Thursday, September 2, 2010

Buy Less Spend More

I read two very different (library) books this week that essentially had the same message: consume less, but spend more on what you buy.

The first book was How to Have Style by Isaac Mizrahi. I picked it up because I was getting ready to aggressively sort through my wardrobe and I wanted a little guidance on what to keep. The book was great and I highly recommend it, even if you are not decluttering. The message that stuck with me the most was that we should train ourselves to purchase fewer clothes but to choose better quality items to buy. While working through my closet, I reflected on my own shopping habits. I balk at spending $100 for one article of clothing, but I don't hesitate to spend $30-40 each on a handful of items. As a result, I have plenty of clothes that I like, but very few that I love. Ultimately, I spend more on the handfull of okay things than I would have spent on the one wonderful piece. I am probably not alone in this habit, because I know plenty of ladies who have a huge number of clothes, but never seem to have the perfect thing to wear.
My shopping diet is ending, so I have a new strategy: when I shop, I will limit myself to two purchases, and no more than one pair of shoes, item of clothing, or accessory at a time. I can always go back later, but the two item limit will help me focus on finding the one item I love most and leaving the "likes" for another Clutterella.
The second book, French Women Don't Get Fat, by Mirelle Guiliano, was a sort of "eat well for life" diet book. I love these kinds of books because the emphasis is on making small changes you can maintain forever, instead of herding you onto some crazy wagon you are sure to fall off of. The author is a French woman who now lives in New York, and has experienced the eating habits of both cultures. The idea is to eat only the freshest, highest quality food, in moderate quantities. Imagine the pleasure that comes from a really special meal contrasted with the guilt that comes from something greasy that you scarf down while driving! Similarly, not even the most delicious food tastes good when you are too stuffed to really enjoy it. Mme Guiliano also encourages us to eat plenty of seasonal vegetables, make homemade soup a frequent evening meal, and enjoy a glass of wine to enhance the experience. Et voila, the French secret to staying slim is only common sense, ne c'est pas? (And there you have it, all of the French I know in one sentence!).
My first step toward this type of diet was to change my chocolate habits. I bought a bar of high end, high coaco dark chocolate. I found that an ounce, at about 100 calories, is much more satisfying than a fudge popsicle (also around 100 calories). Even better, the dark chocolate has benefits for both the cardiovascular and nervous systems and lacks the high fructose corn syrup and xantham gum found in the popsicle.

I have had a busy couple of weeks- an unexpected major home repair, a sick pet than had to be put down, and a lovely weekend cruise to the Bahamas (where Mme. Guiliano's advice came very much in handy). My decluttering momentum was starting to wane, so I decided to do a quick project: the linen closet.
You will notice that this closet is pretty tiny and not that full, so it was a perfect place for a quick fix.

A bunch of disperate, non-linen items were crowded together with a pile of dust-collecting floastam at the bottom. The basket holds extra light bulbs, the lamp has been there for at least 4 years, and there is a bottle of liquid plumber just waiting to spill and ruin the floor. Lots of pet hair completes the look.

I took everything out of the closet to start. The liquid plummer was moved into the bathroom where it can sit on a tile floor next to the tub, the lamp went to the Hospice Attic thrift store, and the towels were organized into bath, beach, hand and washcloth and separated accordingly. The middle shelf holds light bulbs, paper products, and a basket of extra shampoo and toilerties (only things I really use). The bottom of the closet holds a bulk package of TP and two baskets I hope to find a use for within 3 months- otherwise they will join the lamp at Hospice Attic.
I also found that the Universe rewards Those Who Donate- while taking items to Hospice Attic, I saw a really beautiful, simple leather handbag on a rack. When I went to look closer, I found out it was Prada and priced at $18.99. Now I have my first Prada purse and I didn't have to live on Ramen for two weeks to get it (Mme Guiliano would not approve of that anyway). More on thrift store shopping soon!

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