5 Easy Tips for Simple Christmas Decor

Here’s some pics from my home last year (I’m a year late…shrug).

1. Use what you have

A guiding principle of simple is to leverage what you have on hand. For me it is fallen things in the yard (pinecones and branches). Beautiful paper (old calendars and last year’s holiday cards) plus some flea market finds (metal letters, pedistal dish).



2. Work with techniques you enjoy

I can’t say I’m great with origami or paper arts, but I absolutely love the simplicity of paper. I also love anyting I can clean up with a vacuum. Here’s a tree-folding technique I’ll probably do again this year. Looks great with newspaper or pages from an old book (that would otherwise be thrown away). Window displays at Anthropologie and Light by Coco have been big inspirations.

3. Falalalala Fragrance!

The natural kind. Here’s a pot of clipping from the garden center. So wonderfully smelly! Very inexpensive too ($4-6). Place in water, lasts for weeks.

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Love these colors! #holidaypalette

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4. Hang things from the ceiling

This mobile created from a branch, paper trees and thread is very light. The placement above the table gives it more visual emphasis.  Anything in your home that creates shadows and movement will change throughout the day. Such an easy way to add interest.

5. Fill your space with music

Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra, Jingle Bells


José Feliciano, Feliz Navidad


Lou Rawls

Day 20—Even more personal care clutter!

Nothing wrong with this batch. It’s all just stuff I have too much of. I want less of this! Less stuff evolves into more thinking space. That’s the catch 22. The more you’re able to say “this could be useful if …” The more you will actually never use that thing. This is because there’s too much of it. It’s either overwhelming (so you just spend your time Netflix watching), or you have too many things to manage so you never remember you were saving it when (and if) the moment actually pops up! That’s the catch. You actually have to get rid of it to need it. At least this has been my experience. And that’s ok. I’m ok with this because I’ve made peace with this. It is a necessary part of the balance to the clutter situation.

5 things are
• John Masters sea mist (highly recommend travel staple
• Shampoo
• Face mist
• Makeup sponges
• Contact lens case

5 Things Gone—Practice Art

Not all art is sacred. Not all artists are born with talent, either. Therefore, practice art! Today’s purged stuff dates back to 1992-1998. I can’t say my newer art is light years ahead, but at least I know it’s time to let go of these very important (to my development) practice pieces.


5 pieces of practice art gone today!

  1. Practice painting, lady
  2. Practice painting, fruit/still life
  3. Practice painting, dream scene
  4. Practice pad #1
  5. Practice pad #2 (Referencing my definition that a “thing” is a decision (every decision to toss equals one thing) this pad might count as 30 decisions (the number of sketches I flipped through, and decided to discard).

Have a nice day, everyone! I’ll see you tomorrow for day #20 of my November Pact to Purge

Minimizing. Day 17—discovering a smarter laundry strategy.

That’s what lazy people do, right? We sit around and think about different ways to do things.

All of today’s items are duplicates. Regarding the two little towels, I have this idea that if I reduce my volume of clothes and linens, I won’t need to do so much sorting and thinking. That is the part of laundry I hate the most! Who wants to think about details of laundry? Yuck! Just do it. Shove all the towels in one load and be done with it. If I edit my collection to be one load/week and only things that can all go in one load together (same temp, same color) then that sounds pretty sweet to me!


Today’s purged five are (it’s Monday, I went easy, just five items).

  1. Broken cooking thermometer
  2. Duplicate steak thermometer #1
  3. Duplicate steak thermometer #2
  4. Face cloth
  5. Hand towl

Day 13, storage purge (essential vs. excess)

Yesterday I came across Thrive With Less. The documentary, by a group of college students, who give themselves challenges to live with less (for example fewer clothes, less driving, no eating out). During their clearing process one gal used the criteria essential vs. excess. Just two criteria to think about when discarding. Just hearing it feels simple and reassuring. I feel calmer imagining my goal as living in a home with more essential, less excessive.

Excessive is one way to describe my basement storage area of kitchen things. Though, before hearing these terms, I might have described the contents as essential. It is practical in that it holds what feels essential, but only for special occasions (serving platters, cake stand, enormous stock pot). I guess that doesn’t sound very essential.

