You only have one neck — How to declutter your scarf collection

How many scarves do you own? Go ahead, count them. Wait, can you find them all first? I know some are in this closet, some in that closet… some in that storage bin…

I grew up in California. I maybe owned one scarf. Then we moved to Iowa, and I suddenly needed new apparel for 6 months out of the year.

I bought a couple scarves, and few mittens, a few hats, and a warm winter coat.

I also learned how to knit. So I knitted myself another scarf, a pair of hand warmers, and a hat. My mother also took up crocheting, and made me a hat and a scarf. The friend who got me into knitting gave me a scarf that year for Christmas.

Within my first few months as a Midwesterner, my scarf collection sextupled.

Some of them were itchy. Some weren’t my color. Some unraveled a bit. But I was 16 and you better believe I kept them all anyway!

As the years went by, more scarves were given. As my knitting improved, more scarves were knitted. And the closet shrank and shrank.

Now allow me to really blow your mind: I only have one neck.

How did I ever manage to wear all those scarves? Well, some only got a couple wears before the season was over. Which is the very definition of excess. Especially considering I would typically just throw on the same one I wore the day before.

When you pair having too many choices with also being lazy, you usually end up with the same choice, over and over again. (tweet that)

I’m glad to say that since then I have narrowed my scarf collection down considerably. I have two uber-warm winter scarves, one light-weight trendy scarf, and one mid-weight scarf.

Here’s how I narrowed it down:

1. Divide your collection into cold-weather scarves and mid-temp scarves

There’s no use decluttering your scarves only to discover that you’re left with all spring/autumn scarves and have nothing left for really cold weather. So make sure you divide them into these two categories before narrowing the, down so you’re sure to have at least one left for each temperature range. Note, I also had a few scarves that I would consider “summer-weight”, but as I currently live in a place that’s super hot and humid during the summers, that just seemed impractical for me, so I didn’t keep any from that category. Depending on where you live, that third category might be appropriate.

2. Pair them with the outfits you wear during those seasons

If your thickest scarf only matches your favorite spring outfit, get rid of it. When the weather is appropriate to finally wear it but it doesn’t match with any of your winter items, then it will sit in your closet unworn all season. Items have to coordinate (to your personal standards) or you wont feel right wearing it. Of course if matching doesn’t matter to you or you have a mostly capsule wardrobe already, then you can skip this one.

3. Try it on

Is it itchy? Does it stay in place or slip around and get in your way? Is it too bulky under your current coat? Does it actually keep you warm? Does it make you too warm?

4. Rank them by favorite

If at this point you still have too many perfect scarves that haven’t fallen short in any area mentioned above, lay them out in order from your absolute favorite to your least favorite. Tell yourself you have to get rid of one more. You’ll probably know right away which one you just can’t part with. Any others can probably go.

5. Make sure they’re in your color season

Remember that since scarves are worn right up by your face, they are a key item to make sure is within your color season. A scarf outside your color season can make you look washed out — which is especially unflattering since we lose our summer glow during the cold months as it is. A beautiful scarf that brings out your features and makes your skin look radiant can effortlessly brighten your whole appearance.

With these checkpoints, you can narrow down your scarves to only those which are comfortable, practical, and look great on you. You deserve to be warm while looking your best!

As a final tip, here’s some ideas of what to do with the scarves you don’t keep.

1. Donate them to your local women’s shelter. Women’s shelters take all sorts of items from clothes, to hygiene items (shampoo, etc), to clothes and toys for the children who often accompany the women in need. Check with your local shelter to see what they take. That scarf that was perfect but just not your favorite could be someone else’s new favorite!

2. And for the knitters who keep a constant supply of scarves coming in, create your new pieces with those women in mind. Or, knit them for hospital residents. They will take blankets, too, if you’re looking to go beyond scarves. Keep in mind that some hospitals only take new items, so donating your used pieces is best for shelters.

Good luck, stay warm, and happy knitting!

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

No grocery store January

Last year at this time, I had two realizations.

