week eighteen: add water before turn on it!

Nothing says quality electronic goods like a superfluous home appliance with a poorly translated instruction-ish label stuck to the top. With an exclamation point, no less.

I bought this “sonic wave” jewelry cleaner thingie on eBay from some random Chinese importer. It was after I got my engagement ring, and I apparently convinced myself that – for the ONE piece of non-New York and Company jewelry I owned – I needed some weaksauce Sharper Image knockoff to address the ring’s complex cleaning requirements.

When it arrived I wasn’t too impressed. I think I might have even been slightly shocked when I used it for the first time and it didn’t catch on fire. Every once in a while I’ll drop my ring in there, and it seems cleaner when it comes out. I think?

From now on, I’ll use 30 seconds of elbow grease to clean my ring. I’m sure Pinterest has a DIY ring cleaning reference with an adorably illustrated step-by-step manual using reclaimed toothbrushes and a solution made from Windex and cornmeal or something.

Related but separate – took my FIFTH carload of junk to the thrift store today. I was proudest of the giant light blue terry bathrobe husband finally gave up. It took up about 72% of our closet space. Husband kept it because (he thought) it looked like “something Hugh Hefner would wear.” Which makes me think “how does husband NOT realize the difference between a puffy bath towel robe and some slick red satin smoking jacket?!”

I mean COME ON! Hugh Hefner wouldn’t be caught dead in that.

Really, husband. I’m disappointed.

week sixteen: big stupid pillows

No, those aren’t pillows from the psych ward. They’re the “decorative” pillows I bought for our bed – you know, extra pillows that go behind our “real” Tempur-Pedic (boss playa) pillows. The extra pillows we don’t actually sleep on, but rather remove from the bed prior to sleeping and then… I don’t know… throw on the floor? What the fuck else do you do with decorative pillows? Then in the morning, if I don’t make the bed (IF! HAHA!), they just stay there, giant cushy wrinkly hazards to step over and trip on. Fun times. I especially love the misshapen, lumpy, thrift-store-chic look they’re working, too. WTF?!

I tried using these on the bed for oh… four days. Then husband started bitching about how dumb and pointless they were so I put them in the closet. For two years. Then I started cleaning out the closet and told husband to get on it, as his side was all messy. Then he was all, “Damn ho, there be bigass ugly pillows on my side of the closet SO THERE,” and I was all I HATE IT WHEN YOU’RE RIGHT.

So now they’re in the donation pile – wheeee! I can’t believe the space they cleared up in the closet. I also can’t believe that I didn’t SEE them for like two fucking years. And finally, I can’t believe I had to admit husband was right. ARRRTGHGHGHGHGHHHH!

week thirteen: diffusion

“you know how these things start… One guy tells another guy something, then he tells two friends, and they tell two friends, and they tell their friends, and so on, and so on…”

This minimalism thing is catching on.

I recently showed my blog to a few friends and family. And, in turn, they have started to rethink their stuff. Donating the things they no longer want or use. Tossing the old magazines they never have time to read through. Avoiding impulse purchases and taking the time to decide if a product is something they’ll love, or just something that will take up space in their home and life.

It’s often the best ideas that spread so quickly, so easily. Even so, it’s awesome to see the small changes I have been making (that were influenced by others) start affecting those close to me as well. It’s like a minimalism version of pay it forward.

And just so you don’t think I fell off the wagon this week, here’s a list of all the shit I’ve done over the past several days. Lots of smaller things, but they add up!

1. Washed and put away “the towel.” What is this, you ask? Well, when I went into labor (don’t worry, this doesn’t get gross), husband and I stayed home as long as possible. One thing we tried was a bath. In movies and TV shows, laboring mamas always look so serene in bathtubs. They breathe slowly and rub their bellies and are all “ooohhh this bath feels sooo good.” Huh. The bath didn’t really work too well for me. It turns out all I wanted was husband to knead my back as hard as possible, to the point where his hands stopped working. In any event, I had left the post-bath towel hanging in the guest shower. For eleven months. I’m not sure what my attachment to it has been – I guess it just reminded me of that night. I probably would have left it hanging there for a while longer, but the fat dog got stuck outside in the sprinklers and froze up, not knowing where to run and ended up soaked. “The towel” was the only thing I had handy to dry him off with. And once it smelled like dirty fat poodle… well, the magic was gone.

