Paid Off the Mortgage!

I paid off my 15 year mortgage on my townhouse last month – a couple years early!! It feels so great.

I remember about 6 years ago feeling super trapped by debt in a job I hated. Then I found a job with a great company, paid off my $26K in credit card debt and my car payment using Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover method, and now the mortgage is paid off too. Last summer I was able to remodel my bathroom using cash!

I still need to scrimp now to remodel the rest of my condo with cash, but what a difference from a few years ago! I just found out I need to spend $2K more in dental work inlays on 2 more teeth (ugh – Celiac life) but at least I don’t have to put that on a card anymore. Now when some unexpected expense comes up I don’t get stressed out trying to figure out how I will pay for it.

The secret was really downsizing my life and simplifying. It’s provided me with much more security now and for my future.

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Smith Farms

OK, so I just have to give some love to Smith Farms, my favorite place to buy produce in Orange County, California.

I’m lucky to have a lot of local organic sources available to me like farmers markets, and farm stands. But my favorite place for years – even before I really went organic – is Smith Farms in Irvine (corner of Jeffrey & Bryan).

Their prices are always great and they’re open daily until 7 pm which is super convenient.

Today I went there for my lunch break and just had to share what a huge haul I got for a great price. The food quality is outstanding too and almost 100% organic.

So now that I am really trying to eat clean I got 4 big bags of produce – for under $24.

2 boxes strawberries
Bunch of celery
Bunch of bananas (organic)
2 bunches green onions
Stack of garlic
2 bunches cilantro
3 white onions
Huge head of romaine lettuce
6 tiny red potatoes
2 huge white peaches
1 zucchini
2 cucumber
3 avocado

Time for lunch! Yum!

Posted in Food, Frugality, Health, Weight loss | Leave a comment

Preppy Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe (updated)

I seem to be settling into my current size for now, so I expanded my wardrobe some. Although a wardrobe based on black as the primary neutral is the most versatile in my opinion, I find the color is a bit harsh for my coloring, especially in the Summer. I found myself drifting back to more traditional colors. I find that navy-on-navy is a bit formal though. Especially in California, people are somewhat more casual, so breaking it up with gray, khaki or white seems to tone it down a bit. White is best worn in the summer, but cream can look fresh anytime during the year.

This is my current capsule version:

Navy lightweight twill blazer
Slacks: khaki, gray, cream
Pencil skirt: gray, black, khaki, navy cotton twill
Sleeveless dress: gray, black
Jeans (dark wash)
5 short-sleeved blouses/sweater shells
White cotton blouse
Brown topsiders (or penny loafers)
Cardigans: Navy, cream, gray, bright blue, white
Navy cotton cable crewneck pullover sweater
Khaki shorts
3 Polo shirts

Silk & cashmere blend scarves
Pearl necklace & earrings
Black, navy, nude beige heels
Navy, chestnut brown ballet flats
Chestnut sandals (I like gold also but it’s not very preppy for daytime)
Tan day bag
Black clutch
L.L. Bean small boat & tote for summer (blue trim)

I have found some amazing vintage silk scarves on Etsy.com for great prices!! Check it out if you need to stock up.

Posted in Minimalism, Preppy, Wardrobe | 3 Comments

Winter Capsule Wardrobe

Winter 333:

Here’s the capsule wardrobe I’ve been wearing for the most part this past month. Not including jewelry in my list this time. I have 2 or 3 other skirts I rotate in occasionally as well. Made it really easy to pack for my recent 12-day vacation. I discovered Xmas earrings, pins and scarves take up a lot less packing space than bulky Xmas sweaters!! I only brought about half these items on my trip.

Black handbag (black wallet doubles as a clutch)
black heels
black short cuffed booties
Black ballet flats
Saddle brown ballet flats
chocolate Topsiders
Black & white polka dot scarf
Turquoise flannel scarf
Multicolor gauze scarf
Gray cashmere cardigan
Black & white jacket cardigan
Red cardigan
Black cardigan
Aqua cardigan
Ivory cardigan
black dress
Ivory/ brown print dress
Black & white print dress
Gray turtleneck
Ivory short sweater
Black short sweater
Charcoal short sweater
Red short sweater
Black & white blouse
Hot pink long sleeve polo shirt
3/4 sleeve charcoal tee
3/4 sleeve black tee
3/4 sleeve ivory tee
Charcoal sweatsuit
khaki slacks
Black slacks
Gray slacks
Black cable sweater
White crew t-shirt
Black crew t-shirt
Black skirt
Gray skirt
dark wash jeans
Gray wool pea coat

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Traveling Light

I apologize for being away for so long! I’ve had a crazy schedule at work the past few months.

