Closet Tour: Activewear

I’ve written about my bags, my jewelry and my dresses in the past, but now it’s time to dive in to my approach to activewear.

First, before we begin: there were no pink running spandex when I was in high school, or anything colorful or patterned. So that’s the great tragedy of this post.

Moving on.

minimalist activewear

How I use activewear

I’m going to be candid: I don’t work out every day, but when I do…it’s not that intense. I tend towards cardio and yoga, so my approach might not work for you if you’re constantly doing high-intensity exercise.

That being said, I still think it’s easy to keep things fairly simple.

I re-wear stuff, depending on the level of activity. Especially since I don’t go to a gym where I’m close to a lot of other people. Is that gross? Well, it works for me!

I like to imagine that I’ll just rinse stuff out in the shower when I’m done exercising and hang it in the bathroom for the next day’s use, but I usually don’t get to that step. But I figure that would be a nice solution for someone who exercises frequently and wants to keep laundry to a minimum.

I also have quite a few things that have several purposes, although it doesn’t always serve my best interests: I use my shorts and t-shirts as loungewear and sometimes PJs. Though there’s a big problem with that – when I put on the shorts, I relate that to curling up in bed with some tea instead of hitting the pavement for a run.

Someday I’ll have more of a defined line between my activewear and loungewear, but for now here’s what I have.

A minimalist’s activewear

I keep a lot more shirts on hand than any other things since those are often the sweatiest. I also love leggings because they got me through years of fall and winter runs in Indiana, and still are great for chilly days (hah) here in Los Angeles.

Plus, you look like you know what you’re doing fitness-wise when you wear them.

What I have:

  • 1 pair running shoes
  • 2 tank tops
  • 5 t-shirts
  • 1 long sleeve
  • 5 sports bras
  • 3 leggings
  • 1 pair yoga pants
  • 4 soffe shorts

The shorts have puffy paint on them from high school (the oldest pair is eleven years old). My cross country coach called me “Floyd” because I liked pink so much, although at the time I had never heard a single Pink Floyd song. That’s why they all say Floyd.

The thing about workout clothes

Here’s something I love about this type of clothing – while the trendy stuff is really cute, at the end of the day it’s all about function. Does it provide your body the protection it needs while you are exercising?

I’m going to hazard a guess here and say that the average piece of activewear item that I own is seven years old. Some I got last year, and some (like those shorts and that yellow long sleeve shirt) are over ten years old.

Most are from when I was a cross country runner 8-12 years ago. Ugh, don’t remind me.

They still function like new! So when you are in the market for workout clothes, do some research and find quality items that will collect your sweat through thick and thin for the next decade.

The only thing I am sure to change out regularly are my running shoes – every year or two if I’m not running frequently, and every six months or so if I’m really on top of my running game.

What are your workout must-haves?

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Cheap Food February

We made it through the first week of February! I’m still reeling from the fact that it’s even 2016…but time marches on, whether we’re ready or not.

Like I said in an earlier post, we’re going to explore different monthly challenges. This month was going to be vegan month, but it came up so quickly and our budget wasn’t quite ready for all the vegan exploring we wanted to do.

So naturally, we came up with Cheap Food February.

Cheap Food February

What we mean by cheap food

I don’t mean that we’re going to eat dollar-menu takeout every day. I also don’t mean that we’re going to be eating Instant Ramen or macaroni and cheese.

The goal for the month is to fill up on healthy, inexpensive foods like beans, potatoes, eggs, rice, frozen and fresh veggies, and certain fruits. We’ll be eating chicken occasionally, but since I’m not a big fan, it will probably be once every week or two.

We’re exploring new recipes and planning carefully to avoid food waste.

How much are we going to spend?

A middle-of-the road food budget for two is around $550. I think there have been months where we get close to that, but typically we’re under $450. It can be difficult to determine exactly because the bunnies cost us around $50 in fresh veggies each month, and we often share their kale, parsley, and cilantro.

For the first week, we planned to spend $80. We have spent $68.41, but we’ve also had a lot of dry ingredients and leftovers from last week that have helped keep it low.

For the next three weeks, we’re going to vary our costs:

  • Week Two: $70
  • Week Three: $65
  • Week Four: $60

None of these will include rabbit food expenses or booze expenses. We’re only planning on going out for food once (maybe for my birthday on the 18th, but I actually might prefer to stay in and cook).

