Shout Out Sunday

Good morning! Going to be a short and (sort of) repetitive one, since I’m rushing out the door to tutor. P.S. Yeah, I’m an English tutor! If you’re local to the Boston/Providence area email me at chelsea.e.harper@gmail.com to set up a sliding-scale lesson! Beyond that, here’s my week in review!

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source: netflix. watch just keep livin’? and i’m gonna die alone and i feel fine!
  1. Saw Jen Kirkman (again) on Friday night and she was amazing, per usual. Catch her on tour!
  2. I went to a polo match yesterday and it was SO. MUCH. FUN. You’d think polo would be really hard to follow but it’s actually really accessible and interesting! We got to even go behind the scenes and meet the horses since my friend Annie is an amazing horse girl and has mad connections. Going to Newport Polo was so laid-back…next time we’ll definitely have to tailgate! I’m actually thinking about maybe taking a riding lesson at Fairfield Farm…can you believe I used to be afraid of horses?
  3. I am on an eternal quest to find cute pajama sets, and these are looking mighty fine to me. Leopard print forever.
  4. It’s sweater szn, baby! Yes, yes, and yes!
  5. Girlfriend Collective is ALL 15% off right now, and I managed to score additional discounts with code WINGIT. I hope it still works for y’all! I got the Topanga Bra & High-Rise Leggings in Daybreak.
  6. Treated myself to a few Everlane goodies: this shirt, this shirt, and these jeans are Choose What You Pay!
  7. Re: the fashion posts above, I’m really trying to sort through all of my clothes and purge, purge purge! In a perfect world, you should only have to KonMari once, but I think a refresh every few years is warranted. I’m learning important lessons about impulsivity and purchasing. Remember how I bought myself these Docs? Yeah…they gave me a blister about the size of a quarter. Will be returning, if possible. Sometimes you try to incorporate something into your style that just doesn’t fit…
  8. And last but not least, it’s my best friend’s birthday today! SHOUT OUT SARAH.

Until next week!

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So Fresh and So Clean Clean

If you know me personally, you know that I am a bit of a freak for organization.

One of my long-term life goals is to start a professional organizing service, but unfortunately, with the popularity of Marie Kondo and The Home Edit, the market is a bit saturated (also, I have literally no idea how to start a business). A clean home/workspace brings me an immense sense of calm, and has been an invaluable tool in maintaining my mental health. Cleaning and maintaining a household is hard work when you’re severely depressed, but it’s just those little actions that can help to lift you out of a funk*.

I decided to compile some of the things that have helped me conquer the chaos, because so many articles online rely on the reader to buy expensive products or have limitless free time, and, babe, we’re not all IG influencers. I’m out of my house for work 50 or more hours a week. If you search “entryway organization” on Pinterest, you get images of million-dollar homes (I don’t know how much houses cost, to be fair). I don’t have the time or resources to have a Pinterest-perfect home, but that doesn’t mean I can’t love and cherish my space.

Here are some of my favorite tips, tricks, and products for keeping a chaos-free home!

