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I’m Still Making Myself Read Books

Actually, I like reading. But, you know, Netflix. And Instagram. And other mind-numbing activities. Reading seems like it’s good for the brain and the soul. So here’s what I’ve read since I last posted about books.

To the Land of Long Lost Friends:
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith

I am only about one third of the way through To the Land of Long Lost Friends now. I previously read two other Books by Smith. It’s not really my style of literature but he was such a favorite of my stepmother Carolyn, and it reminds me of her and her quirky sense of humor. My copy was a gift from my Dad and it has a sticker on it that says “Politics & Prose, Signed by the Author” which gives me so many feels. #politicsandprose #iheartdc

Educated: A Memoir
by Tara Westover

This books was really hard for me to read. I became so invested and emotionally effected by it I almost couldn’t finish it. But it was so well written. And, if she could survive the living of it, I could hopefully survive the reading of it.

The Four Tendencies:
The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better
by Gretchen Rubin

I would say this book changed my life. I think everyone should read it. I read it on my Libby app. Because it was a library book, I read it super fast. Whenever I read a self-help type book, it feels like a school assignment and there’s a sense of obligation to get it done (that’s why I’m an Obliger!) Take the online test to find out which of the four tendencies you are. It gave me amazing insight on who I am as well as the motivations of the people I live with!

Turtles All the Way Down
by John Green

You may know I steer clear of YA, but my good friend Laura recommended this, so I read it. It was pretty good.

Circe
by Madeline Miller

Wow, not like anything I’ve ever read before. Quite intense. I studied ancient Greek and Roman mythology in Junior High and High School. I also read the Odyssey (voluntarily) rather recently, so it was fascinating to read a sort of novel told about the gods as if they were people. The writing was rich and challenging and really transported me to a radically different place and time. Recommend.

 

Low Buy: My Rules and How I’ve Done So Far

My only purchase this year: a J.Crew sweater from Poshmark

I don’t know exactly what day in January I officially committed to doing the “Low Buy Challenge” but here we are, one week into February and I feel like I’ve done well so far.

In my last post I talked about why I was doing it, who inspired me, and what clothes I currently have in my Fall/Winter closet. (Spring/Summer items are packed away.) I think the next step is to discuss the rules I’ve created around when and if I add something.

  1. Wait. That’s right. Try it on in store or look at it on line, but don’t buy it today. Pin it on my Pinterest “Wish List” board. If I still really like it in a week or a month, I can get it.
  2. Ask myself if I need it. Will it fill a hole in my wardrobe? Do I already have something similar? Is it truly my style? Will it get a lot of wear? Is it on my list?
  3. Try to buy second hand or get it from a friend.
  4. Shop sustainable brands. Consider spending a little bit more to support more responsible manufacturers, and invest in a quality item that will last longer.
  5. Don’t shop to avoid uncomfortable feelings or boredom. Find an alternative outlet.

Setting this goal for myself has been surprisingly freeing. I thought it would be harder. Some of the things I’ve done have made it easier. For one, at the beginning of the year I did massive email clean out. I unsubscribed from all unnecessary emails, especially clothing stores. I threw away coupons and sales flyers and any other enticement to buy stuff (when I don’t need stuff!) Another thing that helped: resisting the urge to get rid of  clothing I don’t wear. I know now that this can create a vacuum that makes me want to run out and get new items. If I think I should get rid of it, I put it away in my off season bins. If I still feel the same in the Spring, I’ll donate it. The third thing I did was spend less time looking at fashion blogs and social media in general. If I read posts, it’s from people who encourage slow fashion. This growing online community is like a support group and it really helps! Check out #2020wehaveplenty and #useless_lowbuy2020

The longer I go without buying clothes the more I feel like I don’t need to. I like the clothes I have. I don’t need new ones. Besides, I like knowing I have a stash of allowance money that keeps getting bigger. The more I have, the less I want to spend it.

Low Buy Challenge

a new challenge
I’ve decided to make an effort to buy as few clothing items as possible this year. These last two years I did “A year of Shopping Responsibly” and then “New Wardrobe Additions” posts to help me be more accountable about what I purchase and to motivate me to be more selective about what I buy. It was a good exercise, and it really revealed that I shop too much. I recently watched the documentary, “The True Cost” and had to face some ugly truths. And how I was contributing to a big problem. Overconsumption is causing serious damage to the planet and the people who make our clothes. There are a lot of reasons to participate in “slow fashion” and it may seem like a real kill joy at first, but just like any form of minimalism, you get to decide how to do it and how much feels right for you. Any amount of change helps!

my inspiration 
My biggest motivator has been Signe from uselesswardrobe.dk. She introduced her “low buy” concept at the beginning of the year and I decided to jump on board. I’ve been following a lot of bloggers over the years who promote minimalism and capsule wardrobes—which I was attracted to because their beautiful simplicity—but am now embracing due to their social consciousness. Recently, I found myself following the Instagram stories of Jaana, from thismomsgonnasnap.com , on shopping addiction. I love that she had the guts to share her journey, and to call it what it is. There are so many others and I encourage you to check them out.

