Sunday, September 30, 2018

What Inspires Me

I have been meaning to make this post for months.   I like to share with those who know me why I'm making certain choices and decisions.  At the same time I'm afraid to put this out there, because, let's be real it's a bit of fluff.  Nothing too serious.



W H I T E

In the past few years I have been on a journey to discover what catches my attention and inspires me and then having the goal of inviting more of that into my life and doing more of just that.
Of all the beautiful things, it's crisp whites that I love most.  It's my favourite color.

I like wearing white.  
I like seeing it in home decor, art and architecture.
But inviting this color into my life has not been easy.  A few years back I already wrote about this trouble.  (Article linked here.)

When I create something or take photos, my creations often lack the crisp white aesthetic that inspires me in other people's work.
Why can't I create with the aesthetic I enjoy?
Why are my creations always so much busier, brown and green?

-When I think about what I like to wear on my body, I envision dressing myself in a lot of quality white clothing.  I like how white looks on my, how it looks with my skin tone and hair and how it overall makes me look healthier.  But the reality is, that I own just a few nice white things and when I look to make a new purchase (thrifting or buying new), finding quality white garments out of natural fibers is difficult.
It is easier for me to just grab the standard colors that I don't mind wearing: dark navy blue, black, wine red and olive green.  They are also easier to keep clean and to care for.  At the same time, life's too short not to wear what you like. 🙃 

-When it comes to my home, I'm working with rental apartments.  There is only so much I can do to the look and feel of a place.  What I can control are my own things.  I can curate my belongings and I will have to practice restraint when purchasing new items that come into our home.

I'm also not living on my own, so I will have to make decisions regarding our belongings together with my husband.

I'm contemplating if I should actively work on bringing more light, bright, white things into my life.  I have no intention of rushing things and I have the intention to procure items that are as much for practical use as they are for visual pleasure.  Maybe once a month I could create something white, paint something white, or look to purchase something white.

Links to things that inspire my love of white:
˃˃˃ DEARLY BETHANY:  youtube & instagram
˃˃˃ STUDIO MCGEE: website & instagram
˃˃˃ FARMHOUSE ON BOONE: website & instagram


N A T U R A L   &   P L A S T I C   F R E E

Some of you may know that I'm passionate about simple, slow and sustainable living.  In the past few years I slowly implemented lifestyle changes with those goals in mind.  I started the zero waste community SLC Zero Waste, I researched and read a lot of books about sustainable living.  I'd like to share some of the special books that I read this year.
My first recommendation is Deborah Eden Tull's book The Natural Kitchen.  This little book was lend to me be someone at work that I don't know very well.  I remember Kira handing it to me and saying, "You strike me as someone who would really enjoy reading it."  She was right.  The book eloquently presented ways to go about sustainability issues that were new to me and it reaffirmed thoughts that I was never able to articulate that well in a conversation!  This book is a gentle guide to sustainability, teaching that everything is connected and that mindfulness is important to achieve long-term sustainability, rather than convenience and short-sightedness.



















Another summer read of mine was Renée Loux's Easy Green Living.  Even as a conscientious consumer, obsessive zero waster, and environmental advocate, it was not until reading this book that I realized how much more plastic is is hiding in plain sight in so many areas of my life.  It's quite shocking to realize this and then begin to understand what consequences it can have for my health and the well being of the planet.

As an asthmatic VOC's from plastic materials should have been on my radar to improve indoor air quality, but I did not understand the scope of the problem before reading this book.  Now, I'm looking to make changes in a slow and responsible manner: phasing out plastics when old things break or become obsolete and for new purchases I like to avoid plastics whenever possible and opt for natural materials instead.

