Shoes and confetti

Shoes. How to have it all and not have a lot.

As promised in my minimalist packing post I will share more about my shoes today.
I never considered myself a shoe person until I talked about it with a friend recently who said: ‘But you totally ARE a shoe person!’ And I realised she was right. I might even be an addict. But, and this is a major point I’d like to make today: it doesn’t really show, because I am very, VERY strict with myself when it comes to shoes. Disclaimer: I do in fact own multiple pairs of shoes that are not comfortable enough to get me through the day. But they all have faults that I could not see when buying them. I’ll explain more about that later. But first, let me share with you some questions I always ask myself when looking for new shoes.

1. What kind of shoes do I need on a yearly basis?
First of all, decide what sort of shoes you need to get yourself through one year. For instance: sturdy winter shoes, casual spring/summer shoes, party or formal shoes, sandals, rain boots, etc. Depending on the climate you live in, you might not need all of these but for me this is pretty accurate since we have 4 seasons where I live.
Try to go for a couple of all round pairs that can take a little season change. I always have one pair of Converse All Stars in my closet. They can be worn from the time it’s heating up in spring to the time it’s cooling down in autumn. And if you choose a colour based on your palette, they pretty much go with everything!

2. Do the shoes I currently own fulfill my needs?
For a while I had some boots that I used for formal as well as casual occasions. Though this sounds pretty minimalist and all, after a while of wearing them casually they had lost the necessary prettiness to be formal. That’s when I decided I needed one pair of dedicated formal shoes. I had to come to terms with myself about the fact that these shoes would be spending more time in the closet than on my feet, but now that I have I’m really happy that these formal shoes will serve me for years to come. Which brings me to the next question.

3. Can these shoes last me through all the trends?
When shopping for these formal shoes I realised they had to be timeless if I wanted to keep them around for as long as they were going to last. So I chose black suede ankle boots. No frill, no crazy zippers, no contrasting soles or patches. Simple yet elegant shoes that go with anything and that I can reach for without thinking when I have a party or formal affair.
Think about the shoes you have now or that you have your eye on. Will they last you a season or a lifetime? What about them could be a reason you’d want to get rid of them within a year? Be honest!

4. Do these shoes already exist in my closet?
This one works for buying new shoes as well as for purging your closet. And it can be a pretty tricky one unless you’re being really honest with yourself. The day I was talking to the friend who ‘outed’ me was also the day we went into a shoe store together and I saw this amazing pair of dark purple/burgundy buckle shoes (on my Pinterest here). SO pretty. I looked down at my feet… and there were almost the exact same shoes: a different colour, a different brand and a slightly different nose. I knew I could never take those burgundy shoes home with me if I stuck to my own rules. And so I didn’t. But I still think about them. A lot.

5. Do these shoes fit right?
Although this seems like a silly question, you might forget how many people (men and women!) buy shoes that are not the right size or shape for them. This is one of the aspects that I am very strict with myself about. I don’t believe in suffering for weeks until shoes are ‘broken in’. If they are not comfortable for 15 minutes in the store, they surely won’t be comfortable for an entire day or night. Make sure you have a bit of room for different types of socks, that they’re easy to get on but don’t slip off when you walk and look for any other criteria that are important to you.

Admittedly, this is something that can still backfire, however much attention you pay. Unfortunately this usually doesn’t happen in the next couple of days but mostly in the coming months. For example, I found a pair of Adidas that were quite snug, but I like that in sneakers since they usually widen quite a bit after some wear. Alas, after a couple of months of trying to wear them for a few consecutive hours, I found that they were not snug at all. They were too narrow for my feet! This was a good learning experience for me, I now know Adidas are not suitable for my feet. It was also an essential argument for talking myself out of buying these (which I would still gladly accept if gifted ;)).

Experiences like this make shoe shopping risky business. So go for that extra lap in the shoe store to make sure. And the great thing is, being this critical about your shoes will save you so much money you can invest in a good pair once the time comes!

Once you do take those fantastic shoes home with you, take good care of them. Make sure you have all the necessary cleaning and polishing stuff. Being kind to your shoes will keep them around a lot longer, and cleaning them doesn’t have to be expensive. If you buy transparent leather care products you can use them on all of your shoes regardless of the colour. Non-leather and canvas shoes should be fine with (soapy) water, the important thing is to clean as soon as you see a stain! Do you have frayed laces, soles with holes, broken heels? Consider having your shoes repaired if something’s broken that’s holding you back from wearing them.

