Organizing?

This may be a backslide on the decluttering-throwaway resolution front. This mountain of stuff on the coffee table that inadvertently became the storage area for all Costco purchases started getting a bit out of control. I suppose a space as small as this has no business storing Costco-sized anything but on the occasion, I do like to pick up a few cartoonishly large-sized items. Ironically, the stocking up is a result of not enjoying the Costco experience. Buy more, buy less frequently. Y’see the logic?

Then stash it all at home where it clutters our space. Yeah – I’m not sure it makes sense, but that’s the gist of it.

Please disregard the shoes. I did not get those from Costco. They’re just my house sneakers and I don’t know how they ended up on the box of tennis balls, which also were not from Costco. Ok – this is just the clutter table.

From what I understand of the minimalist thinking, the general idea of organization or storage items is they tend to, in the long run, exacerbate clutter. They’re clutter magnets. It’s better to not have the storage items and to just get rid of the stuff that you would have kept there. I’m not at that level yet. That’s like Michelin 3-star level minimalism. So even knowing that, we got the rack anyway because we figured the coffee table footprint is larger than the rack footprint and the rack optimizes use of vertical space. It’s Hong Kong here in my little place.

Wheels belong on every piece of furniture.

Maybe I will come to regret this Costco shrine installation. One feature I’m glad it has is the caster wheels. Boy if that isn’t my favorite furniture feature for small spaces. I want walls to come with wheels. And the coffee table goes because it doesn’t have wheels. So I suppose zero sum in terms of stuff. One in-one out.

Supplemental resolution

The other person who inspired me a lot last year (well, maybe for a few years now) was Mr. Money Mustache. So between Marie Kondo with her get-rid-of-your-garbage philosophy, and MMM’s stop-buying-garbage philosophy, I was torn about which I would adopt as my theme for 2019. So I’m taking them both. I’m sure I’ve recycled these two ideas in past resolutions. It’s an uphill battle for me on both fronts and they relate. Stop trading my time and space for garbage.

With MMM in mind, I had originally drafted a post geared towards what I thought was going to be my 2019 project of reducing my annual food cost from 2018. This was in November before the end of the year and my data was incomplete so I waited to finish the post with all the dollars tallied. Lo, the outcome was stupid. Yes, I can lower my food costs. No I’m not as Mustachian as the man himself. But no. See food expenses in 2018 were lower than in 2017. Good enough for me. I apparently made strides without even trying.
My theory is, part way through 2018 I gave up on finding decent plant-based options in the area because they were mostly just mediocre, so we ate out a lot less. I don’t see the dining scene suddenly improving this year. We’ll still try a few places every now and again, but maybe this isn’t the pie slice I need to improve. I will just have to look elsewhere to improve my clutteriffic living situation. Anyway, it’s not like my food takes up that much space. Except maybe the beans and rice – I hoard that as if the next apocalypse were upon us.

Fabric Shaver

And with the colder weather, my winter clothes have come out of summer hibernation. Usually I don’t give this clothing swap much thought. I just grab everything that I have that’s summer stuff and shove it in a giant bag (or two) and then grab all the cold weather stuff crammed in my wardrobe, and put it on my shelves. Done. It takes me all of 15 minutes.

This year, my year of Konmari, I was a bit more judicious in what I decided to save in my summer wardrobe and also what I no longer wanted in the winter shelves. Much of it isn’t donate-able quality but I donated it anyway because I have heard from a couple of sources that they recycle textiles and supposedly it’s best not to throw textiles in the trashcan. Except socks and underwear. I still junk that.

I’m still trying to figure out how to balance decluttering with waste generation. I could keep wearing my old clothes with holes and bad elastics to just keep the stuff out of the waste pile, but on the other hand how many pajamas do I need?? All my house clothes are basically demoted anything, gym wear, work wear, street wear. Eventually it’s just too much.

Here’s an example of something I decided to salvage though – I was going to get rid of this pilly brown sweater because it looked like this:
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But then I thought, maybe I can try and salvage it, so I got this sweater de-piller or fabric shaver.

Here are the results.
Fabric Shaver>

Sorry, the picture is crap, but let me just tell you, it’s far from good as new, or even good enough to wear to work, but it’s a vast improvement from how it looked before.

Leggins!

I hopped aboard the synthetic activewear bandwagon when my last gym pants gave out. Leggins were (and still are) ubiquitous when I needed new workout pants and my old school cotton capris were not so easy to find anymore. At first, I really liked my new leggings. They were so stylish and pretty. I felt like I was channeling Taylor Swift every time I headed to the gym in my trendy new leggings. But eight pairs of leggings and a year later, I have come to the conclusion that even though leggings are nice, I prefer my cotton workout clothes. I prefer exercising in pants that aren’t skintight. And nothing is more breathable than cotton. Yes sweat, but I would change out of my sweaty exercise clothes regardless of fabric type anyway. The only exercise I would prefer synthetics is probably hot yoga, which I don’t like and rarely do anyway, and spin, which I do maybe once a month, if that. I’m still of course going to keep wearing my leggings, but I won’t be adding more to the workout wardrobe. It was fun to go whole hog on leggins but alas, the fire is gone.

