Skip to content

Nothing New for a Year: The Edited Closet


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


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.


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.


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


 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


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.

Read more…

Pillow talk.


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…