Storing Blueberries

Posted 1 January 2014 at 7:37 PM | Comments (0)

Happy New Year! I know I haven’t been posting consistently since moving stateside; American life has been much busier than I predicted it would be. I’ll kick off 2014 with a simple food post, something I don’t do very often around here.

Healthy and Delicious Breakfast Starter: Raw Blueberries and Walnuts

Since moving back to the Pacific Northwest, my favorite way to start the day is with raw blueberries and walnuts. Some foods just go together, and this is a delicious example. But I’m always stumped when it comes to storing berries, so I’ve had to look it up.

According to the July 2013 issue of Better Homes and Gardens:

“The best way to store berries is in a single layer, loosely covered, in the refrigerator. If you have fresh berries that won’t get eaten in a couple of days, freezing is best. Freeze in a single layer on a baking pan, then transfer to freezer containers or plastic freezer bags and seal. Berries will keep in the freezer for up to a year.”

My Simple Closet

Posted 10 August 2012 at 9:03 PM | Comments (12)

A phrase I hear regularly: “You must have sooo many clothes.”

My usual response goes something like, “Actually, I really don’t. I have a very minimal wardrobe.”

Which is usually followed by unconvinced eye-rolling.

Today I want to show that I do, in fact, have a very minimal wardrobe! So here it is; my entire closet, apart from a jacket hanging in the hallway, and my wedding dress and three pairs of shoes that are stored at my parents’ house:

My Simple But Stylish Closet -- A Fashionista's Minimal Wardrobe

People find it hard to believe that someone as obsessed with fashion as I am would be able to live with such a small wardrobe. Well, admittedly, this is the smallest it has ever been. Though I’ve always hated living excessively, over the years I’ve pared down my closet more than ever, so this is small even by my standards.

Also, I don’t have an American-sized closet. I’m living in a tiny, fully-furnished, Mediterranean apartment with three other people, so there isn’t much room for me to go crazy. I’m trying to stay within my spatial means. Perhaps if we were back in the U.S. my wardrobe would grow with the space.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, you might be looking at my bare closet and thinking that I must dress like a boring old hag. Actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m no fashion editor, but I am known for my style.

How can I be stylish with such a small wardrobe, you ask? Well, I have a rule. I try not to repeat anything. Every single item I buy has to look completely different from anything else I own, and then I do my best to style it differently each time.

So friends are always asking, “Is that a new top? I’ve never seen it before,” and I say, “Nope. You just saw me wear it it last week with my paisley skirt, and the week before under my tweed dress.” And they look at me like I’m crazy.

And I look at them like, haha! Fooled you. Fooled you good.

Annual Room-By-Room Deep Clean

Posted 29 July 2012 at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

Yesterday we started our annual room-by-room “deep clean.”

We always start in the living room. Every single item is moved to another room (and I take a moment to relish the emptiness of the space), then we clean the empty space from top to bottom. Items are not returned to the living room until they, themselves, are thoroughly cleaned.

Simple Wood Sideboard with Art Leaning Against the Wall

It’s hard work, but it feels so good sitting in the living room—our most used room in the apartment—knowing that you could eat off any surface in here. (Not that I want you to.)

So! I thought I’d take this opportunity to open up the doors of our sideboard and show you what’s inside. It’s one of two places in our home where we store toys.

Simple Wood Sideboard for Organized Toy Storage

People always ask if it actually stays this organized. Honestly, it does. My boys, young as they are, know exactly where things go and are terrific at returning toys to their location. I chalk this up to one thing only (no, not magic): habit. We all know that children absorb everything, right? Well, they’ve absorbed my penchant (an understatement, I know) for tidiness. They see how I put things away, and they do it, too. Sometimes it takes a little nudging, sometimes it takes a lot; the point is, they’ve learned.

Think I can leave the dining room deep-clean to them?

Coco Rocha’s Well-Curated Bookshelf

Posted 19 July 2012 at 4:19 PM | Comments (1)

Oooh. Speaking of mint green, check out supermodel Coco Rocha’s bookshelves.

Coco Rocha's NYC Mint Green Bookshelves with Teapots from Her Travels

I know some people like to see their bookshelves packed full of books (eh-hem, Husband), but this more my cup of tea: bookshelves as a wall of art, where books are mixed in with beautiful, treasured objects. Coco Rocha’s treasured objects are actually teapots collected from her travels.

