BOOK REVIEW: Minimal by Laurie Barrette and Stéphanie Mandrea

Laurie Barrette and Stéphanie Mandrea are two childhood friends and the owners of the Quebec brand Dans le SacWhich primarily sells reusable fabric bags. I attended a virtual interview that Indigo (a Canadian Bookstore) did with the authors. They seem quite nice. The few things I really remember about their talk (I lost the page I wrote my notes on) was their idea of Zero Waste, which isn’t trying to having all your trash for the year fit in a mason jar. But more the 5 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.

Photo Source

The book is a pretty short read at about 220 pages, Libby said that I finished the book in about 2 hours. Overall, I enjoyed it. There’s a lot of lists and DIY projects for different areas of the home and life, such as cleaning products, skincare and baby bum sprays.

I enjoyed the first couple chapters the most and got the most information out of them. They might be a bit basic, but cover the ideal of minimalism, the impact of humans on the environments and the idea of making ones on products to have more control of what is entering ones personal environment.

From the cleaning chapter onwards, they started to loose me a bit. Barrette and Mandrea really love essential oils! I have a below average sense of smell, so I don’t care about aromatherapy or essential oils. Also there’s a few really large multi-level marketing companies that sell oils. And that sales/company structure isn’t something I believe is ethical. To be clear, they weren’t pushing a certain brand or anything like that, just my prior knowledge of essential oils going into this book make me have a generally negative option about them.

I truly disagree with one point they had in there book. That was that essential oils are good for the planet. They mention that oils “triggered their green journey”. Kinda ironic given how material intensive the process can be (like 10,000 lbs of roses for one 1lbs of rose oil).

Also they encouraged putting essential oils on babies, they did have a disclaimer that it’s “controversial” to put these types of oils on babies but their didn’t have any issues with their kids. John Hopkins has an article with recommended amounts/usage. But I personally don’t think it’s a great idea. I’ve used tea tree oil on my skin before, and found it burnt a lot so I can’t imagine how a baby would feel.

I don’t have children but I did enjoy the chapter about raising minimalist kids that are environmentally conscious. A lot of it just leading by example but they have this list of environmentally friendly family actives that I just found really charming. Examples, like making salt dough, building bird houses, and growing veggies. That list is without a doubt my favorite part of the book.

At the end of the day it’s a pretty easy read, with really lovely photos, and with content you can find mostly on their website or if you spent enough time on Pinterest. I did read an interview with them that has a quote, that I think captures their intent with this book: “Packed with DIY project ideas, practical tips for reducing waste, and utterly drool-worthy photos, Minimal is a must read whether you’re motivated by love of the planet, the ‘gram, or both.”

Photo Source

To conclude, I would have enjoyed less essential oil talk, but others may not find it as annoying. If you see this book at a book store or the library I would say give it a quick flip through and read the kid friendly activity list but I don’t recommend spending money on it.

BOOK REVIEW: Project 333 by Courtney Carver

I’ve heard of Project 333 a few times over the years, so I was really surprised to find that this book was published March 2020. The concept of Project 333 is very simple. You only wear a combination 33 items of clothing (included shoes and accessories) for 3 months.

Project 333: The Minimalist Fashion Challenge that Proves Less Really is So Much More is the second book by Courtney Carver. She’s been featuring Project 333 on her blog for a few years and this book is an extension of the concept (about ten years after she started it). Which explains why I’ve heard of it before. Some Minimalist YouTubers I watch have mentioned the book and author before.

The book is a tad slow to start. It takes until Chapter 11 before she officially introduces the rules of Project 333. The majority of the chapters before were about her journey with finding minimalism and answering a lot of the questions people typical have about the project. The book does assume you sorta understand the high level concept of the project before introducing it. I think that the rules should have been introduced sooner then the FAQ .

The idea, as mentioned at the top, only wearing 33 items of clothing for a period of 3 months. There are some exemptions, such as wedding ring/sentimental jewelry, workout gear, under garments, lounge wear (only to be worn exclusively at home. Leggings you wear out to do groceries or whatever count to your 33 items), and work uniforms.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

She has more that 33 items, as some items are seasonal. That’s why the project is three months, to match the seasons. But she has way less that 132 items, since most of her closet carries over.

