Moving and Minimalism – Part 2: Toys

Although (as we discovered in Part 1) I am not a decor minimalist, as we have moved into our new home I have embraced a completely different aspect of minimalism: keeping my kid’s stuff boxed up because she does not miss it.

This kid is the only grandchild on both sides, and we have very generous neighbors and friends who often give her toys as well (many from Goodwill, yay!), and despite my regular trips back to the Goodwill she has more playthings than she knows what to do with. After we boxed them all up to move, she asked about some items that were put away, but overall she seemed content with the few things we’d kept out.

Once we got to Boston I decided to ride that train and piled unopened boxes of toys (and books – oh, the books!) in her closet. Grandma brought down a box of dinosaur toys, the church left a dozen little animals all around the house for her to find, and we had play-doh and markers for the coloring book pages my sister drew for her. (Yes, both the church and my sister are amazing. I think The Sister should sell custom coloring book pages, yes?)

The kiddo was perfectly content with that initial load for the first week or so, and we have slowly, slowly added things, either by opening an occasional box or by letting her use her birthday money at the thrift store. (8 dollars goes a long way shopping secondhand!) We also found kid-sized hockey sticks at the thrift store and my husband, who played when he was a kid, has had a blast teaching her backhands in the backyard using a ball the church gave us.

With fewer things around, she seems to play longer and more creatively with what she does have, and there’s a lot less to clean up/keep track of. I simultaneously can and can’t believe that it hasn’t occurred to her to wonder where former obsessions like her pop-it beads and code-a-pillar are. I’m hoping to drag out the toy reveal as long as possible, maybe with a rotation where we pack one toy away as we bring out others.

The books, too, are still boxed up apart from the one we initially opened. In the meantime, by George, we have discovered the library! We never took her in Atlanta because she was in daycare (so no need for the daytime programs libraries offer) and the full-size adult bookcase in her room was so full it had books we had never read. But while the kiddo’s at home for the foreseeable future, we tried out the kid-friendly mini-branch in our town, and it’s amazing – you can check out toys while you’re there (great fun without adding to our toy collection at home) AND there’s a kids’ resale shop that benefits the library. You know that’s the first place I went! In the next few weeks I’ll share what I found there to keep her warm during cold Boston winters.

Like lots of parents, I wrestle with how to keep her toys/books at a manageable level – and how to effectively involve her in the process so she learns to do it herself. She’s an enthusiastic kid and once she’s spied something that’s been tucked away, she’ll want to play with it (even if she ends up abandoning it twenty minutes later). Luckily, she’s great at playing with things in the store without needing to take them home; but asking her whether she wants to donate something rarely gets a “yes.” She’ll also randomly ask about X toy she hasn’t played with in weeks, which makes it hard to donate things on the sly – a technique that is starting to feel disingenuous now that she’s a preschooler and old enough to realize what’s happening.

Given all that, moving and keeping everything in boxes is an unexpected boon. I’m planning on having a conversation with her about how much better it can feel to live with less stuff, and as it starts to sink in, maybe she’ll pull the trigger on a few of those donations herself.

 

What have you done re: keeping things in boxes after a move? Dealing with your kids’ stuff in a respectful but practical way?

Moving and Minimalism (Or Not) – Part I

Moving is a great time to come face to face with your relationship with stuff – whether you want to or not.

With our recent move, I was mostly in the former category. While our move was stressful in some ways and there was a lot of work involved, I relished the chance to go through all our possessions and get rid of what we didn’t need or want. (My spouse willingly halved his t-shirt collection, joy!)

I returned things to those from whom we had borrowed them, passed other things on to friends, and made many, many trips to the Goodwill – not the least of which was to say goodbye to Daniel, the man who worked the donation door at our closest GW and who had become a friend over years of frequent closet-cleanout donation runs.

We decided to stage our condo for selling potential, and as we prepared to do so, I wondered whether I would experience the epiphany some minimalists (for example) describe when staging their homes. You know – It feels so open and light! We should have done this years ago! It’s a popular minimalist concept to stage your house as if to sell, but then just live in it. (See what I did there? Popular concept, pop minimalism!)