Thanks for letting me share my experiences with shoe shopping! Any tips you’d like to add?

things to learn from your to do list

Things you can learn from your to-do list

As I state on the about-page of this blog, I love making to-do lists. It gives me direction and a good sense of priority for the tasks of the day (or week) ahead. Moreover, it gives me the feeling that I am already doing something about those things that need to be done, merely by acknowledging them and awarding them a place on my list :)

Leaving a few to-dos unchecked is not a crime. However, it is something that maybe you could have seen coming when you were creating your list. Today I want to talk about the things you can learn from your own to-do lists. Asking yourself the following questions can give you insight in your own actions.

1. What kind of things go on my list?
First, write down everything you think you need to do today and then have a good look at the list. What category do the things on your list fall into? Are they things you might forget if you don’t write them down (such as groceries)? Or are they things you’ve written down not because you’ll otherwise forget but because you really REALLY need to get them done once and for all?
Of course the list could be a mix of those categories, but it can be insightful to see where they come from because they might predict how much you’ll actually get done today. If you’ve written down more than two of those in the hard category, get rid of the ones that are not as urgent or important. This way, you will have more courage to get the one or two hard ones done.

2. How many things are on the list?
Again this can depend on the type of items on your list. A grocery list can be pretty extensive but if you only need to go to the market down the street, you’ll be done in no time. When you make the list, keep in mind the time you have today and calculate a little time for travel or a change of clothes between activities. You’ll want a to-do list that you can actually get done! It may feel great at the beginning of the day to make a gigantic list of things to be done, but you’ll only disappoint yourself if you don’t have time for most of them.

3. How often has a certain item been on my list in the past?
If you’ve been putting off something, chances are it’s been on your to-do lists of the past a couple of times. You mustered up the courage in the morning to add the item to your list, but as the day went along you found an excuse not to do it. I’ve been there, and still am there often. Asking myself the above question can help me put the chore into perspective: is it really that important to get it done now? And if it is: why have I been putting it off? Finding the answer to that last question is crucial to make sure the item is on today’s list for the final time. Is the task too big to tackle at once? Break it up into smaller pieces and do something every day. Is it totally boring? Promise yourself to work on it for 5 minutes at least, and then see if you feel like finishing it. If you don’t, you’ll at least have made a start and you can still feel good about yourself for tackling part of it!

4. What task should I do first?
This can be a tricky one, depending on the contents of your list. It might be helpful to group some tasks together, because they take place in the same location or because having done one will make doing the other one easier. In general, it’s best to start with the task you’re least looking forward to. When that one’s out of your way, the rest will be peanuts! Grouping tasks can also help getting a couple of things done at once to kick start your list.

Asking yourself these questions when or after making a to-do list can be of great help to create a list that you can finish by the end of the day, and that feels so good! And if you still have room on today’s to-do list, bake the lemon cookies in the picture :)

P.S. How do you like my ta-da list? I got it from these great guys.


Tips on traveling light

Minimalist weekend trip packing.

My brother is spending a semester abroad and my mum and I looked him up this past weekend. I challenged myself to pack as little as possible. Packing for a short trip can be just as hard as for a long one, since you might be inclined to stuff your bag with more things ‘because you’re not gonna stay long anyway so you might as well take this and that too’. (I’ve been there…) So I’d like to share with you my packing list for a long weekend trip, as well as some general packing tips. Here we go – pun intended ;)

This is what I packed. I wore the raincoat, the scarf, the jeans, a button-down and a tank when traveling so those weren’t even in my suitcase.

2 tank tops
2 basic t-shirts

Using these items I was able to create at least three outfits to get me through the weekend. I wore all of the clothes I brought except one of the t-shirts. I was pretty relieved to see I could actually do with just these items of clothing!

Through this challenge I learned some things about packing less. Ready?

1. Wear layers.
This might be a no-brainer, but packing items that can be layered is a great way to pack less. You will be prepared for a lot of weather types, and because you can vary the items you won’t feel like you’re wearing the same thing all the time. Tanks, shirts, cardigans can be added as the weather cools down. This works best when your layers match each other. Who needs three wooly jumpers when you can have all kinds of different items instead?

2. Work your way around an item.
If you absolutely NEED a certain piece of clothing to go with you, use it as a starting point to build your outfits – and thus packing – around. It’s even better if this item is a versatile one!
For me, a good pair of shoes is essential on a trip, as there is often quite some walking involved. This means I would go for flat, comfy, leather (because water and cold resistant) shoes and choose the rest of my outfit accordingly. It also means that some items that I’d love to take, will need to stay home since they don’t match. But getting over that is simple: a) You will certainly have other cute items that DO match, and b) when push comes to shove, you will probably regret leaving an essential item home in favour of a piece of clothing you might only wear once. Think about it ;)