After the chapter with the rules and looking at her closet, the book goes a bit more ‘woo woo’ or metaphysical about the larger knock on effects of having a small closet. Lots talk about mediation, the joys of quiet moments, not having to clean as much, downsizing. The standard package of a minimalism book. Although she made no comments about losing weight, and she was pro renting. So 4/6 minimalism tropes isn’t bad.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I don’t know if it will be everyone’s cup of tea, since it’s a rather repetitive. I can also imagine her tone of her writing wouldn’t be everyone’s favorite (you can tell she was a blogger first). There were moments as I was reading I was going back and forth on if I enjoyed the style or not.

If you are looking exclusively for the rules of Project 333, her website (https://bemorewithless.com/project-333-challenge/) is definitely the resource for you.

The book was a light quick read filled with 80’s pop references and generally has feel good motivational vibe.

Photo by Alena Shekhovtcova on Pexels.com

I feel for the author, her book was published at a really bad time to start the Project. Since most people have been working from home since publication. In general clothing and fashion haven’t been a main priority for most people. 

Although it will be interesting to see how that effects peoples clothing choices. I know for me, I’ve been wearing around the same 30 items. But that’s because I’ve been living in sweatpants and hoodies, unless I have to go to site or have a cameras-on zoom meeting. Imagine a worst version of what a typical university student would wear during exams, but for the past year and a half. 

When reading the book I was thinking I would do the project and see how I feel about it. Last weekend I was planning on going through my closet and sort what I want to keep, since I was inspired by the book. But I made scones and took at nap instead.

The next recommended start time is September 1st, so I have the summer and maybe slight return to pre-covid times to help me plan my choices. If I do it, I’ll do my best to document and report back on how I feel about it. I can also start in July or any other time. I have some other decluttering projects I want to tackle in the immediate term, but I do want to circle back and try this.

Inbound vs Outbound #8 – April 2021

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. So I can think a bit more critically about the whole thing.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • Various Seeds (herbs, greens and wild flowers);
  • A piece of rebar for staking plants;
  • Moonlight snake plant;
  • Fertilizer for hydroponics; and
  • Three pack of deodorant, so I shouldn’t smell for a bit.

plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • Two books about Construction Project Management given to my friend that is working on getting his PMP.

Definitely more items coming in this month and out. April flew by, so I didn’t really have a chance to get started on my spring cleaning. We’re also currently in a stay at home order, so meet ups for trades are discouraged and donation centers are closed. That just makes the process to get things out of the house even more difficult.

Inbound vs Outbound #7 – March 2021

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. So I can think a bit more critically about the whole thing.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • One vertical planter for my balcony;
  • Various seeds (spinach, boy choy, parsley, and more);
  • One plastic pan to put under planters;
  • One plastic pan to put under planters, but this one has wheels!;
  • Two sets of gardening gloves;
  • One screw driver (for work so I’m not sure if this counts);
  • One flashlight (for work);
  • Two buckets;
  • One box of personal items from my parents house, as they are moving;
  • Four egg cartons for seedings;
  • One small Monstera Deliciosa; and
  • One ziplock worth of worms for vermicomposting.
plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • A pair of ripped gardening gloves;
  • One canvas set with the paint and brush included;
  • One drawing pad;
  • One pencil case;
These three were given away on my local Buy Nothing group

  • Four books; and
  • The key to my old house since my parents have moved.

Definitely more items coming in this month because of the change of the season and wanting to do more gardening.

Inbound vs Outbound #6 – February 2021

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 term since I’m documenting when it’s arriving, so I can think a bit more critically about the whole thing.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • 5 various undergarments;
  • Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, borrowed from my parents;
  • Edible by Daniella Martin, borrowed from my parents;
  • 1 reusable menstrual cup;
  • 2 Glengarry glasses; and
  • 8 pairs of socks.
plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • 1 belt buckle (sold on Depop);
  • 1 broken pair of headphones;
  •  6 dead pens; and
  • 2 erasers.