2. Donated about 50 old records. We listen to records almost exclusively (I know, how fucking annoying are we?) and buy up dollar vinyl at estate sales. Unfortunately when we started we knew next to nothing about what we were buying and ended up with lots of records that suck (Tijuana Taxi, a promotional album put out by Weinerschnitzel in the late sixties, comes to mind) or moldy slabs with old people dust all over them. Husband got into the mix and edited a bunch out of our collection. Saweet.

3. Sold more shit. Cloth diapers that baby never liked too much, more old lady figurines and the Wacom tablet I purchased ($350!!!)  but never, ever used. Moron! At least I got some decent cash for my idiocy.

4. Found a taker for some ginormous baby gear we no longer need. The bonus? It’s a friend of mine, so I’ll be able to borrow it back if/when baby #2 arrives in the hopefully not-too-distant future.

Whatchoo bitches been doin?! Have you noticed minimalism spreading n your little corner of the world, too?

week nine: no more crappy jeans

I’ve started tackling my closet.

This won’t be a one-week job. Logistics (mainly the fact that baby naps in our bedroom) and the shear size of the project mean I’ll have to space this one out over a few weeks. This week I focused on the glaring fashion don’ts, stuff I knew was too big or too small and… my overflowing jeans drawer.

I started with nine pairs of jeans. (FUCK that seems like a lot to me now!) Two I jettisoned last week in yet another carload of shit run to the thrift store. (That makes two carloads so far!) I didn’t think about using jeans as this week’s post, so I didn’t have them for my pic – oh well.

In any event, I started with nine, got rid of two. Down to seven. I knew, however, that I needed new jeans. Have thought this for a while, as my current daily-use jeans are a mix of shoddy Old Navy denim, cute out of the dryer but then woefully big an hour later, hanging off my ass and giving me a yucky mom-who-gave-up sloppy look. Ugh, no thank you!

I wanted cute non-mom mom jeans. You know, jeans that were comfy enough to roll around on the floor with baby, affordable enough so I didn’t mind sitting in the sandbox with baby, but still sexy enough so I could be a hot mom at the park instead of a hot mess.

Wanting to avoid needless purchases, I followed the Minimalist Mom’s 30-Day Buy List suggestion, and made a mental list with new jeans at the top. After 30 days, my Old Navy jeans were still making me want to barf so I went out and bagged two new pairs of hot but comfy non-mom mom jeans. Two pairs out, two pairs in. Back to nine.

As the above diagram points out, nine pairs of jeans is about dog nose height. Too much! I edited out the too-big Calvin Kleins, the janky Old Navy jeans and an ill-fitting pair of NY&Co dark denim that I bought in a rush. Now I was down to four – the two new pairs plus my “fancy” jeans for going out (ha!)

As you can see in the above, my jeans wardrobe is now at a much more reasonable dog elbow height. No more overflowing jeans drawer – and there’s even plenty of room in there for my hoochie mama shorts. Awesome.

Related: After two carloads of donations, I am starting to see an impact in our home. My office is (slightly) less of a disaster area, the upstairs seems a bit neater, and it seems to take less time for the house to go from messy to presentable. I am liking the feeling of freedom less stuff imparts.

week six: eighteen dog sweaters

When husband and I got our first dog together, Lucky, it was like we had brought home a baby. A beautiful baby poodle with apricot-colored ringlets, happy hazel eyes and a bounding, lyrical gait that just squealed happy puppy. Enamored with people – especially children – he would charm the pants off anyone who come within a ten-foot radius. At the time, we lived in the heart of San Francisco, and neither gruff businessmen, aloof hipsters, crazy old ladies, jam-hands toddlers or over-the-top gay dudes could resist him.

In fact, I kid you not, when husband or I would walk him down Chestnut Street near our old ‘hood, people would literally DRIVE ONTO THE SIDEWALK and demand to know where we acquired such an adorable dog. He was a little local celebrity, hands-down the cutest fucking dog in the city.

