Declutter your nail polish to get started with minimalism

Declutter your nail polishIf you’re just getting started on your way to minimalism and are feeling a little overwhelmed, start small by picking one category of your belongings to declutter. Dip your toe instead of taking the plunge! Most suggest starting with your wardrobe, but if that is too much for you, try something smaller like your nail polish stash.

I’ve been a nail polish addict for as long as I can remember. I literally don’t remember the last time I had bare nails. It was also one of those items I used to buy on impulse. If I was in a store that sold nail polish I couldn’t leave without taking a look and I ended up with a lot of duplicate shades and quite a hoard. I recently watched Allison Anderson’s video in which she documented her nail polish declutter, and that inspired me to declutter my own collection. Continue reading and I’ll show you how easy it is to declutter your nail polish collection.

I started by counting what I owned and sorting by colour to see how many shades of each colour I owned. I tried to eyeball it, but for some reason bottles of nail polish don’t look like many until you count them. I thought I had around 40. I won’t bore you with them breakdown by colour, but the grand total was 59 bottles! Even though I know I’ll never be very minimal when it comes to nail polish — I tend to stick to neutral colours in my wardrobe, and nail polish is one of the ways I choose to add colour — 59 bottles is way more than I needed. It was time to be ruthless with one of my most beloved collections.

So as I mentioned above, I first counted the total number of bottles, and then sorted them by colour. By doing this I could get a good sense of how many of each colour I had — and therefore learn a bit about my taste — and also I could easily see if I had any dupes or similar shades. This made my first cuts easy to spot.

By the second pass-through I had already started a pile of maybes. The ruthless side of me wanted to say “If it’s a maybe, it’s a no” but I just couldn’t decide between two very similar lavender shades! I went through again and looked for colours I couldn’t remember wearing recently (this season), but took the summer season into consideration. We’re just coming out of winter, so my bright summery shades haven’t been loved much lately, but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited to wear them when spring and summer arrive. If I was still excited about them, I kept them.

I went through again and got rid of anything that was super old. Anything where the lid was stuck or sticking due to crusty polish near the top, or if the polish was super thick and gummy, I tossed it. Applying old nail polish is such a pain and it never looks good. You could put some nail polish thinner in, but if you really love it, why not just repurchase it? You may find you can get through the whole bottle now that your collection is much lighter. Your favourite shades will naturally get more love.

I thought I was done, but I had forgotten my maybe pile so went through again and dealt with those. It was great to go through the maybes at the end. I was on a roll and feeling good at how small my “keep” pile was getting. It made it easier to be ruthless with ones I was on the fence about.

I went through one more time and was able to remove two more! The few shades I had left were my favourites. The ones I always reach for, or the ones I can’t wait to break out next season. I went from 59 bottles to…*drumroll*…22 bottles!!! I’m really excited because I know that these remaining shades will be on heavy rotation, especially since I change my nail colour at least once or twice a week.

To summarize my nail polish declutter process:

  • Sort you polishes by colour and count the grand total.
  • Count the number in each colour category before you start paring down (optional — I did this more for my own geeky curiosity).
  • Go through each colour category and look for duplicate or similar shades. Remove any dupes.
  • Go back through what’s left and look for colours you don’t remember wearing recently, being mindful of seasonal colours that you might still wish to wear when the weather changes.
  • Go though what’s left again and look for anything that’s really old, applying old nail polish is a pain in the butt anyway. These should be easy to discard.
  • If you started a maybe pile, go through it last and decide one way or another until the maybe pile is gone.
  • Continue to go through the remaining bottles until you feel you’ve gotten rid of everything but the shades you truly love and know you will wear. Be ruthless!
  • Find a safe way to dispose of any polishes that are old, and see if you have a friend who will love the polishes that you don’t want anymore.

Hopefully that left you with the confidence and momentum to continue decluttering your home step by step. No one said you had to empty your home in one day. Enjoy the journey!

What other stuff categories would be easy to declutter for someone getting started in minimalism?

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Declutter your nail polish

Turn off your smartphone notifications and start living in the moment

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I don’t know about you, but my smartphone used to rule my life. It would pull me out of engaging conversations. It would distract me from a gorgeous day at the beach. It generally needed my constant attention.