Not as much as previous months. It’s a short month, so it’s a short list.

A Mini Book Declutter – December 2020

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Over the past few months I’ve been slowly amassing more books. This is either from picking them up from the little libraries around my neighborhood or taking books back from my parents houses. The shelf on my Billy bookshelf has slowly been getting fuller and there were books being squeaked on top of other books. 😱 The whole thing didn’t look cute, and that is a sign that somethings need to go. So that’s what todays post will be about.  

This is the before condition of my bookshelf. It’s not in the worst condition ever, but there is room for improvement. The first that happened was that I put the shit that didn’t belong there away. Like my dusting cloth, the duct tape and the scissors.  

N' T CROC.HFT • A 
CROCUM___ 
VI sari IA 
bNnmou t. 
LEAN IN SHERYL SANDBERG 
JOSEPH E. 
i PRICE 
STIGLITZ 
, THE BLUE BOOK OF STATIONERY 
CRANI 
Beyond the Global Cit 
Psycllogrographic 
STROLL 
Walking Tours Of Toronto 
Shawn M'callef 
J.G. BALLARD HIGH-RISE 
Nudge 
Improving 
CASS SUNSITIN 
Ilealtli, Wealtl•. antl 
WHOSE CITY? 
SECOND 
HANDMADE MARKETPLACE 
EDITION 
PAMELA BRITTON 
PERSUASION JANEAUSTEN 
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY 
WV 
BUSINESS 
ISA CHANDRA MOSKOWITZ 
VEGAN CUPCAKES TAKE OV 
TERRY HOPE ROMERO 
VEGAN FOR EVERYBO 
Illustrated 
Guide to Gardening 
in Canada 
VAN K REVELE 
PLANTING, PREPARING AND 
AMANDA ROOiN 
GroceryGardening 
PRESERVING FRESH FOOD 
SIMPLIFIED PLANNER. 
NAN CY ZIEMAN'S 
Sewing AtoZ 
100+ SEWING and QUILTING 
TIPS and TE@HNIQUES 
Slater 
Of Needlepoint FOR LEFT-HANDERs 
k'ÜCONWANY 
THE ULTIMATE KNITTING BOOK 
COMPLETELY UPDATED

After that I took everything off the shelf and sorted it into the following categories:  

  • Hobbies    
    • Yarn Based  
    • Sewing  
    • Gardening  
  • Cooking 
  • Business/self-development  
  • Architecture/design 
  • Fiction 
DELAMORT 
K. Row 
Quo D 
NEW YORK FINES BESTSELLER 
unth 
FLAVORFut RECIPES 
AND bps ON SERVING 
INES FOOD 
STROLL 
psychogeograph.c 
of Toronto 
Shown M.callef 
Weekly 
JANE AusrEN
Pre Sorting
e coote7R; 
VELEN 
PIANT' 
with 
FLAVORFUL RECIPES 
AND-TIPS 'ON SERVING 
WINES WITH F 000 
-C STAGG 
ESH FOOD 
4th 
.97 
NAOMI 
unmerunurunumnuuurnnur 
SECO 
cootro/ 
SMALL 
BUSINESS 
OWNER 
vat ' '
Post Sorting – Although it does look the same

After that, I flipped through the books and determined what I want to keep and get rid of. The biggest ones I wanted to tackle were the two massive gardening books. Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening and A Year in Gardening. As someone that only has a balcony to work with, I do not need two reference guides for gardening. Flipping through them, it was clean that the Illustrated Guide to Gardening was the keeper. It has a couple chapters on indoor plants and the information looked really cool.  

The Year in Gardening assumes you are in England, it did have a beautiful guide for what flowers and such will be in bloom at what point in the year which hopefully will be helpful to someone with a garden in my neighborhood. There were drawings and information that crossed over in both books. So the winner was clear.  

