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October 2011

The Pendulum Swing, 100 Things Challenge Part 4

By 30 Day Challenges, Blogs & Vlogs, Minimalism & Zero WasteNo Comments

My last 100 things post revealed how indulging in little purchases sent my list well above the limit. In true fashion, I have since overreacted to the slip-up and trimmed my list all the way down to 77 items. How? Well, I found a way that makes maintaining your personal inventory easy. By shifting your focus to upgrading, repairing or replacing, rather than buying new things, it’s easy to maintain control over junk creep. I upgraded my laptop with 2 extra gigs of ram and replaced the damaged charger cord, bought a very cool toothbrush I had long coveted, and replaced tattered clothing with more fashionable, better-fitted ones.

It has been more satisfying, and easier to manage since there are no new things to keep track of or add to my list and now that my stuff is in tip top shape, I feel less distracted that nagging feeling that something was not quite right. And here’s another interesting paradox. Although I own even fewer things than before, I feel as if I have everything I need. Each item is now better suited to its job, works just right or fits perfectly.

I better appreciate each shirt and every gadget and with fewer items, I’m even finding it easier to make everyday decisions. It reminds me a conversation I had at a dinner party once. I was chatting with an ex-Mormon (or No-Mo-Mo), eventually, I couldn’t resist my urge to ask if she ever missed any part of the Mormon faith. She said “the only thing I miss is always knowing what to do, fewer options made my choices feel easy and correct. I almost never know if I made the right choice anymore.” That statement really stuck with me and now I feel I understand what she meant. It’s like the common belief that Einstein wore the same thing every day and had a closet full of the exact same suits, shirts, ties, and shoes. He didn’t want to take time or focus away from his work to spend on the repetitive task of deciding what to wear. It would seem that having a few good choices is far better than having many mediocre ones.

If you learn from a mistake then nothing was really lost. My previous 100 thing failure has become, as one particularly insightful friend would call it, a teachable moment.

My Very Few Items


  1. Shirt – White Tank Top
  2. Shirt – Spaghetti Strap Top Black Lace
  3. Shirt – Spaghetti Strap Top Orange
  4. Shirt – Long Sleeve Knit Top, Horizontal Striped
  5. Shirt – Solid Red Fitted T-shirt
  6. Shirt – Patterned Yellow Fitted T-shirt
  7. Shirt – Patterned Black & White T-shirt
  8. Shirt – White Buttoned Down Top
  9. Shirt – Work Out
  10. Shirt – T-shirt for Lounging at Home
  11. Sweater – Gray Wrap
  12. Shell – White Lace
  13. Shrug – Black Ballet
  14. Pants – Fitted Dark Jeans
  15. Pants – Black & Orange
  16. Pants – Black & Blue
  17. Pants – Charcoal Coloured Dress Pants
  18. Pants – Work Out Shorts
  19. Pants – Stretchy Yoga Pants for Lounging at Home
  20. Skirt – Long / Black
  21. Skirt – Short / Red Striped
  22. Skirt – Mid Length / Grey
  23. Dress – Pink and White Sun Dress
  24. Dress – Little Black Dress
  25. House Coat – Kimono
  26. Socks – 10 Pair
  27. Underwear – 10 pairs / 2 Bras
  28. Bathing Suit – Polka dot one piece
  29. Bathing Suit – Bikini
  30. Shoes – Brown Moccasin Stye Winter Boots
  31. Shoes – Black Exercise Shoes
  32. Shoes – Grey Ballet Flats
  33. Shoes – Heeled Boots
  34. Long Warm Coat
  35. Sun Glasses
  36. Hat – Warm Tuque
  37. Gloves – Warm Brown
  38. Belt – Wide and Black
  39. Hip Sack – Blue


  1. Jewelry Pieces (3 items)
  2. Make Up Palette – Mac Palette
  3. Make Up Brush / Grooming Kit
  4. Hair Straightener
  5. Hair Brush
  6. Hair Comb
  7. Hair Clips
  8. Toothbrush – OHSO Pocket Toothbrush
  9. Diva Cup
  10. First Aid & Repair Kit