In light of the announcement of future changes to Instagram and the resulting uproar, I wanted to write a post encouraging you to ignore all of it.

I’ve since turned off all notifications on my phone and I’ll never go back.

Turn off smartphone notifications and live in the moment

Have you heard that Instagram is changing it’s algorithm and photos will not show up in your feed in chronological order? Has your feed been flooded with accounts pleading for you to turn on post notifications so you can “continue to see their posts”? You don’t have to do it, and I actually recommend that you don’t.

Take a sec to think about the number of accounts you follow. If you turn post notifications on for every account that you care about, your smartphone will notify you every time they post something. And that’s in addition to your regular Instagram notifications for your own posts. I love Instagram but not enough to have it need my attention every few minutes.

I really can’t figure out what all of the fuss is about, and honestly I feel like the ones telling me to turn on post notifications need to take a seat. Fear not, my friends. All of the posts by the accounts you follow will still show up in your feed, they will just be in a different order. NBD, you just might need to scroll a little more to see them. And you were probably going to scroll that far anyway, if we’re being honest.

“[…] all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.” – Instagram’s blog

Here are a couple of solutions that are better than turning your smartphone into a needy little thing.

  1. Go through the accounts that you follow and unfollow any that you don’t really need to be following. When I first decided to embrace minimalism, I unfollowed most of the shopping accounts I used to follow to avoid temptation to shop online. But when I heard about this change I went through again and unfollowed some more. When you weed out the accounts you no longer wish to follow, the content you want to see will naturally be more visible.
  2. Interact with the accounts and content you love. This will tell Instagram what you want to see and it’s little algorithm will get to work making that content even more visible to you. So get over there and start double-tapping!

Instagram aside, you would be surprised how freeing it is to silence your phone in all ways. No more phantom buzzing, no more twitchy phone-checking. I’m no longer controlled by the thing, the thing is a tool for me to use when I need it.

I challenge you to:

Turn off all sounds: The only sound my phone ever makes is the alarm!

Turn off vibrate: Keeping my phone on silent was not enough for me. The buzzing still distracted me. It still woke me up at night. And feeling phantom buzzing made me think I was losing it!

Turn off notifications: Honestly, no app notification is ever an emergency. Don’t let Facebook or Twitter or whatever else tell you when you need to check on your smartphone. Be a rebel and check it whenever you damn well please!

Unfollow and unsubscribe: Remove content from your info streams that you don’t get any value from to make room for the good stuff.

Delete unused apps: If you don’t remember why you downloaded it, you probably don’t need it. I still have to do this one. I have so many apps that I couldn’t tell you from looking at them what they’re even for.

Don’t worry about missing anything. Trust me, you will still check your phone more than is probably healthy, but at least it will be on your own free will and not at the beck and call of the device itself.

Give this a shot for a week and let me know how it goes!


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My debt story

TL;DR: I’m sick of my debt and I’m getting rid of it.

This is difficult and embarrassing to write, but it’s time to tell my debt story because I it’s time to be accountable for my past mistakes. Apologies in advance for this bummer of a post, but perhaps exploring this topic will help me come to understand how I got here in the first place, because I honestly have no idea.

My debt story

Ok well I have some idea; I lived beyond my means for too long. But the thing is, I had been scared to go into debt for my whole life. In fact I didn’t even think I would ever go to post secondary school because I couldn’t afford it on my minimum-wedge income and I was so adamant that I would not take out a student loan. Of course everyone told me “student loans are an ok kind of debt” or “everyone has some form of debt.” I finally gave in and took out a student loan to study criminology. I was really interested in the subject and I did love being in school, but none of the potential jobs that come out of an education in Crim were of interest to me except maybe teaching Criminology. Back then I often toyed with the idea of going into education. I’ve learned a few things since then:

  1. I do not want to be a teacher. I think you need to like kids to teach. And have this thing called…patience?
  2. School is way too expensive to commit to before you’re sure what you want to do with your life.
  3. There is no such thing as good debt!