But as I sat in our echo-y condo, the majority of our belongings already on their way up Boston, I realized I’m not the stereotypical minimalist who thrills to clean white walls and sparely furnished rooms. Contrary to my relative non-attachment to stuff (see: closet cleanouts above and my willingness to ditch wedding gifts we’ve never used), I missed our things.

I didn’t miss individual pieces, per se, but the feeling that the things we have more or less purposefully accumulated and come to love made our house into our home. Without them (and with the addition of the weird chemical smell of new carpet), our place just seemed… sad.

Obviously, the memories you make, people you love, pets you adore, etc. are more important in making a home than stuff is. But as I follow the aftermath of Harvey and the ongoing reality of Irma and think back on the houses I helped gut and the waterlogged possessions I shoveled into dumpsters after Katrina – man. I ache for the families who, while safe and sound, will come back to houses full of the ruins of familiar pictures they’ve walked past, kitchen utensils they’ve used, couches they’ve curled up on every day for years. The things that made the house theirs, even if the people and pets they love – please, God – made it through.

Even if we don’t let it rule our lives, stuff is important. And I’m grateful that ours is intact and that the stuff we staged with will arrive today so we can keep making our new house feel like home.

 

 

Friday ReBlog: A Month’s Worth of Style Challenges

That title is slightly misleading because this post really includes TWO months’ worth of style challenges.  Or one month’s worth of two challenges per day… either way you look at it, there are LOTS of challenges.

First up, Anuschka at Into Mind has a 30 Day Closet Confidence Challenge meant to help you develop your personal style and love your wardrobe (and yourself!) more.  There’s a different prompt/task for each day of the month; if you’re Type A you can hurry up and do the first 4 today and then follow the rest of the prompts one per day for the rest of November. (Or you could start today with #4 and do #1-3 the first 3 days of December.  Or do them all out of order!! Crazy.)

Some of the ones I find personally most helpful for building my style are: wear an outfit 10% outside your comfort zone; write a list of everything that is NOT your style; analyze what exactly you like about your five most-worn items (or in my case a silhouette from another season).  Which sound appealing to you?

 

If you prefer a little surprise challenge every day, Nicole over at The Spirited Thrifter has adapted a local friend’s minimalism challenge into the Closet Minimalism Game. You need to check her posts on Instagram (no account necessary) to get the prompts, but it’s worth it: her writing is funny and the photos of how she fulfilled each prompt are great inspiration.  Plus, if you need some positive peer pressure, you’ll enjoy knowing there’s a whole community out there, complete with hashtag, playing along.

 

Happy weekend, Thrifters!

 

PS This weekend is your LAST CHANCE to take the ThriftShop Chic Reader Survey and help improve your blog experience!  Under 10 questions in less than 2 minutes.  Many thanks to those who have already taken the survey – y’all have some great post ideas I can’t wait to tackle!

 

A Visit to the Maul, and a Great Use for the Pesky Remaining Balance on Your Gift Card

I had to go to the mall a few weeks ago to get an existing gift card balance updated for a wedding present.

The MAUL
Disorienting much?  Image source

Yes, I am tacky enough to use the balance on gift cards we haven’t touched in years towards a wedding gift; but no, I am not tacky enough to send the self-same card that’s been stuck in a drawer in our house all those same years.

You know the ones…they stare accusingly at you every time you open said drawer, asking why you haven’t used them yet.  Your half-hearted rejoinder goes something like, “Well, the store is so far away,” “There’s not much money on you anyway,” “We never used the last thing we bought from this store,” or “I could use you to buy online but the cost of shipping will use up half your balance!”

My solution?
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Friday ReBlog: Zero Waste Wardrobes

I mentioned Ariana at Paris-to-Go in my spring wardrobe cleanout post last week, offering up her pared down wardrobe as a beautiful example of sartorial simplicity.  Her style grows so organically out of her values that it doesn’t feel like some minimalist imposition: “You should own __ number of garments!”

Instead, her commitment to simplicity, sustainability, and generating zero waste, combined with her love of well-made clothes and her superb sense of style, has produced a lovingly curated closet stocked with gorgeous secondhand finds (we’re talking Céline, Dior, Louis Vuitton et al) and handknit items made by local artisans.  Check out posts on her wardrobe to discover the contents for yourself—click “older posts” several times on the lower right to find the good stuff.