Shortlist of my 2018 book recommendations:
˃˃˃ THE NATURAL KITCHEN by Deborah Eden Tull
˃˃˃ EASY GREEN LIVING by Renée Loux
˃˃˃ LIFE WITHOUT PLASTIC by Ja Sinha and Chantal Plamondon
˃˃˃ SOULFUL SIMPLICITY by Courtney Carver


L O N G E V I T Y    &   C U R A T I O N

This next idea of mine is about slow living.  I've been thinking how it would be like to have collections of things that are special, beautiful and loved.  Sentimental items, as opposed to generic, inexpensive basics that are to an extend also disposable.  Generally, I like to keep my belongings pretty minimal.  I'm happier this way.  I'm less irritated and much more contented.

My husband and I edited down our possessions over the last couple of years to the point where we're pleased with what we have and were we aren't actively looking to declutter more.  Sure, some things are in a 'this is perfect for now stage', but mostly we really love the things we have and we're happy with our setup.

In minimalism everyone likes to talk about purging, decluttering and downsizing, but lately I'm thinking how it would be like if more of my belongings were special.  What would it be like to pick up things for real longevity?  I'm thinking about the decluttering of my jewelry box, very few items are truly special to me.  I'm also thinking of how frequently I donate pieces from my closet, while only a handful of pieces are always on rotation.

Now, if I get more in tune with slow living and acquire things for true longevity, will it take longer to find these special pieces?  I like to make a conscious choice that's just right.
I'm not looking to buy a temporary solution that won't be special and will most likely get decluttered at some later time.
Will I start making things on my own?
Will I buy fewer items and, if needed, am I willing to spend more money on quality?

Links to brands whose aesthetic I enjoy:
˃˃˃ SÉZANE: website & instagram
˃˃˃ PAMELA CARD: website & instagram


G R E G O R Y   A L A N   I S A K O V

I like classical music and I love the the rise and big sound of a full orchestra, but I don't always like bluegrass.  Maybe it's this specific singers unique voice or the poetry of his lyrics that sucked me into the sound of these songs.

Also, I'm not usually forthcoming if someone asked me which music I like or if they could put on some songs I enjoy.  Usually, I don't feel comfortable playing playing the songs I enjoy for a crowd.  I know it annoys people that ask what music (or if I like any music at all) and it frustrates my husband.  I definitely go through through phases of listening to music and enjoying silence, getting sick of songs or artists, discovering new music or rediscovering old favorites.  




A D V E N T U R I N G

I'm happiest when I'm feeling well and when I'm actively learning and exploring.  I get excited about traveling or even going on mini day or weekend adventures in the area where I live.  I love a national and state parks and have been to quite a few of them in the past few years.  I like exploring new cities too but for me, nature is where it's at.

And you really never know about all the cool places until you go out into nature or to a new location.  I don't get to adventure as much as I like because we don't have the time or money to do so.  To adventure more and further away from where I currently live seems largely irresponsibly in this season in my life.  To me and my husband it is important to make responsible financial choices.  Having fun on credit is not an option for us.

At the moment we enjoy travel Youtube channels that explore nature all over the US.  These videos might show some places I've been before, but most of the time, I get to learn about different parts of the country and what adventures are to be had there.

Links to adventurer's I like to follow:
˃˃˃ KEEP YOUR DAYDREAM: YouTube
˃˃˃ LESS JUNK, MORE JOURNEY: YouTube


HappySunday♡ Nina

Monday, February 26, 2018

2018 Winter Capsule Wardrobe + Closet Tour

I've learned so much form this capsule challenge already that I continue to dress this way.  This is my winter capsule, the way I build it, every piece that went in it and why I might part with some items.

Each time I finish a capsule season, I return with more clarity and contentedness.
I started capsule dressing for emotional clarity and to put and end to negative self talk. You know how that goes: "I have nothing to wear, nothing looks good, nothing feels good...I'm probably too fat or not pretty enough to wear this." 
But by having a select number of items I'm able to have a good look at item and over time pair down my collection of clothes to things that are comfortable to wear and make me feel good. 

I realized that for me Project 333 is not a quick fix to a tidy closet.  It's not my intention to be a fashion plate in the end, but feeling whole, healthy and beautiful while being financially and environmentally responsible.  This will be a journey for sure and right now I'm having fun documenting it! 