Office and Electronics

  1. Laptop – Macbook with Second Skin Folder
  2. Video Camera – Flip
  3. Camera – Point and Shoot / Olympus Water Proof Digital
  4. Phone – iPhone & iPhone Mobile Tail
  5. Hard Drive – 500 GB
  6. Hard Drive – 100 GB
  7. Thumb Drive – 10 GB
  8. Headphone – Wrap Around
  9. Headphone – Ear Buds
  10. Podcast Microphone
  11. Battery Charger
  12. Solar Powered Battery Charger
  13. Label Maker
  14. Notebook – Mole Skin
  15. File Folder

Items Just For Fun

  1. Book – Non-fiction
  2. Bike – Hampton Cruiser
  3. Art Collection

Every Day Items

  1. Keys
  2. Money Clip
  3. Business Card Holder
  4. Messenger Bag – ChicoBag
  5. Portable Purse Hanger
  6. Water Bottle – Nalgeen
  7. Aeropress Coffee Maker


  1. Suit Case – Carry On
  2. Suit Case – Blue, Air Canada, Medium Sized
  3. Hanging Toiletry Kit – Victorinox

Resources for this article:

Dave’s original post that inspired his later book
The Times‘ Article About the 100 Thing Challenge
The Zen Habits’ blog article

Getting Ready For the 333 Challenge

By Blogs & Vlogs, Inspiration, Minimalism & Zero WasteNo Comments

Guest post for the 333 Challenge Website

Like many people, I’ve always wanted to pull off that casual, sleek and pulled together look. Glamorous friends have offered advice on creating looks or proper accessorizing, but I could never will myself to do the work. My overstuffed closet felt oppressive; too many choices and possible combinations. It was much easier to fall back on the same reliable comfy yoga pants and plain black tank tops.

During one lazy afternoon of web surfing, I came across the 333 challenge and a light went off in my mind. It played to my affinity for minimalism, my love of challenges, and my desire to improve my fashion sense or, at the very least, finally face my closet full of bad purchases.

I marked the start date on the calendar and started to work on my game plan.

I began preparing for this project 3 months in advance knowing it would take some effort and look for a few simple steps that would make my 333 Challenge easier to handle.

After some over thinking a came to 5 reasonable steps to do it right; Minimize, Set your wardrobe staples, Choose a few flattering and versatile feature pieces, Play dress up, Fill in the gaps.

Minimize – Clean out your closet and drawers

Going through a massive closet of clothing and picking only 33 items to be faithful to for 3 months is overwhelming. That’s why I decided it would be best to minimize first. I figured it would put me in the right mind set, clear away the distracting visual and mental clutter and give me a better sense of what I had to work with.

I was further convinced of the minimize step by Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, in which she mentions a paradox. Although she had fewer actual items after cleaning out her closet, and giving away 3 giant bags of clothing, it felt as if she had more since all the remaining items were things she would actually wear.

Here’s how to do it
Get 2 bags and a couple boxes. One bag will be for throw aways and one for give aways. The boxes are for things you want to keep but won’t wear, for example, seasonal items or things kept for sentimental value alone. Give yourself a good day to go over every sweater and gown, then go over it again.

There are lots of hanging organizers and other tools created to help you clean your closet, but I found that good music and a good mood were the most useful.

Tip: Don’t know were to start? Try taking out all the frayed, ripped or otherwise worn out items and toss them first, or if they hold sentimental value put them in storage. Items with their original tags or rarely worn are next up for scrutiny, if you’ve never worn it you probably never will. By this point you should be on a roll, just keep up the momentum and you’ll be done in no time.

Staples – Get set up with the fashion basics

Fashion staples are the items you build your wardrobe around. Although these items will be slightly different for everyone (for example, I work from home so I don’t need much in the way of office clothes) there are a few pieces most experts recommend.

From my research combing over fashion magazines, style guides and the advice of well dressed friends, the following are the most recommended fashion staples.

  • Cashmere / knit sweater
  • White button-up
  • Black / white camisole
  • Fitted T-shirt
  • A-line skirt
  • Black knee high day-to-night skirt
  • Fitting jeans
  • Versatile black dress pants
  • Black leggings – not to be worn as pants but under dresses and skirts
  • Sophisticated belt
  • Wide belt
  • Pashmina
  • Versatile fitted blazer
  • LBD – little back dress
  • Sun dress
  • Boots
  • Flats
  • Heels

Keep in mind that these items should fit your body shape, be comfortable and well built. They will get the most wear so don’t skimp on quality.