step one
I decided that the best place to start was to appreciate what I have. Above you’ll see a video of every item currently in my closet. Why did I try on all my clothes and take mirror selfies of them? Because I saw Signe do it and I wanted a record of everything I currently have. I knew it would really show me that I don’t need any more clothes. And, when and if I look for a new item, I won’t buy something I already have and I won’t buy things that don’t fit my style or my lifestyle. Signe also inspired me recently to try packing up all my off season clothing so what you see there is only Fall/Winter. And keep in mind, I’ve been through countless decluttering sessions including The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up and The Curated Closet. I regularly inventory my clothes and only have what I truly love and wear. I now know that I have, available to me, the following clothing:

PANTS/SKIRTS – 14
TEE-SHIRTS – 24
SHIRTS – 9
SWEATERS – 13
JACKETS, ETC. – 3
SPECIAL OCCASION – 19
SHOES – 19

That’s a lot! (God, that really is an enormous amount of items.) And it doesn’t include off-season clothes and it doesn’t include what I’ve donated. I’ve spent the last 10 or so years trying to ‘build the perfect wardrobe’ LOL. And now, and at my mature-ish age, I’ve amassed a collection. I’m fortunate that my size has stayed fairly consistent and that I have a certain allowance for clothes. I try to take good care of my garments. Going through the video I can see some things that I could let go of. I’m going to see what I wear as I go forward.

Well, thanks for indulging me in this exercise. I do it only to convince myself: I have enough. I am enough. I’m looking forward to exploring this subject in further depth. Topics like: sustainable brands, buying second hand, putting outfits together with what I have, avoiding impulsive purchases, shopping from a list, etc. I hope you’ll join me!

New Wardrobe Additions: December

Tissue Turtleneck: J.Crew | Jeans: Lucky Mid Rise Ava Super Skinny Jean | Clogs: Troentorp Da Vinci in Dark Blue

 

I’m wrapping up my series on new clothing purchases with the last month in 2019. I’ll be creating some new content for 2020 — things like responsible consumption, second hand shopping and styling old clothes in new ways. Here’s what I added in December:

DECEMBER $82

Madewell beanie — $22
I am in love with this hat. It’s so soft, and of course I totally have a thing for dark forrest-y blue-greens. It’s cozy and warm. If you’re looking for the warmest hat, I recommend this  wind-resistant fleece-lined one from LL Bean

Lucky Brand Jeans black skinnies — $60
These were sort of an impulse-y buy. One day I realized I didn’t have a pair of black skinny jeans and I needed some. I went over to Banana Republic, and then Lucky, and found the perfect pair. You know you’ve made a good choice when you wear them immediately and then for like 4 days in a row.

#cloglife #lowbuy2020

Book Club 5

Books I’ve read, and what I liked:

 

The Courage to Be Disliked
by Ichiro Kishimi And Fumitake Koga 

My friend Jenny recommended this and I bought it on iBooks. I thought it was going to be a book about setting boundaries, but it really wasn’t. I have to say I thought the format — a Socratic dialogue — very awkward. Maybe it was the translation from the Japanese. It was like, people don’t talk like that. But once I accepted that, I was able to enjoy and benefit from the ideas put forth. Although the concepts weren’t new to me, I loved them! I won’t spoil it for you, but I highly recommend!

Raising a Screen Smart Kid
by Julianna Minor

This book has become my parenting bible. Limiting screen time is all my family talks (fights) about! Raising a Screen Smart Kid has helped so much. It is extremely well written (easy to read) and well researched. Oh my god, did Julianna do her homework! I truly answers all the questions. Please, for your sanity and survival, buy this book. Like, now.

The Miniaturist
by Jesse Burton

Okay, now a lovely novel. Set in 17th century Amsterdam, it feels a little like Henrik Ibsen’s A Dolls House. I love a good family secrets book. A truly enjoyable literary journey.

The Call of the Wild
by Jack London

I read this because my 11 year olds had to for school and I needed to quiz them on it, but I ended up loving it. So interesting. Quite violent. I’m glad I finally read this artfully worded classic based on real events in 1900 Alaska. I downloaded it for free on my iPad.

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

I swore I’d never read another WWII/Nazi book. This was worth an exception. Two young lives, on opposite sides of a war, ultimately converge. Beautiful described scenes and action.

Lagom
by Niki Brantmark

Such a cute little book. I love Swedish design and culture. (I read and loved A Year of Living Danishly.) I’ve followed the blog My Scandinavian Home for a while and knew I’d love this book. I’m also a sucker for great photography and illustration.

Full of Beans
by Jennifer L. Holm

This is one of the books I read to my kids. I got it at the library. Their dad read The Third Mushroom and The Fourteenth Goldfish to them and they loved those, so I thought it would be good. So many kids’ books are a real drag for the parents but this one was enjoyable! It was fairly gritty, kind of a Elmore Leonard vibe. Set in Key West in the depression, it follows a sort of little rascals group of kids who are very resourceful.

Becoming…
by Michelle Obama

Not to be political, but I love the Obamas. It was obvious I was going to read this book. How fun to hear her life story, and all the presidenty stuff we already know, from her perspective. You gotta love her. Plus she is amazing in Carpool Karaoke.