Today my five items come from this storage closet, but this time (unlike cow creamer) I really am getting them out of the house. I never use these things. It is still challenging to let go. I’m hopeful (fairly confident even) that once they all leave the house, I will feel relief and freedom.


Today’s items I’m getting rid of (Nov 13)

  1. Popcorn popper—I’ve hung on to this for so long because it’s really cool! It works great, I bought it for cheap. However, I never use it. I try not to use the microwave. I need to cut this.
  2. Muffin baking dish—Again, super cool clay baker. I used it once two years ago (I’ve had it for 10). I used it because I was trying to prove to myself why I needed to keep it.
  3. Jelly glass—Such a great shape! Plus it was free. We have far too many glasses. Goodbye.
  4. Silicone ice/cube or baking trays—used once. Had high hopes for these. But, found the whole process really awkward.
  5. Oven mitt—This is another wonderful reason to decide to minimize. It forces you to assess your stuff. This thing was hanging on a hook near the stove. I can’t remember the last time I used it. Look at it! The tip is all gross and deteriorated. I can’t donate this. I’m trashing it. I was hanging on to garbage and I didn’t even know it!

I’m realizing that writing here and confronting myself (and my thought process) really helps me to see things with more clarity. I’m feeling better about letting go of these things already!

What’s this all about? November pact to purge

I rest my case (Ughhh! Not for 18 more days.)

Today marks day 12 of my November pact to minimize. Basically it sucks! And, it is amazing. But, it really does pretty much suck and I can’t wait to push through this. To date I’ve gotten rid of 430+ items (just this month).


Every day I feel free and accomplished and motivated. Then I get home and suddenly I’m grumpy. The second I decide I’m going to cop out I miraculously get hit with a eureka moment and find something else I’m willing to get rid of. Then I feel guilty and doubtful. Then I remind myself I don’t need 20 blankets or 30 pillowcases. I move forth with my choice to liberate and I feel free. I feel like I’m in control and my newly edited house of things is here to serve me. That’s when the jaw drop happens. At this moment I realize most of what I’ve been struggling with is the feeling of obligation. Getting rid of things doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate things. It took me a while to grasp that. What I’m feeling is that I do greatly appreciate things. I’m just not putting things on a pedestal. Me, my husband, our cat, our friends. Me having a space to get arty. Us having room to get comfy and relax together. It’s pretty cool to be here.

5 things I got rid of today, Nov 12 

  1. Waffled and piped pillowcase
  2. Flannel pillowcase
  3. Home made pillowcase
  4. Quilted sham
  5. Pair of squiggle-flower Euro-shams

5 Things Gone (plus 9 more!)—Nov 6


November 6 — Five 14 things I got rid of today (and why)

  1. Old powders (3)
  2. Unused brushes (4)
  3. Expired blemish stick (1)
  4. Eye and lip pencils (5)
  5. Sharpener (1)

Everything was either old, expired or just not used. The artist in me loves makeup! I just rarely have the interest in spending more than 2 minutes in front of the mirror. This purge has me pretty excited. The things I’m keeping just feel that much better!

What’s this all about? Check out my November pact to purge

5 Things Gone—Nov 5


November 5 — Five things I got rid of today (and why)

  1. My Fair Lady (been meaning to watch this for 10 years and still haven’t)
  2. Funny Face (can find it streaming if I need to see again)
  3. Sabrina (also been meaning to watch this for 10 years and still haven’t)
  4. Roman Holiday (Seen plenty! So beautiful.  Regarding all these movies, and minimizing in general, one thing I’m learning is to disassociate “love” and “need to own”. It sounds odd when dissected that way. I’m pretty convinced that’s exactly what is going on inside me when I shop.
  5. Best In Show (had good laughs with this, but that doesn’t mean I want to own it)

I’d like to thank technology and the convenience of streaming for today’s purge.

Here’s my November pact to purge

Minimizing Project—30 Days of Consecutive Clutter Removal

With a name like Shiz I Bought Today, is it any wonder this lifestyle needed a shift? I have too much stuff. See garage picks below (I had help from an awesome Boston-based home organizer, Morganized). It was just what I needed to take the ball and run.