  • Actually KonMari your house. I know it’s controversial because most people have hoarding tendencies (way to generalize, Chels), but it’s the first step in the process and you can’t skip it. If you’re drowning in things, you’ll never get a real handle on your home. This is a blanket solution to your too-much-shit issues, since it applies to every room and every category in the house.
  • Sell stuff! Selling your used clothes and bags on Poshmark or at consignment stores can make getting rid of things into a game. I know people who’ve had luck with housewares on LetGo. You might as well get cash money as a prize for organizing.
  • This article on how to deep-clean your fridge is totally invaluable. It’s got to be done! I guarantee your mayonnaise has expired.
  • The dollar section at the entrance to Target! This section varies seasonally—it could even have different products in it week to week—but it almost always has storage solutions like bins, boxes, and jars, usually in adorable colors. P.S. Speaking of storage solutions, The Home Edit just dropped a collection at The Container Store and it is #goals.
  • Do the dishes while you cook. Nothing is more discouraging than finishing dinner only to face a massive pile of gross dishes. The best hack for this is to…
  • Use dishwashing gloves! Using gloves in the kitchen has changed the game for me. You don’t have to touch any food remains or wash your hands fifty times as you clean. Even though I use natural cleaning products, I still worry about residue on my hands from cleaning sprays, so this has spared my hands a lot of grief!
  • Reusable bags for every damn thing. I bring a reusable bag or two with me every time I go into a store. These fit everything, and they fold down into practically nothing. People have an inherent tendency to hoard tote bags (guilty), but if you narrow it down to a few you really love and actually use them, you spare yourself ever having to contend with those gross plastic bags ever again.
  • *very Oprah voice* EVERYTHING GETS A BIN. These are my personal favorite at the moment—I took everything in my office and separated it into categories (stationery, notebooks, sentimental items, etc), and it has made things so easy to find!
  • Containers, dispensers! Decant all your stuff into reusable containers and then just buy refill packs or concentrates. If you have, for instance, your dish soap in a glass bottle, then you can tell at a glance exactly how much you have, and won’t be tempted to buy extra “just in case.” Look under your sink and tell me how many extra bottles of countertop spray you have.
  • Take inventory before every trip to the grocery store. Seems like a pain in the ass, but how many bags of lentils do you need? Utilizing bins, containers, and turntables in your cabinets and fridge will make this a total breeze. Also, this spice rack is a game-changer if you’re like me and have every spice known to man.
  • Laundry gets taken out of the dryer, folded, and put away on the same day. This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you set a pile of underwear on top of the dresser because you’ll fold it and put it away “later,” it’ll still be there in a week, minus the ones you’ve plucked from it to wear (am I the only person that does this?). Laundry is my least favorite chore because it is never and can never be finished, but the quicker it’s out of sight, the quicker it’s out of mind. If you hate laundry too, the KonMari is crucial—when you have fewer articles of clothing, everything has a clear and designated place, so putting away your clothes is a breeze. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually do a capsule wardrobe…
  • Set reminders on your phone to water your plants. This is a new thing I’m trying. Pick a day a week, or month, depending on your plant’s specific watering needs. I have let so many plants perish from negligence, including a spider plant my husband managed to keep alive for the better part of a decade. Dead plants kill the visual vibe of any space, but living plants are good for the air quality in your home and make you seem like a classy adult who has her shit together!
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this is why you’ve got to water your plants. look how droopy and lopsided he is! i’m hoping i can bring him back to life.

I’m sure I could come up with a million more tiny things I do each day to keep my living space under control, but the above are tried-and-true methods that have taken me from being an absolute slob (just ask my parents) to a person who’s fiercely proud of her home. If you live with a partner (or kids), it can be hard to adjust to new routines, but I promise that in due time, they’ll see the myriad benefits of a clean space and get into it too!

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too many drawer dividers is just not a thing.

I apologize for the quality of the photos—I just used my phone and didn’t clean up beforehand—I wanted to show pictures of my actual day-to-day house, post-organizational implementation. It’s never perfect, but it’s always colorful.

*In no way am I endorsing the idea that you can “cure” depression by cleaning your house. That’s nuts. But since small tasks can be so overwhelming to those of us who deal with these issues, accomplishing them can be genuinely uplifting.

Shout Out Sunday

So, I mentioned last week that I was thinking of changing the title of the feature. I’m still playing around, but we’ll go with “Shout Out Sunday” for now.

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  1. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season two is sensational, but Amy Sherman-Palladino really likes to leave us on unsatisfying cliffhangers, doesn’t she?
  2. Everlane just added some amazing new styles! The button-fly jeans are everything.
  3. The No-Spend Month has been going…okay. I’ve definitely spent way less than I normally would, but I just went to Target and kind of blew it. But there were penguin-shaped catnip toys on clearance for like, $1! How can I not get that for Della? I may need to get her these, because how freaking cute are they? I mean, I also bought a Hearth & Hand wall shelf (I can’t find the link!), because self-control is hard, guys. And it matches my bathroom! When my spending freeze is over, I’m for sure getting this cactus.
  4. I just discovered this kiddo shop on Amazon and my ovaries are practically jumping out of my body.
  5. The Marie Kondo show is out! I KonMari’d years ago, but it’s so nice seeing other people catch on to what is truly the best organizational system you’ll ever try. Nothing else works. Clutter and “organized chaos” are not cute. It’s not “artsy” to be bogged down by possessions. Especially if you have a family, it’s so essential and time-saving to have a clean, organized space. Doing KonMari has literally improved my mental health and sense of peace. Try it!
  6. I’ve probably pimped this before, but this is my all-time favorite “natural” nail polish.

