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.

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. 

sepia piles of t shirts
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.

BOOK REVIEW: Declutter Like a Mother by Allie Casazza

childrens rooms with wood panels

Declutter Like a Mother is the most recent book by stay-at-home mom, turned blogger, turned entrepreneur, Allie Casazza. She found many benefits in decluttering/minimizing. This book explores the steps she’s given her consulting clients to go through their belongings.

Before I get too deep into the review, I got this book off NetGalley. So I didn’t pay for this book (thanks). But most importantly, I’m not the intended demographic for this book: I’m not a mother. Casazza does mention early on that this book can be read by anyone. But I got called Mama enough times, that I’m not convinced that this is true.

My largest gripe about this book and something that makes it feel less evergreen, despite it being a new release (Sept 2021) is the number of references to her programs and website. Very early in the book you discover that this book is basically a promotion tool for her online program for decluttering your home (priced at $397 USD at the time of writing). The chapter on tackling children’s bedrooms seems sparse, and Casazza happens to offers a program on her website specifically for decluttering children rooms ($349 USD).

couple carrying cardboard boxes in living room
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

You can definitely read the book and follow the steps and likely get a declutter. But the majority of the steps are really light on details. Which is a mixed bag. I dislike books that are too repetitive when it comes to the declutter process (The Minimalist Home was slightly guilty of this). But this swung the other direction.

For example, the Chapter about clothing. Which is big enough of a topic that there are many books just tackling that, was really really vague. She mentioned keeping what fits and you enjoy having. Then goes on a multi-paragraph discussion of how her favorite underwear are the high-rise Spanx, and why it’s her favorite. I didn’t find that helpful to my own closet pair down process.

But that is jumping ahead…

The closet isn’t the first area she recommends you declutter. Which is very refreshing for this style of book. That fresh feeling was short lived though. Because the title of the chapter starting the declutter method dang near killed me:

Chapter Five - Begin Here: Where the Poop Happens
Blinking Meme

Some people may find that chapter title funny. Maybe people will appreciate random Fergie reference from a song that came out in 2003, that was used in another chapter title. But I just find the writing style very dated. I would have completed believed you if you had told me this book came out in, like, 2014-2017 during the high of the Chevron, mint green, maxi dress era of life.

The book is a very easy read.

Despite me thinking the writing style was dated, it was straightforward, and easy to follow. I wish the book was more detailed, and didn’t reference her website as much. After the chapters about the declutter, she did have a FAQ and testimonial section that was an interesting addition. I would have liked it expanded as well. She mentions having clients, I would loved to know more about of their common road blocks and how to get past them. But I guess that’s something only people in the paid course get to know.

white candles on brown wooden crate
Photo by Brandy on Pexels.com
But what did she suggest to do to declutter like a mother?

In general, you are asked to visualize the intention you have for the space and keep items that serve that purpose. She was really clear at multiple times in the book, that the program isn’t about minimalism, but “it’s about having less of what doesn’t matter in order to make room for what does”

I actually did a bunch of research to confirm that sentence wasn’t plagiarized from one of the minimalism girlies. I was that convinced that I had read that before somewhere else. But that’s a me problem, not the books.

She calls her lifestyle “simplicitism”, which feels impossible to pronounce and harder to explain. But it’s minimalism: the movement, not the aesthetic or art style. There was a whole chapter about how to keep going and not let the idea of minimalism (dudes that only own three shirts and can fit everything they own in a backpack) distract you from how you want your space to be used.

Sidebar: I’m kinda annoyed that the aesthetic of a minimalist lifestyle is so ingrained in the movement. Like it feels like anyone that doesn’t only wear black has to over explain or dissociate with the philosophy. Which feels silly in a time where we really should be stopping our overconsumption as society. For a bunch of reasons that I don’t need to get into right now. Like, I guess I’m guilty of that too. This whole blog is about how I’m not a minimalism, but enjoy reading about it. I’ve read enough books trying to dispel the myths of minimalism to see this is a trope of the genre. I think this book was the one that continued about it the longest.

