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Nothing New for a Year: The Edited Closet

09/12

The first order of business after deciding not to buy anything new for a year was making peace with my closet. Over the years I had read books, saved articles, attended — and even taught — classes on organization, but somehow never managed to extend what I learned to my wardrobe.

Every so often I’d tidy everything up and attempt to organize it, but after a few weeks the chaos would return.

Part of the problem was too much stuff — hangers crammed so tightly and stacks of sweaters piled so high that it was impossible to see what I had — but mostly it was laziness. Since I basically wore the same 10 things every week, my ‘uniform’ of jeans and some type of knit shirt languished on the closet floor until I felt enough mercy — or shame — to wash them.

But realizing that I would have to rely solely on the contents of my closet for everything I would wear over the next year was the wake-up call I needed: time to start practicing what I’d preached.

Where to begin? With a little motivation. Closet organization is not rocket science, and there are a bajillion resources out there — books, magazines, blogs, talk show segments — to help.

All basically come down to some form of three basic principles: Sort, Edit & Organize. Read more…

Nothing New for a Year

09/10

Back when I started this blog, I wrote about how my experiment with not buying anything new for more than a year greatly influenced the desire to edit my life in other ways.

Although it’s now been several years since my self-imposed moratorium ended, that experience continues to influence how, when and why I shop, and what I shop for.

This is not intended to be a condemnation of shopping, nor a judgment on what others choose to do. Rather, it’s something I tried that had a profound, lasting, positive effect on me, and I share it with the hope that it might help someone else.

So here goes…

Why I did it.

Read more…

Machine wash a leather jacket? Oh yes you can.

09/06

During the annual Labor Day International Street Fair in Orange, I checked out a few of the shops that line the streets of the charming downtown — mostly to get out of the heat. Turns out it was my lucky day — in the Antique Depot on Glassell Street, I found a brand new leather jacket for $24.

A black leather jacket had been on my wish list, mostly inspired by the iconic Francoise Hardy photo, and although this one wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, the price, quality and classic shape were too good to pass up:

But after just one night at home, the jacket had filled my closet with an overpoweringly sweet, musty stench — no bargain was good enough to justify that smell.

I’d read that Vogue editor Meredith Melling Burke machine washes and dries all her leather jackets, so I dug around and found more info on machine washing leather here and here.

Armed with my research, I decided to take the $24 risk. Spoiler alert: glad I did.

Read more…

Ode to Sinéad. Sort of.

08/28

Most days the mail routine at our house is on autopilot — pick up at mailbox, drop off at recycling bin — interrupted only to deposit the rare piece of real mail on the kitchen counter.

But last week was different. As I absentmindedly leafed through the back-to-school flyers headed for recycling, it occurred to me that for the first time in nearly 15 years I have no need for school supplies.

Out of nowhere, I am reduced to tears. Read more…

The Edited Makeup Bag: 9 Essentials

08/24

 J. Crew bag* | Nars blush | MAC lipstick | MAC eye shadow | CG concealer | L’Oreal foundation | Rimmel brow pencil | CG mascara | Almay eye liner | Bobbi Brown bronzing powder   | West Elm tray

For years I bought beauty products by one simple rule: whatever magazines told me to buy. While some things I actually liked and used, much of it I ultimately gave — or threw — away.

Since the process of editing my life means streamlining routines and reducing clutter everywhere, I decided it was time to tackle my overflowing makeup stash, keeping only what I use on a regular basis. Read more…

Light[er] Bacon and Onion Tart

08/17

I discovered the original Saveur recipe for this tart on a friend’s Pinterest board. Bacon AND caramelized onions? I’m in. But the “slab” of bacon, bacon fat and butter the original calls for seemed like overkill.

After substituting oven-baked turkey bacon and olive oil, the result still tastes decadent but is a little more calorie friendly — even with a toss of freshly grated Parmesan. And despite the 10-minute preparation/rest times, it comes together pretty quickly since you can mix the batter while the bacon’s in the oven and the onions are caramelizing.

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Pillow talk.

05/01

Our move to California happened faster than planned, leaving us about two weeks to find a house. And not just any house, but one that had space for a photography studio.

And a baby grand piano.

I don’t play the piano very well — certainly not well enough to justify owning one, let alone moving it 400 miles — but mine was a gift from my parents and playing it is one of my favorite forms of stress relief.

So I was thrilled when, during the final hours of our house-hunting trip, we found a place with a small front room that would accommodate a piano and not much else. But since we also loved the idea of a combination music room/library, we were determined to squeeze in a few of our books and something comfortable to sit on, too.

I knew we could repurpose some existing bookshelves — handmade by my dear friend Kim’s father — but the seating was a challenge. There was no way to fit a couch or loveseat; even our existing leather club chair was too bulky for the space.

Read more…