Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading my blog this year and to those who have made the effort to comment.  I really enjoy reading everyone's thoughts and tips.

Here's to a great 2013!


My two fur babies :)

By the way - it is very difficult to take a photo of both my cats without one of them being nothing but just a blur.

My 10 favourite purchases in 2012

In undertaking my current cull, my most ruthless cull yet (I'll blog the results when I'm done), I thought to consider the 10 best things I have bought in this past year.

In no particular order:
  1. Isabel Marant "Dickers" in anthracite.  What can I say except that these ankle boots are extremely comfy.  I took them with me to the US earlier this year and crossed Manhattan in them - that's how comfortable they are.  I also think that this style of ankle boot looks better with skinny jeans than say the ACNE Pistol which means that they are more versatile for casual wear in my circumstances since I wear jeans every weekend.
  2. Marni at H&M Necklace.  I love this thing. I wear it all of the time. It was waiting for me on the shelf at Madison Avenue H&M the day after the launch. I think someone must have returned it. As I stood in the line for the cashier, no less than 5 women asked me where I got the Marni. Haha.
  3. Mulberry "Alexa" (regular) in black.  Since I bought this bag, I have not stopped using it.  I love that it is light and that I can go hands free.  At the time I also bought the "Alexa" in oak.  It has not made the list as it is no longer mine!  Over Christmas my Aunt did not have to work hard to convince me to swap with her... So I'm now the proud owner of the "Bayswater" in oak that she bought just last month but found too big for her after only using it twice. Thank goodness for an Aunt who buys designer handbags and is willing to swap since I now can't afford to drop a small bundle for just one bag.  I think the Bayswater will suit my corporate job a little better than the "Alexa" since it just fits A4.  You might see the "Bayswater" make next year's list :)
  4. Marni at H&M zigzag top.  This is so flattering on me. I wear it casually with jeans or under a blazer to work. It's really easy to take care of too.  Although comprised from silk, I just throw in my front loader washing machine on the delicates cycle.  All tops should be made like this.
  5. Comptoir des Cotonniers bird print blouse.  I bought this at Bloomingdales in NYC. I really like the vibe of this brand and wish that it would open up shop in Australia. Please?
  6. Jane Lamerton breton stripe top.  I actually bought two of these tops and I'm glad I did.  I absolutely love the style and that fact that there is some Lycra in the fabric, which means it keeps its shape.  If it was re-released again in other colours, I would buy them all.  I think that is saying something.
  7. Étoile Isabel Marant "Lexy" jacket.  I bought this jacket from the comfort of my hotel room in NYC.  I got an email from Net-a-Porter to say that it was back in stock and reserved for me in my cart for the next 24 hours. It only took me a couple of minutes to whip out my credit card to purchase it and I'm glad I did.  It's wonderful.  It's the second jacket I own from this label, and although disappointing that they are unlined for the money, the cuts really work on me.
  8. Fleur Wood "East 63rd Blazer".  I have really enjoyed wearing this... once I finally got around to snipping off the tags.  I feel really neat in it.  It's a great equestrian style and the elbow patches are cute.  Warm too!
  9. MM6 Maison Martin Margiela 2-piece knit.  Another NYC purchase.  It's ingenious really.  It is a knit with a detachable vest so that when worn together, it looks like a thick woolly cardi with a light grey knit underneath.  I wore it all through out Winter as well as the vest buy itself.  It has a real 'grandpa' feel to it, which I love. 
  10. Cue in the City black dress.  This was really cheap.  $60 I recall.  Although not perfect, some how it found itself on my permanent work dress rotation in Winter. A winner.

This year I have struggled in the pants and skirts department.  I have bought a few, but none have really stood out.  Although worn everyday, each and every bottom has its flaw *sigh*.

Also, I should point out that in the past week I have bought a couple of coloured items (!). Quarterly shopping wrap up coming up in the coming days as promised in my last post.

I will stop short at declaring that I want to turn minimalist (the fact that I still own 37 pairs of shoes makes me ineligible to join that club)... but seeing this rack filled with my favourite pieces, has again helped me remember that I really do not want to own anything that I do not love anymore.

This whole culling process has been a long one for me. I have read many other people's culling journeys and they seem so much easier.  I hope my journey ends soon.  I'm getting tired.

The cull diary - My shoe collection revisted

A year ago now I blogged about culling my shoes HERE & HERE.  I thought I would revisit where I stand in the shoe department especially now after a few recent purchases (I will do a quarterly shopping wrap up post in the coming days).