Tip: Try to identifying what activities you will be doing in your clothes. This will make it much easier to identify which staples fit best for you. Whether it’s business lunches or art galas your lifestyle should impact your clothing choices.

Choose a few feature pieces – Setting your style

The staples only make up the base of your wardrobe, you’ll still need to choose some feature pieces to the add personality and flare that makes fashion fun. These can be accessories, scarves, apparel, anything you like.

Choosing more versatile, flattering pieces will serve better for this project. I combed through my wardrobe and found a few items that reflected my personality and fit really well and make a mental note of these before starting on the next step.

Play dress up – Creating different look

I recommend you employ the help of an honest fashion wise friend who will tell you which things don’t fit right or should return to their proper era. If you decide to do this step on your own try to be honest with yourself; either way you will need a full length mirror and a good sense of humor.

Put on an outfit as if you are on your way out the door then ask yourself “is this the look I’m after?” Consider the colors, do they match? Consider the pattern, are there too many? Try swapping out items, adding accessories and, most importantly, have fun with it.

Here are some hard and fast rules I used to get started:

  • White and black go with everything, except too much of themselves, for example, black sweater, black leggings, black shoes, back belt is too much black, but make the leggings and belt another color and it’s classy.
  • Patterned items are best worn with solid ones and vice versa, for example, try wearing a patterned skirt with a solid colored shirt, preferably a color present in the pattern.
  • Tight items are best worn with loose ones and vice versa, for example, what looks better? A tight tee and leggings? or a tight tee and an a-line skirt?
  • Trying to match colors that are a bit off is no good, for example, a bright red and a slightly more washed our red or a slightly yellowish green and a slightly bluish green. Fashion should look deliberate, either the colors are exactly the same or they are different and complimentary.
  • Avoid visible panty line by wearing boy short underwear or a thong under tighter bottoms.
  • Silver or Gold, avoid mixing. There are ways to mix silver and gold jewelry in one look, but it required a far better eye than I have so I decided to stick to silver for the 33 challenge. How should you decide? In a nut shell, gold works better with warm colors, silver with cold or brighter colors.

Working out these different combinations now will help you get a good idea of the types of looks you can build out of your wardrobe which will save you the 30 minutes of trying different things everyday that makes most of us decide not bother at all. You’ll know what works and you’ll be able to spot any holes in you wardrobe for the next step.

Fill in the Gaps

After all these steps you might notice there are a few missing things, for example, when I finished the final outfits and had decided to keep my favorite patterned pants in circulation, I thought it would be nice to have an orange shirt to wear with it to bring out the orange in the pattern.

Make of list of the remaining items you need and remember to stay focused. It’s easy to get distracted and end up seduced into buying a dress and 2 shirts that won’t fit into your 33 items and will go unworn for the next 3 months.

In the three months it took me to get ready for this challenge I went through each of these steps a few times. Now when I look into my single drawer of expertly folded clothes I feel proud and excited, more organized and even a little more successful.

My 333 List

  1. Shirt – Spaghetti Strap Top, Black
  2. Shirt – Spaghetti Strap Top, Orange
  3. Shirt – Tank Top, White
  4. Shirt – Long Sleeve Knit Top, Horizontal Striped Black and Grey
  5. Shirt – Solid Red Fitted T-shirt
  6. Shirt – Patterned Yellow Fitted T-shirt
  7. Shirt – Patterned Black & White T-shirt
  8. Shirt – White Buttoned Down Top
  9. Pants – Fitted Dark Jeans
  10. Pants – Black Dress Pants
  11. Pants – Black & Orange Flare Bottom
  12. Pants – Black and Blue Flare Bottom
  13. Skirt – Long, Black
  14. Skirt – Short, Red Striped
  15. Skirt – Medium length A-line, Grey
  16. Dress – Pink and White Sun
  17. Dress – Little, Black
  18. Shoes – Brown Moccasin Stye Winter Boots
  19. Shoes – Walking Shoes, Grey
  20. Shoes – Heeled Boots
  21. Long Brown Coat
  22. Gray Wrap Sweater
  23. Sun Glasses
  24. Belt –  Wide, Black
  25. Hip Sack – Blue
  26. Bag – Messenger Style, Orange
  27. Shell – White Lace
  28. Shrug – Ballet Style, Black
  29. Gloves
  30. Knit Hat
  31. Jewelry – Earrings Dangling & Feathered
  32. Jewelry – Red Circle Necklace
  33. Jewelry – Amber Pendant Necklace