Of course, the cutest fucking dog in San Francisco needed a wardrobe to suit. Dressing dogs had become fashionable, and overpriced pet stores abounded in the city, stocked not just with traditional pet items like cozy beds and leather leashes, but racks of doggie couture. Little shirts, dresses, hair accessories and more for our four-legged pals.

I ate that shit up. Of course, I erred on the more “conservative” dog-dressing aesthetic and tended to opt for simpler items, like cottons tees or knitted sweaters. I liked to think I was above the little shoes and overalls, and dressed my dog in a dignified fashion. But really, upon reflection, there is no dignified fucking way to dress up a damn dog. It’s a fucking oxymoron.

All that brings me to week six. Earlier this week, husband and I went for a walk in the park with baby. It was a pretty day and there were tons of people around. A cute girl, about 20, was sitting by the fountain with an equally cute Chihuahua. The Chihuahua was wearing a pink hoodie vest with faux fur and some sparkly bits. And I realized something.

The dog looked fucking stupid.

Look, I’m a dog person. I think Chihuahuas are adorable. But I think this minimalism kick has me looking at everything in a different way. And it’s just starting to seem over-the-top ridiculous to put tween fashions on dogs.

So next on the get the fuck out of my house list was my dog clothes. To my credit, neither pooch (we have two toy poodles now) has worn an outfit/shirt/sweater in quite a while. Which, when I realized it, made me feel as though I had already began to think dog clothes were lame, even before seeing pink hoodie Chihuahua.

I’d like to say I was surprised that I had enough stupidass dog clothing to fill a box, but I wasn’t. My shame apparently knows no bounds, as I rediscovered such gems as:

– Powder blue LaDanian Tomlinson jersey FOR THE DAMN DOG. This is actually even stupider than it sounds, as it is cut in such a way that it traps pee in a little fold of fabric, basically soaking the garment and the dog. So glad I kept that for four years.

– Itchy red Christmas sweater with a tree knitted on the back. Complete with appliqued sequins and A FUCKING BATTERY that made lights on the tree glow. Good lord, doggies, I am so sorry. I knew this bastard was itchy, too, and I still put it on Lucky. WTF is wrong with me?

– Denim vest. (WHY????)

To the thrift store they shall go. Yep, eighteen pieces in my doggie wardrobe. Insanity. For good measure, I also tossed some never-used toys and beat up old collars I think I had been saving for sentimental reasons. I’m allowed to be sentimental about my dogs. Even their puppy pictures. But old dirty collars? That’s some hoarder shit right there.

I did keep one sweater for each poodle. They each have one “dignified” (ha) knit number that I sometimes bust out at Christmastime. Non-itchy I might add. But my days of denim vests and polo shirts for my pooches are through. Hallelujah they say!

week four: carload of shit

Feast your eyes on a big old pile of random. I took an entire carload of shit to the thrift store this week. An unrelated grouping of items I culled throughout the week, the sacrificial lambs included such highlights as:

– Eight thousand packs of metallic mini muffin cups. I bought out Sur la Table one day on my lunch break – they were adorable and on sale. Forget that I didn’t own a mini muffin tin at the time. Or that I still don’t. And forget that I bought them when I lived in San Francisco. Six years ago. Uh-huh, buh bye.

– Fuckin loud ass clear acrylic drawers from The Container Store. Purchased to hold everything from office supplies to panties. These drawers were going to change my life. And they did, with their cat yowl screech emitted when you opened and closed them. Added bonus: they often tipped over while opening, spilling their contents on the floor. Laters!

– Multiple boxes of packaging materials for cute products to make that I envisioned in my head but never actually got around to creating. What a dumbass I was when I first started my business. I’d be all “Hey, I think I should make wedding favors,” and then, instead of doing ANY research on what brides would buy, price points, cost of goods sold analysis, etc., I’d just plunk my credit card down and buy a shitload of random materials. Giving those boxes of never-realized product inventory away felt BADASS. Like I accepted that I had been a dumbass, but am now past said dumbassery. We’ll see, huh?

– Baby gate that collapsed when you touched it, got near it, looked at it, breathed hard, etc. Haha – sorry poor schmuck who buys that at the thrift store. Although knowing my husband and I, there’s a very good chance (maybe like 70 percent) that we simply installed it wrong.

It was a good week.