Realizing early on that I didn’t have the stomach for the justice system, I stopped going to school before I could go into any more debt from it. I completed my “Certificate in Criminology” – so basically nothing – and decided to take time off to decide what to do next. I ended up working full time and making minimum payments on my student loan. For a while the student loan was all I had. And that wasn’t so bad! But for my little, debt-averse self, it felt huge, and like I would never pay it off.

Fast forward to 2009. I’m in a relationship with a guy — we’ll call him xBF — who is really eager for us to buy a house together. We had been together less than a year and I was working for a temp agency for which the longest assignment I had received was a week long, other than that I was working a day or two here and there. I was happy usually just I could pay my half of the rent! I was not in a place to commit to a freaking mortgage, so why is it that I found myself at a meeting with the xBF and a realtor?

I had great credit. I only had my student loan and I never missed a payment. I was also really great at making sure all of my other bills were paid on time. He on the other hand, did not have great credit. He brought the downpayment which he took from his RRSPs and together we made the perfect home-buying couple! He made an appointment with a realtor — his “brother’s guy” when I was at work and sent me a text to let me know about it. Back then I guess I was a bit of a pushover, and even though I had protested up to this point, it seemed he was going to plow ahead regardless of what I said.

So when I wasn’t looking for a real job we were looking at houses, and when the realtor was filling out paperwork for us and asked what I did for work, I told him the truth. That I basically wasn’t really working at that time, that I was employed by a temp agency and went on any assignment I could get. I don’t remember exactly what he wrote, but he spun it to make it sound more desirable to the mortgage people and I stupidly ignored the icky feeling that gave me.

At some point xBF started saying that I should look into getting a line of credit since I didn’t have permanent job, “just to have as a safety net”. I ignored more icky feelings and I was approved for a $10,000 line of credit, and somehow a lot of our home purchases ended up on it, like our brand new washer and dryer. Queue icky feels.

I am a smart woman, and I believe I was a smart girl. So how on earth did I end up where I was in July of 2009, moving into this house with xBF on our one year anniversary? Shortly after moving in panic set in. I felt trapped and I slowly slid into a majorly depressive place.

It was time to take control of my life again

Two years later I got the hell outta there. I moved from the suburbs to the city on my own. I literally just walked away because it wasn’t worth my time or sanity to try to get any money out of xBF. It was the first minimalist principle I had ever learned! (Time > Money) I finally found a good job, a good government job, the fog of depression was lifting. I like to think of myself walking away from that old life like Walter White walking away from that explosion in Breaking Bad. I was a badass woman taking her life back. Just picture it!

I’d like to say my debt story ends there, but it does get just a little bit worse first. Don’t get me wrong, before I got my first credit card (in 2013) I was in the worst place and could only go up from there emotionally and physically, but my debt story does get just a teensy bit worse. Again, I’m smart, I’m an adult, don’t ask me how I let this happen.

I got my first credit card with a $3,500 limit because I was planning on taking a solo trip to Paris. This was to be my fist ever overseas trip and I was going alone. I had made plans to save all the money I needed in advance because I was not going to carry a balance on this card. No way, no how. And I stuck to that plan! I paid for my trip from money in the bank as soon as I booked flights and accommodation on my Visa. When I got back I did have a bit of a balance because, well, I didn’t know how much I could actually spend, and I didn’t really budget. But I paid it off with my next paycheque. Easy peasy! So why is it now carrying a balance over three thousand? I think I can pinpoint it back to when I purchased my new MacBook. And I hadn’t exactly saved up for it before I bought it. But I figured I would pay it off in two, three paycheques tops. Instead the balance crept up to what it is today. And that’s my debt story! Kind of horrific, especially because I know I knew better than to let this happen.

I’m not a dummy. I know there is a responsible and smart way to use credit cards. In fact all of this could have been done in a much smarter way. That’s why this is so shameful to write. And it’s why I am finally making a plan to fix it.

The dreaded number

So here it is. The big ugly. I wasn’t sure I was going to publish the total of my debt, but I decided it would help me more to share the whole story.

