Inbound vs Outbound #22 – June 2022

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also, if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • One pair of yoga shorts
  • One summer dress
  • One rain jacket
  • One cat harness
  • One iron on patch
  • Two hydroponics nutrients for the plants
  • Two cover pots
One of the cover pots and proof that my cat is the worst
  • A pack of Thank You cards
  • Bug spray (for me)
  • Bug spray (for my plants)
  • One duvet cover
  • One Sleeping bag
  • Two tomato plants my friend found on the side of the road.

plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • Six Crochet cacti (Sold)
  • Watermelon peperomia (Died)
  • Alocasia red imperial (Died)
  • Colocasia Pharaoh’s Mask (Died)
  • Peperomia frost (didn’t die, it just had bugs and I didn’t want to deal with it’s drama anymore)
  • One baseball hat from my previous company (gifted/pawned off to a friend that still works there)
  • Two pepper seedlings (Buy Nothing Group)

Something I haven’t figured out how to talk about on the blog yet is that I have a small business where I sell crochet plants and home decor items. It feels like something that should have been mentioned on here sooner.

I have some drafted posts about how its weird to read this many minimalism books but also make physical items. At the same time, Marie Kondo sells home decor items, so I can too!

It’s also not been a great month for my plants. I’ve been finding them a bit overwhelming lately, so I decided it was time to call the time of death on some of my plants. Although I’m like 30% I could revive with time and more experience. It was good to get some plant stuff out of the way. I have more planned on that front, so keep an eye out for that in the near-ish future.

You can see May’s post here. Or the rest of the series here.

BOOK REVIEW: Minimalist Moms by Diane Boden

Another book I’m not qualified to review since I’m not a parent!

Minimalist Moms: Living and Parenting with Simplicity is the debut book by Diane Boden, the host of the Minimalist Moms Podcast. (Not to be confused with Dawn (or her twin sister Diane) who is The Minimal Mom and will pop up when you Google this book title).

I listened to the audiobook (which wasn’t narrated by the author which was a surprise given her job), and I enjoyed it. The book tackles a bit more the lifestyle of minimalism instead of physical ownership of items. Sure, she gives you tips on how to declutter your house. As well as standard comments on how minimalism isn’t about owning nothing and only wearing black. After that, the book does touch more on the day to day of living a #minimalistlife.

Boden mentioned that there are other books that cover the step by steps of decluttering in greater detail. She mentions Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. And disagrees with the idea of only keeping items that spark joy, since there’s stuff that doesn’t spark joy but are still useful. And one might end up keeping stuff only because it sparks joy without really exploring why it sparks that joy. Which I don’t fully disagree with, but I also think that she was taking Kondo’s main point a bit too literally in her criticism. But that part was like one paragraph that for some reason stood out.

woman holding sparkler
Photo by Edgar Colomba on Pexels.com

The main takeaway and only thing that I will remember from this book: she tier lists her friends. Like take everyone that you are currently friends with and figure out if they are BFFL, BFF, just a F or acquaintance. She said to cut everyone that isn’t a BFFL.

It’s a power move that she talked about this so openly in her book. She’s really only going to bother being friends with her sister and sister in law. But it probably feels bad for anyone that thought they were her friend and bought the book to support her, only to find out they aren’t worth the emotional labour.

woman s hand using a pen noting on notepad
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

In general, I don’t have much to say about the book. A lot of the things covered are pretty standard stuff about minimalism. I think it was presented well, and I liked the voice of the audiobook narrator.

If a mother was standing at a book store trying to decide between this book or Declutter Like a Mother (my review here), I would 120% tell them to pick this one.

wooden dinosaur in white backgroud
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Boden may tier list her friends, but I tier list minimalism books. And in my tier list, this book will comfortably sit in the “Do Not Remember Reading” tier. Right in the middle.

P.s. I’ve given Minimalist Moms Podcast a bit of a listen (like 2 episodes). There isn’t much to report back, yet. Pretty standard interviews with the guests. There’s a couple of podcast episodes that I’m interested in listening to, so I might update this portion if I hear anything of note.