I’ll get into the feelings about that process (and how I came to terms with my relationship with stuff) at some future time.

For now I’d like to kick off my November project, getting rid of, at least, five things every day for the entire month of November.

Care to join me?

Check out the progress

Addiction, The Sweet Side

I’m a sugar addict. I know, the truth is bananas! It’s a scary truth, but orange ya glad to unpeel these issues? That’s why I’m raisin it up. We’re all faced with sugar every single day! Every one of us. How do we live with it? How do we live without it :(


This is how I know I’m a sugar addict

  • I gave it up cold turkey and immediately lost 5 lbs
  • Consuming zero foods with zero added sweetener meant my appetite regulated. I wasn’t chronically famished. I ate normal servings.
  • Within two weeks I lost 10lbs!
  • I was still eating A LOT of food, just nothing packaged or with sugar added to it (I still ate a ton of cheese, I ate fats, just not added sugars).
  • When I do eat it, it’s all I want. My lowest point is binge shopping at Whole Foods for tiramisu, whoopi pies, ice cream and Lake Champlain chocolates.
  • I was doing ok. I was eating some good quality chocolates here and there. I thought I could handle myself, then Girl Scout Cookie season hit.
  • I’ve gained 6lbs since those Girl Scouts started selling again. Primary cause for alarm is that I’m exercising more, and the second I start consuming the sugar, fructose, honey, agave, dextrose (and whatever other scariness is in those Girl Scouts’ cookies) the weight just jumps back on. Because eating those foods means I can’t stop eating. Period. I can consume 3,000 calories/day and still want more.
  • Because I CAN’T STOP! Eating processed foods and added sugar really does screw with my brain and my body.
  • When I don’t eat the sugar, I feel fine. I feel regular, balanced, nourished.
  • It will be a lifelong struggle.
  • Thanks to my natural, mother-nature grown friends in the photo up top.
  • Thanks to my parents for being health-food nuts in the 70s (although, this be the reason my adult body can’t handle the sugar).

Travel Essentials, Part 2

Travel Essentials, Part 2

The lighter the bag, the greater the freedom!

This was taken towards the end of 10 days in Spain (fall 2013). Other than bringing 5 pairs of shoes, I was pretty happy with how minimalist I was able to get. I highly recommend reading other travel blogs and watching YouTube videos on packing/traveling. There’s a lot of great tips out there. (Here are two good ones to start with: How to Pack for a Year Long Trip: Minimalism for Women, PhotoEx trip to London & Paris)

As an add-on to 8 Travel Essentials, here’s are three new travel tips — Tried and true! (mostly about bags and shoes).

  1. Neutral palette with the the clothes. Colorful with the accessories. Keep in mind, neutral can mean a few things. It can mean beige, white, black (as I’ve done) or it can mean brighter combos like corals, navy and yellow! The idea is any top, jacket, pant and skirt can go with anything else. It makes getting dressed so easy. It also really helps with the overwhelming first question to packing “what should I bring?”
  2. Bring 4 Bags. The cluster is shown in above pic, top left. The breakdown is:
    1. Carry on wheely bag—for gettin’ there.
    2. Back pack Everlane.com —for hiking around. Such as an all day hike from old-city to Sangrita Familia, up to Parq Guell and back.IMG_1011
    3. Satchel—for an afternoon out. Just the right size to carry: travel book, wallet, camera, sunglasses and thin sweater. It is hot and humid, but I’m happy! I feel the freedom. (I’m not knocking down priceless artifacts with a clunky backpack either).IMG_0804
    4. Mini bag/wallet. Worn cross body and under jacket. Barcelona crowds can get thick! And, just before the trip I came across the documentary of Bob Arno and a group of professional pickpockets in Naples, Itatly. Watch it. Good general awareness tips.

My mini bag/wallet.

Also of note: My mini bag/wallet has a removable strap for converting into true wallet for use with another bag. See how it can play with satchel so well! This is what was going on in that museum shot a couple pics up. Thus, the happy dazed look ;)


3. The multi-purpose wardrobe. That black tank dress (first photo) can be simple on the beach, breathable for a hike, classic enough for an evening meal. The long-hoodie sweatshirt can be used as a robe, a jacket, and a sleeping cocoon on the plane.