Total debt: $20,636.15 (which consists of a student loan, a line of credit, and a credit card)

This has been painful enough so I’m going to end it here. I will post another day about my plan of attack to kill this sucker sooner rather than later. And no more downer posts! I can only go up from here.

Have you tackled and made significant progress in your debt repayment? I would love to hear your story!

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How I got rid of 80 books using the KonMari method

As with the wardrobe declutter, I didn’t quite follow the KonMari method to the letter when culling my book collection, but it still helped me make hard decisions and allowed me to significantly reduce my library.

How I got rid of 80 books using the KonMari method.

My KonMari-ish process

I admit, I was worried about this step, but it was surprisingly simple for me, and this is coming from a hardcore book collector. I used to have the fantasy that all book nerds have. We all want the epic, Beauty and the Beast library that’s bigger than my apartment. And I have been stuffing my three large bookshelves to the max to achieve that library look. I still like that look, but I am tired of having shelves full of books I’m never going to get to read. It feels greedy to me when I know that someone out there could find their next favourite book in these stacks, yet I’m just hoarding it for the aesthetic. Queue guilty feels.

With that in mind, I went through my shelves multiple times and pulled everything out that I wasn’t excited about reading. I cleared one shelf so I had somewhere to put the keepers: books I’ve read multiple times, good reference books, books I haven’t read but am excited to, and books that I love as beautiful objects. Kondo calls this the “hall of fame”.

I also sent messages to friends who I remembered lending books to telling them to either keep them or pass them on.

You have to make some hard choices

“Keep only those books that will make you happy just to see them on your shelves, the ones that you really love.”

Excerpt From: Kondo, Marie. “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” iBooks.

Here are some things to keep in mind when going through your books

  1. You don’t need those travel books. They’re probably out of date anyway, and the internet has everything you need. If you are keeping them for the photos, get your butt over to Pinterest! Check out my travel board for inspiration.
  2. Are you keeping a series of books because you loved the first one, but the rest were only ok? Keep the first one and get rid of the rest. This was the case for me with the MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood. I loved Oryx and Crake, but Year of the Flood and MaddAddam were just meh.
  3. That said if you get rid of something from a series and then decide you want to read the whole series one day, you can always read it again by borrowing it from the library. Or if you use Scribd — and you should, it’s basically Netflix for books. No, they don’t pay me I just love them — you can see if they have it. Nothing is gone forever, so be cutthroat about it!

And that’s it! See? Not so hard. After counting all of the books I’m getting rid of it’s exactly 80. I’m going to see if I can sell some of them to my favourite used book store which I’ve never done before. Hopefully I can get a few bucks back because I’ve certainly given them a ton of business! I pinkie promise not to use that money to buy more books.

What’s next?

Papers… dun dun duuun! This one scares me, guys. I’m drowning in paper over here! I may take a couple of weeks to mentally prepare. If you’ve been through the KonMari process and you have any tips for dealing with all the paper, please share them with me. Seriously, this worries me more than sentimental items.

What’s one book that you have in your collection that you would never get rid of?

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How I created my perfect spring wardrobe with Project 333

Happy first day of spring! This is a time of year when most people start thinking about what they need to buy for their spring and summer wardrobe, myself included. But this year I’m trying Project 333 instead. You can read about this method at Be More With Less.

Project 333 is one take on the capsule wardrobe idea that has been really taking off lately. I’ve been dreaming of my perfect capsule wardrobe for a couple of years, while using Pinterest to figure out what my general style looks like. After all of this time studying what I like, I finally feel ready to take the plunge. So rather than buy new clothes, I shopped my own wardrobe and bring new light to old pieces.

The shape I tend to be drawn to is a more fitted, skinny pant in a dark colour with a looser fitting top in a light colour and flat shoes. I don’t go for patterns often, but when I do I gravitate towards strips and leopard print. My preferred colour palette is neutral with a pop of colour.


Follow Jess’s board My Style on Pinterest.


Now that I knew what elements I wanted in my wardrobe, using the KonMari method, I set out to get rid of anything that didn’t fit into that look, as well as other items I generally didn’t want or love anymore. Once I had my core wardrobe picked out, I began the process of selecting 33 things to wear for the next 3 months (the spring season). When I was finished selecting, I was surprised to know that I had only picked 27 items, including outerwear, shoes, and accessories!