Inbound vs Outbound #21 – May 2022

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also, if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • One Patagonia Quarter Zip
  • Two reusable pads
  • One tinned conditioner
  • One Hoya kerrii
  • One Oregano plant
  • One Thyme plant
  • One Dill plant
  • One Parsley plant
  • A Cat leash and harness
  • One Cat Teaser Toy
  • One plastic pot

plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • Cactus shape cat starcher (Given away on Buy Nothing Group)
  • One Aloe Vera plant (Sold of FB Marketplace)
  • One Nail Polish (Finished 💅)
  • Hoya Kerrii (Tossed, it started to died like the day after I got it)
😭😭😭
  • One Pair of Jeans, the pair included in my March post (Gifted to a friend)

My cat is obsessed with the thyme I got. He keeps jumping up where he shouldn’t and tries to eat it. That’s been a bit of a challenge this month. If you have any tips for stopping a cat for eating and attacking plants I would love to hear them! The current method is just closing the door to the room where the thyme is living. But that’s kinda annoying.

My outbound is mostly filled with purchases I regret. The cat scratcher, the Kerrii, and the pants were all bought pretty recently. I guess the lesson is to not buy things that are Final Sale. Especially the pants. I bought them online and they are nowhere close to fitting me despite the size guide. I tried selling them online on Depop, but didn’t get any traction. I’m happy that this purchase wasn’t a complete dud and I was able to gift them to a friend.

BOOK REVIEW: Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White

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My previous review was Organizing for the Rest of Us, Dana K. White’s third book. I guess I’m reading her bibliography in reverse chronological order, since Decluttering at the Speed of Life was her second book.

As mentioned in my previous review, the subreddit r/declutter seems to really love this book. I was just looking in the discord server and people were literally just talking about it and her podcast. So the book and its concepts do have some staying power, which is impressive for books in this genre.

I actually enjoyed this book.

I think it might be better to listen to in audio format than to read it. I saw people online mention they liked having it on when they are cleaning or going through the steps in the book. Which I think is the way to do it. I listened to the audio book as I was doing some driving for work.

It’s a good listen but the middle potion is extremely repetitive, so I recommend multitasking.

As mentioned in my review of her other book, White thinks of cleaning in three layers. Decluttering, Daily Cleaning, and Deep Cleaning. So this book is really about talking that first step, so that the rest of housekeeping falls into place.

The main thing that White pushes is the container concept.

Her Youtube channel has a video explaining it, but the TLDW is: your home, its rooms, and storage solutions are containers. Keeping a tidy home only works if everything has a home in the container.

It seems like a simple enough idea on paper. It’s easy to put stuff away if it has a proper home. I suspect if you are reading a book review about decluttering, you know that it’s not always doable.

White’s process outlined in this book makes it seem manageable. You start in the most visible space in your home and then work your way into the private/inaccessible spaces. This gets the motivation going, since you see your kitchen countertop more often than a closet or attic. I never really thought about it, but the idea makes enough sense.

If you are going to follow this process, it does seem like s much slower journey than if you followed the KonMari Method. Possibly for more lasting effects.

person holding a stress ball
Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels.com

I also like that this book tackled helping other people declutter. Like your kids and partner, but also other relatives or friends. The main idea of the container concept stays throughout. How you support your best friend vs your mom at decluttering their closet is pretty different.

As the older generation needs to downsize, having some tips on how to help them through the process is welcomed.

(The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning Method is also interesting for discussing how old people should handle their stuff near the end of life. Although I did not enjoy that book when I read it about 3 years ago)

trash near door
Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas on Pexels.com
There were two things that I didn’t like about the book.

One: White is very pro “just donate everything”. The book does explain that this declutter method is about fitting it into day to day life. Going to one spot to get rid of everything, logistically, makes sense. But I don’t like it. Mindlessly donating all your crap is basically the same as throwing it in the garbage, just designed to make you feel like you are helping your community. That part was frustrating to read. I know that not everyone has the same access to donation or waste diversion resources, but I think it’s worth making a bit of a effort where we can.

Two: I didn’t enjoy an unexpected, weirdly specific and long rant about Garbanzo beans/chickpeas. Apparently people don’t like them. As a vegetarian that loves hummus, I found that deeply offensive.

To conclude, I understand the hype for this book. White’s writing style is personable and the method outlined in the book make sense. Sure, the process to a spotless house is slower, since she recommends always restarting with the most visible spot, making sure it’s not cluttered and moving on. But I can see someone sticking to it and being able to get their living spaces to a pretty nice condition.

I also found the part in the book about helping others declutter very insightful. Especially as someone that is known amongst her friends for knowing a lot about decluttering and minimalism. 😛

In my tier list, this book might actually get placed at the top cheese tier of “Popular for a Reason”.

close up photo of feta cheese
Photo by Irita Antonevica on Pexels.com

Have you hear of this book? I would love to hear about it in the comments. You can also see my other book reviews and my Tier lists by clicking here.