Also worth noting: we are using cash only for groceries so that we can keep a good tally of what we’re spending and to avoid going over our budget. It’s new for me, since I’m surprisingly not a very mindful grocery shopper.

What we ate this week

So, what did we buy with our $68.41?

  • Kroger brand olive oil
  • 4 packages of frozen cauliflower
  • 4 packages of frozen brussels sprouts
  • 2 lbs zucchini
  • 4.5 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 5 lbs golden potatoes
  • 1.5 lbs on-the-vine tomatoes
  • 1.25 lbs leeks
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 gallon coconut milk
  • 2 lbs chicken breast
  • 2 cans mixed beans
  • 2 cans organic crushed tomatoes

We didn’t need rice, oats, eggs or any spices this week – that’s the key to this. Stock up on bulk dry goods and spices when you can, then you can eat kingly foods on a meager budget.

I could have saved a bit more by just buying bulk dry beans instead of the canned ones, but I didn’t get my act together in time to soak and cook them before dinner.

Here’s what we’ve made and links to the recipes we used:

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Super simple mixed bean chili

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Roasted veggies are my life

I also made a couple of egg and rice dishes to get through ingredients before they went bad, but no recipes worth sharing.

We supplemented everything with green smoothies made from frozen spinach and fruit that we had on hand.

Next week will be more interesting because we’re running low on existing supplies! Plus, I want to add in a few more raw things like salads and more spiralized goodness (we just got a spiralizer with my husband’s birthday money, and it was well spent).

What are your favorite healthy, inexpensive recipes?

One Year in California

Today marks one year since our first day as residents of Los Angeles!

Last year, we had just gotten rid of over half our stuff, packed our Honda Civic with what was left and drove across the country.

And now, I want to reflect on a few of the highlights of our first year in LA, a few of the less-glamorous things, and a few tidbits of what you can expect popping up on the blog this next year.

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Highlights of the year

This year has been way more positive than negative, so I’m counting my blessings there for sure. Here’s what went well:

  • Finding and furnishing the apartment. Getting started so quickly really helped us feel right at home in our new city. This is officially my favorite living space in my whole life.
  • Adding Bonnie to the family. She’s just great. We’ve got some big vet bills for her this month, though, but she’s such an important part of our family now that it’s worth every penny.
  • Family and friends visiting. We were fortunate to see most of our family and quite a few of our friends this first year. Again, it’s been integral to adapting to this new life.
  • Job changes for both of us. My husband was able to get into a post-production job within the first month of living in LA, and I was able to transition out of two part time jobs and into a full time one! We’re both happier with our new situations.

The rough spots

I don’t have anything specific for this section, but a few themes did emerge.

  • Working from home. This sounds like it should be a highlight, but when making the transition to a city where you don’t know anyone, the lack of coworkers is a little rough. Thank goodness for video and phone calls and especially this blog – it’s helped keep me grounded on some shaky days.
  • Inability to set a routine. I can get into a good rhythm sometimes, but with all the visits and schedule disruptions, it’s been a little difficult to nail down. That means exercise, writing and working can get tough. That’s why balance is one of my words for 2016!
  • The rapid de-simplifying of the holidays. The past few months have been a little bit like a runaway train, and our bank account and my stress levels reflect that. I’m looking forward to February when things will actually calm down a bit.

What to look forward to

So here’s what both you and I can look forward to this year on the blog and otherwise. Want to hear more about a certain topic? Let me know in the comments.

  • Our monthly challenges. My husband and I are going to try a few different monthly challenges: bodyweight exercising, a vegan diet, and possibly a TV-free month among others.
  • Decreasing our student loan debt. Our goal is to pay off at least 25% of our loans this year – not a small feat, but I think we can do it. More on student loans and debt in a later post.
  • More volunteering. We volunteered on Christmas Eve this past year, and met a lot of wonderful people. It was so fun in fact, we’re going to try to do it every month. We may explore further options as well, and I’ll share some best practices for that once I’ve discovered them.
  • A better blog. This month, I’m taking some time out to develop a proper content calendar. My goal is to actually have a few posts scheduled out in advance at any given time so I’m not scraping around for post ideas. New design, new photos and new collaborations may be in the future to take this blog to the next level.
  • More colorful minimalism. I’ve been really craving more color in my life, especially in my wardrobe, so I’ll be intentionally adding and removing things to increase my joy. Of course, I’ll share how and why later on the blog.

A thank you

And finally, I want to thank all my readers for a great first year in California – we did it! The kind words and support have meant a great deal, and I can only hope to repay you by continuing forward as the Minimal Millennial.