Piano!

I always get these wild ideas in my head of dipping my toes in the art world. I bought a guitar over a decade ago. I can play 8 chords? And not even that really, since I have no sense of rhythm and can’t strum. In many ways, the guitar is both a melodic instrument as well as a percussive one. I can’t percuss. So I learned a classical guitar tune (Malaguena) and now the guitar is by the piano, currently out of tune.
I got watercolor books and paint and I do that every so often (a couple times a year?) but really, I haven’t the patience to paint. Every painting I’ve done so far has taken me all of 10 minutes? I remember taking watercolor lessons as a kid and each lesson was an hour long. Imagine it takes me 10, maybe 20 minutes. What am I supposed to do with the rest of the 40 minutes?! I just can’t stare at objects for that long!
Korg C1 Air
So on to the next new toy! It’s a digital piano. It came in a long box with a whole bunch of pieces and it had to be assembled like Ikea furniture. It plays beautifully. The keys feel like a real piano, and the sound is very pleasant. I love it and I play it every day. Haha… no. I don’t. I did for the first few weeks. But I do play it pretty regularly still. I am not a good piano player but I enjoy it and I enjoy the features of a digital and so do our neighbors, I’m sure. I can plug in a headset and only I can hear what I’m doing. It’s great, and I’m very happy I have it.

Washer Dryer

After 20 years, our old stacked washer dryer gave out. The first thing I did when it broke was I called the plumber. My go-to solution. When I shared my plight with my coworkers though, they asked me why I hired a plumber. Shouldn’t you have called an appliance person? So I canceled the plumber (when I called to cancel, he then said he also wondered why we’d called them for a broken washer. Gee, thanks for telling me when I made the appointment. I guess he would’ve been happy to take our consultation money to send out a guy who would just advise us to hire an appliance guy. That’ll be $150, thanks! I think we’re gonna need a new plumbing company. Anyway, I called an appliance repair person to try and fix it but he wasn’t able to get it to work after two visits so we gave up and got a new set. My fear is, these new units aren’t made to last as long as appliances of yore. Only time will tell.
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I do really like the front load washer though. I watched it the first few runs and I feel like the clothes throwing action from raising it and dropping it cleans more effectively than swishing clothes about in a tub. And also they’re more resource efficient. And I feel like they’re gentler on my clothes. There’s less rubbing of fibers against each other. Just the falling and smacking downwards action. Also its spin dry is insane. Makes my clothes drying rack work that much faster. So overall, I highly recommend a front loading washer. This is also a 2018 purchase of the year. I can have two purchases of the year. I can do whatever I want. I’m the boss in this neighborhood. Or blog. Whatever.

Hot n’ Humid

For years my coat closet has had a mold problem. My newish L.L. Bean canvas tote grew mildewy in one year. I guess I didn’t use it as frequently as I thought I would. Darn YouTube advertising. Anyway, every time I found a mildewy item, I would clean out the closet. I’d wash everything I could and take the rest to the cleaners. I even laid down paper towels and set out plates of baking soda around the place to figure out and alleviate whatever was causing this damp, musty issue. This nonsense has been carrying on for years. I can’t believe I’m saying this. I can’t believe I put up with it for so long. I just didn’t know what to do. Hire a plumber? It was a contained issue though so I shut the closet door, out of sight, etc. This summer I found two jackets, not in the usual musty closet, but in the dressing room and they had mildew on them. They had been cleaned and not worn in too many years. I took them to the cleaners and thankfully, they cleaned them up. But this incident finally made it realize, our place is just too humid (and I have too many clothes). Two fish tanks, a steamer cooker that’s run multiple times a week, a clothes drying rack, countless plants, all while it’s August in the East Coast swamp. What did I expect?! We got a dehumidifier and if the clothes drying rack was 2017’s purchase of the year, the dehumidifier is easily the best purchase of 2018. I know 2018 isn’t over yet but still. It’s life-altering. I did a final clean and wash of our musty closet and it’s been free and clear of must ever since. I used to think dehumidifiers were for basements. Nay, they are for East Coast summers. We’ve also been much more comfortable with the lower humidity levels.

Zenni

I just got my first pair of glasses online. I’ve always been reluctant to try online eyeglass retailers because I wasn’t sure how they’d look or fit, and the quality/sturdiness of them. I’m happy to report back that they worked out fine.