-With my first capsule I was able to create a decision free closet by choosing to wear only my very favourite pieces that I owned at that time.
-Next, correct fit and comfort took priority.
-Eventually, only my favourite colors and pattern were allowed to stay and I was much happier.
-In my second year of capsule dressing, I made an effort to source new items second hand or from sustainable brands.
-I also discovered my preference for natural fibre clothing. It was those pieces that I kept wearing the most because they felt good on my skin.  Then I learned about toxins in certain fabrics and the microfibre pollution from synthetic clothes.  I will now think about the fabric when I purchase clothing.
-I know that I learn more with each capsule season and that I understand what I need. 

This video shows how I set up my capsule, how I select clothes from my belongings and how I store away the rest.



The second video shows all the items that I selected for my winter capsule and I share some reflection of four items that were not successful this capsule season.



I'm not sure what I'll learn next.  At the moment I have fewer wishes for new clothes because I'm doing well with what I have, but I do feel a shift coming.
I see the value and beauty in natural fibre clothing and I have been more interested in building an outfit rather then just throwing on clothes.
I feel like I can be more creative because I have fewer problem pieces and more items that I just love 100%.  Maybe the shift will be learning to put together an outfit.  It could be my style going from plain and boring to a way of dressing that's simple but also beautiful.  One can only hope.

Regardless of my aspirations, here's my winter selection:

JACKETS (4)
1 - black peacoat
2 - olive green parker
3 - grey heated vest
4 - navy blue blazer

SHORT SLEEVE TOPS (1)
5 - white/blue striped shirt

LONG SLEEVE TOPS (10)
6 - black mockneck shirt
7 - red mockneck shirt 
8 - red buffalo check peplum flannel
9 - navy blue v-neck sweater
10 - flowy navy cardigan
11 - dark blue cardigan
12 - chambray button down
13 - navy blue shirt
14 - cream knit sweater
15 - fleece sweater
16 - white mochneck sweater

DRESSES (1)
17 - navy blue pleated dress

BOTTOMS (5)
18 - white jeans
19 - indigo jeans
20 - mid wash mom jeans
21 - black slacks
22 - navy maxi skirt

SHOES (4)
23 - black chunky heel boots
24 - white tennis shoes
25 - black boots NICORA
26 - black lace up heeled boots NICORA

ACCESSORIES (6)
27 - everyday jewelry
28 - sunglasses
29 - black scarf
30 - black beanie
31 - black skinny belt
32 - black gloves
33 - ???

That's it.  What has been your experience with capsule dressing?  What has been the most surprising discovery for you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts if you care to share.  For more information on the concept of capsule dressing, I recommend visiting Courtney Carver's website (linked here). 

I hope you enjoyed having a look around my winter capsule and in my closet!  
See you in Spring!!!

   ♡ Nina

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Vegan Apple Galette

Homemade apple galette 😋

I love anything apples ... apple tarts, turnovers and crumbles!  So naturally I had to try making this recipe when I learned about sweet and savoury galettes last spring (randomly, while watching a house tour on YouTube).  I didn't wanted to use the "so fake it's vegan" store-bought puff pastry and decided to come up with a vegan galette that's as zero waste and from scratch as possible.  I've been working to make a perfect vegan puff pastry recipe ever since.  

Now, many delicious tries later, I'm finally ready to share the recipe.



The dough and the galette is simple to make and the finished product is flaky, light and delicious.  You and any of your tea or dinner guests will love it!

This recipe makes enough pieces of dessert for 4-6 people. 

