Simplified Wardrobe for Spring

Have you ever heard of Project 333? Courtney Carver started it, to see if she could limit her wardrobe to 33 items for 3 months, hence the 333. She started it a few years ago and seemingly still does it each season. Courtney’s 33 items includes not only her clothes and shoes but also accessories including sunglasses, jewelry, and even her laptop bag. I’m not quite that adventurous, but I’m giving it a try. I haven’t quite got my list down to 33 yet, in fact if you include shoes, bags, etc. it’s quite a bit higher. But for me, this is simple, and I’m hoping along the way I find a few items I can remove from rotation. 

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In order to create a simple wardrobe that still has style, it’s necessary to identify your core color groups, including one or two neutrals and a couple of accent colors. Unlike many minimalists, I am not comfortable dressing in all black all the time. I have pale freckled skin, strawberry blonde hair, and green eyes. Black makes me look… sick. So my neutrals are going to be khaki and navy, and my accent colors will be blue and pink/red. 

I have 5 pairs of pants in my spring wardrobe:

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  • Lands’ End navy ankle length pants
  • Old Navy chinos
  • J Crew dark rinse skinny
  • LOFT black slacks
  • LOFT white ankle jeans

Then I have 2 pairs of shorts and 2 skirts:

 

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  • Old Navy light green chino shorts
  • Old Navy khaki chino shorts
  • Lands’ End navy skirt
  • LOFT black/ivory skirt

Now I have 5 t-shirts. Let me tell you, it was hard to cut down to five. I live in t-shirts.

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  • Old Navy navy
  • Old Navy white
  • LOFT ivory w/lace trim
  • Merona blue
  • Old Navy “vintage” red

Then we have 5 blouses. 

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  • Lands’ End floral long sleeved
  • Old Navy tan sleeveless
  • Old Navy navy bandana
  • Old Navy pink sleeveless
  • Old Navy navy button-down

Now my dresses. I’ll be honest, I didn’t cut many dresses, because I love each one of these so much, so there are 6.

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  • Lands’ End wrap-style LBD
  • Old Navy wrap-style navy/white
  • Old Navy black/white
  • Lands’ End navy with green/white chains
  • Athleta ivory/green
  • Lands’ End wrap style tan

Next up is cardigans and blazers. There are 5.

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  • LOFT short-sleeved blue cardigan
  • Old Navy white open cardigan
  • LOFT denim jacket
  • Tommy Hilfiger navy blazer
  • Tommy Hilfiger off-white blazer

That comes to 30 items. Not bad! But unlike the strict rules of Project 333, I haven’t included shoes and accessories here. 

7 pairs of shoes:

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  • Anne Klein black wedges
  • Anne Klein walking shoes
  • Anne Klein pink flats
  • Sketchers taupe flats
  • Old Navy tan flats
  • Old Navy tan sandals

Sunglasses, purse, jacket:

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  • brown wayfarers
  • pink/orange/khaki purse (not the one shown but similar)
  • Lands’ End blue trench

And don’t even get me started on jewelry. :) Also, Project 333 says I don’t have to count undies, camisoles, pajamas, exercise clothes, and lounging clothes, and I have plenty of those. And if we’re really being honest, I have a few other things in the closet, but they won’t be part of the rotation. Maybe I’ll even get rid of them one of these days!

But hey, all in all, I feel this is fairly simple. It’s a good start, and I’m ready for spring. 

Keep calm and simplify,

Christine

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Decluttering Family Room Shelves

These are my family room shelves. Cluttered with a hodgepodge of books, toys, games, and various and sundry knickknacks.

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Up top we have an old champagne bottle. Relatives bought us that champagne when we had our first baby – Dom Perignon. We loved it. We have pictures. Not sure why we feel the need to keep the bottle high on a shelf where we can’t even see it. We also have a track trophy from when my husband was in high school, and a broken-apart boy plane that my kids love.

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On the next shelf we have a flamenco dancer doll that my dad bought me when I was a little girl, a framed photo from my son’s little league team, two little league trophys, two game balls, and three trophys that my husband and I won on a cruise.

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Down a shelf we have two vases, a basket of electrical doo dads, and a jade cat that I bought in china. It has a broken ear. Poor kitty.

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Next shelf down we have six more vases, a glass pitcher, six packs of cards, a yellow heart clip one of my kids made in daycare, and two candle bases (note: I don’t burn candles because I forget to blow them out.)