So I had 72 pairs at the beginning of this year, and after my big shoes cull I whittled that number down to 45 pairs.

These days without counting my slippers and sneakers, I own a total of 37 pairs (a pair I store at work is not pictured below).  Not bad for a woman who once owned in excess of 120 pairs!

Here they are in all their glory - together with some commentary.

Chloe "Silverados", ACNE "Pistols' in contrast , Isabel Marant "Dickers" in anthracite and taupe

Apart from the Chloe booties (which I love love love, but just not with everything), the other three pairs are regularly worn.  I would even consider repurchasing each pair upon it wearing out.  Which fortunately is now possible given that some designers are now repeating their most popular items.  What a great "trend"!
Row 1: Witchery black wedges, Witchery brown wedges, Wittner bow heels, Witchery leopard loafers.  Row 2: Robert Clergerie platform sandals, Country Road tan heels, Country Road black heels, Country Road pointy heels

Having now re-read last year's post detailing my shoe collection, the Witchery brown wedges will be culled this weekend (I'll give them to my mum).  I think I may have worn them once this year and I recall them hurting my toes.  Also, the Witchery leopard loafers are cute, but they are not the first pair I grab to wear. Potentially I will cull these too.  We shall see.

Marni heels, Miu Miu heels, Marc Jacobs bow heels, Marc Jacobs studded heels, Marc Jacobs 60s pumps

The Marni and Miu Miu heels, although not regularly worn, get whipped out when the occasion calls for them... they look great and the they are comfortable.  I can't say the same for the MJ heels. Although I like the look of these three MJ pairs, they just don't get worn given their height and lack of platform. My 30+ year old feet just can't handle them anymore. Sad.

Row 1: D&G pumps, Guess pumps, Chloe "Jodie" pumps, Wittner pink heels, Witchery cream  heels.  Row 2: Marni at H&M sandals, Country Road leopard sandals, Witchery gold sandals, Urban Soul tassel sandals.  Row 3: Country Road ballet flats in blue, green and red, Witchery tan ballet flats.  Row 4: J.Crew "Cece" flats, Marc Jacobs "Maddie", Witchery embellished flats, Urban Soul flats

I love the Chloe pumps, but the other 4 pairs on the top shelf do not get any love.  I think I'll definitely cull the D&G pumps and I will look at replacing the Wittner and Witchery heels with a single pair in a light tone but with lower heels. It seems that 7 cm is the most I can handle these days without a platform.

All my ballet flats are regularly worn except the MJ Maddies.  They are a little bit too small for me, yet I just can't seem to let go.  Why is that?

Robert Robert heeled boots, Country Road over the knee flat boots.

I have worn the heeled boots only once or twice in the past year, but I am keeping them until I can find a suitable replacement.  The Country Road boots have been worn a lot and they are ok but just not perfect. I'll look to replace these too.

Since undertaking my big shoe cull earlier in the year and in the course of this last year I have determined the following when it comes to shoe shopping:

1. My feet can no longer handle high heels, so I will no longer buy them.
2. Nice mid-heels are hard to find.
3. It's worth splurging on well made shoes that will be worn regularly. Putting such shoes on and wearing them is a pleasure.  Buying cheaper shoes in a similar style becomes a nonoccurence.  You actually save money in the long term.
4. There is one caveat on the above statement: ballet flats.  I jump at the opportunity to buy ballet flats on sale. Although I can appreciate Lanvin, Chanel and Repetto flats, I cannot imagine paying the big bucks for them since I buy flats for walking in properly, as in to and from work.  Each and every pair I own apart from the J.Crew and MJ flats was purchased for less than $50.

Happy holidays everyone!

So we're off to my parent's house to fill our bellies with Barszcz, Uszka, Pierogi, Śledzie and Makowiec... Then tomorrow to celebrate Christmas the Aussie way at my boyfriend's aunt's and uncle's house.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday period!


Material obsessions: when is enough... ENOUGH?

I never meant for this blog to be a study into consumerism or minimalism... It is not.  But at one point last weekend I realised finally what it is that I am doing here: I'm trying to figure out when enough is ENOUGH.

I have a subscription to Vogue Australia and the January issue arrived last Friday. There was an article in there which I found rather fascinating...  Titled “Material Obsessions“ by Kelly Doust, it narrates one woman's decision to sell her home to upgrade to another.  This involves culling back her wardrobe and putting all her worldly possessions she does not need on a daily basis into storage to better present her home for sale. I will not give away what happens in the end, but it opens her eyes as to the true necessity of her belongings. 