DOUGH  Ingredients:
  • 8 1/2 oz Flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 stick very cold Vegan Butter; cut into tiny cubes
  • 10-13 Tbsp. cold Almond Milk 

TOPPING  Ingredients:
  • 2 tart Apples; peeled, cored and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
  • juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • a little bit of Vanilla
  • 1/4 cup (Apricot) Jam

Preparation: 
  1. Add all the dry dough ingredients in a bowl with the vegan butter and then combine with a wooden spoon or rubber spatular.  
  2. For the almond milk measurement, first add 10 tablespoons and then add as many tablespoons more as needed so that the dough comes together into a rather dry form.  Depending on the room temperature I use between 10 - 13 tablespoons of almond milk to get a rather dry, firm consistency that’s easily shaped into a ball. 
  3. Let the dough rest and firm up in the refrigerator for at least 30min. For this I recommend placing the smoothly rounded dough into a clean bowl and to cover the bowl with a plate so that the mixture does not dry out.   
  4. Next, it’s best to prep the apple topping while the dough cools in the fridge.  Peel and core the apples and then either cut them into thin slices.  Alternatively, you could use a mandoline slicer to get the apple slices evenly thin.  I had great success with this method because the apples get more flexible and are easier to work with.  Once the apples are cut, place the slices in a medium bowl that hold the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 cup of water and some vanilla. 
  5. Before starting on the dough, I recommend preheating the oven to 450° Fahrenheit.  Then lightly flour a clean part of the kitchen counter and the dough.  Quickly roll out the dough and then fold it once.  Repeat this step three times and then roll it into a square or circular form.  At this point the dough should feel noticeably different and the forming is not as easy because of all the tension. 
  6. Please make sure not to overwork he dough!  Once you have it in the desired shape, prep a baking tray with a good dusting of flour, place the dough on top and then spread a thin layer of apricot jam on top the same way you would add tomato sauce onto a pizza.  It’s nicer and easier to fold the edges of the galette if these are not covered in something sticky. 
  7. Next, fetch the apple slices from the fridge and starting from the outside edge, leaving about an 10cm edge, stagger one apple slice upon another and work in a circle from the outside in.  This will create a pretty ribbon pattern like petals on a flower. 
  8. To fold over the dough, I recommend working to make opposite sites match so that the design of the galette looks symmetrical and pretty.  For this, lightly press down to flatten part of one dough edge and then gently fold it over part of the apples.  Then make the same fold on the opposite side of the galette.  Make folds in this manner until all the edges are folded over. 
  9. Next, I like to brush the whole top of the galette, edge and apple toppings, with a little bit of almond milk.  Make sure the milk does not run off the dough or this part will burn during the baking.  Bake on the middle tray of the oven at 450° Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.  After this time has passed lower the temperature to 375° Fahrenheit and bake for another 20 minutes.  
  10. When you pull the tray out of the oven you might think the apples aren't done enough, but I promise you that they are.  Let the galette cool down for as long as you can stand to let it sit on your kitchen counter.  When you’re ready to serve it, dust it with a little bit of powdered sugar, cut it into pieces with a sharp knife and enjoy your piece of galette with a cup of almond milk, coffee or a nice dairy free ice cream (I’m impartial to vegan maple pecan ice cream from Nada Moo).
SignatureEnd
        Nina

HOW TO MAKE ALMOND MILK  video recipe here!
APRICOT JAM  recipe here!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

My Fall Capsule Wardrobe 2017 + Closet Tour

My fall capsule wardrobe for 2017 has started. 🍂  
The pieces I selected for this season are more then ever about having comfortable fit and being casual in style.  As I’m starting the fall capsule, I’m also celebrating my two year anniversary of dressing with the rules of Project 333.  I can't believe two years have passed already.  I still remember how much I hesitated to make my first capsule.  It seemed such an impossible task.  I'm glad it wasn't and I'm grateful for all I'm learning from my ongoing experiment.

Now I like each capsule a little bit more and I quite enjoy creating new seasonal ones.



For me, one of the best ways to know what I'm working with is making it visual.  I've tried listing out what's in my capsule.  This probably bored my readers as much as it bored me and no one but myself could picture the contents of the capsule by reading my 'laundry' list.  