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Next shelf is books, mostly my husbands, a few of mine. Also a beer tasting kit I bought for my husband and a few community directories.

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Next shelf is coupon books and cookbooks. Note: my shelves are cluttered but mostly organized.

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And on the bottom shelf, we have toys. And two foam fingers. Go Nats! :)

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Next to the shelves, because they don’t fit anywhere, is a stack of puzzles.

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Above that stack of puzzles hangs a bag of play tools.

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On the right hand side, up top we have the blu-ray Star Wars DVDs. We were keeping them up here so our son wouldn’t know we had them all, because we didn’t want him thinking he could watch all six at once. He’s now seen the first 5 and knows he can’t see the 6th yet since it’s PG-13. We don’t need to hide them anymore. Also on that shelf is a silver tray my mom bought us. It’s really pretty but I’ve never been able to figure out what to do with it.

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Below that is three boxes of Bob books, a silly wall hanging, and a game.

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Next shelf is toys, doo dads, and a framed wall hanging.

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Below that is games.

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Below that is more games and toys.

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And on the bottom is trucks and a box of toys.

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We also have a keyboard that doesn’t fit so lives on the floor.

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Here’s the after photo. I donated some items to charity, moved some upstairs to bedrooms and the playroom, so it’s much more open now. The right-hand side has fewer toys and games, and everything fits. More importantly, the things that I love stand out more so I can appreciate them.

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So now I need to (a) keep decluttering other parts of the house and (b) make sure I keep it decluttered!!!

 

 

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Heart Quirks and Polar Devices

I had a great 39th birthday. Last night, my girlfriends took me out for a night of karaoke in a Korean karaoke bar. We had a private room for the six of us and just sang our faces off for over three hours. Seriously could not have been more fun.

And while I’ve been trying to practice minimalism, there was something I really wanted, and my husband and boys provided – a new Polar heart rate monitor AND AND AND the creme de la creme, the Polar Loop. The heart rate monitor is not optional for me. I have a heart… quirk, for lack of a better word. My resting heart rate is about 70, but when I exercise with moderate exertion, it goes up to 160+. If I do any serious cardio like jogging, kickboxing, or Zumba, it can go above 180 quite easily. It’s super frustrating for me, and I start to panic a little bit when I feel like my HR might be too fast, so a heart rate monitor is a great way for me to exercise and make sure I don’t let my HR get too high. (In case you’re wondering, I have seen several cardiologists over the years, had electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, worn a Holter monitor. My issue seems to be somewhat idiopathic.

So anyway, my old heart rate monitor kicked the bucket and I needed a new one. And while I was at it, I thought the Polar Loop would be a fun addition. The Loop is like a Fitbit device, in that it tracks my steps, time active and inactive during the day, measures my restful sleep and restless sleep, etc. It’s not a necessity, but I lead a fairly sedentary life since I sit in an office chair 40+ hours a week. So I know I’ll enjoy it, and hopefully it will encourage me to spend less time sitting and more time on my feet. And the best thing about the Loop is that if I wear my HR monitor while exercising, the Loop will track that and take it into account.

And for the record, the first day I wore it was yesterday, and I walked 9724 steps.

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My Little Secret

I have a secret. (not for long)

On Friday I will be 39. And that means I’ll be in my 40th year of life. I feel like this is kind of a big deal, and I want it to be a really spectacular year. On my 40th birthday, I want to be able to say I am the best version of me that I have ever been. Is that cheesy? I’m okay with that.  Do I dread turning 40? Hell no. It’s going to be awesome. 

So for the next year, my blog will focus on the big 4-0 and what I want to do before that epic day arrives. I’m not talking about any sort of elaborate bucket list, nope. Just things like eating well, exercising more often, reading more… you know, basic health and happiness type things. 

I’m going to start right now by going to bed. I need more consistent sleep so I have a chance of getting up in the morning and knocking out day 13 of the 30-day AB Challenge!

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Goal 3: Excel at Work

As I’ve said, I am a firm believer in New Year’s resolutions. Just as I set annual goals at work, I set annual goals for my life. Do they change? Yes. Am I flexible? Yes. Do I think they are improtant anyway? Hellz yes. Just like it’s important to buy your honey flowers on Valentine’s Day even though you show love every day of the year, it’s important to set goals at the beginning of each year even though I set goals constantly throughout the year as well. To me, New Year’s resolutions are my reminder to look at the horizon and make sure I’m steering the ship in the right direction. 