Short one this week. But isn’t that what self-care’s all about? Knowing your limits. See you next week!

How to Part with Books: A Sentimentalist’s Take

I love books.

They were the first things I ever bought and owned with my own money. My parents read to us religiously as children, and always supported our desires to go to the bookstore or the library (Walpole, MA Barnes & Noble and Morrill Memorial Library, wassup?) Because I didn’t really get into clothes & fashion until my late teens/early 20s, the books I owned and treasured were my outward manifestations of self. They represented who I was—a reader. A reader of classics, YA, total trash, anything I could get my hands on.

I even brought a shitload of my books to college. I remember the flimsy shelves above my dorm’s Twin XL bowing under the weight of my volumes. Moving has always been a nightmare—most of the boxes are just tomes on tomes. My poor husband had to take about three trips with the car just to get each and every books and massive Tupperware container of David Sedaris, Chuck Klosterman, Kurt Vonnegut.

At a certain point, though, I had to grow up. I’m an adult woman with a home—I’ve got to be organized! I took to downsizing my collection, which I thought would be completely heartbreaking, but was much easier than I thought! Here’s what I did!

Ask Yourself:

1. Am I ever going to open this again?

Example: The Gravedigger’s Daughter, Joyce Carol Oates

I loved this book. So, so much. I devoured it in only a couple of days after picking it up at a thrift store. But it’s no longer on my shelf (I donated it to my local library). The reason being that I likely won’t reread it and the desire for someone else to enjoy it outweighs my desire to keep it. I used to be a serial re-reader (how more of my books didn’t come apart at the binding, I’ll never know), but now that I am an adult with the resources to interact with ALL OF LITERATURE via the internet, ain’t nobody got time for that! I keep books that I know I’ll make reference to or return to time and time again (The Bell Jar is my best example of this). If you love something, set it free!

2. Does this represent the person that I am, or the person that I was?

Example: Chuck Palahniuk‘s entire catalog

I’m 100% here for remembering where you came from, but it’s not always flattering or as idyllic as you remember. When I was in high school, I read every damn thing Chuck Palahniuk ever wrote. It was dirty, subversive, thrillingly perverse. As a young, inexperienced person, I couldn’t get enough! But I’m older now, and (I hope) a little smarter and more worldly. I appreciate the role these books played in my maturation, but I likely won’t read them again and I can see that some of the material within them is a bit…problematic. But you didn’t click this to hear a feminist lecture.

P.S. If someone gifts me Adjustment Day, I won’t not read it.

3. Have I even read this? Am I going to?

Example: The New New Rules, Bill Maher

My dad gave this book to me (I used to really enjoy Real Time before I became fatigued of certain…let’s just say, problems), and at the time, I really did plan to read it. However, other books took priority (lots of comedic memoirs by women), and I never got around to it. By the time I decided to donate a bunch of books, it was easy to part with, since it held no real meaning to me. Also, Bill Maher’s honestly kind of a dick. Conversely, Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing is a book on my shelf that I haven’t read yet, but the prospect of finally diving into it thrills me!

4. Am I just keeping this to seem smart?

Example: Gustave Flaubert’s Complete Works

I used to work at Barnes & Noble. Yes, the very same one I went to constantly as a child (I’m predictable). The employee discount is sweet, so during my tenure I bought a lot of books. After reading Madame Bovary at 17 and absolutely loving it, I had a fancy that I might want to read all of Flaubert’s writing, so I bought an enormous tome of it. I lugged that massive thing from home to home to college to apartment and so on. I don’t think I ever opened it. Meanwhile, I had physical copies of just Madame Bovary in English and French! At a certain point, I had to let it go, and to the library it went. I still plan on reading more Flaubert (ten years later, smh), but I’ll have to buy individual copies, or go digital ($0.99 on Kindle!)

More Tips

Spark Joy. Marie Kondo knows WTF she’s talking about. Pick up each and every book you own and see if it sparks any feeling. When I picked up some classics that I should have felt inspired by, I felt nothing. (Hint: I got rid of a lot of books by male authors this way!) Using this method, I donated 2 full milk crates of books to my local library.