13 Steps to Picture Perfect Nails

By Blogs & VlogsNo Comments

Durring my girly project, I was surprised at the realization I didn’t know how to paint my nails.

I had borrowed a friend’s nail kit, picked a color and went to town. It ended up looking streaky, messy and lumpy. Nail Fail. I will admit that I was doing it in low light while watching The Shining, so I wasn’t exactly focused.

I had thought that doing my nails was a one step process, add polish, nope. After a couple hours of denial, I asked Google and called friends and patched together this 13 step process to nails you can be proud of.

13 Steps To Picture Perfect Nails

  1. Remove Old Polish
    Start by taking off any old polish with nail polish remover and a cotton ball. I tried using toilet paper and it just fell apart, not recommended.
  2. Trim Your Nails
    Cut and file your nails. Don’t cut past the white of your nail. When filing, file gently in one long stroke from one side to the center of the nail. Nails can weaken if you file too low into the corners and sides. Try and get your nails to about the same length and shape.
  3. Soak Your Fingers – Optional
    Rest your hands in a bowl of warm water for five minutes. Add two tablespoons of a bath salt or some liquid soap to soften the nails. Don’t make the water too hot or it will dry out your hands and nails.
  4. Soften Cuticles
    Apply cuticle oil or cuticle lotion on dry hands. It you don’t have cuticle oil, and who does, you can always use olive oil.
  5. Push Back Your Cuticles
    Use a cuticle or Popsicle stick to press cuticles back so they don’t get in the way of the polish.
  6. Scrub & Moisturize Your Hands
    Exfoliate hands with a body scrub or homemade mixture of olive oil and kosher salt or raw sugar. Scrub for a couple minutes, then wash thoroughly. Dry hands and apply a rich moisturizer.
  7. Pick a Polish
    Lighter colours are easier to maintain than darker ones, since chips will be less noticeable.
  8. Warm the Polish
    Roll the bottle between your hands to warm the nail polish for about 25-30 seconds. Open it, and scrape some of the excess nail polish off on the side of the bottle. Don’t shake it. Rolling the bottle keeps bubbles out of the polish and keeps your nails smooth.
  9. Base Coat
    Apply one coat of clear nail polish (base polish works best!). Allow it to fully dry to the touch before proceeding. It’s okay if some of the color gets on your skin. Nobody will be able to tell since there’s no color.
  10. Paint On the Right Way
    Paint one stripe of color in the middle of your thumb or pinky nail. Then, paint a stripe on the left, continuing to the right. This subtly focuses the color in the middle of the nail. Remember to keep your hand steady. Don’t worry if it looks too thin — it’s supposed to. Re-dip your brush into the bottle before starting the nail so the color is evenly distributed throughout your nails. Let it dry completely before adding you last coat. You may have to wait 10-20 minutes, so you may want to turn on your television or some music.
  11. Second Coat – Optional
    Add another coat of color if desired, depending on the shade of color you want. Bear in mind that if you want a color very similar to the bottle you should paint two coats, but if you want a lighter shade then skip to the next step. Let this dry. Remember the top coat is the one everyone will see, and the one that you’ll feel. Keep that coat smooth!
  12. Clear Coat – Optional
    Paint a last coat of clear polish to keep the color lasting for at least one more week! This seals and protects the color.
  13. Let Your Nails Dry
    Wait for your nails to dry completely before doing anything else. You can watch TV while you wait. Try not to wave your arms or shake your wrists frantically in an attempt to dry your nails. This can tone down the shine in your nails. Enjoy your freshly done nails!