I have to say, even though her pants-light, dressily feminine style is quite different from my own, looking at Ariana’s pared down wardrobe makes me happy.  You can tell that she LOVES the items she has; there’s a sense of calm and contentment that comes from a limited number of beautiful possessions and the space freed up by owning less.

She certainly has more…concise…taste than I do—I think owning so little in the way of clothing would be a stretch for me in terms of variety.  But maybe I just haven’t found pieces I love enough to wear significantly fewer clothes more often!

 

Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home is another zero waste blogger—arguably the one who really put zero waste on the map, and did it with a husband and two boys in tow.  (She’s one of Ariana’s sources of inspiration and she’s definitely gotten me thinking about ways to reduce my waste footprint.)

Her blog is a goldmine of zero waste ideas and it’s easy to spend hours digging through it in alternating states of awe and intimidation.  (My advice for the overwhelmed: pick one thing to try and see how it goes!  Then choose another. Repeat at your own speed.)

She, too, has an entirely secondhand wardrobe and keeps her clothes very pared down.  Check out her wardrobe posts for some ideas on a very different style wavelength. Think “French girl” (since she is French, after all): monochrome, stripes, a few bold patterns/pops of color, and very few embellishments.  This post in particular talks about translating her love of fashion into responsible consumption while still providing variety.

 

What are your thoughts on zero waste wardrobes? (We might call these specific examples “super minimalist”!)  Do you find freedom in very few garments and a very focused wardrobe, or do you need a little more room to play?  And isn’t it fascinating to see people populate entire wardrobes of such a variety of styles using non-retail alternatives?

 

Happy weekend, Thrifters—and for those of you who celebrate, Holy Week and Easter blessings.

 

Friday ReBlog: Reconciling Your Thrifting Habit with Minimalism

Dina over at Dina’s Days has a great post on how to embrace minimalism when you’re a thrift addict (or maybe how to live with your thrifting habit if you’re an aspiring minimalist?).

I consider myself minimalist-in-the-making and loved her tips. I find getting rid of the unwanted excess in my life helps hone my thrifting skills; it’s so much easier to identify perfect fits and say no to everything else when you’ve pared down your belongings enough for a clear vision to emerge.

My favorite insight from her post? “Give yourself the chance to miss something” instead of fretfully imagining that you could never live without it. What a paradigm shift.

Dina’s got great thrifted style and her own thrift boutique up in Akron, Ohio; if you live in the area, go check her out.

 

Happy weekend, Thrifters!

 

Friday ReBlog: Baby Essentials and More Registry Advice

Minimalist Mom is one of my go-to blogs for minimalist inspiration and a voice of sanity in our  culture of buy-your-kids-everything-to-make-them-happy/healthy/safe/smart. She posted several years back about the essentials she and her first baby needed; it’s a great starting point for any parents-to-be out there. Now with three boys she’s also a great resource for parents trying to keep at bay the avalanche of stuff and activities that seem to come with modern kids.

 

Next week, we return to thrifted style with an update on my winter capsule wardrobe; don’t miss it!

 

Happy weekend, Thrifters!

The Ambivalent Consumer’s Guide to Creating a Gift Registry

While writing Tuesday’s post about thrifting gifts for a baby shower (tacky or not? Weigh in!), I got to thinking y’all might be curious about how someone who thrifts a LOT of her life purchases (that’d be me) does a gift registry.

If you’re committed to lowering your consumer impact and/or addicted to repurposing another person’s discards into your own amazingness, or if you already have most of what you need, signing up for a whole slew of brand new possessions feels… well… weird.

So what if, for any number of reasons, you don’t need ALL THE THINGS for your newly married life or your newly acquired baby or your new digs?  Today I’m sharing how we did our two registries (so far) and tips on how to make a gift registry work for YOU.

The Ambivalent Consumer’s Guide to Creating a Gift Registry
Continue reading “The Ambivalent Consumer’s Guide to Creating a Gift Registry”