Friday, April 17, 2015

Folding Clothes Vertically

my workout clothes drawer


 I just read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo which has completely changed the way I view organizing and de-cluttering. This NY Times bestseller is the #5 top selling book on amazon right now and has a waitlist at my library. It’s a small book that I read in two days and couldn't wait to jump start the process! While I dread cleaning, I love organizing. I would consider myself essentially organized to start with but was just looking for ways to refine my existing methods and motivation to keep it up. Just having a tidy home makes me feel so much more relaxed however I have too much stuff and have a hard time purging so my closet was exploding at the seams! The book says that you can’t get the most out of life if you have too much stuff and this book helped to change my relationship with stuff!

The KonMari method (her nickname) is that she doesn't believe in tidying everyday, she says you can do it once then never have to do it again because you only keep things you love and they will have a place to go. The goal is to organize the contents of your drawers and closet so that you can see where everything is at a glance. She advises against putting away off-season clothes because you will forget about it. I agree with this because in the process of re-organizing I've found clothes stuffed away in bins and boxes that I’ve long forgotten about or thought I lost. I’m the queen of losing things at home!

Kondo says that the "key is to store things standing up instead of lying flat." I have never put much thought into my folding, in fact I thought I would be a horrible retail employee because I hate folding and haphazardly do it. Course when I look for something in my drawer moving stuff around it makes it look like I never folded the stuff in the first place and everything ends up wrinkled. I found out I was folding the wrong way and was making more work for myself! I gave her way a try and I can honestly say that I will never go back to folding my clothes horizontally.

As you can see from my before pictures (top) my drawers were filled to the brim, hard to close and hard to find anything thus things got "lost" at the bottom the pile. And the weight of the items on top of them wrinkled the items on bottom. Now I can see all my clothes at once which makes finding things so much easier. If you're looking for a spring cleaning idea and to transform your life then give this a try! The best thing about about spring cleaning is more closet space for new clothes! 
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The biggest surprise was that my full drawer, when folded vertically took up only HALF of the space!!!! I then reached into my closet and emptied clothing bins with long lost clothing into my drawer. When folding vertically, they're packed so tight, when I pull out one shirt it doesn't mess up the others. Here's a video on the proper way to fold socks.


Don’t waste money on organizational solutions. The most important principle of the book is that you must purge before your organize. She frowns on the idea of buying organizing bins because that only encourages you to store more unnecessary things. The key to the KonMari method is to simplify your belongings as much as possible. She says ultimately the only thing that is truly useful is a shoe box which can be used in a drawer to store socks, underwear, and bras neatly lined up. I'm big on seasonal dishtowels which you can see in this post and this post. I used to keep them loose on a shelf in the closet and it was always a mess to find one. After lining up my dish towels in a shoebox, I can now see them all as they stay organized. This saves me time because now I can easily find stuff.

Kondo says that you should only be surrounded by items that you love and you will know right away if that is the case. If a piece of clothing doesn't bring you joy you should get rid of it and don't feel bad because it served its purpose and now will go to someone else who will use it. She says not to keep things out of guilt. Yep I keep old Christmas presents that weren't to my taste because I felt bad about throwing them away. When I was purging my clothing, I picked up each item and held it a moment and asked myself "If I lost this, would I buy it again?" It was a lot easier to decide what to put back than decide what to keep. 


Banish all paper clutter She says to throw away your paper clutter, old credit card statements, equipment manuals that you know you'll never use  (this is something I am totally guilty of!), and seminar handouts. Kondo says to empty your purse everyday you come home of receipts and other random bits.  Most of the paper that comes into our homes is never truly necessary. Kondo's rule of thumb when it comes to sorting papers? Get rid of everything. Paper clutter on my kitchen island is my biggest problem. Sometimes I get so frustrated that I just grab everything and throw it in as plastic bag, months later it’s still sitting there as I never looked for anything.

Don’t hang on to unread books.  The more time that has passed since you acquired the book, the less likely you are to ever read it. In the past two years I've really taken advantage of the library so all the books you see me talk about my blog, I don't own! But for the books I've bought in the past, I decided to donate them to the Books for Prisoners program that I volunteer with. If you're interested in donating books, dictionaries and how to draw books are the most requested. Now my father has a whole lot more books than I do, so I organized them by color. 

Do organize clothes by color. Kondo says to line your clothes up by color from dark to light. I prefer to use the rainbow color coding approach for the hanging clothes in my closet. For my drawers I was happy to just arrange shirts by type. The drawer below are my tennis outfits, race shirts, college shirts, and St. Patrick's Day tees. That was also my black hole drawer and I found many missing pieces at the bottom of it during this reorganization. Kondo also advocates that your at home lounge wear should be as nice as your outdoor clothes so you can feel good about yourself.

In the past month I've de-cluttered kitchen cabinets, tossed piles of paper, removed dozens of hangers from my closet and filled my drawers with twice the clothes that fit before from bins in the back of my closet. Organizing my clothes like this has shown me that I really do have enough. 
 In conclusion this book has changed my life!