The good news is that I was hired full time after 2 years – previously I was a consultant with a contract that renewed every six months. So that means much better health coverage and benefits than previously.

When I was “officially” hired, I traveled to San Jose with some other co-workers for orientation. I also had dinner with my family while I was there.

I thought I packed light – a laptop bag and small rolling carry-on, as it was just an overnight trip. However, the next morning I was chagrined to learn that I’d be leaving for the airport directly from my office! I had to bring my luggage to the office with me.

Seems I still have more to learn about minimalist travel. If I could do that trip again I would bring: 1 cardigan, 2 knit dresses, a nightshirt, 1 pair ex-oficio underwear (can be washed & worn next day), and 1 pair ballet flats. I would have worn most of this and the nightshirt and 2nd dress would have fit in my laptop bag in a little bag or packing cube. I’ll be ready for next time!

Posted in Travel, Wardrobe | 2 Comments

Project 333 – The Wrap-up

It’s hard to believe that it’s already three months since I started Project 333!

So, my final assessment? The whole experience was MUCH easier than I expected. It’s made me re-evaluate the way I shop and take a hard look at my “needs” vs “wants.” It sounds corny, but it was really a life-changing experience.

Now, I started this project after practicing Minimalism for a couple of years. But I now realize that, although I have far less material possessions than my friends do, I can get by with even less than I thought.

I went into this project with excuses ready, to explain to my co-workers and friends why I was wearing the same clothes over and over. But amazingly – NO ONE NOTICED. Not one person commented. In fact, I actually received more compliments on my appearance than usual! Probably because I coordinated my wardrobe so that everything would go together.

I ended up swapping a few clothes items for accessories in the last month, because I wasn’t even wearing all the clothes. I did have to be careful about doing laundry weekly so I had enough clothes. The last month, I did get restless, but it was more about a desire for variety/shopping, not based on actual need.

So…what now? I am going to plan a seasonal capsule wardrobe from now on. I will give myself a little wiggle room with accessories, but otherwise I don’t need anything more. I am on a diet and have lost 20 lbs already, so this will make it easy to replace my wardrobe. I went through my closet this week and filled three bags with clothing in other sizes I had been “saving” – I realize now I won’t need that much.

I want to thank Courtney Carver of http://www.bemorewithless.com for coming up with the idea for this great project! I really encourge you to try it – maybe even for just 2 weeks if you think you can’t do it. I think you will be shocked at how easy it is!

Posted in Wardrobe | 4 Comments

The Olympics – Without a TV

I don’t have a TV.

More specifically, I DO have 2 TVs, but they are not hooked up to anything. They can play DVDS but I don’t even use them for that anymore – I am getting ready to give one of them away, and the other is truly a decoration at this point. Its days are numbered as well.  I’m not 100% sure they even work as it’s been at least 6 months since I’ve turned them on. 

I haven’t really watched TV for the past 10 years, and usually I don’t miss it.  I posted about this a long time ago and got quite a reaction from readers!   The only time I really miss it is during Presidential elections, big events like Katrina or 911, and ….the Olympics!

The Bejing Olympics I pretty much missed.  I tried to watch the opening ceremony online but I think I got a virus along with it.  It was slow and also in German!  Luckily a friend had taped the opening so my Mom and I watched it later. I think I saw one running event on someone’s TV.

This time, the London Olympics, has been very different.  I was able to see quite a bit of the opening ceremony using the NBC app on my iPad.  Since I am a former skydiver, former Corgi owner and huge James Bond/Daniel Craig fan, I’m glad I got to see the video with him and the Queen (and the Corgis!!).  I unfortunately was not as lucky finding clips of the closing ceremony but I did see a little bit.

NBC actually was extremely generous and posted lots of footage of the Olympic events, even featuring key clips for the day.  I felt guilty that I actually didn’t watch more, but of course the point is that I don’t like to watch TV!  I watched enough that I feel more a part of the Olympic experience this time and got to enjoy some key moments.  They have plasma screens in the kitchens at work too so I caught occassional glimpses of rowing, etc when I was getting coffee.

This experience has still not convinced me to watch more TV (except PBS which I love and can get on my iPad).  However, I was inspired by the videos I did see and was glad that this time I was able to share a little bit in the Olympic experience.

Posted in Consumerism | 3 Comments