1, I was spending a lot of money on food each week, and 2, I already had a ton of food in my house.

Living alone and shopping for one is not the most economical way to live. Buying in bulk is always cheaper, and cooking larger meals whether to share with more people or to save for leftovers makes way more sense than dirtying dishes for one measly portion.

For those reasons, I always bought in bulk and ended up with a ton of food at home, and I always cooked larger portions than I needed. This resulted in my fridge, freezer, and pantry being packed. Yet I still went grocery shopping every week.

I would often buy a few more of something I already had “just in case” I didn’t have as much as I thought I did. Then I’d get home and realize I now have more than I need.

An obvious solution would have been to make my shopping list while looking through what I already have and seeing what I’m truly lacking. And then sticking to that list once in the store.

But I wasn’t organized enough to do that. And I knew I’d eat it all eventually, so what was the harm in having the pantry a little overstocked?

But with the start of the new year last year, I decided I would do No Grocery Store January, something I made up entirely to suit my needs. Pro tip: you are allowed to make up your own goals and challenges to suit your own needs. (tweet that)

The rules were simple: I wasn’t allowed to go to the grocery store to buy food until I had eaten everything already in my house. I had a bunch of frozen vegetables (not as tasty as fresh, but definitely usable) and an assortment of rice and pasta, etc. I wasn’t eating much meat back then so I didn’t need to buy that to supplement my meals. And heaven knows I didn’t need more snacks or desserts.

I was surprised how long the food I had lasted. I made big casseroles that lasted a few days, and used things I had bought “to try something new” that I had been putting off for months. Although I set out to last all of January, part of me wondered if all my food would only last a week or two. But I had way more than I thought, and it lasted all month.

It felt so good by the end to have an empty fridge and freezer, and a mostly empty pantry. And it felt great to go grocery shopping in February and fill my kitchen with new things, starting from a clean slate.

The experience taught me just how far food goes, that my fear of running out of some “crucial” ingredient was unfounded, and that there is no need to overstock “just in case”.

I still have tendencies to buy in bulk to save money, but I try and buy less overall quantity each visit, and instead make more frequent trips to the store. That way I can buy only a few fresh vegetables and fruits, and then buy more once those are gone.

Stock up on rice this week, and stock up on pasta a few weeks after that. I don’t need a mountain of both in my pantry. Buy apples one week, pears the next. Buy only one kind of juice at a time.

The fear of not having enough options can be surprisingly strong. It’s why we buy the same sweater in three different colors, or why we are hesitant to commit to a job or a relationship. I didn’t realize that it extends to food as well.

These days I have fewer food options at home now, and I am surviving just fine. What areas of your life could benefit from minimizing your options?

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

You don’t need 15 candles

With the holidays in our midst, I know many of our homes are looking extra clutter— I mean festive.

You have stockings hung, garlands draped, and trees skirted. Presents everywhere, and wrapping paper everywhere else. Food. All the food.

And maybe a candle or two. Or three, on the mantle. And one in the kitchen. It smells like sugar cookies, yum. Then there’s the cranberry-pine scented one by the tree, just to give it that little extra zoosh.

After the holidays are over you’ll put away the snowman candle collection and bring back out your basic floral and perfumy, year-round candles. The linen scented one for the bathroom. The sexy one on your nightstand. The expensive one that was a gift, which you reserve only for when the girls are over for wine night.

Yeah. Girl, same. I’ve got one that smells exactly like lemon bars and it’s the yummiest thing ever. That one’s in my kitchen.

But let me tell you. You do not need 15 candles. Dare I say it, you do not even need 10 candles. Maybe five. Maybe. (How big is your house?) (tweet that)

Candles have definitely been a weakness of mine for years now, but it’s something I’ve really tried to stop in the last year or so. Once I finish the ones I have now, I can buy more. But until then, I do not need any more candles. And most likely, neither do you. I’m here to support you, ladies (and gentlemen). Be strong. We can do this.

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

When Christmas Perfection leads to overwhelm

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, and also the most everything time of the year.