Here are some of my other organization posts:

Organization

             Shoe closet                                        Jewelry storage                        Nail polish display

           Medicine Cabinet                                   Makeup Storage                            Nail Polish Storage



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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cherry Blossom Takeover


Spring is officially here! Sunday and Monday were the most beautiful days ever and the Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom. I took advantage of this and hit up my favorite spots and one new one. Spring is my favorite season since all the beautiful flowers are blooming, I've been filling my apt with tulips, daffodils and the fragrant hyacinths. Also did some spring cleaning of my closet (more on that on my next post) but in the meantime been bringing out my fun skirts to wear.

There's quite a few spots in DC where you can see the Cherry Blossoms so I started with the
Arboretum (where I went last fall) to see the early blooms.
Then I went for a sunrise run around the Tidal Basin and couldn't believe how empty my scenic run was!!! Is this not the most beautiful place ever to run? You can find my outfit in this post.
I participated in the Cherry Blossom 5K Race which started at the Washington Monument and was packed with people!





Then I went to Bethesda, MD to walk around the Kenwood neighborhood. I didn't even know this place existed, it was blocks and blocks full of Cherry Blossom trees! Tons of people were out having picnics or just strolling around. It was so gorgeous!!!




Looks like we have rain in the forecast for the rest of the week, but that's okay I have some fun things planned for this week including cooking dinner for friends tomorrow, a paint night, clothing swap party, a bookclub meeting, and a hike this weekend. I also set up a personal challenge for me to take 10 yoga classes this month! Check out my spring reading list if need some reading material for your next picnic. My favorite perfume this spring has been Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream it's a nice light floral fragrance.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Caramelized Garlic Tart

via


Recently a friend of mine had me over for a rooftop bbq where she made skewers of marinated whole wheat bread and artichokes and an eggplant recipe from the book Plenty. The book was written by Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi who has 5 restaurants in London. Although he's not a vegetarian, he's known for his amazing vegetable recipes. I picked up a copy of the book from the library and every other page is a full page color picture of a mouth watering recipe! As a garlic lover, I was immediately attracted to this Caramelized Garlic Tart. I had to go to Whole Foods to find the specific cheese and my total for all the ingredients to make this recipe was $40. I did see online someone saying she made this recipe with feta and halloumi cheese instead. I'd recommend buying a pre-made ready crust instead of fooling around with the puff pastry which proved to be a pain. Fair warning, peeling the amount of garlic needed for this recipe was rather time consuming.




Ottolenghi was on Martha Stewart's show and this link has the video and recipe. I think you'll find this recipe rich and delicious and your kitchen will smell heavenly! I haven't bought a recipe book in years as I now just find everything online, but this book has so many recipes I want to try that I'm working my way through it. So far I've also made his take on the Tuscan ribollita soup  and Caramelized fennel with goat cheese.




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Friday, April 10, 2015

Cherry Baked Oatmeal


Ingredients:


  • ½ cup rolled oats 
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • ½ cup frozen cherries (I used Trader Joe's dark sweet pitted frozen cherries)
  • ½ tsp Ideal sugar or lucuma syrup
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt


  • Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Mix all ingredients into a ramekin, then fold in the cherries.
    3. Bake for 20 mins.
    If you're a cherry lover check out my other cherry recipes:



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    Wednesday, April 8, 2015

    Black Box Wine



    When it comes to wines I like my whites sweet and my reds full-body. Kathy Griffith first introduced me to boxed wine as her parents always drank it on her reality show.

    I finally took the plunge and bought my first boxed wine - Black Box. Their 3 liter wine box holds four 750 ml wine bottles at a fraction of the price! For additional convenience, Black Box Wines also offers a Mini Pak size that are only 6x3 inches with a plastic screw cap that holds three glasses of wine! I love this idea because it keeps the wine fresher longer, and is so easy to transport from inside to outdoors! It's unfortunate that there's still a stigma around box wine, especially if you pulled it out of your purse to enjoy at the movie theater with a straw! lol

    Did you know that boxed wine stays fresh for four weeks, it’s shatter-proof, portable as it weighs less and doesn't require a corkscrew. It's environmentally conscious in the fact that the total energy used to produce one box is about 1/3 the energy required to produce a glass bottle. The box can be recycled with your paper products.  If you refrigerate an open box, it will retain freshness even longer than four weeks. When you open it, allow some time for the wine to open up before serving as boxed wines get no air after bottling. You can do this by pouring it into your glass and letting it sit for 10 minutes or swirling the wine will expose it to oxygen quicker which allows the wine to open and release it’s aromas and flavors. If you’re serving it to guests, you can pour it into a decanter to make it look more fancy.