3. Easy on the accessories.
Once you have your outfits put together, have a good look at what accessories you’re planning to take. Less is definitely more in this case too. Take staple pieces that go with your chosen outfits and be critical. For example, I would either choose a statement necklace or statement earrings – alternatively I would take both but make sure they match. I also like to remind myself that wearing jewellery is better than having it sit in your toiletry bag, where it can be easily damaged.
Deciding what bag or purse to bring can be another hurdle. Think: what activities will you be doing and what will you want to bring there? A good starting point is choosing one day bag and one night bag. I’m always lugging my camera around everywhere. This means I will need a day bag that holds at least that, next to essentials such as wallet, phone, pen, lip balm, book, etc (uhm yes I bring a book pretty much everywhere :D). At night, I might not take my camera or my day bag might be too big to bring, for example to a nice restaurant or a museum. For those occasions I will pack a small purse that won’t take up room in my suitcase but can hold my small essentials. (Bye, book…) Again, make sure these accessories go with your outfits.

So, are you ready to pack less on your next trip? What I really love about minimalist packing is that you start to look at your wardrobe in a different way. For example, I had a hard time at first picking the shoes for this trip. But after convincing myself with the when-push-comes-to-shove argument, I started realising I have a couple pairs of seemingly everyday shoes that I could never wear comfortably for an entire day, let alone a few consecutive days! A good reason to purge my shoe collection soon. I ended up taking the ones in the picture, by the way :)

Let me know your great packing tips!

flowers in the garden in zeeland

Old blog, new theme.

Well, I never thought I would be coming back to this place again. Although I liked my little adventure on Disco Mondays, I found that I am not the post-twice-a-day kind of gal for whom HTML has no secrets. Blogging became a point on my to-do list and that’s when it stopped being fun :(

Now I’m back here. And it feels comfy, I must say! In line with the new theme of my blog, I am going to try just posting when I feel inspired by something, and not because the voice in my head says I have to write something :) And I want the posts that I do share to be worth your time as well as mine!

From now on, this blog will not be so much about everyday life as it happens to me. Rather it will be about a less-is-more kind of everyday life I want to be inspired by, and inspire others with. This is my little exploration of a world in which one doesn’t need so much of everything, but instead is fulfilled by the greatness of just a few things.

Sounds kinda heavy if you put it like this right? Well, I imagine at first it will not be easy to get rid of all the clutter, whatever it may be. But after a while, I’m sure less will definitely become more.

Who’s with me?

Project: make your own vanilla extract

Make your own vanilla extract

When you bake a lot of sweets, you need a lot of vanilla extract. I don’t know how that goes in your neck of the woods, but here in Holland you can only buy a tiny bottle for a not so tiny amount of money. Of course, vanilla is expensive, but it’s still a hassle to keep buying such small containers.

Then I read online somewhere that you can make your own vanilla extract in the easiest way possible: waiting! All you need is a bottle of cheap vodka and 6-8 vanilla beans. Cut the beans open lengthwise and drop them in the vodka bottle. You can also use a different container if you want, but make sure it’s nice and clean. Use 2-3 vanilla beans for every 200 ml of vodka.

Make your own vanilla extract
Now all you need to do is wait for 3 months while it’s stored cool, dark and dry and you will have yourself some lovely vanilla extract! The alcohol will evaporate when you bake, so it’s safe for kids as well. The great thing about this recipe is that because of the alcohol, the extract keeps forever. So there is no harm in making yourself a big batch! The bottle pictured here has only been standing around for 2 weeks and it’s already gone quite dark. I’ll do another post when it’s ready to use!

Cute overload: kittens!

Cutest kitties ever!

Oh my. I am totally becoming the crazy cat lady. But let’s be honest, who can resist these cute little furballs with matching face marks? Those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook are probably very much over these kittens already, but here I went and dedicated a blog post to them as well. Yeah.

They are brother and sister, 13 weeks old and still need to be named. My proposal was Pluk and Aagje (Pluck and Aggie as they are called in English, two characters from a very famous Dutch children’s book by Annie M. G. Schmidt). Let’s see if this flies with the other household members.

This is Aagje on the way from Zeeland to Amsterdam. I like how they’re black and white but somehow striped as well when the sun catches their fur! And the way this little lady sleeps…

Cutest kitties ever!

Too bad I don’t get to see them again soon after this week :( They will be living at Jesse’s parents’ farm house in Zeeland. For this week we figured they’d be too small to be left alone (with plenty cat food of course!) so they came back with us. I have been taking iPhone photos of their every move from the moment we took them home.

Cutest kitties ever!

Word to the wise: NEVER leave anything even remotely valuable in the surroundings of such small kittens. It will be professionally wrecked for sure. When we go out or go to sleep, they’re locked in the hall where there’s nothing but walls. A little sad for them but hey, they have each other and I have peace of mind  ;)

I will miss them so much! They’ll have grown so much when I see them in Zeeland the next time…