Inbound vs Outbound #20 – April 2022

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also, if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • One litter box
  • One litter scoop
  • One cat carrier
  • Five cat toys
  • Two bowls
  • One cat tree
  • Two cat scratcher
  • One litter genie thing
  • One cat
  • Five candles (different from the candles I got in February)
  • One long sleeve shirt
  • One zipper sweater
  • Two pots I found at the side of the road
  • One snake plant I found at the side of the road
Side of the road snake plant in random side of the road pot
plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • Two phone cases (given away on the buy nothing group)
  • One hair claw clip (garbage since I broke it)
  • One Alocasia Black Velvet (sold on FB marketplace)
  • One beer glass (garbage since it broke)
  • One bag of clothing including at least one dress, two blazers, and four t-shirts (local clothing swap)
  • One candle (gifted to a friend)

So the big thing from this month is that we got a cat. That involved getting a bunch of stuff. We started with the basics, but got a few more toys and things as we figure out what the cat liked and needed.

Hopefully he will require less random stuff in future months. Despite all the toys we’ve gotten him, his favorite thing in the world so far has been a crumpled up Tim Horton’s donut wrapper/paper bag. He’s pulled it out of the recycling bin multiple times to play with it.

Another highlight of the month, is that I finally got rid of a bag of clothes that’s been sitting at the bottom of my closet since January. I didn’t want to just drop it off a Value Village where it would likely get trashed. I found a local clothing swap, which was perfect. I did leave with two pieces, but still a net negative to my closet.

Overall a busy month, I can believe that it’s already over.

What’s in My Bag as a Civil Engineer

women looking at the screen

So this isn’t fully on brand for the content of the blog, but I wanted to share it anyways. I was recently spring cleaning and thought I should also tackle my work bag in the process. It had gotten weirdly heavy as of late, so it was probably worth looking at.

Most of my work is doing inspections of existing buildings, with a bit of new construction from time to time. So I end up in all sorts of different environments and types of work in a week. Which will probably show with the stuff I carry with me.

My work bag is a navy backpack with faux leather accents. As seen below being checked out by a cat I was taking care of at the time.

So what was in my bag. I took it all out and made a flat lay.

  • Wallet: pretty standard
  • Extra Mask: The worst feeling is when your mask breaks and you awkwardly have to hold it as you go to the reception of the building you are reviewing and ask if you can bum a new one. I totally have never done that… But I like to have a couple extras a back up.
  • Two notebooks: Not sure why I had two. I removed the smaller one from the bag. The larger one lives on my clipboard (not shown) and I typically use that or a pad of paper to write my site notes.
  • Measuring tape: to measure stuff on site to confirm it’s the size it’s supposed to be. Or if I’m bored, I can see how much of the tape I can pull out before it collapses
  • Screw driver: great for opening access hatches, or removing the cover off a piece of equipment.
  • Flashlight: there’s a flashlight on my phone, but it’s good to have one that’s a bit more powerful. Work sends me to some pretty dark and scary places sometimes. It also kinda acts as a laser pointer when I’m trying to show something to a client or colleagues, where I can just shine the light on the thing that I’m talking about.
  • Four pens: I keep losing them on site, so I would rather have too many than not enough. It’s nice to have multiple colors on hand if you need to mark up a drawing or highlight something in your notes.
  • Two sets of gloves: as the seasons change, I don’t think I need to carry both. One pair is my fall/winter set of gloves. The other pair have some grip to them incase you need to lift something dirty.
  • One USB key: pretty helpful to have on hand.
  • Camera and charger: I know many people just use their phone for site photos. But an old school point and shoot doesn’t drain the battery of my cell, and typically the zoom is better.
  • Wet film thickness gauge: used to measure the thickness of liquid coatings.
  • Random charging cables: to charge my phone or connect it to my laptop when I’m on the road. The other is for my camera. I have no idea why the latter is in my bag since my computer has an SD port for transferring files.
  • Reusable Bags: Good for if I’m picking up groceries after work, and generally a nice thing to have. Probably don’t need to be carrying two of them at all times.
  • Sunglasses: got to look cool on site 😎.