    I really enjoyed Black Box’s Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.
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    Monday, April 6, 2015

    Four Ways to wear a Striped Skirt


    This skirt has been literally everywhere for the past few years. Different stores release their own version each year, last year J.Crew's navy and white version was super popular. Right you can find one here, or here, or here, or this one. I used the stylebook app which I've raved about on this blog as my favorite way to keep my wardrobe organized to create outfits and get the most out of my wardrobe. It makes dressing for work easier because I schedule my work wardrobe a month in advance so I have no repeats each month at work which is important when you have memorable statement piece like this bold striped skirt. I won't remember how often I wear it, but I'm sure my co-workers are thinking "oh there's that skirt again." lol So on the calendar feature of the app I've pre-scheduled what days I will be wearing this skirt for the next few months in one of these outfits I created from my closet. I remember years ago I owned another black and white zebra skirt and only wore it with a purple shirt because I always thought pairing it with a white or a black shirt was just boring. So once again I paired up colorful combos, here's four ways to wear a striped skirt.
     

     


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    Friday, April 3, 2015

    Spring Reading List


    For the past 10 years I would have told you that my favorite books were memoirs and self-development. This year that has changed to historical fiction which are fictional novels where the story takes place in a particular time in history, thus the setting becomes part of the story and all elements about that time must be accurate and thoroughly researched by the author. I end up learning so much about different periods of time and it probably appeals to me because I was a History major in college. All the books below are historical fiction and I've read all of them this year so I highly recommend them!  

    I'm horrible with names, when I meet someone I forget their name 5 seconds later. So when I read books it's even worse, halfway through a book a character will be talking and I'll think "who is that?" lol So if you're like me and find yourself deep into a book and can't keep track of who all the characters are, then a good tip I recently learned is to keep a book journal. As you read, write down all the names as they appear in the book so you can keep your characters straight. 


    The Signature of all things - Elizabeth Gilbert 
    512 pages, 2014
    This book was recommended to me by a friend and is written by the same author who wrote Eat, Pray, Love which was my inspiration for traveling to Bali. 
    Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. We become enlightened to the nineteenth century world of botany and specifically to the science of mosses. Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond.  I'm in awe of the research that must have gone into its creation, and the story created all kinds of new curiosities to be satisfied by further research such as Tahitian tattoos of the 19th century. The book is part sweeping saga, part textbook, part philosophy. I call it a saga because I'd only be 30% or 50% through the book and think the story was over but could see I had a ton more to read!  This saga is a wonderful piece of historical fiction that kept me engaged until the final page with both its creativity and richness.  


    The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton
    400 pages 2014 kindle version is only $6
    First off is this not the prettiest book cover you've ever seen? From the scroll, to the parrot, to the starlight scene in the beautiful Dutch period dress. This best selling book is set in 17th century Amsterdam, a city of hidden opulence and religious repression. Eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman enters a prosperous, but sham marriage, with the merchant Johannes Brandt to whom she brings her pet parakeet. Her husband presents her with a questionable wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home, well except one room is missing, and it cost as much as a real house. Miniature houses were all the rage at the time, costing as much as the annual salary of a wealthy merchant. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist—an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways. This gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand—and fear—the escalating dangers that await them all. This was a book I could not put down and finished it in 5 days! When I finished the book I re-watched the movie the Girl with the Pearl Earring staring Scarlett Johansson which is based on a book about the painting by Dutch Painter Johannes Vermeer in the 17th century, so the same time period and location thus it was neat to have a visual to the book. In middle school I had an assignment to make a miniature house for class. Everyone in my class made theirs very simple out of a shoebox, mine was multi-floor and very elaborate with interior design! The book is based on the real dollhouse found in the Rijksmuseum which nothing is known about. 


    The Paris Winter - Imogen Robertson 386 pages 2014 
    Another pretty cover, this was a wonderful book that drew me in right from the beginning and is a perfect example of what I love about good historical fiction. Set in Paris in the Belle Epoque, the novel transported me to that time and place with its descriptions of streets, parks, caf├ęs, dressing styles, and architecture. I wanted to read it because Paris is my favorite city and opening the pages of this book I stepped right into Paris 1910. The twist and turns of the book had me reading into the late hours. The book is about a poor English student  named Maud Heighton who studies at Lafond's famous Academie to paint. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, she stumbles upon an opportunity when Christian Morel engages her as a live-in companion to his beautiful young sister, Sylvie.
    Maud is overjoyed by her good fortune. With a clean room, hot meals, and an umbrella to keep her dry, she is able to hold her head high as she strolls the streets of Montmartre. No longer hostage to poverty and hunger, Maud can at last devote herself to her art. But all is not as it seems. Christian and Sylvie, Maud soon discovers, are not quite the darlings they pretend to be. Sylvie has a secret addiction to opium and Christian has an ominous air of intrigue. As this dark and powerful tale progresses, Maud is drawn further into the Morels' world of elegant deception. Their secrets become hers, and soon she is caught in a scheme of betrayal and revenge that will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.

    The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah  449 pages 2015
    This best seller is by a popular thriller writer. the book tells the story of two French sisters – one in Paris, one in the countryside – during WWII; each is crippled by the death of their beloved mother and cavalier abandonment of their father; each plays a part in the French underground; each finds a way to love and forgive. Hannah has said her inspiration for Isabelle was the real life story of a woman who led downed Allied soldiers on foot over the Pyrenees. The book is narrated by one of the sisters in the present, though you really don’t know until the very end which sister it is. 








    See the rest of my books I've read here.


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