As with anything else, though, if you forget to hold yourself accountable, you will most likely fall flat on some of your goals. So I am going to use this blog to track myself and make sure I am sticking to my values and always growing, learning, and reaching.

As a reminder, I have 6 core values that I always focus on:

  1. Be an excellent mother.
  2. Nurture my relationships.
  3. Excel at work.
  4. Be smart with money.
  5. Focus on wellness.
  6. Organize and simplify.

It would make sense to start with goal #1, but as I just returned from a business trip, I’m going to jump into goal #3, “Excel at work.”

How exactly does one excel at work? Well, of course it’s different for all of us, but for me, I know my strengths, and I know where I need some improvement. So here is my current plan to excel at work (note: It’s already changed in the last two weeks)

Excel at Work

  • Be more strategic and less tactical.
  • Learn academically.
  • Select a role model or mentor.
  • Create and follow through on my personal development plan.

Breaking it down:

Be more strategic and less tactical.

There are a few reasons this is important. First, I manage a team of four people, and I owe it to those four people to make sure that their time is well spent. That means it’s my job to ensure that we’re working on the right things, that roadblocks are being addressed, and that accomplishments are being shared. Second, I owe it to them to focus on their professional development so they can move their careers forward. Third, my performance review said I need to do this. Hey, the boss’s opinion should count for something, right?

So how will I accomplish this? For starters, I need to empower my team to take some things off my plate so I can spend time on the strategic items. Second, I need to remember to take time each week to think about where we are, where we’re going, how we need to get there, and what is in the way. Last, I need to work with my boss to make sure I’m not off base.

Learn academically.

In a nutshell, this means that in addition to practical experience, I should look for opportunities to learn more about management, leadership, and especially strategy. For instance, I can “learn a book” on the subject, watch TED talks, sign up for some blogs, etc.

Select a role model or mentor

I’m not really sure how to go about finding a mentor. A lot of the folks who are really good at strategy are in high demand, and I don’t want to be an added burden on them. That said, they are still good role models, so I want to reach out to them and pick their brains on their personal operating system, what questions they ask, how they bring themselves above deck from time to time, etc. (sorry for all the metaphors)

Create and follow through on my personal development plan

Essentially this is an outline of the gaps between where I am and where I want to be, the goal I have in mind, and the steps I’ll take to get there. It’s something I’ll share with my team, my boss, and ask for their feedback on a quarterly basis on how they think I’m doing against my goals. 

So that’s my current plan on goal #3, “excel at work.” Four items, totally manageable. :)

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New Year’s Resolutions 2014

I see so many bloggers write about how they don’t believe in resolutions, but when it all comes down to it, I think we’re talking about the same thing. Whether you call it goals, resolutions, plans or ideas… whether you set them once a year, quarterly, or every morning… we all need a reminder, however often, to make sure you’re living the life you want to live.

My overall resolutions don’t really change year to year:

  • Be An Excellent Mother
  • Nurture My Relationships
  • Excel at Work
  • Be Smart With Money
  • Focus on Wellness
  • Organize and Simplify

But the specifics of how I plan to address each are more fluid. Last year, I remember feeling like my relationship with my children was strained because I lost my temper when they were disobedient/annoying/frustrating/etc., so I made a resolution to yell less. That’s not really an issue with us right now, so how I will go about being an excellent mother has changed. So breaking it down, here are some ideas on how I can continue to focus on my values this year.

Be An Excellent Mother

  • Teach my children compassion
  • Play with my children more
  • Set up token economy with Tiger

Nurture My Relationships

  • Remember birthdays and other holidays
  • Buy thoughtful presents
  • Be an excellent wife
  • Connect with friends on a deeper level

Excel at Work

  • Measure performance and hold people accountable
  • Read two management books
  • Adhere to personal operating system
  • Create and follow through on my personal development plan

Be Smart With Money

  • Control impulse purchases
  • Move old 401k to new plan
  • Don’t waste food

Focus on Health and Happiness

  • Practice yoga regularly
  • Go to gym weekly
  • Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants
  • Learn to meditate

Organize and Simplify

  • Organize the office
  • Continue with Project 333
  • Practice minimalism
  • Create and stick to routines

That’s my list! I need to remember to check this monthly or quarterly, not ignore it until this day next year. ;-)

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2013 Year in Review

In case you haven’t noticed, 2013 is ending. Today. As I went through my Digg Reader today (which I haven’t done in over a month I think), I saw a lot of bloggers evaluating how they did on their new year’s resolutions, and I realized that I too made new year’s resolutions and completely forgot about them. What’s new. So what the heck, I’ll go back and see how I did on them anyway.