Not shown but also in my bag:

  • A boatload of receipts and random papers.
  • A small first aid kit, that’s mostly Band-Aids, alcohol wipes and advil.
  • A plastic cutlery set: never know when your burrito bowl order won’t come with a fork.
  • Period Products: pretty self explanatory.
  • Business cards: I store business cards everywhere. My jacket pockets, my bag, my car, anywhere. I still find old business cards from the job I had 4 years ago from time to time.
  • A water bottle or travel mug: these items don’t live in my bag since they are always being used or washed but if I’m out of the house I generally will have one of them in side pockets.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: these items don’t live in my bag full time, and I take whatever is appropriate to the site I’m going too. In general I have an extra hi-vis and my harness for working at heights just living in my car.

I carry so much stuff…

So this exercise made me realize how much stuff I carry at all times. I probably can take some of this stuff out and only pack what I think I need when I go to site. But that involves way more planning, and I don’t want to do it.

In general, I need to make more of an effort to go through and clean my bag. I found so so many receipts, post-its and change. I probably could have gotten like two fancy lattes with the money that was sitting at the bottom of the bag.

Is there something weird you have to carry as part of your job or commute? I would love to read about in the comments.

Bonus Content: Here’s a video of what the cat found when he stuck his head in my bag.

BOOK REVIEW: Organizing for the Rest of Us By Dana K. White

Dana K. White is a staple is in the decluttering/minimalist space. I see her second book Decluttering at the Speed of Life referenced pretty regularly on r/declutter as the book to read if you are interested in owning less stuff.  

I read a portion of Decluttering at the Speed of Life a few years ago, but didn’t have the time to finish it before it was automatically returned to the library on Libby. From what I remember, I enjoyed it and planned to revisit it for the blog.  

Her most recent book Organizing for the Rest of Us: 100 Realistic Strategies to Keep Any House Under Control is not a decluttering book, it’s a cleaning, and home maintenance book.  

black and white spray bottle
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

This book is a pretty easy read. Each of the 100 strategies are only couple of pages and Dana K. White doesn’t expect you to incorporate all of them.

That being said, it did take a bit longer than expected to finish. Almost every time I picked it up, I would read a couple pages and I would get an urge to clean something. It feels weird to read about how you should do your dishes every day when your sink is full of the pots from yesterday’s dinner.  

So in a way, the book was pretty effective at its purpose for promoting an organized and clean home. Even if it’s not in the way she intended.  

The book discusses a concept of the three levels of cleaning, most of the strategies in the book fall into one of three different levels. They are the following:

1) Declutter

It’s hard to clean when you have too much crap that doesn’t have a home. She gives a very brief overview on how to declutter a space. And recommends reading her other book for more details. I think she gave the right amount of info for someone who hasn’t read her other works, but not bog down the pacing of this book. 

woman using laptop on the floor
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

2) Daily maintenance

This is the bulk of the strategies. White is a big believer small cleans every day. I understand why dishes every day or sweeping or laundry makes the longer term flow of the household nicer. In practice that isn’t something I want to do for myself.

3) Deep cleaning

This is like the tips for how to clean your baseboards. Or the big seasonal cleans that really elevates a space from tidy to clean.  

crop faceless person in rubber glove squeezing sponge
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Again each chapter/strategy is really short. The book isn’t heavy with many anecdotes or extra filler, which I appreciate. I enjoyed White’s voice throughout, she seems like a really funny person.  

Overall, I think the book is a quick read and good for people that need that kick in the butt to clean their space. Or are overwhelmed on how to do it.

I did notice that the things I resonated with most in this book (the levels of clean, daily dishes, laundry days) have their own blog posts of her website. If you are curious about this book I would start there, since she has years of content at your disposal.

If you are interested in reading any reviews of decluttering or minimalism, book you can read my rankings of Minimalism and Decluttering books here.

Disclosure: I received a free digital copy of this book off of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Inbound vs Outbound #19 – March 2022

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also, if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • Four semi precious jewel I impulsively bought on an online auction;
  • Sticky traps for fungus gnats;
  • Cheese making mold;
  • One ball of yarn;
  • One laptop;
  • One “Mercury in Retrograde” kit (gifted);
  • A pair of skinny jeans;
  • Six bottles of nail polish;
  • Two plant pots;
  • One Callisia Repens;
  • One Butterwort carnivorous plant; and
  • One vintage jacket.

plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • A super large pile of random papers and notes;
  • Two learn to play guitar books (Buy Nothing Group);
  • An pile of black plastic take out containers (Case Toronto);
  • One dead Callisia Repens; and

The last week of March I was off between jobs. So I did a big reorganize of some of our storage closets. It was probably a good sign that the only thing that really didn’t spark joy was a bunch of old tax documents and papers from university.