Next, I've tried making collages that showed the individual pieces of clothing.  These collages were useful for me because they showed a simplified and orderly picture of my belongings.   It helped me see how well everything worked together and it spurned me to be a bit more creative in the way I put outfits together.

This time, I decided to give the video format a try and I'm hoping film will aid me to show the contents of my capsule and wardrobe to others.  I hope it will work out alright and you enjoy having a closer look inside my closet!



Besides showing the pieces of my fall capsule and the setup in my closet, I also talk about my storage for off season pieces and where I keep "extras" like swim-, active-, sleep- and underwear.  

Another thing I wanted to show is a bag filled with donations that I just pulled from my closet.  Believe it or not, after two years of capsule dressing and years of pursuing minimalism, I find that I’m still minimizing my possessions.  Each season I’m surprised that I have a shopping bag worth of donations that no longer have a place in my life.  At this very moment, my donation bag is full and I can’t imagine parting with any more items.  But this might change after three months living and growing as a person and then going through all my things again in order to set up my winter capsule.  We will see...

Here's my selection for fall:

JACKETS (2)
1 - jean jacket
2 - olive green parker

SHORT TOPS (4)
3 - white/blue striped shirt
4 - grey lace shirt
5 - blue/white striped shirt
6 - cream lace shirt

LONG TOPS (9)
7 - black mockneck shirt
8 - olive v-neck sweater
9 - navy blue v-neck sweater
10 - flowy navy cardigan
11 - dark blue cardigan
12 - chambray button down
13 - white button down
14 - white/blue striped peplum button down
15 - buffalo check peplum flannel

DRESSES (4)
16 - dark denim dress
17 - black/white flare dress
18 - navy blue pleated dress
19 - navy blue button up dress

BOTTOMS (4)
20 - white jeans
21 - light blue jeans
22 - blue crop jeans
23 - white shorts

SHOES (5)
24 - black hiking sandals
25 - white tennis shoes
26 - brown loafers
27 - black lace up chunky heel boots NICORA
28 - black chunky heel sandals

ACCESSORIES (3)
29 - everyday jewelry
30 - sunglasses
31 - blue striped scarf
32 - ???
33 - ???


That's that.  What's your experience with your donation pile?  I’d love to hear your thoughts if you care to share.  For more information on the concept of capsule dressing, I recommend visiting Courtney Carver's website (linked here). 

Curious about my previous capsules?  You can find them here:


Enjoy and have a fantastic day!
   ♡ Nina

Sunday, July 16, 2017

TALKING TRASH: Zero Waste and Minimalism

The beautiful thing about minimalism is less consumption and therefore less waste.
This minimalist truism works well for objects and clothes. You buy things intentionally and when it's time to pare down your belongings there are a few different avenues to dispose of your stuff:
-donating them
-selling them
-recycling them
-and of course trashing them. ☹️
On the other hand, packaging of goods is designed for the garbage. The cycle of consumption and the trash that comes with packaging is a big environmental problem and often not considered in minimalism.
I didn't consider it either.










↟Here I am now carrying my food scraps to a compost location at a friend's house (sadly our apartment building doesn't compost yet). For those of you who want to keep track, I've been flirting the idea of zero waste for quite some time and pursuing it in earnest since January 2017.