Go digital! Over last summer, I finally read The Handmaid’s Tale. I borrowed a physical copy from my campus library, but I wanted to have a copy for reference. Luckily, at least at the time, the Kindle edition was available fo’ free on Amazon (it’s now available for free via Kindle Unlimited). P.S. Claire Danes narrates the audiobook! This was a great way to keep something that I felt sentimentally attached to, without spending money or adding clutter to my home!

On that note, get on the audiobook train! This is another way to reduce clutter but still devour books! I recently “read” Everything is Awful by Matt Bellassai, I’m Fine by Whitney Cummings, and The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher, all narrated by their respective authors, and it was such an awesome experience

And of course, last but certainly not least, give your library some love! Libraries are so important, and they need our support. They are a vital part of the community, and a great way to keep engaging with Literature without joining the cast of Hoarders. Look for opportunities to volunteer or donate (money or books). Help out with a Friends of the Library book sale! It’s so easy to just buy everything on Amazon (literally all of the links in this post are Amazon, sorry), so don’t forget that your local or campus library is a great resource.

 

What are some other tips to help me kick out clutter?

xoxo,

c

Happy New Year

I know what you’re thinking: “Wasn’t New Year’s like, 2 months ago?”

Yes, it was. But not for me. I’m a lifelong sufferer of major depression, and the winter is the hardest season for me to get through with my head up. But, here in New England, it seems the sun has finally returned to us, and even though it’s still cold enough to snow, the vibrant energy of springtime is looming.

Earlier in the month, however, I suffered an extreme depressive episode. I’m medicated, so it was fewer crying jags and more general numbness. I couldn’t care about anything. I let my schoolwork, my job, and my relationships suffer. Wedding planning halted. I was in a really terrible place. After about 2 weeks of basically being housebound except for shifts at work, I decided that I needed to do whatever possible to pull myself out of my depression (hopefully, once and for all).

So, I made some changes. The first thing I did was give up alcohol. Cold turkey. I’ve blogged a little bit about drinking in the past. I’m far from a heavy drinker, but as alcohol is a depressant, it seemed counterintuitive to add depressants to depression.

I also started aromatherapy using Monq diffusers. I touched upon them in a recent post. They’re amazingly relaxing, and I highly recommend them!

I started going to bed really early (and trying my damndest to get up early). Going to bed earlier is easy—it’s the getting out of bed that I’ve always struggled with. I didn’t have much success with this until this morning. I’m hoping it continues!

I gave up caffeine after 3 p.m. This was a fairly arbitrary time choice, but it has worked wonders. I had no idea how much my caffeine consumption was affecting my sleep. Coffee doesn’t make me jittery or energetic, so I foolishly thought that I was immune to its effects. Wrong! My mind was jittery and energetic—shutting it off was impossible! No wonder I was having frequent nightmares! I switched to herbal tea—ginger with honey & lemon to be exact, and it has had a marvelous calming effect. It’s also great for digestion!

Upon the advice of a coworker, I started saying “thank you” more, and smiling when I did it. Just because I don’t personally need the validation of being thanked doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel good to validate and appreciate others. This alone has really brightened up my moods!

And finally (and most importantly), I KonMari’d. What the hell is KonMari, you ask?

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image via google

KonMari is the nickname of Japanese organizational guru, Marie KKondo. She is a genius. I started reading her book, The life-changing magic of tidying up, on Friday, and I’ve already been able to improve my quality of life. I can’t do tidying up justice in a blog post, but suffice it to say that it advocates basically getting rid of 2/3 or so of what you own, and only keeping those items which “spark joy”. That’s a fairly vague criterion for most, but as someone who values her intuition deeply, it is now the only criterion by which I evaluate my possessions. I’ve donated a ton of stuff already to my local Savers, as well as sold my nicer clothing on consignment or through Poshmark. I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me that my apartment didn’t have a storage issue—I had a hoarding issue! Honestly, how many sweaters does one woman need? Do I really need to keep all of my old exams and class notes? Fuck that. I feel so liberated from the burden of things. I hope to keep up the minimalism for the rest of my life! Being exclusively surrounded by items that give you joy is inspiring and mood-lifting.

So, that’s my personal recipe for winter survival! What tips do you employ to keep yourself sane during the colder months?

–DellaBites