Is this practical, though? Are you really going to take a book off that shelf every day? Probably not. So perhaps this is better for my living room, where we entertain our guests and where I hate to see clutter, and perhaps the packed-full bookshelf (eh-hem, Husband) could be in our bedroom. A worthy compromise, no?

*Image from Vogue.com.

How to Have a Minimal Wardrobe

Posted 21 June 2012 at 3:48 PM | Comments (13)

I’ve been working with Sarah on her wardrobe.

A stay-at-home mom of two with part-time projects executed mostly at home, Sarah has only recently started evaluating her wardrobe. After about seven years of pregnancy, breastfeeding, babies, and staying home, she is ready to emerge into the world of the living. Which means no more loungewear outside of the house!

We started by talking about her goals for dressing. What are her daily activities? How often does she dress down, or dress up? How does she want to dress? Who does she want to be?

Then we threw out out everything that was stained, ripped, dated, ill-fitting, and pieces that no longer reflect who she is. That exercise left very few pieces left in her wardrobe. Very few: about eight items total.

And it turns out that she liked it that way. She preferred a simple, minimal wardrobe. So we talked about what pieces she should look for to build her most minimal wardrobe possible, and here’s what I suggested for her lifestyle. Click on the image for details.

How to Have a Minimal Wardrobe

Clearly, this won’t work for everyone—if you have a formal job, for example, I might add another pair of pants, a skirt, a dress, and a jacket. But I think it’s a good starting point for a basic closet.

Also keep in mind that I’m a bit of a clothes horse. These days many people are talking about the 10-piece wardrobe—which usually consists of black and more black—but I’d die with those limitations. I value color and trend, so my minimal wardrobe has to have a little more variety or I’d lose my mind.

That said, the number of outfit options on this wardrobe board are amazing! Short-sleeve tee over long-sleeve tee, dress over blouse—you have to be willing to think outside the ordinary to make a minimal wardrobe work.

Sarah and I have gone shopping several times and she’s on her way to minimalist bliss. I love it!

If you’ve been inspired by this blog post, I’d love to hear from you.

Color-Coordinated Bookshelf

Posted 30 October 2011 at 11:33 PM | Comments (4)

I love this. Which is funny, considering that:

1) I poke fun at friends who color-coordinate their books, and then
2) actually did it in my own home.

Color-Coordinated Bookshelf from designspongeonline.com

Favorites from the J.Crew September 2011 Catalog

Posted 8 September 2011 at 3:50 PM | Comments (0)

It’s unfortunate (or fortunate, really) that my J.Crew obsession began just weeks before my one-year shopping hiatus. Well, I’m still happily flipping through their September catalog as if my next purchase was just a click away (not a chance! So no need to stage an intervention).

Anyway, I cut out four of my favorite looks from their catalog and glued them to a boring manila file folder for a bit of inspiration and pizzazz.

Favorite Looks from the September 2011 J.Crew Catalog

And then my three year-old added his own pizzazz.

Three-Year Old's Interpretation of a J.Crew Catalog

Now my personal papers are being well looked-after.

To take a closer look at these catalog pages, click: page 6, page 32, page 50, page 82.

Organizing Extra Buttons

Posted 12 March 2011 at 2:29 PM | Comments (6)

This may be the most insane (and insanely satisfying) organization project I’ve ever done at home.

It must have been close to a year ago, while I was pregnant (which explains the insanity). I took every “buttoned” item of clothing out of mine and my husband’s closets. Then, ones with extra buttons already attached to the garments were immediately put back in.

The remaining garments were laid out in the living room with our enormous stash of extra buttons, and the matching game began.

When a match was made, the extra button was placed in one of those mini-Ziploc baggies next to a mini-Post-it note identifying the garment. For example: charcoal tweed blazer. Then, all of those identified buttons were placed in one larger Ziploc bag and stored in a drawer.

How to Organize Your Extra Buttons

Alternatively, every button without a home was placed in a separate Ziploc bag and donated to avid sewing friends. We weeded out hundreds of buttons, arbitrarily saved for at least eight years and with no real intention of ever using them. Wow, it felt good—not just to purge the buttons, but also to accept that I was never really going to come up with a creative way to use them.

My main concern, from the start, was that we wouldn’t be able to keep up with this new system, but we have! Even items of clothing that I’ve given to friends have been given to them with the extra buttons (still labeled, thank you very much). I feel so… streamlined.