Plants Jbr Foliage and Flovvers 
that sun is needed, as In a west 
window (or perhaps a south win- 
dow that is shaded by a 
ov flowers, and fivllts, 
"Pitfusecl' 
but good light is 
of described 
The describes 
tree). 
on the tol- 
needed, as in a north window. 
in of available 
loss tug chart according to whether 
sunlight. direct sun can 
thcv ave salued tor tollage 
provided in an unblocked south 
"Mini111t111) 
each categO- 
ov cast window. "Moderate" means 
listed alphabetically by 
theu best k ness A) conunon nanws. 
In the second colufllli the leaves 
False aralia 
Ing plant. C 
as tetnperatll 
and feeding. 
IQ ennarks 
The best 
given the 
Air plant 
(Kalanchoe pinnata) 
Aglaoncma modestum 
CÅ"mmon and botanical names, 
general characteristics 
Aglaonema, or Chinese evergreen 
(Aglaonetna modestum) 
Durable foliage plant of compact 
habit. Leaves are clustered on top 
of single slender cane. Il 2 ft. 
Air plant (Kalanchoe pinnata) 
Succulent plant with heads of green 
flowers tinged with purple. Plantlets 
form on leaf margins. Il 11/2-3 ft. 
Aloe, or Burn plant (Aloe vera) 
Rosette-fortning succulent plant. 
Leaves contain sap said to heal burns 
and other skin afflictions. Il 2 ft. 
Aluminum plant (Pilea cadierei) 
Bushy little plant of dainty habit. 
Also called watermelon pilea. 
Il 10-12 in. Dwarf aluminum plant 
(P. c. minima) is suitable for 
terrariums and bottle gardens. Il 5 in. 
Aralia, false, or threadleaf 
(Dizygothcca elegantissima) 
Graceful, upright shrub often 
used as floor accent. Il 4-8 ft. 
Aralia, Japanese (Fatsia japonica) 
Handsome, upright plant useful as 
decorative, bold accent in rootny 
interiors. Il 4-10 ft. 
Leaves 
Lance shaped, 
leathery, waxy, 
green. To 
8 in. long. 
Scalloped, 
fleshy, tinged 
with red. 
Dagger shaped, 
blue-green, 
spotted with 
white when young. 
Deep veins give 
quilted effect; 
silver markings. 
Light 
Maximum 
direct sun 
best, but 
tolerates 
diffused. 
Maximum 
direct sun. 
Maximum 
direct 
sun. 
Diffused. 
(Dizygotheca elegantissima) 
Special requirements and remarks 
Average to high humidity. Keep soil moist, 
not soggy. Feed every 2 mo. Needs little 
attention. Grow in water or general- 
purpose soil mix. Minimum temperature: 
160-180C. 
Average humidity. Water only as soil dries. 
Needs little care. Use general-purpose 
soil mix with double amount of sand. 
Minimum temperature: 180C. 
Tolerant of dry conditions. Allow soil to 
dry out between waterings. Use desert- 
cactus soil mix (p. 371 Minimum 
temperature: 100-130C. 
Requires high humidity. Keep soil moist, 
not soggy. Fertilize lightly every 2 mo. 
Pinch off tip growth. Use general- 
purpose soil mix. Minimum tetnperature: 
160-1 soc. 
Average to high humidity. Keep soil moist, 
not soggy. Feed monthly spring to fall. 
Use general-purpose soil mix. Mil 
temperature: 180C. 
Average to h' 
not SO 
ea 
J apancse 
( FGtsi(1 
Propagation 
Divide estab 
plants; or ta 
cut tings. 
Pot plantl( 
1 ake tip 
Pot up 1b 
Take liv 
Fol 
plant, 
or take 
Feathery, palmlike, 
copper colored when 
young; later turn 
dark green and 
become broader. 
Palmate, shiny, 
dark green, about 
16 in. across. 
Moderate 
or diffused. 
Moderate 
or diffused.

Next was looking through random knitting and crochet patterns that I have. I took pictures of the patterns in books that didn’t have enough to be worth keeping the whole book and I added those patterns into my OneNote and put the books into my outbound pile. 