It’s the time to eat the most cookies and desserts you’ve had all year.

It’s the time to cook the most elaborate meal you’ve made all year.

It’s the time to get out all the fancy china, with way too many pieces of silverware and all the special serving spoons and butter knives and gravy boats and snowman spatulas, and on and on and on.

(When really your normal set of dishes and cutlery would do.)

You don’t need all those things and all those desserts and all those Christmas cards to write— but yet we write them.

And we stress because we waited too long and now they might not make it in time for Christmas. And the presents still aren’t wrapped and…

You might feel overwhelmed. Honestly I’m not partaking in any of the above (except the eating desserts) but I got overwhelmed just now typing it all out.

It’s not your normal. It’s no one’s normal. So it’s completely okay to feel overwhelmed this time of year. Don’t feel guilty or like you’re just not able to handle it like everyone else is.

They can’t handle it either. Everyone is pushing extra hard this month to get everything done and to make things just perfect.

But I think that’s one of the big flaws. This idea of Christmas Perfection. Maybe it’s how we saw our own parents handle the holidays, where everything seemed so effortless because we were kids and didn’t know the half of it. Or maybe it’s to live up to some Instagram expectation that’s now become our standard.

Whatever it is, this idea isn’t sustainable, and it’s hardly attainable. (tweet that)

We exhaust ourselves by making sure the appetizers are perfectly spaced on the tray, while looking over our shoulder to make sure the right wines are being paired with the right cheeses.

It’s too much.

What if we did Christmas a different way this year? What if we minimized all the plates and little spoons. What if we only made our favorite few dishes and really savored them. What if we only bought half the Christmas gifts and didn’t send out any cards.

What would that Christmas look like? Would it look like a Pinterest fail, or would it actually look a lot closer to how we remember Christmases feeling when we were kids? Carefree, fun, and memorable.

Would we have more time to sit down, and admire our favorite few Christmas decorations we put out this year? Would we engage more directly with those around us, instead of worrying about a half-hearted card in the mail? Maybe we would pick up the phone and call the few people we actually think about on Christmas. Or, maybe we’d have more time to think of more people.

What is your idea of Christmas Perfection? Is it something you can post on Instagram? Or is it something you have to be there to feel? Something only those around you can experience together?

Whatever it is, I wish you a lovely Christmas. And I wish you peace. Peace of mind and peace within yourself. I wish you a slow pace and a happy heart. And lots and lots of dessert.

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

Should I buy a Halloween costume I’ll only wear once? | Ask LFB

Hey Brianna,

With Halloween coming up, I was just thinking about the different parties and events, and it seems like you have to buy all this stuff to really have fun. Costumes and all the accessories it might need, plus sometimes face paint or other special hair/makeup stuff. How does an aspiring minimalist handle this holiday when I know I’ll never use this stuff after October 31?

—Amber

Welcome to the LFB fam, Amber!

Halloween can be so much fun once you find (or make) the perfect costume! But, you’re right – what about after Halloween? Do you shove the costume in your closet, knowing full well you wont wear it again? Do you keep the special makeup in with your daily makeup, as a constant reminder of its uselessness in your life now?

Let me ask you this: are you looking forward to this costume party? Do you see yourself having fun? If you could take it or leave it, then I’d say either skip dressing up, or skip the event all together. But, if you know it will be a blast, then go for it! Go all out! And donate the costume and whatever else you acquire to your local thrift store on November 1st.

There’s nothing wrong with buying something that serves a purpose. Even if it’s a short-lived purpose. (tweet that)

If money is an issue, see if you can DIY something together using what you already have, or buy something for the costume that you can see yourself also using afterwards. Or, ask a friend if you can borrow a costumes from a few years ago (chances are they still have some in their closet!)

Remember that the definition of minimalism (that LFB likes to use) is “everything you need and nothing more”. So, if you need something for a special event, be it Halloween or a wedding, or accompanying your friend to a religious service, or a vacation in a different climate, go ahead and buy what you need.

Hope this helped, Amber. Happy Halloween!

Brianna

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.