And now your turn – where were you last year at this time, and how far have you come?

 

Six Doors to a Simpler Life

Who doesn’t love a good origin story? It helps you see where someone’s values are and what motivates them.

You can read my simple-living origin story here, but here’s a quick recap for new readers:

After I graduated college, I was drowning in 22 years worth of clutter. I was chronically stressed and depressed. I moved four times that year, and the final move nearly broke me. I remember carrying 50-gallon trashbags full of clothes that I never wore downstairs to the moving truck and holding back tears under the literal and figurative weight of it all.

So when I began my life in a new city, I started to get rid of anything I didn’t need (which was no small feat). It started with clothes and slowly expanded into my other possessions and other areas of my life. So basically, my origin story is based on stuff, and lots of it.

But that’s not the only entry point into minimalism, so if you’ve been struggling with the “stuff” part of it all, there might be another way to start simplifying. What’s most important is that you do what feels right!

Other fascinating origin stories

There are others who have shared their origin stories. Some are similar to mine and some are very, very different.

Courtney Carver started with her diet after a medical diagnosis, then proceeded to simplify the rest of her belongings and her lifestyle. Joshua Becker started with his stuff after spending more time than he wanted to cleaning out his garage. Joshua Fields Millburn wasn’t a minimalist until life-changing events sparked him to approach the emotional weight of the stuff around him. Ryan Nicodemus, alongside Joshua Fields Millburn, decided to switch his pursuit of the American Dream to the pursuit of an intentional, good life.

The six doors to a simpler life.

Photo credit: Andrew Beeston

The Six Doors to Simplifying

I’ll go into each in more depth below, but here are the six entry points into simplifying and minimalism that I’ve observed throughout the years:

  1. Clutter
  2. Money
  3. Diet
  4. Schedule
  5. Relationships
  6. Digital distractions

Let’s dive in!

Clutter

This one is the most evident, and is the most obvious place to start. You can identify this as a problem when you start running out of places to put stuff, find yourself cleaning too often, or spend an inordinate amount of time on finding the perfect storage solution.

Starting with clutter is a great way to get the ball rolling and you will soon see the effects of simplifying your stuff in your life. A clear space is a clear mind.

However, it’s not always a comfortable place for everyone to start based on emotional ties to stuff or time or health constraints.

Money

I think we’re all trying to simplify this with varying degrees of success. This category is hard. Unexpected things pop up that make this area of our lives difficult to control completely.

However, starting here will give you more time for other areas of your life (because time is money and money is time). It can be as drastic as you want – you can aim for early retirement like Mr. Money Mustache or you can just cut out most extraneous expenses and get debt-free a little sooner.

Diet

There’s a pattern here – most of these entry points deal heavily with emotion, and this one is no exception. Your food choices are highly personal and the are the most directly connected to your actual human life.

Food determines our energy levels, our immunity and our overall health. This is one area that you can actually add to instead of taking away from – start by adding in an extra serving of veggies or an apple snack to remind your body what these nutrients can do for you. This is the change that you can make right now, while the other changes will take a little more time.

Schedule

Even though this one seems so impossible, trust me: there’s always room. Simplifying anything in your life means that you have to learn to say “no” to things, and what better way to get practice in?

We’re bombarded by invitations, requests and meaningless to-do’s, so start small. What is one thing that you can say no to today? Saying no to things that don’t add value to your life means that you can say yes to more things like spending time with loved ones, going on walks and taking care of yourself.

Relationships

This one is difficult – are there relationships in your life that do not bring joy or value? Are you surrounding yourself with people who motivate you or are you surrounded by people who bring you down?

Breaking off romantic relationships and friendships is complicated, but sometimes both need to be done.But by saying “no” to certain relationships, your truly meaningful relationships will have the space they deserve to flourish.

Digital distractions

If you have an internet connection, you probably have this problem. Notifications, requests and updates are constantly pinging on our desktops and our phones. Even though it takes up little physical space, these distractions take up a massive amount of emotional and mental space.

This category includes social media, files like word documents and photographs, email, and our cloud-based calendars. Start by removing push notifications from your phone as much as possible, then explore each space individually after that.

How to find which one is right for you

Take a moment to think about where most of your stress lies.

If you’re stressed about being busy, then look into your schedule. If there’s too much buzz in your mind and on your phone, start with digital distractions. Always frustrated about the clutter on your desk? Start with stuff.