I must say that the contents of this article resonated with me A LOT. 

My boyfriend and I have now totally moved into our new place and as per most Australian homes we now have a dedicated “junk” room. Yay.  This is in fact the spare bedroom in which all our unpacked boxes live. Somewhere in the midst of all the boxes are our dining table place mats – one of the few things in those boxes causing us to say “Where are they? We need them!”. Everything else it seems... we can live without. So why do we have all this stuff?  I don't know why, but I know that I tend to hold on to things 'just in case' or if 'this' or 'that' happens. Or worse still, I have plans for some things that never eventuate.

In reading this Vogue article I asked my boyfriend if he possessed anything which in his mind was irreplaceable. He said that apart from his photographs - everything he owned could be replaced... Suffice to say I feel the same about most of my possessions also. Especially the contents of my wardrobe.

I now know for sure after my last post that I am not a minimalist (I doubt that I could ever call myself that), but what I didn't expect to experience as I unpacked my wardrobe over the weekend is the monumental disappointment that I would feel at the sheer volume of clothing that I own that I DO NOT LOVE.  There are plenty of things I do love, having carefully planned and thought through a number of purchases over the last year, but plenty still that just sit there in my so called 'twilight zone'. 

Back at our old place these pieces could just be stored in my 'twilight wardrobe', but now my so called 'twilight wardrobe' is our only wardrobe and everything we own just does not fit in there.  I could go to IKEA to buy yet another piece of particleboard furniture to store all of our unnecessary stuff... or I could just pare down for real. No more dillydallying... Enough is enough.

DIY: Home staging & property styling, complete with before and after pictures

A few weeks back I wrote about styling my little cottage for sale.  After the agent appraised it, I had an interior stylist come through to give me a quote with respect to styling and hiring stage furniture.  The quote was in excess of $2,000 for a very small 2 bedder for a hire period of 4 weeks and then $200 per week for each week thereafter.  Having just bought our new home, paying $2,000 plus for something I could not keep was out of the question, so my boyfriend and I opted to style the property ourselves.

While it's been on the market, I’ve gone back on multiple occasions to check the state of the fresh flowers and to empty the junk mail from the letter box – but only the other week did I finally remember to take my camera.

Of course a post like this is not complete without the before pictures. In this case the pictures are of the property when I first inspected it prior to purchasing (and also a few just after settlement).  Also let me set the scene for you...

It was the first weekend of opens for my little cottage, this was what seemed like the millionth property that I was inspecting and as per usual there were hoards of interested people inspecting it also.  My parents were too busy that weekend to have look and to give me their honest assessment and my boyfriend was interstate.  I had a good feeling about it and although it was clear that whoever resided there adored it in all its purple glory, it was a far cry from what I imagined it could be.  I left the inspection excited by what I had just seen but a little hesitant about making a big purchasing decision all by myself. 

The agent rang me on Monday morning to tell me that 3 offers had been submitted and unless I put one in by COB I would miss out on securing the property.  I put my offer in regardless of the fact that neither of my parents nor my boyfriend had seen it... Of course I secured it.  My boyfriend's comment when he saw for the first time was “it has potential” but on the inside he was thinking – what have you done!?

The BEFORE pictures

The main bedroom.

The dark purple feature wall, was in reality much darker...

The lounge room.

The vendor assured me that I would get used to the purple...

The kitchen.

Believe it or not, the kitchen cabinets were originally pink - the vendor had opted to paint them cream and burgundy.

Second bedroom
I found the wall colour in this room very unappealing.  Because the only natural light source was a skylight, the murky pink tinged grey just wasn't doing anything for the room!

Hallway & Bathroom
The hallway in it's original condition was dark and dingy due to the burgundy feature wall (again much darker in reality).  Also not only were the hallway light fittings ugly, but they were not centred!

I should point out that I put up with that horrible pink basin and pink tap ware the entire time I lived in my little place... In the end it was so cheap and easy to update the bathroom that I regret not doing it whilst I lived there!

During renovations

Main bedroom
Unfortunately the floorboards were mostly knackered when we ripped up the carpets, so all new floors had to be put in.