I was also able to empty out and consolidate some boxes. Which I think is a good thing. Downside: I brought in more stuff than decluttered this month. During my declutter, discovered a bin of yarn that I had sorta forgotten about. So the contents of that box will be my next big priority to tackle.

BOOK Review: Consumed by Aja Barber

Consumed by Aja Barber Book cover

If you pay attention to any sustainable fashion Instagram or social media, you’ve probably heard of Consumed, the first book by Aja Barber.  

The book is a pretty recent release (Oct 2021). I think I’m the first person to read the copy from the library since it was in spotless condition. Which doesn’t effect my review, I’m just happy it happened.   

Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change, and Consumerism is the full title of the book and the book’s thesis statement. Aja Barber covers a lot of ground in a relatively short book and I think she does really well. 

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Photo by Aden Ardenrich on Pexels.com

The book is spilt into two parts. I’ll just use the description on Aja’s website since it’s more concise than anything I could write:  

Part one: I expose you to the endemic injustices in our consumer industries and the uncomfortable history of the textile industry; one which brokered slavery, racism and today’s wealth inequality. 

Part two: In the second ‘unlearning’ half of the book, I will help you to understand the uncomfortable truth behind why you consume the way you do. 

Aja’s writing style is really inviting and it feels like a friend talking about something they’re super passion about. Like instead of a researcher/journalism trying to lecture you. There were so many moments I wanted to Snapchat or post what I was reading of my Instagram. I was really connecting with what was written and wanted to share it with people!

As mentioned earlier, the book covers a lot of ground and deals with many difficult topics. Such as the condition of garment factories, destruction of the environment, racism in the fashion industry and more. 

I think she covers all the topics really well and sensitively. Although, one criticism I have: there were spots I wish she went a bit deeper. I’ve read some of the books referenced and I think it would have strengthen her points if she included more info from those books here. 

One example being the Bangladesh factory fires. I think it would have benefited with more details for people that didn’t know that happened or forgot about it. Like a couple more sentences just explaining the impacts. Like how the doors were chained. Or that a lot of the survivors or families didn’t get any compensation from the fund raising or government. Would have helped really shine a light on how shit these manufacturing conditions can be.

I believe Aja was trying not to be too much of a downer. I also think she assumes the reader may know more about some of these topics before picking up the book. So I understand why some topics were kept on the shorter side.

The second half of the book is about unlearning and the actionable steps a consumer can take. The main one she mentioned is writing to law makers. And there’s an example letter! Additionally, introductions is open letter Aja wrote to fast fashion companies. That one isn’t one you can copy since it was specific to her. But between the two of them, you got a good starting point to help you write your own letter.  

I love example letters!

mother putting a face mask on her daughter
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

This book is one of the few new releases that mention Covid and didn’t annoy me the heck out of me. Fast fashion companies have fucked over so many garment workers over the past few years. It really drives home about what she’s been writing that took place before 2020. Fast fashion will take any opportunity, including a pandemic to be…   

If/when this book gets a second edition it would be interesting to see what the updates will be. So far, they are pretty depressing… I believe there are some lost wage class actions that have been filed since publication. 

Update since writing the draft review: there’s been a few wins. See below:

Apart for the normal, write to the government, and stop buying crap from Shein, she does include other tips. I think that her approach is very nuanced. Aja Barber seems aware that for the regular person, fully quitting fast fashion is a marathon, not a race. Additionally, the tips aren’t the same as once I’ve read in other books or online.  

Overall, I loved the book and I’ve been recommending it to all my friends! I recommend it to you too. It was really eye opening without being too overwhelming.


If you are interested in review of other books about fast fashion, I have one for Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas. You can also find all my book reviews here.

Inbound vs Outbound #17 – February 2022

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also, if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • Seven candles (I know that’s a lot);
  • One shampoo and conditioner tester set;
  • Six woven placemats;
  • One t-shirt; and
  • One kitchen knife

plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • Nothing

A short list for a short month. Most of the items are belated Christmas gifts. I’m planning on gifting some of the candles, but they also smell really nice so I might keep them. We will see how that pans out.

I have a bag of clothes I’m planning on decluttering. But it doesn’t count until it’s out of the apartment, so that is my goal for March.