If you can’t think of it right away, observe yourself for a couple of days. When and where do your stress levels spike, and when are they the lowest?

They’re all connected

If you’re worried that you just have to choose one, fear not. Once you start simplifying and streamlining one part of your life, you’ll start to see how it can be applied to other areas.

I felt like it was no stretch to change my eating habits after my closet was manageable. I began to value my time more after those two changes, so I then switched my focus to my digital life – particularly cutting down on Facebook.

Whatever you choose, know that your path to simplifying is entirely your own. Read others’ stories and take what you feel is relevant to yourself from them. If you try to copy someone exactly, you’ll end up in an unsustainable, frustrating and ultimately, complicated lifestyle.

Where did you start simplifying, or where do you think you’ll focus next?

A Minimalist Apartment Tour

Happy Friday!

I want to kick off this glorious, autumn-in-LA morning with a tour of my home. We’ve lived in Los Angeles for ten months and have slowly added things back into our life based on our needs and our values.

We are a far cry from where we were in Indianapolis a year ago, drowning in stuff we didn’t need and didn’t love.

But first, I want to share my best tip for avoiding new purchases for your home.

How to not buy new home decor

I often catch myself saying things like “what if we got just one more chair…” but I know that’s not something that will truly bring me happiness. I’m guessing that you’ve said something like that too.

The other day, I actually considered getting a bar cart for a random corner of the apartment. Sure, it sounds cool, but it’s one more thing to wipe rabbit hair off of. And I doubt that prominently displaying our liquor will help with us in our efforts to trim back on the booze.

So what do I do when I’m sick of the way things are and want to add in a new piece? Hint: it’s not new throw pillows.

I rearrange the furniture.

When the room no longer feels “right” to me, I move things around. I have relocated our furniture no less than five times in ten months. This last switch actually has hit the right chord for me and made me never want to move out of this apartment. I love this space more than ever, all thanks to some heavy lifting.

So there you have it: to change the entire look and feel of a room without spending a dime, rearrange the furniture.

Our minimalist apartment tour

Remember how I said minimalism can be colorful? My minimalism is definitely not for the monochromatic crowd, so prepare yourself accordingly.

First, the main space where we eat, work and relax:

Apartment Tour - Living Room Apartment Tour - Table Apartment Tour - Desk

We’ve covered the whole space in giant rugs so that our rabbits can frolic freely, which I love because it brings so much color to the room.

Next, the bedroom and bathroom:

Apartment Tour - Bedroom Apartment Tour - Bathroom

Again, colorful and bright – I can’t get over how many windows are in this place. What sold me on our apartment in Indianapolis was that it had three windows, compared to most other places having only two. This apartment has five huge windows that keeps things so cheerful that I can’t help but smile.

And finally, our kitchen:

Apartment Tour - KitchenApartment Tour - SpicesI decided to bring all the spices and many dry ingredients out of (and off of) the cupboards because I want them to be easily accessible and I want to be aware of what I have on hand at all times.

Personal tidbits

To finish this post off, I want to share a couple spaces that make our apartment really ours. Especially since it’s basically an IKEA showroom.

As silly as they look, these odds and ends are meaningful to us:

Apartment Tour - Toys Apartment Tour - Nightstand

I just wanted to show that you can dedicate space in your home to collections of things that truly bring you joy. Minimalism isn’t about getting rid of meaningful collections – it’s about getting rid of meaningless excess.

And of course, I want to wrap this up by saying this: these photos were taken when our apartment was freshly cleaned. I cropped out the dirty laundry and kept the rabbits’ litterboxes out of sight. I tend to compare my reality with what I see on blogs, so just know this: six out of seven days a week, my apartment is not nearly this clean.

I love all the colors in my home. What part of your home do you love the most?

Closet Tour: Bags

We all have stuff. And many of us have stuff to store that stuff in. But what about the stuff we have to carry our stuff?

Bags. They let us get out and experience the world with whatever we need to do it. While they can help us go and do, having too many (of anything) can become a hindrance

Three years ago, I would have been horrified if I let the internet see what owned me I owned. But I’ve come a long way! So today I’m sharing what I own that helps me get from A to B.

Purses (and why do we have so many?)

I always had a couple dozen purses so that I could always match what I was wearing – and they were all cheap. My most expensive purse was from H&M and clocked in at about $24.

Not that you have to own expensive bags and purses. I’m just saying that when the nicest purse you own is an H&M impulse buy, it’s a pretty good look into how disposable and unintentional your collection is.