Here’s some shoes that are great for walking, from beaches to cobblestone streets.


I hope you find this helpful. I relied on the power of the internet to get this far with my travel-supply strategy, so wanted to pay my lessons forward. Hardest part to get over, the what-iffing! Don’t do that when you pack. Just don’t. You’ll thank yourself. Also of note. Most expert packers pack very few clothes. All can be sink washed (with Dr. Bronner’s for example) and dried within a few hours.

Christmas, pics from around home

Wrap—I like seeing how far I can get without spending any money on the wrap. It helps if you collect things like old paper, ribbons and doodads.


In the last few years I’ve got into rubber stamping. It turns out basic black ink is my favorite.

Wrapping I try to avoid the obituary section for gift wrap (just a tip). This colorful one uses a shot from the Travel section! It’s tied with butcher string, (trendy and cheap).Wrapping

Pretty things—Big paper star with LED bulb (nightlight LEDs $3ish, Amazon). The branch is winterberry.


Fireplace—Jars! and bobbles and lights, oh my! I made a sparkly focal point. I stare at it all the time.


Tree—It’s a fake, but I still wish it had that one quirky branch poking out somewhere. It leans a little cuz I’m using an umbrella stand instead of the stand it came with. At least it fits in that big galvanized bucket! It was in the shed waiting to be filled with beer all summer.

DSCF6365Santa—Fluffy eyebrows and a bell in his hand

Santa Wreath

Waiting—Chocolate! Inside every one of those old jewelry boxes


Nesting on Main

I had my HS reunion today. It was sweet. Only way it could have been better is if more alumns showed. Catching up was fun. Time goes by so fast. I detoured through the Concord Center on my way home. I used to spend time there way back in the early ’90s. This time, mission to browse Nesting on Main (discovered here, on Shiz, via co-blogger C!). Worth it! Gorgeous store. Theme is that of the seashell hunt. At least, that was how I felt at every turn. I was a beach comber! Could have stayed there for hours.

Bingo digits.

As a nod of gratitude to my blog mate, a puzzle. Can she crack the code?20120721-202231.jpg

Lofty welcome.

Fab, Faulty

I’ve posted before about Core and their 60%+ discounts and been very happy with the measurement-embossed cut boards I found at a great price.

Bu’uuuhhttt . . .

This latest shipment was bunk! I paid $28 for a $90 lazy-susan, moveable-partition chip’n’dip! And another $28 for a $70 platter. What a deal right? Nah. These things is crap. Chip’n’ dip has a gluey-splintery construction (photo doesn’t really show the mess, but you get the idea). Tiered plate has poor construction and really can’t be assembled to spec.

And I’m curious about safety . . . both radiate some real stink! Toxic varnish or glue odor. Whatever. Main point, I call BS on Core’s pricing. More product info on two-tiered plate and chip’n’dip on Amazon.

Reasonable results

Fab did step up and agree to take my items back. Ok Fab, I’m coming around again. I guess I’ve just been putting a lot of pressure on you to always amaze me.


Fresh vegetables are so delicious they cause my brain to internally shout profanities. This is my first summer with a farm share.


  • Scheduled pick ups of healthy food
  • Limited decision making (you get what Mother Nature created as seasonal)
  • Outdoor time (pick-your-own herbs like cilantro, parsely, basil and dill) plus other crops like beans, sugar snap peas . . .
  • Explosive flavors! Old veggies need cheese. Fresh veggies need a little oil, vinegar and maybe mustard! just a touch tho.


  • Gotta keep up! Only getting a taste of the overwhelm factor. Which can quickly be turned to a pro if you’ve got friends to share your surplus with

Desk Week Day 5-Daily Notebook


Leather spiral-bound work journal (originally featured in Desk Week Day 2 – Pens) . I’m finally logging what I do everyday. Now when I wonder, what have I been doing with all my time?, I’ll have a reference and I’ll know. I use the iPad for planning. I still think the mechanics of writing make a beneficial brain exercise, so this journal also provides a way to keep up with that too. I found this one at Paper Source.