That method was the same for the cook books.

I got rid of the urban planning/design books that didn’t talk about Canada, and one landscaping book since I have a feeling the world of design has evolved past it, as it was published in the 80’s. 

I kept all the personal development books as I’m working my way through them. I’ve always had the intention of putting them back in the little libraries once I was done with them so I’m not emotional attached them. 

I’m really happy that all the books I’m keeping fit on the shelf. There’s even room to fit more if I wanted to in the future.   

PAMELA BRITTON 
PERSUASION 
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY JANEAUSTEN 
BALLARD HIGH-RISE 
lod,qeB 
STROLL 
Psychogeogrölphi(.- 
Shawn Mtcallef 
Walking Taurs of Toronto 
Beyond the g 
NAOMI 
4VlNDOWS D % 
RICHARD ll. THALER 
Nudge 
Improsung Decisions About 
AND SUNSTEIN 
licalth. \Vealth. and llappiness 
WHY YOUR WORLDIS ABOUT 
—TO GET A WHOLE LOT SMALLER-.........!E- 
Stuff White Peo le Like 
LEAN IN SHERYL SANDBERG 
JOSEPH E, 
STIGLITZ 
ISA CHANDRA MOSKOWITZ 
VEGAN CUPCAKES TAKE OVER TYE WORLD 
TERRY ROMERO 
VEGAN FOR 
VAN K REVELE 
PLANTING, PREPARING AND 
GroceryGardening 
PRESERVING FOOD 
GORDO, W0RLD KITCHEN 
SALSA BOOK 
Miller 
FUCK OFF, I'M COLORING 
SIMPLIFIED PLANNER. 
SECOND 
HANDMADE MARKETPLACE 
EDITION 
WNER 
BUSINESS 
Eva Sterling 
The Perfect Fit 
Illustrated 
Guide to Gardening 
in Canada 
CRANE&CO. 
THE BLUE BOOK OF STATIONERY 
SWEATERS VOU c AN 8 . 
THE ULTIMATE KNITTING BOOK 
COVIPLETELY REVISED & UPDATED
After this photo was taken I reorganized by height

But where is everything that was decluttered going? I’m going to go for a walk and drop when off/return them to the little libraries around my neighborhood. Also return the books that I borrowed from my parents or friends.  

BOOK REVIEW: Less by Rachel Aust

Rachel Aust is a lifestyle influencer. I’ve been following her YouTube channel for a few years and I knew she had a book that came out in 2018 but didn’t read it until now.

The book is advertised as a visual guide, but it didn’t have as many pictures as I was expecting. There’s a fair amount at the beginning and faded throughout. 

Although there wasn’t as many pictures as I expected, there were a lot of flow charts which I found nice. You can read paragraphs about a questions you should ask yourself when decluttering but a flow chart is more effective and easier to wrap your head around.   

Photo by Emiliano Arano on Pexels.com

The book is about 144 pages, so it is an extremely short read. Libby said that I finished reading it in about an hour.  As it’s so short, it didn’t go into as much detail about one would expect for a book about decluttering. I found she did focus on the closet declutter, and finding your personal style. Rachel does have a background in fashion photography so this isn’t that big of a surprise. It would have been nice if other parts of the book where as or more detailed. In particular her chapter about living with a non-minimalist. Five bullet points doesn’t feel like enough for something that I know a lot of people that consider themselves minimalists have an issue with.  

I think if you watched her Minimalism playlist on YouTube, you would get pretty much all of the contents of this book. Every topic covered in this book, with the exception of the cleaning schedule, has a video about it that’s under 8 minutes. In her book trailer, she says the book it an expansion of the information in the videos. I would disagree and say the videos, plus the ones she’s created since the book publication are more detailed that this book. 

Overall it’s a very relaxed quick read. I think it was designed to be a pretty coffee table than a life changing guide. The information isn’t wrong, but it would have been nice to have a little more detail. I cannot recommend purchasing this book, but I do enjoy watching Rachel’s YouTube videos.