The minimalist starring into your soul
I’m not saying these two are the reason everyone feels they have to justify their minimalism exitance, but I’m not not saying that either. /EndSidebarRant
I have a few other notes that I want to include here. As I didn’t know where else to put it:
  • There is talk of god and religion. It’s only in the introduction and afterword if that’s something you would want to skip over.
  • Really encourages buying containers or tray for each room. This feels like something you should wait until your declutter more spaces before doing. Mostly to confirm you don’t already have something that would do the job.
  • She wants you to get rid of all your glasses and mugs and only use mason jars.
  • “Life is too short to drink out of a fugly mug” – Page 93.
  • I haven’t read Girl Wash Your Face or other books by Rachel Hollis. So I might be out of line, but I find there are a fair amount of similarities. Both talk about poop in there books, both are small business owner turn book/internet empire, and both quote Maya Angelou. Allie, unlike Racheal, attributes the quote. So that’s a plus to this book for sure!
  • I briefly checked out the Goodreads reviews after writing my first draft of this post. Despite Allie really not wanting this book to be about minimalism, most positive reviews mentioned that’s what they got from it.

Would I recommend this book?

I’m learning more towards No than Yes. I do think that Allie does fill a niche in the ‘owning less crap’ space, even if it’s not really for me. But I don’t think the book provides enough info to its reader. Additionally, I don’t think its effective enough at it’s main goal: funneling people into joining her course. Like people are already paid for a product and it didn’t provide that much value. How can we be sure the next product won’t be the same…

This book is going into the “Marge Simpson going Mmmm” level of my tier list of book reviews (Link here to the whole list). You can also go there for more reviews of book I’ve read for the blog. The book isn’t terrible, and I’m pretty sure I’ll remember it. At the same time, it’s not really a value add.

That’s pretty much all I had for this book. Allie does have podcast. I’ve listened to one episode, and I have some thoughts. I will listen to a few more, and probably make a separate post about that in the future.

Update 2022-05-08:

So I was minding my own business, scrolling Pinterest and an old blog post of Casazza’s popped up on my feed. A Beginner’s Guide to a Minimalist Home and the introduction of this book are the same. The first seven paragraphs about walking around your home are basically verbatim. This explains why I thought the book had such intense mint green chevron vibes, they literally do.

Parts of the blog post were edited, but the majority was the same. I did a really quick scan of some of her other posts and didn’t see any moments this obvious of self-plagiarism, but many of the blog titles got reused.

This cements my feeling that this book was a lazy project to push her courses. I don’t think that she needs to write 100% new content for the book, but also think it’s weird to keep so much of it the same.

I personally don’t like a lot stuff I wrote 5 years ago and would likely rework it a lot if it was going to a publisher. I guess I assumed others would have a similar feeling.

If you have any thoughts about that, I would love to know.

Backsliding and Some Thoughts about my History with Stuff

stock woman on rock platform viewing city

Although I do not consider myself a Minimalist (if I had to label myself I would say I’m a critic of the movement given how many books on the subject I shittalk). I do agree with the general idea that people in first world countries own too much crap. And owning the right amount of crap might have some positive knock-on effects to other parts of life.  

In the past 3-ish years I’ve been working really hard to stop buying extra stuff. There’s few of the reasons I fell into the trap of overconsumption and I just wanted shared them with you. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience.

Lifestyle creep: 

When I started my first real person job, I had only few work appropriate clothes collected from various summer office jobs. Not really enough to keep me going in a full time professional environment.  

I also was earning, like, 3 times what I was making at my part-time job. So the money might have gone a bit to my head and I spent a fair amount of cheddar on clothing and general lifestyle stuff.  

stock image of professional woman giving a presentation
Photo by The Coach Space on Pexels.com

Pretty much all the crap the finance books warn you about. For the first year and a half of my professional career I was a walking money-unconscious millennial stereotype. Lattes, avocados, ordering mixed drinks at restaurants, take out for lunch. The only spot I think I broke from the archetype your boomer parents are always complaining about is that I didn’t have credit card debt. #flex 

Although I didn’t have any debt, yet, the lifestyle was more expensive than it should be. I did notice this trend when I tried my hand at budgeting and have since taken more steps to be less wasteful with my spending. Also wasteful lifestyle wise as well. Hard to say I care about the environment but also buy from H&M

PayPal 

There are definitely some impulse purchases that would not be in my life if I didn’t have a PayPal account. It’s just too easy to complete the purchase. Which I know is the whole point of the service…  

PayPal knows the devices I’ve ordered from before so it will automatically log me in. So the friction between me seeing something stupid online and ordering it and basically zero. That might explain such purchases as: a few pairs of shoes I ordered while walking to the bus, a pack of holographic dickbutt stickers I ordered before bed, and an electric spinning wheel I saw on my Instagram feed…  

Stickers on Ipad cover featuering a holographic dick butt
Why did I order 50 of these?