Purses are a super-functional opportunity to make a statement about yourself, and they can be cheap. Hence the purse trap: you don’t realize how many you’ve accrued until you start taking them out of the closet.

So a few years ago I sorted through all my junky purses and left myself with a single, red cross-body purse. It was so small that my phone, keys and wallet made it look overstuffed. But it was my purse, the purse, and I stuck with it all day, every day.

My husband started noticing it’s raggedness and encouraged me to treat myself to something that was a little bigger and that made me happy. He encouraged me multiple times. (I think it might have been more ragged than I remember!)

My one purse

My next purse needed to meet three qualifications: quality construction, larger than the last one, and beautiful.

I didn’t worry too much about it matching anything because, honestly, I don’t care. I just want it to do it’s job and make me happy while it’s doing it (meaning it had to be colorful). And that’s when I found my Sakroots convertible purse/backpack:

My super bright new purse

My super bright new purse

It can be worn as a backpack too!

It can be worn as a backpack too!

So there you have it: my one purse that actually fits everything I need to fit into it. Now what about non-daily bags?

Travel and work bags

The rest are a little less fun, but highly functional:

  • Laptop Bag: This baby was a brand new shopgoodwill.com find that suits my remote work perfectly. It makes me feel professional in public, and it just makes me happy overall – come on, just look at that yellow.
  • Backpack: This, my high school backpack, used to be what I carried my laptop around in. It has too many pockets for casual cafe-working, so I tended to stuff it with things I didn’t need to bring. Now, I use it as my personal item on planes. 10+ years and still going strong!
  • Suitcase: There’s nothing for scale in the image below, but this lil’ guy is small enough to fit in an overhead compartment. Alongside my backpack, I don’t need any more luggage space when traveling. Note: I’ve never traveled extensively abroad, so I don’t know if I’d need more space for that or not.
  • Overnight bag: My PINK bag is super multipurpose: no zippers makes it great for carrying yarn, it’s washable so it’s toted rabbit supplies and of course, it’s my favorite color. This straightforward bag has served me for several years and I think it will continue on for many more to come.

So there you have it – a peek into what bags I consider essential. What would you like to see next: shoes, dresses, tops?

And what are your toting essentials?

Crazy Happy…or Just Crazy?

I’ve recently set a new intention – to pursue crazy happiness.

Note that I didn’t say “to be crazy happy” – I don’t want the denial or stress that can come with setting that particular intention. But the pursuit of it is on my mind.

Basically, I don’t ever want to stop pursuing a happier life. I don’t believe there is a final destination of happiness.

Does that make me crazy?

Do more of what makes you happy.

The “good enough” mindset

It’s easy to find yourself in a day-to-day, good-enough mindset. I know I do it.

The kitchen is clean enough, my writing is polished enough. The trouble comes in when there’s still work to do and the results actually change your life. I’m not going to feel more fulfilled as a person by rinsing off one more plate or finding one more spelling error.

But, if I’m only “happy enough”, then that means I could be happier.

When I was “happy enough”

I was “happy enough” just less than a year ago. When my husband and I lived in Indianapolis, we were stuck in a routine that was just getting us by. We weren’t crazy happy. We were happy enough.

We both were in an environment that just felt like we were passing time. That could really be a depressing story if that’s just where it ended.

But we made a change.

We prepared to move to Los Angeles for months (we had talked about it for years actually), but I couldn’t have prepared for the change it actually brought. It’s been such an adventure!

Los Angeles may not be our final destination, but we are happy here and happy that we decided to take action in our lives. We saw something that needed to change, and we changed it. We talk often and openly about ways we can increase our happiness.

It’s something I want to pursue for the rest of my life.

Am I crazy?

One of the biggest thoughts I’ve had since setting this intention is that maybe I’m just crazy. We’ve traditionally been surrounded by messages that encourage settling and not taking risks.

Maybe the pursuit of crazy happiness isn’t worth it. Maybe the effort I have to put in isn’t worth the happiness I get in return.

But then I think, isn’t any happiness worth working for? And isn’t there happiness even more so with the work?

How to pursue crazy happiness

I am not a happiness expert. But I am currently pursuing it, so I guess I have a little to say about my experience.

You don’t have to move across the country to pursue your own crazy happiness. It may just be a matter of driving a different way to work or taking a walk in the morning.

But what’s important is that you don’t stop and say “that’s it, this is the end. I can’t possibly get any happier than this.”

What’s important is that you’re open to happiness.