For a long time, I was mindful to practise minimalism in my life, but I was still producing heaps of garbage.
Truly, there’s nothing minimal about an overflowing garbage bin.
This is why I started asking “where does all this trash come from?”
Well, it mostly came from the grocery store and from online orders. While some of it was food scraps, a lot of the trash was plastic packaging. Food scraps can be composted but packaging was on everything and I didn’t know what to do about it. What’s worse, I carried this unwanted packaging into my home with every purchase I made.
Was I just a garbage producing machine?
I was appalled and frustrated.
Where could I go from here?
Now, the heaps of garbage in my bin was not the result of a minimal lifestyle opting for convenience. I never chose packaged goods so I could save time and invest that time elsewhere. Honestly, I’ve just never given much thought to the garbage streaming in and out of my home. And I also hadn’t considered the life cycle of things much.
I thought being minimal and frugal was already making a difference.
But this is what I know now: My minimalism didn't address the extraneous amounts of packaging waste. Packaging is designed for short term, often single use and it is meant to be thrown into the garbage. At best packaging is recycled, but often it streams right into a landfill. By design packaging isn’t precious as for example an old t-shirt or an unloved object is. Unfortunately, until recently, it never occurred to me to work on reducing the packaging waste that came around the produce from the grocery store.
I didn’t know I could say no to the paper bags at the bakery.
I didn’t know I had a choice in how fresh produce, bulk food and deli counter purchases are packaged.
I didn’t know I can bring my own glass containers or cloth produce bags and say no to the obligatory plastic baggies.
I was afraid grocery shopping would turn into a huge hassle but I was wrong. In fact, most stores in Salt Lake City are happy to support zero waste shopping. And it is refreshing to leave a store with just produce and no added garbage.
Also, in case you’re wondering, adopting this new lifestyle didn’t turn me into a crazy bag lady with lots of zero waste knickknacks. On the contrary, I noticed that zero waste reduced the number of bags my husband carried home from the store, it streamlined not just my trash but it also simplified the belongings in my kitchen and bathroom. Which minimalist wouldn’t like that?
In many ways, minimalism and zero waste compliment each other. For example, one of the most important ways to keep clutter and trash away is to control what enters through the front door. This is always a good way to start minimalism or zero waste.
I started my zero waste journey by
-looking at and examining our trash
-and then I set out to shop without buying any packaging
-and I also decided to disengage from using disposables and plastics in general.
Saying no and refusing "trash" made a significant difference every day. At the same time I realized that zero waste is a slow journey that builds momentum over time and it also gets easier with time. In the beginning zero waste isn't easy because many old purchases in the home are far from zero waste and will eventually be phased out and become trash. This kind of trash is almost unavoidable and it's especially annoying when you're so on top of your zero waste game with new purchases. As an added pressure, society assumes zero wasters like me can fit an entire year's worth of household trash into a single mason jar. To be honest, this might be the case if on day zero of going zero waste I filled a dumpster and rid my home of all the half full plastic packaged items so I could start with a clean slate. That's not the route I wanted to go.
Maybe one day my trash will fit the size of a mason, but I still wouldn't keep my trash in a jar like a prize or a measure. That's not for me. I'm much more concerned with the big picture.
Luckily my husband is on board with the zero waste initiative. This is important in our household because he does 90% of the grocery shopping. Therefore, we both had to keep the same goals in mind to effectively keep garbage from entering our home. Overall, it’s been a simple transition and easy to maintain. An added bonus about zero waste is the money saved from buying ‘naked goods’, the frequent and novel conversation with cashiers and the responsible sorting and minimization of our garbage. As the name implies, zero waste means creating no landfill trash. At best it also means sending nothing to recycling. Of course this is the ideal that zero wasters work towards. I’m not at zero in my efforts to reduce waste, but since being more mindful and starting to compost our overall household garbage decreased by 90%.
I’m good with this progress for now. After all zero waste is not about being perfect.
It’s about being aware of one's impact on the planet.
It’s about being aware of where items go after you have used them.
And it’s about being aware of where your items came from before making the purchase.
It's not as the name implies creating zero trash because very few people can attain this goal.
On that note, it’s important to know that the zero waste lifestyle is not an all or nothing approach. An all or nothing way of thinking often has little practicality. It allows us to do nothing, be afraid to start, or quit since not being able to do it perfectly is a really good excuse.
With minimalism or zero waste I’m not looking for perfection but I would love to take steps towards making a difference. I look at zero waste as a lifestyle I can pursue daily with simple persistence. To me, it’s not just a fad. It’s daily intentionality that afford me to have a lighter footprint on this earth.
#GoingGreen2017 #SLCzerowaste #plasticfree



♡ Nina