Sidebar: don’t get me started on how much crap I’ve bought just cause I kept getting Instagram ads for it. Not proud of that.  

Adulting 

I don’t think the word adulting is still cool to say. But it was another way I ended up buying stuff. Once I moved out of my parents after university there were some things that I needed. And a lot of things I thought I needed but realistically was just wanted. Like did I need mixology set? Probably not, but it was the start of the the pandemic and I needed something to keep me busy.  

Writing all of this out is making me super aware of how basic I sound. Which, like I am, but… that’s not the point of this post.

Why did I decide to get my shit together? 

I feel like all the stories I read online or in books, have a very dramatic breaking point: either credit card debt, strained relationships with family, an epiphany after a health scare for example. My reasons were extremely underwhelming in comparison.

I knew I would eventually have to move out of the basement apartment which I had really cheap rent on. I needed to stop buying stuff and get rid of some of it because I was either going to move into a microscopic studio apartment or with a roommate. While paying double in rent than the space I currently had.  

So to make sure I could realistically live in whatever the space I was moving into I knew I needed to downsize.  

stock image cardboard boxes on living room
Photo by Mister Mister on Pexels.com

If memory serves me right, I did have a passing interest in minimalism at this point. I read half of Marie Kondo in university, years prior (my friends and I had a good giggle at the part about folding socks and I pretty much gave up right after). I also listened to The Minimalist podcast and hated it. And read Joshua Becker’s book The Minimalism Home (review here).  

My most effective way I decluttered was surprisingly through the minimalism game  (Day 1, one item, Day 2 two items, … Day 31, thirty one items). Despite me just saying I hated the Minimalists. 

I didn’t play it the whole way through but I think I got to day 25. Which was still a good amount of things.  

I actually filmed all of it at the time. If I have any of the footage still I might make a video of it.  

flatlay of the decluttered items in the minimalism game
Archive photo of Day 21 of the Minimalism Game back in 2019

So I do the move, and it’s overall okay (this isn’t the move feature in this post, but the one the year before it). I’m sure my old roommate could point out (rightfully) that my stuff did take more than my share of the common space, such as kitchen or washroom cabinets.  

So my downsizing efforts weren’t perfect. No one was going to feature a picture of my room or apartment in their Pinterest boards. Unless they want their boards to be filled with bedrooms that have unpacked boxes of yarn.  

While living there, I started this Blog, and began tracking the stuff that was going in and out of my life. Sorta as a way to keep myself accountable to not buy weird crap, but also just to see if the crap I did buy was something I kept in the long run. 

Sidebar #2: Just checked the posts for last year and most of the stuff I brought in I still have, minus some plants that died).  

Plants on Bookshelf

In the months leading to my most recent move, I got back into deep declutter mode. Since I didn’t want to waste time and energy moving stuff that doesn’t Spark Joy

Right before that move was probably the point I had the least amount of things since moving out of my parents as an adult. Although, based on the feedback of my friends that helped me move, it was still a lot of stuff.  

Uhaul truck on moving day
From my most recent move

So where are we now?

If you’ve been paying attention to the blog (thanks by the way), you might have noticed that the past few months a lot of things have been coming in and not a lot going out. Which isn’t necessary a bad thing…  

Except I’m feeling the pull of some old habits resurface. Particularly the past few weeks with the week Black Friday and Boxing Day sales. I’m made a few purchases which were not as carefully thought-out as I would like in a perfect world. Examples being two plants from a local seller, and pots that I’ve seen on Instagram a million times.  

There were moments here and there were I did a bit better, like One of a Kind Show, which is a really large vendor sale of Canadian artists. Supporting locally made is something I value, and I’ve gone pretty friggin’ hard in the past.  

It’s been two years since I’ve been, I was excited to go, yet worried about over spending. I think I was pretty good. Mostly due to my partner rolling his eyes and making fun of me for having this blog while also wanting all of the things. I did end up getting a few items: a shirt, a sweater, some presents for my parents and a craft kit. Some people may find that was a lot but, again, better than previous years.  

me screaming in a forest
Me in said sweater yelling in the woods

After this I bought some pots I saw on instagram/online that I decided to order.  

That was definitely a willpower issues. Did I need pots? Not really… Especially since I regret the purchase as the colours on the website are not close to the actuals.  

Chive planter in peacock blue

This time of year is kinda tough if you are trying to not buy things. The darkness gets to your bones. You lowkey feel like an animals trying to scavenge all the things you need to survive hibernation and it’s all on sale!  