Desk Week Day 4-Office Caddy


Sometimes you just want to plunk down in front of the TV to pay bills or write that letter to Grandma. This wooden caddy from Crate & Barrel (designed for cutlery) make the perfect portable desk drawer. I’ve filled mine with pens, markers note cards, a stapler, stamps, and security envelopes. Put on that House Hunters marathon and write your Grandma an Easter card (shucks! I should’ve taken my advice two nights ago.)

Desk Week Day 3-Business Cards

Moo’ve over flimsy paper! I love Moo.com Again, it’s that tactile thing. They make the best self-promotion items. You can upload your own designs, or choose from any of theirs. They have gorgeous choices! The stock feels good enough to never let go of. My first batch was the Green paper they offer. My second the ultra premium (show in that big image below). All in all, both wins with their sharp packaging, not so much with the premium cards though. Seems nice for a card coupon or voucher, and largely overkill for a business card. Being pretty thick with no flex means it’s gonna be a bit high maintenance to whomever’s wallet it ends up in—not always a good thing.

Pretty packaging

Desk Week Day 2-Pens

Pens are fun! Especially felt tips in varying weights. I bought a multi pack with tip types: 01, 03, 05. It’s awesome! I doodle fat, I doodle fine. After that initial break-in period I recall another purchase and I doodle in color too! Now I run errands with 15 pens in my purse! Just in the name of being prepared for creative whims or something. It sucks, but it’s a nice problem to have.


Desk Week Day 1-Paper & Notes

In honor of my new job (starts today!), this week is dedicated to office supplies; pretty ones. Ones you just have to get your hands on. Today is about paper as decor. Here are some fun clearance finds from Anthropologie this post holiday season. I couldn’t resist the embossed textures. Displayed below are gift tags, note cards, and wrapping paper. I have the cards perched with other trinkets on my mantel. I use the pretty paper to cover the back of my open media shelves; it hides ugly cords, while allowing accent light to pass through . . . you know, for mood.



Yogurt: let your tummy do the thinking!

I’ve experimented with a variety of diet types. But the most interesting discoveries happened after I read a digestion book, did a gallbladder/liver cleanse and focused on eating the least processed of foods.

The most amazing part was how inexpensive my grocery bill became! I cut out processed sugar, alcohol and coffee while increasing my  consumption of fiber in things like brown rice and kale (both very inexpensive). Suddenly I was never starving. I’d get hungry at normal meal times, but it was a slow and gradual occurrence. Not the crazy-ravenous-monster-attitude with unstoppable-stomach growling like before. With that time came an interest in expensive yogurts like Siggi’s. It is expensive when you compare the volume with other yogurts. It is not expensive when you realize how little of it you’ll need to consume. I use the drinkable stuff over fruit and cereal. If you don’t feel well in general, or have new allergies, learn the digestive system.

The ancient Egyptians believed that’s where all thought and mood stemmed from. When I was a kid I thought that was the funniest thing I ever heard! Now I think it is one of the most insightful.

Pictures in Chocolate

This is the kind of thing you come up with when you stay up ’til 2am.

I was sitting in my work room, annoyed with my computer. Waiting…. waiting…. waiting. Became focused on all my clutter, so I started thinking about how I should motivate myself to organize. I picked up the empty chocolates box I saved, cuz I found it potentially useful. Then, I thought about those square Hipsta photos in the other room, also just lying around. Eureka and voila! My pictures find a home, while some of my clutter finds purpose.

Nesting Stoneware

Izmir Measuring Cups, Anthropologie. Ornamental and functional these cups are beautiful enough to have just lying around, no need to actually use them. HOWEVER, you should use them because they’re delightfully handy. I admire them for their ongoing visual appeal and usefulness. They nest for easy storage, have cute pinch spouts, markings for measuring and each is a different color and design. I use them for serving nuts and olives—I get to feel fancy without putting in the effort. (The tiniest one is for the pits.) They’d also make for perfect bathroom or dresser accessories.

I never did get to have a set of those nesting Russian dolls when I was a kid, but having these seems to have filled that void.