Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Living with Less - Re-purposing Heirlooms

Part of my goals for 2016 is to buy less things for my wardrobe and home.  Today I want to talk about how I have been using what I already own to decorate and make my home comfortable.

I recently found this blog and love the idea of living in a small home and making the most of what we have. Carmella writes a series about using what you have, and after reading the last one, I realized I have been doing that for several months now, prior to reading her blog.

While my home is quite a bit bigger than the one Carmella lives in, I have written before about how we downsized when we moved to Virginia. Even so, I still have a lot of stuff....more stuff than I care to have, and a lot of it's heirlooms.  Since both of my parents have passed away and I am the only girl, I brought home many of the sentimental items that my more practical brothers were not interested in.  Some have been passed on to my two nieces, but I still hang on to a bit of it in case my daughters want some of it someday. Much of it sat in boxes and totes in my storage shed, and this fall I began to think about what could be done with it. Over the last few months I have been re-purposing heirlooms or simply digging them out and using them.  Don't you think that would make our ancestors the happiest, actually using and enjoying their things? I hope so.....

A few of my grandma's doilies were framed and used as art on the walls.  I still have several more I want to frame and add to this wall, but this is what I have done so far.  Simple embroidery hoops were used, so the cost was minimal. Others have been added to end tables, serving their original purpose.





Some extra silver from my mom's silverware set was used to make rings for my daughters and myself for Christmas. I still have a complete set to pass on to one of the girls someday, and we all have a piece to remember mom.


Remington's crib quilt had been in storage for over 10 years.  I couldn't bring myself to get rid of it, but realized it would make a great throw blanket this winter.  The plaid is more of a type of "winter decor," and it's very cozy for curling up on the sofa for a movie or with a book. While it won't stay on the sofa year-round, it is a good addition for chilly months. 


My Dad's old tool box has been cleaned up and filled with seasonal greenery or flowers.  Right now it holds pine cones, but it has held pumpkins, dried lavender, and hydrangeas throughout the year.


My great grandmother's handkerchiefs have replaced the tissue box in my purse and by my nightstand, and the pillowcases my mother-in-law embroidered as a child grace our bed.  My great-grandfather's shaving cup has been turned into a candle holder and sits on our kitchen table. Old fashioned candy dishes and nut bowls from both our grandparents were dug out and filled with candy and nuts over the holidays. It has been fun adding these "new" things to my home decor....it's like shopping without opening my wallet! It is another way to simplify my life. Rather than bring new things into my home, I use what I have.

How about you?  Do you have any family heirlooms you use often or have re-purposed in some new way?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Living with Less - Wardrobe Edition

First off, I would like to thank Andrea of  Season + Salt for featuring me as part of her weekend roundup and say "hi" to all the new readers that she directed here.  Welcome!

Part of my goals for 2016 is to buy less for my wardrobe and home. Today, I want to focus on changes I will be making to my wardrobe to curb mindless shopping and live with less possessions. I plan to follow up with a post on my home soon.

In an effort to buy less and get away from mindless consumerism, I have decided to limit clothing purchases to 10 things or less in 2016.

To some, 10 may seem an extravagant number, not really minimal at all. I agree it could be less.......a lot less. For me though, 10 things is less compared to last year so I am moving in a more positive direction. Let me explain why I decided on 10.......

Unfortunately, in the past, most of my clothes were bought at lower-end retailers that thrive on $5 tees and $20 sweaters and jeans. While this was good during years when we didn't have much income, I want to get away from these low quality items that need replaced every 6 months......and most of my clothes have seen better days. With a small wardrobe, things are put into rotation often, and a low quality item that unravels or piles after 4 washes really isn't a savings.

I want to focus on buying better quality items this year. Hopefully the things I buy will last longer; thus needing replaced less often, having me spend less time in stores, and in the long run less things will go to the landfill. I DO plan look for things second hand and buy gently used, quality pieces if I can.  I have been particularly successful with finding great used coats, shoes, and jeans on eBay in the past. All 10 items I plan to buy will be replacing something already in my wardrobe that is either worn or too big/small, so my wardrobe will not be growing in numbers.  In fact, there are a few thing that are on their last thread that I don't plan on replacing because they are duplicates.  Fewer, better things is what's in store for 2016.

The 10 things will include pants, tops, coats, jackets, shoes, scarfs, bags, and workout clothes.  It will not include lingerie or sleepwear. I am well stocked in those categories for years to come.

I've also done away with the "capsule wardrobe" (a certain set of clothing I wear for 3 months) which I followed in the past. I want to have a small, edited wardrobe that fits my lifestyle in all sorts weather.  But rather than a capsule wardrobe comprised of low quality items replaced every few seasons, I want to just have a small, quality wardrobe.  While I see the usefulness in a capsule, I want to give myself permission to wear any of my clothes if the need arises, not just a certain set. I do like the capsule wardrobe concept of only buying something once a season, but what about the great deals on winter coats you can find in the spring when you know you will need to replace your coat the following winter? I want to be able to buy that perfect well-made coat when I find it and put it away for the cold months, saving myself a good chunk of cash in the process. This is why I feel limiting myself to a certain number of new clothing purchases will work better for me than once a season shopping.

I wrote before how I keep a notebook with a list of things I would like to replace.  At the beginning of the year, I took everything out, tried it on, and checked it for wear. If something was looking worn out or two big/small, I wrote it down. I also took notes of duplicates in my wardrobe. For the past several months I had already been making notes of things I wanted to purchase in the future, so I feel I have a pretty good idea of what I need this year. Before I buy something I will make sure it's on my list, so I know it isn't a passing fancy. This helps me a great deal when I shop - I don't go randomly rummaging through racks of things I don't need. I also plan to do mostly online shopping this year as it is easier to stick to my list that way.

Armed with my notebook and list, as well as staying accountable to you all, I KNOW I will have much better luck avoiding getting sucked into consumerism this year. I have yet to buy any clothing this year, so I am on the right track!

How about you, friend? Does a small wardrobe appeal to you? Would it be easy or difficult for you to limit yourself to 10 new items of clothing this year? Are you interested in hearing about the purchases I do make?