The silicone eyeglass holders work like a charm.  Where have they been all my life!?!  Gamechangers.
(See the little silicone hooks on the back of the glasses? They are life-altering for me. Plastic frames never stay on my face well. I usually just take my glasses off on the treadmill because they will fall off my face. Where have you been all my life!?)
Quality: So-so. 6/10. They definitely feel not as sturdy as the ones I’ve been getting from Costco – my usual place. In the past, I’d just pick a pair that wasn’t made in China. But they’re probably just assembled with parts made in China. Anyway, Zenni’s glasses are all from China and they work just fine. Not great, but decent. What they lack in the frames department, they make up for in the lenses. They have blue light blocking lenses and I wanted to try them. I don’t know if I feel any difference (aside from a very mild yellow tint) but I feel better having them since I stare at glowing boxes at almost all waking hours. By the way, there is a way to turn down the blue light on your computer monitors and iPhones (and maybe newer Droids). Aside from affecting sleep, the Internet told me blue light may possibly cause retinal damage so I’ve turned it down on all my devices where possible. Even if it does none of those things I’ve found it’s easier on my eyes to not have the glow boxes glow so piercingly bright. It’s probably not good for my skin either, but that’s another issue to solve another time.

Look: 10/10. Well, this is a personal preference thing, but their website does offer different model’s faces to try on the glasses. This worked out fine for me. I got a pair of fierce cat-eyes that turned out to be fun and not too fierce. Mew.

Fit: 1/10. Normally, a brick and mortar would adjust them before you walk out with your new glasses. And while I could still take these into a store, I’ve decided to try eyewear retainer straps and ear hooks first. I got plastic frames, and for me no matter how adjusted plastic frames are, they constantly slide down my face. Plus it’s just a hassle at the gym with loosey goosey glasses – which are all of my glasses!! Hopefully, this fixes the fit issue and the gym issue too.

Verdict: I’d do it again. Price wise – a pair of Costco glasses with their coupon is pretty comparable. My Zenni’s came out to $77 and a pair of Costco’s comes out to around $130.
As far as I’m aware though, Costco doesn’t offer blue light blocking lenses yet. If they did, I could go either way. For the extra cost, it’s nice to have someone measure you and fit your glasses properly. And the quality of the frames are better. That’s probably the biggest factor. You’ll be able to find better quality frames at Costco. I still wear my old glasses (the prescription hasn’t changed that much) from many years ago. I suppose I haven’t owned Zenni’s long enough to say how well they’ll hold up. This is just my initial impression seeing three pairs (a coworker tried them too).

Ok, for real this time. This is the last pair!

Sometime last year I enthusiastically jumped on the leggings activewear bandwagon. And I have been on a shopping rampage ever since. There’s the capri, the full length, ankle length, high-waisted, solid, patterned, nylon, polyester, seamless on and ON!

By now, I have racked up enough pairs that I can’t even go through them all in a week despite my best efforts to exercise on a semi-consistent schedule. I’m gonna stop though. Seriously. After this next pair that’s arriving from Amazon, I’m fer reals gonna stop. This is the last pair! I can’t keep buying leggings! There’s no room for them! I’ve already dedicated an entire dresser drawer to activewear and they only fit in there because I keep 80% of my workout clothes at work. So I’m a bit late in the resolutions game, but hey we’re still in January (this month is draggin’), and if I have a new year’s resolution, it’s to try to reign in my passionate love affair with plastic clothing.

    However! Since I’ve been racking up experience with leggings, here’s my general thoughts and opinions about them.

  1. Nylon (as opposed to polyester) can be riskier with being see-through (a.k.a – not squat-proof, as in every time you squat, your underpants show)
  2. Dark colored leggings aren’t as fun but if you’re self-conscious in a class, they blend into the crowd. Also they won’t show sweat. Also, you can wear the black ones under a nice tunic and they can double as work-wear.
  3. Patterned leggings hide VPL the best. The busier the better.
  4. A crotch gusset is preferred. I think it helps minimize camel-toe.
  5. Light colored leggings, though pretty, are the most unforgiving in terms of showing imperfections, like VPL and being less squat-proof. I’m not brave enough to sport no-pattern light-colored leggings.
  6. High-waisted leggings hold in the belly better. It can handle a burrito baby, no problem! I’m a fan of high-waisted pants. Mom jeans all the way.
  7. Full length leggings are more versatile year-round. They’re good to have in the winter and they are generally breathable enough to be worn in the summer too. So I’ve been leaning towards full- or ankle-lengths. Capris are still easier in the summer though.
  8. US-made leggings aren’t always the highest quality. Unfortunately. For example, I got a pair of US-made leggings (Phat Buddha) and they pilled after the first wash. I still wear them and they’re very comfortable (seamless), but it speaks to the quality of them. I’m seeing a lot of high-end activewear coming out of Vietnam and other Asian countries.
  9. How I Care for my plastic clothes: Wash minimally. I wear my items a number of times before I wash them and when I do, it’s in cold water, gentle cycle. Hang to dry. This makes them last longer.

There’s nothing like putting on a nice workout outfit to get in the mood to exercise. Even if I’m just doing it in my living room.