate. But I’m not talking so much about material possessions so much as routines and habits. Chances are there are many little things that make you very happy, but maybe you’re not doing them every day. And why not? What should stop you from incorporating as much happiness and coziness into your daily routines? Maybe for you your favourite thing is:

  • a quiet half hour reading with some tea
  • a long walk outdoors
  • a bubble bath
  • painting
  • people-watching in a café
  • spending rainy days in a record store
  • dancing.
  • skipping stones
  • driving aimlessly
  • spending Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market
  • exploring bookshops
  • drinking your orange juice out of a huge glass
  • making music
  • wrestling with your dog
  • napping
  • swimming
  • taking extra-long showers
  • mood lighting
  • listening to music without lyrics
  • etc.

The point is to make your life cozy you need to make time for the things that you love. I know,  you’re busy, burnt out and have no time for such frivolous things, right?. To that I say two things:

  1. You will continue to be perpetually burnt out and unproductive if you never take any time to relax or make yourself happy.
  2. Frivolous things? This is your life! If you keep your nose to the grindstone day in and day out, you’re going to wake up in fifty years and realize you haven’t really lived or been happy.

So take the time. Don’t deny yourself time to do exactly what makes you happy. You probably already spend a few hours a day mindlessly watching television or surfing the internet, so you likely do have the time! And of course t.v and internet make people happy as well, but once in a while it’s refreshing to spend some quality time, creating memories and happiness. And coziness, of course!

3. Feeling luxurious in your own way.

In addition to ‘daily happiness upkeep’, you should also treat yourself every so often. And don’t worry if your idea of a special treat differs from someone else’s, you’re you and they’re them. Don’t ever let other people dictate how you should live your life or spend your money. They’re probably just jealous anyhow, that you have such a cozy life! Some extra-luxe ideas for ultimate coziness:

  • Get a milkshake
  • Spend extra for something you really love: a type of tea, notebook, bed sheets, perfume/cologne, a mug
  • Breakfast in bed
  • Keep your house stocked with cookies, homemade if possible
  • Spray eucalyptus/lavender spray on your pillows
  • Invest in a bed tray – it will change your life
  • Get fresh flowers weekly, if you like them

Conclusion

So there you have it! Three simple ways to squeeze every drop of coziness out of your life. I’m not advocating frivolity, neglect of your daily duties or blowing all your money on expensive things to make your space better for you. It’s all about moderation, simple luxuries and getting the most out of your life. Take the time to think about what parts of your day you love best, and see if you can find a way to amplify that positivity throughout your day. Surround yourself with things you find beautiful and cheerful, and I bet you’ll find yourself more cheerful too :).

What sorts of cozy things do you try to incorporate into your life? What do you spend extra money on? What are your personal luxuries? What makes you happy!?

xoxo, S.



Top 10 Free Mac Apps for New Mac Owners

So you just bought your first Mac! Congratulations! Welcome to a world of faster, more intuitive computing. I know you’ll like it here. As they say: “once you go Mac, you never go back”. (Do they say that? Did I just make that up?) It was my Mom (hater of technology, her mantra is “I LOVE TECHNOLOGY” to keep herself from going insane struggling with it) who turned us all onto Macs: first by buying a laptop that she found easier to use. Then she added a desktop. Then my Dad, catching on slowly, bought himself one too. After a while, my Mom passed on her desktop to my sisters and I, and got a faster one, and then I got my computer for school. What can I say, we’re an Apple family (no iPhones though). Anyway, I have never looked back. I remember the days of struggling endlessly with our desktop computer, which is now a dinosaur, and I can assure you I will never return to those days. I do understand, though, that Macs are more expensive by far. I would argue, also, that they are better for battery, longevity and included software. It’s obviously a difficult tradeoff, but I’m not here to tell you whether to buy a Mac or a PC (these guys can do that for me :P), I’m here to tell you what to do once you have one!

The early days with your new computer are an adventure. From the minute you turn it on you’re greeted by colour and sound and shiny things. What to do?? Here are my top picks for the most useful free Mac applications on the interwebs. I’m sharing them today because so many of my friends don’t know about some of them. And they should know of them, because they’re just so damned useful! Enjoy!

1. Caffeine. Ever have your screen peskily dim every time you try to watch something on Youtube or read an article online? Well, rather than have to touch the trackpad every time it dims, just download Caffeine and have it running on startup. That way, when you click it on (it is a tiny icon in your top menu bar) it will keep your screen lit up until you turn it off. This little app is one I use many times daily, it’s one of the most useful on my computer.

2. Todos. Although you can set up your Applications folder to appear in your Apple dock, I also find this app to be very helpful. By pressing ctrl+option+command+t, all your applications pop up in a handy little window, and you can click whichever you want. Useful for people who don’t like to keep their docks on the screen or don’t want their applications in their docks.

3. Newsfire. Whether you’re an avid fashion-blog reader, or a CNN junkie, Newsfire is a great, easy-to-use RSS feeder application. I prefer it to Google Reader because it can be accessed just from my desktop and not a website, and any feed can be added extremely easily. It’s nothing really fancy, just a simple, straightforward reader.

4. Appcleaner. An easy way to uninstall Mac applications. Although uninstalling is fairly simple to do without the app, Appcleaner does a good job of collecting all the files associated with an app. That way, you never miss any, and your computer doesn’t get clogged with useless files.

5. Mojo. So wonderful if you live in a university residence or apartment building. It’s a program that allows you to share your music & movies with all other Mojo users in the vicinity, when they’re online. It’s fast and easy, and it’s a great way to discover new bands and movies.

6. Tweetie. Great for anyone on twitter. They say the free version includes ads, but personally I get one ad every three weeks or so. This application, again, is simple, but it’s one of my favourites. It’s sleek, easy to use and provides all the features you would need. I also tried out Tweetdeck, but I have loved Tweetie more than any other twitter application.

7. Daisy Disk. An app that lets you scan your computer and zero in on any areas of high memory usage. This allows you to get rid of things you don’t need, and make sure your computer stays happy. It says only a fifteen day trial, but I am still able to use it..it just says ‘unregistered” on it, but still works fine.

8. Keymaster. If you’re anything like me, you have a bazillion passwords for strange accounts all over the internet. And they’re all different. And it’s confusing! So here’s the solution: download Keymaster, put a really hard password on it, and store all your passwords within. Perfect, and more secure than a password notebook.

9. Evernote. Obviously, if you don’t have an Evernote account this app won’t be useful to you. But you should have an Evernote account!! As I mentioned in this post, Evernote is such a wonderful system for syncing all the cool things you find on the internet or in your day-to-day life into one giant ‘notebook’. I use my Evernote mostly for collecting recipes, ideas on the go or inspiration. Definitely check it out!

10. Quinn. Basically a prettier version of Tetris. :)

So, my dear new Mac lovers, go forth with these ten useful apps for your new computers. Live long, and prosper!

Feedback?

What do you think? Any apps I should know about? Please let me know if there’s an app you just can’t live without!!

xoxo, S.