It can be helpful if there’s stuff that have been on a list and you’re looking for a deal. But trying to not let that snowball into somethings larger, is really hard. Which is were I’m at. I’ve ordered a bunch of stuff online and for a short while I forgot what I ordered and when stuff that was arriving in the mail. So every day was a little surprise. Yay consumerism.  

But what would I have done differently?

The main one is listening to my partner when he was trying to talk me out of these purchases. He knows I’m trying to curb my spending. I would just look at him, giggle and hit the PayPal ‘buy now’ button.  

That’s probably why a lot of decluttering books mention having a accountability partner. Until you’ve fully ~shifted your mindset~ toward minimalism or whatever, it’s hard to not want to follow old, yet wasteful patterns. So having someone that you can mention wanting something and hear them telling you ‘NO’ can be powerful. As well as someone to discuss the feelings and just getting a dialog going can remind you why you want less stuff. 

stock photo of women talking to each other
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

 Another tried and true things all the books mention is having a goal. I didn’t and I think I let that lost feeling manifested in weird ways. I don’t know if I’m fully over it now. But I’m high on that New Year’s Resolution good good and been able to go *checks calendar* 8 days without buying any crap.

Hopefully I will be able to keep up that energy throughout the year. This year, I have some savings goals, as well some environmental impact goals that I’m trying to keep top of mind as we continue into 2022.   

That pretty much it. This post ended up being a lot longer than expected. I mostly just wanted to write about feeling silly for buying so much crap through PayPal and how it made me feel like I was in my early twenties again and it just when from there. I would love to hear from you. What there something dumb you bought because of Instagram? Or because there was a Black Friday sale? I would love to hear about it.  

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Inbound vs Outbound #11 – August 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.

I was packing to move this month. I tried my best to keep track of things but there’s a chance a lot was missed. Really tried to only to move stuff I want to keep (spoiler: mixed results).

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • A bar cart;
  • One T-shirt;
  • One legging and sports bra set; and
  • One vacuum.
plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • Two jewelry design boards (FB Marketplace);
  • A carry case filled beading supplies (FB Marketplace);
  • A fishing tackle of beading supplies (FB Marketplace);
  • Two glass Terrarium (FB Marketplace);
  • Two outdoor chair and stools (FB Marketplace);
  • One Fijifilm Instax and three packs of film (given to a friend);
  • Two packs of scrapbooking paper (given to a friend);
  • One Gameboy with games and carrier (eBay);
  • More random bag of beading supplies (Buy Nothing Group);
  • A bag of knit slippers my grandma gave me three years ago (hospital NICU);
  • About 4-5 bags of clothing and household items (donated);
  • A office/school supplies (Buy Nothing Group/Gifted);
  • 100 paper bags (FB marketplace);
  • One crochet bear (Buy Nothing Group);
  • One plastic Christmas tree (Garbage);
  • One plant my friend found on the side of the road and left at my old place (returned to the side of the road);
  • One bean bag chair (gifted to my roommate);
  • One dinning table (gifted to my roommate); and
  • One pocket Neopet (eBay).

As predicted in my July post, lots of movement this month. I’m at the new place and there is a lot of unpacking to do, which will discuss in future posts.

Inbound vs Outbound #11 – July 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.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • Two work shirts;
  • Hard hat;
  • Safety vet;
  • No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg;
  • Landfill by Tim Dee; and
  • Five self watering planters.

plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • One picture frame (Buy Nothing Group);
  • One lunch box (Sold on FB Marketplace);
  • Two blouses (Gifted to my friend);
  • One Peperomia Frost (Sold on FB Marketplace);
  • A bunch of black plastic takeout containers (case reused drop off); and
  • An old month guard (garbage)

I’m pretty sure I’m missing a few items this month. I posted a lot of things online and waiting for them to get sold. So hopefully I can get the outbound list a little longer in August.

Inbound vs Outbound #10 – June 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.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

I brought in a cars worth of boxes of things that were previously being stored at my aunt’s house. You can read about that here.

Other items that came into my life:

  • One Peperomia Hope;
  • One Philodendron Birkin;
  • One ceramic planter;
  • One ergonomic keyboard;
  • One laptop stand;
  • One multi USB connection thing;
  • One ergonomic mouse pad; and
  • Sweatpants from Knix.