Project 333 - spring


I’m really happy with my edited wardrobe. It only includes things I actually wear regularly and everything goes together. I could pair any of these things with any other item and it would make an outfit.


Project 333 - spring


I don’t have many reasons to get dressed up, so all of my clothes are relatively casual, but I did include one large, flashier piece of jewelry in case I need to dress up a t-shirt for a night out.


Project 333 - spring


I rarely wear anything besides my Converse sneakers, however there are times where they’re not appropriate which is why I included a couple of other options. Those boots have a heel that is maybe two inches, and even that is too much for me sometimes. Flats for life!

I realized the day after I’d made my selections that I had forgotten to include sunglasses into my wardrobe which brought my total to 28.

What’s your favourite capsule wardrobe template? What are your wardrobe must-haves? Leave me a comment!

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How the KonMari method helped me get rid of most of my clothes

The KonMari method, as described in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, has helped me get rid of the crap in my closet so that only my most-loved pieces remain. Now those items will get even more love. It also helped me to really define my personal style, which is something I’d been struggling with for ages. I am so happy that I went through this process! Read on to see how I went from freaking out about what to wear everyday to barely giving it a second thought and still loving what I put on.

KonMari method - clothes - before
Here is the before shot, sort of. I had already gone through and did a quick purge of things I knew without question I wanted to get rid of. I still had a lot left! This does not include my shoes and bags.

The Process

Kondo asks you to put all of your clothing into a pile. Everything. Anything you forget about automatically gets discarded, because if you forgot about it you probably don’t care about it enough to keep it. Once you’ve gathered all of your clothes, she recommends that you sort your clothes into categories and discard each category in her recommended order. I did sort my clothes but I made up my own categories and went through them in no particular order, because I’m a rebel and I do what I want!

For example, separating out my running gear helped me see that I had way more running clothing than I needed. How many shirts do you think I need for running if I run four times a week at most (and do laundry once a week)? Ok maybe I need to layer more in winter, but I live in Vancouver! I hardly ever need more than one shirt per run. I had 15! And that was just short-sleeved shirts. I still had tank tops and long-sleeved shirts to deal with. Since I mostly wear t-shirts and use the other shirts for layering if needed, I cut it down to my four favourite tees, and the rest got cut from the team.

My suggestion for you, should you choose to accept it

Rather than go through Kondo’s categories which are: tops, bottoms, clothes that should be hung, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, clothes for specific events, and shoes, I suggest creating categories for what you do when you are wearing the clothes, and then figure out how many times a week you do that thing. Now you know how many of said item you need. Get rid of the rest! This will help with letting go of things like extra workout gear and fancy clothes (if you don’t go out much). This applies to things like socks and underwear as well, at least for me. I use different socks and underwear for running than I do for anything else, and sorting those out made me see that I could probably use a new pair of special running undies and another pair of wicking socks!

I went through my whole wardrobe 4 times, each time getting rid of more and more, until I was left with pieces I wear all the time already, or would wear now if it was summer.

After I went through clothing and outerwear, I went through my shoes and handbags/tote bags. This was easy for me since I had already done a huge handbag purge on one of my previous decluttering sessions. But I still managed to cut my collection down a bit more. I got rid of most of my tote bags and reusable shopping bags. I had way more than I could ever use. I got rid of most of my shoes. Most of my shoes with heels went. I love looking at them, I hate wearing them. What’s the point of keeping a bunch of heels then?

Project333 - spring
The final result, sort of. There are a few more items that I have set aside, and this doesn’t show my outerwear. This is my spring capsule wardrobe which I’ll write more about in another post.


The results

I am very proud of my progress and very happy with what I have left to wear. I don’t feel deprived at all. I feel like the pieces I have left will get a lot of love and use, and I have a great idea of my personal style which will help me make smarter choices when I do need to go out and buy something.