Be An Excellent Mother

  • Tell my children I love them. A+. If there is one thing my children know, it’s that I love them and think they are the most spectacular human beings on the planet.
  • Discipline with love and firmness. A. I have improved so much in this regard. I am more consistent with discipline, and I’ve managed to separate it from emotion, so there is no question that discipline is not connected to my love for them or my appreciation of them.
  • No screaming or mean words. B. My outbursts have been few and far between, and I’ve been careful to use fair and respectful words even when I’m angry.

Nurture My Relationships

  • Remember birthdays and other holidays. C-. I’ve managed to remember most everything, but still find myself picking up greeting cards the day of someone’s birthday, buying gifts last minute, and forgetting to celebrate other holidays at home.
  • Buy thoughtful presents. B-. If I thought more about this throughout the year, I could have done better.
  • Be an excellent wife. B. I’ve read a few unconventional books (or are they über-convetional, I’m not sure) about being an excellent wife, and while I do not subscribe to the biblical intention of them, they are full of actionable ideas on the feeding and caring of a marriage.

Excel at Work

  • Create team development plans. B. I worked with most of my staff to identify their strengths, how to better leverage and develop those strengths, and areas for improvement. I didn’t consistently work with them on executing the plans. But since technically I only set out to create them, I still get a B. :)
  • Read management books. F. Can’t say I read any. Boo.
  • Meet deadlines and be dependable. B+. I’ve been much better about this but there is still room for improvement. Every now and then, someone is still reaching out to me for something they asked for.
  • Adhere to personal operating system. F. I bounced all over the place with this one, and I really need to stick to something to make it work.
  • Be more strategic and less operational. B+. I’m working on it. There’s room for improvement, but I have managed to take myself out of the day-to-day somewhat so I can focus on the bigger picture. This is necessary if I am ever to be a VP.

Be Smart With Money

  • Be more frugal. B-. I’m still not “frugal” per se, but I am better about not wasting money. For example, I loved my 2nd generation Kindle and planned to use it until it died. Last week it died (negligent homicide, to be honest). I looked on eBay for used 2nd generation Kindles, since I really did love mine, but I couldn’t do it. I needed to buy the latest and greatest, and my new Kindle Paperwhite will be arriving today. I still buy clothes, and some on a whim, but I’m much more restrained, and since I practice Project 333, I am more limited in what I purchase since I know it’s one in, one out.
  • Set up 529 plans for kids. A+! We set up a plan for both boys, and have a monthly deposit to the plan for Tiger. Since Rocco is still in preschool, he doesn’t get a monthly deposit yet.
  • Pay bills on time. A+. I’ve been really good about this and don’t think I bounced a check all year. Go me!

Focus on Health and Happiness

  • Find a way to exercise regularly. D. Gah, why oh why didn’t I do better at this? Yes, it’s hard to find the time, but it’s doable if I just put my mind to it. Husband and I got in the habit of going to the gym every Sunday for BodyPump, but beyond that, I didn’t really do much exercising.
  • Nutrition! B+. I have cut back on processed foods tremendously. I eat much better than I did. I drink green smoothies and give them to my kids. My kids get fresh veggies at every meal, and I continue to encourage them to try more veggies. We’re doing pretty well here, with room for improvement.
  • Get back to weekly meal plans. C. I often forgot to do this, and the main problem with not meal planning is it creates anxiety and mommy guilt.
  • Less TV, more hobbies and books. B. I didn’t even remember making this a goal, so it’s funny that lately I’ve been trying to get out of the nighttime TV habit. The only downside of this is I miss spending that time with Husband.

Organize and Simplify

  • Get rid of hot spots. F. Nuff said.
  • Do FlyLady for at least a month. F. Forgot I made this a goal.
  • Organize office. F. It’s a dump.
  • Declutter. B. I have done a pretty good job of decluttering, with room for improvement.

Well that was fun! I wish I’d remembered to look back on these goals throughout the year, and used them as motivation. I’m going to put together my 2014 goals now, which I think will look remarkably similar. Well, I’m off to organize my office. Catch you later!

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