(you can tell this is the month I committed to the WFH lifestyle)

plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • Paper CD cases (recycled);
  • Plaques from races I won (Garbage);
  • Soap with a mustache pattern (gifted to my partner);
  • The book ‘Turtles as Pets’ (gifted to my partner);
  • A bunch of copper wires (Buy Nothing Group);
  • Random children books (little library and a donation box near a local church);
  • Random note book of yarn samples (garbage);
  • Guitar case (sold on Kijiji);
  • Manga/calligraphy set (gifted to roommate);
  • One roll of wrapping paper (Buy Nothing Group);
Off to do a Buy Nothing hand off

  • 5 rolls of duct tape (Buy Nothing Group);
  • A bag of textiles that’s been sitting in my car for easily 6 months (textiles recycling bin); and
  • 5 Pixar prints (Buy Nothing Group).

That’s it! Lots of things moving around in and out of my place. Sorry about the late update on this, I wanted the car post to be listed before this, and it took at while to write and edit.

Trying to Reclaim My Car

green scale model car on pavement

My car’s name is Dorian. Due to the fact that my car is gray. I love her! She’s my first big adult purchase and I use her pretty regularly to, ya know, drive.

I know The Minimalists say to love people, use things but I think I can love both.

But as of late, I’m not treating my car like I love her… Since I moved (back in July 2020), I’ve had some random boxes just sitting in my car because I didn’t want to clutter my apartment. This doesn’t make the clutter go away. And it being out of sight definitely did not made it easier to remember to actively take steps to intergrade or remove the crap from my life. I now totally understand why every decluttering book warns against off site storage. Out of sight, out of mind is a very real phenomenon.

Anyways, my life has recently reached a new, more cluttered point. Earlier this year, my parents moved and put some of my extra stuff into my aunt’s basement, as she still lives close by. I was texting her about something unrelated, and she mentioned I still have many boxes sitting in her basement.

That was a sign that it was time to get the stuff out of her house and take true ownership of my crap.

And oh my! I have soo much crap!! Poor Dorian was struggling as I was driving her home. I truly needed to clear out my car and make her usable. Since it was filled, including the passenger seat with boxes.

Step One was just clearing out the car. It took a couple trips, even while we used a cart to lug stuff up from the parking garage to my unit.

Step Two is looking through the contents of the box. That’s where it got a been a harder. There some stuff that I can declutter but a lot of it is stuff I don’t have space for, but also don’t want to get rid of. The majority of these boxes are are still sitting in boxes in my room as I write this.

But that can’t stay that way. Mostly because I want my room back, but also because I’m moving later this year and I don’t want to waste space in the moving van on stuff I don’t even want to keep.

Step Three has been getting rid of stuff. 

Donation centers have been closed off and on for the better part of a year due to lockdowns in Ontario. Although they are currently open, they are overwhelmed with donations. So the whole system is way less efficient than usual at redistributing donations.

As much as possible, I’ve been avoiding creating a donation pile. My current system is much slower and one that pretty much no one would recommend, due to it being so inefficient.

I’m currently selling cloths and home goods online on a variety of websites (eBay, Depop, Vinted, etc…). Any items that I don’t think have a resale value higher than it’s shipping cost are being posted in my local Buy Nothing group or FB Marketplace.

It’s been a pretty slow process. I’ve gotten faster at taking, editing and uploading product pics. And for the most part people have been coming to me for pickups. Since I work from home most days so I can just pop down to my building’s lobby and do the hand off. So the active time involved isn’t that high.

A bunch of tapes off to their new home

My friends have been really impressed by my patience in this process. Like the one time a no-buy pickup was about an hour late. Or the person that didn’t read when I mentioned three times I wasn’t available until after 12pm show up at 11:30am looking to trade.  

Those have been the most annoying trades, and they are rare instances. The majority of the time, everyone is punctual and extremely nice. Which is the main reasons I’ve been keeping up with it.

But that’s pretty much where I’m at. My Inbound vs Outbound for June (posted late, but better late than never) will better detail where I’ve been diverting my decluttered items.

I really need to pick up the speed. I really want to have my space reclaimed, right in time to pack it all up for the next place in about a month and half.

I’ve also been recording this process in more detail on my phone. So I need to learn how to edit videos and I’ll post that here as a separate update. So look out for that in the coming weeks to months.

Since the cleanout, I vacuumed the car and it was empty for a short period of time… Unfortunately, the car is currently filled with work equipment, a rain coat, and a copy of Pretty Little Liars I found at my local little library. I plan on dealing with that soon…

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 Actual Review Part:

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 before 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 clothing declutting process, 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.

You can find more minimalism book reviews here.