Before reducing my wardrobe, getting ready to go out would give me anxiety. I would try everything on and then freak out and often cancel plans with friends because I just couldn’t deal! I know I probably sound like a baby throwing a tantrum to most, but anyone dealing with anxiety feels me, I’m sure. Now my closet is a safe space. I know what to expect and I know I’ll like the way I look regardless of what I put on.

Two things from the book that I will not be implementing:

  1. She says you should fold your clothes rather than hang them. She also tells you not to roll your socks into balls because this… hurts them? She says if you fold your clothes her way, they won’t wrinkle, but I call BS. I tried it, and everything was wrinkled. I do not iron. Ever. I will just hang my stuff, thank you very much. And I think my socks are just find being folded the old fashioned way.
  2. She says not to store your seasonal clothing, and I understand why. However I do have some items that I would only wear in the summer, and I have tucked  them away because I want to try my first go at Project 333 this spring. More on that in a future post. But basically the premise is you select 33 things to wear for 3 months or a season, and the rest gets packed away. Mind you I didn’t, like, pack it up in boxes. I just put my leftover clothes in a different closet. Hanging. Take that, Marie! 🙂

What’s next?

Next is books. I love collecting books and I think will be a little bit harder for me than getting rid of my clothes. I’ll be sure to update you on that process when I get there. Marie, give me strength!

Have you started following the steps in the KonMari method to declutter your home? How did it go? Do you have any tips? Let me know in the comments below!

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My minimalism story

The idea of minimalism has been percolating in me for a while. Then in October 2015 I took a trip to Amsterdam and Paris, and it was in Paris that it really took hold.

My minimalism story

The BF and I stayed in apartments we’d rented through AirBnB, and the one we stayed in in Paris was particularly tiny. Despite its small size I thought to myself, I could live here! Well…if I got rid of most of my stuff. That thought stuck with me for the five days we stayed there as I cooked in the tiny kitchen, got ready in the tiny bathroom, and cleaned the whole place in, like, 5 minutes flat before heading off to see the city. I love my apartment which is a one bedroom, and quite large for me, but the idea of living in a smaller space with less stuff, and not having to spend so much time cleaning was intriguing. When I got home I had an overwhelming need to get rid of any unnecessary stuff in my apartment, and after I overcame my jet lag I immediately got to work creating a donate pile while recycling and trashing the rest. Did I actually think I was moving to Paris? No, sadly. But I wanted to lighten my life by getting rid of everything that was weighing me down or holding me back. I went through my whole apartment, every closet and cupboard, and got rid of what I didn’t want, didn’t use, didn’t need, or didn’t love. And hey, maybe one day I will pickup and move to Paris! A girl can dream.

I became a reverse hoarder

I got rid of a carload so full that BF couldn’t see out of the rear window. I felt weightless when we got back to my apartment which seemed cleaner and larger somehow. For a while I just sat on my couch and looked around, smiling. But by the next day I already felt like I needed to do more, and two days later I had started another donate pile, although a little more passively this time. As I went about my days I would add things to the box on the floor of my closet when I came upon them. Not quite the urgent purge I’d had that weekend.

A week after that first carload I realized I had completely forgotten to go through my two (two!) junk drawers, so I emptied those. If I couldn’t remember what was in them, and couldn’t remember the last time I went into them to get anything, then I didn’t need the stuff that was in there. I basically went through and without much thought got rid of all of the contents. I was officially a minimalism convert!

A work in progress

My first and second passthroughs weren’t perfect. I’m still in the process of getting rid of the excess in my home. I have quite a large pile of things to donate in my office right now, and I’m waiting until I think I’m done before I ask BF to help me haul it out of here. But I think to really get the job done I’m going to try the KonMari Method as discussed in The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. When I first read it I was interested, but since I had just spent a week going through everything I didn’t want to jump right into it immediately and get decluttering fatigue. I’m ready now, though, and I’m going to start with clothing this weekend. My general wardrobe is already pretty minimal, but I have a lot of workout gear, loungewear, and my sock/underwear drawer is way too full. This whole minimalism challenge I’ve placed on myself has really helped me to see what’s important to me, and it’s freed up time for me to do more of the things I love, like writing this blog for you!

Do you have any tips for someone transitioning to a minimalist lifestyle?

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