Selecting a white for the lounge room, ripping up the carpets and priming walls before painting.
We lived with concrete floors in the lounge room for 7 months before we had the time and money to install floating floors. I found the concrete to be more pleasant than the crusty old carpet.  Looking back at these photos makes me feel very relieved that the house we just bought has freshly polished floors and has been recently re-painted white.  Thank goodness!  It now means we can concentrate on the fun stuff!

How my little cottage looks now – staged for sale

After primer, paint and new floorboards, new light fittings for the hallway were one of my first purchases for my new home.  Hallway light fittings help set the scene as you enter a home and in my case they helped modernise my 1900s cottage.

Main bedroom
I styled each room using the wall art as the focal point and as the inspiration for the room's colour scheme.  In this room I picked up on the the teals and blues in the painting above the bed.  I bought cushions in that colour from IKEA ($4.95 each) and just happened to own the Glasshouse 'Coney Island' candle which comes packaged in a vibrant teal coloured jar (on the bedside table, which I freshly painted high gloss white).

My Country Road striped bedlinen has also gotten a work out.  I can't wait to actually sleep in it!

Second bedroom
The idea behind the second bedroom was to show off its size and hence versatility. 

Believe it or not, but apparently unless a potential purchaser sees a double bed in a bedroom (especially in a second/spare bedroom), they will assume it does not fit.  We do own a spare queen ensemble, but hiring a truck or removalist to move it into there did not fill us with joy, so we instead purchased cheap IKEA bed frames ($80 each) and placed blow up mattresses inside ($30 each).

With this particular room I also created a little study nook in the corner of the room.  My IKEA Billy (which I already owned) was meant to show where one could put robes.

Incidentally, when we lived in this house, this room was utilised as our lounge/TV room.

Lounge & Eat-in Kitchen
The stylist mentioned that because the property did not have a dedicated dining room, an eating area had to be created, otherwise potential purchasers would be asking "but where do I eat".  We did not own a little table setting, nor did we really need one for inside, but we were delighted when we found this cute 'ROXÖ' white powder-coated steel outdoor setting in IKEA ($129 for the set).  This little beauty will soon take pride of place under our lemon tree in the back yard of our new place...

IKEA 'ROXÖ' outdoor table and chairs

Fresh flowers breathe life into a vacant property... Had I had more time, the IKEA 'Lack' coffee table would have been painted high gloss white.

Updating the kitchen was one of my holiday projects when first moved into the property.  I sanded back the cabinets and then used a roller with a short nap, primer and Dulux Aqua Enamel in Vivid White to paint the cabinets. The new handles are from IKEA.  I had also planned to paint the tiles white with tile paint, but ran out of time.

I can't wait to have back my Le Creuset pot...

In the bathroom all wooden accessories were removed, walls white white, pink fixtures replaced with stainless steel and a shiny new white basin to replace the old pink one.  I also painted the cabinet high gloss white.  I had planned to paint the mirror frame white, but unfortunately ran out of time.  All up, updating the bathroom cost a few hundred dollars.

So there you have it! We spent a fraction of the money on bits and pieces than it would have cost to have the property professionally styled.  Although it took an entire weekend to set up, I'm very pleased with the results!

In case you are wondering, all paintings photographed are originals painted by my Mother.  Some have recently even been exhibited and are for sale (contact me for details).  We had a great old time flicking through her collection to select the appropriate art works!

mycatssaymeow culling & buying retrospect

I have been playing around with my blog labels, hence reading over some of my old posts.

First of all it's a wonder that some of you have kept on reading (thank you) given that I write that I'll blog about it, but then I don't (sorry, but such is life - too much going on).

Secondly, I have been chuckling about my failed attempts to come up with my 'ideal wardrobe'... I thought it would be interesting to do a retrospect post, so that you too can have a chuckle at my failures and also to eventually show (in the distant future sometime) that it won't happen overnight, but it will happen when trying to build the perfect wardrobe. I think too many of us get caught up in having to have it all right now, instead of thoughtfully building it slowly.  You will see shortly that I have certainly fallen into this trap in some respects.

So without further ado, I hereby present the mycatssaymeow retrospect.

Country Road Spend'n'Save Purchases

On a whole I find that the majority of my Country Road purchases are usually successful.  This is due to me carefully selecting items to take best advantage of my Spend'n'Save vouchers by trying on the entire store. I don't usually buy an item unless I am certain that I will get the wear the out of it.

The beige pants were identical to the black pair, but I had to cull them as I inadvertently bought the wrong size and only realised this after quite a while. I went to wear them and realised that something was not right...

The jeans, although I'm not happy with the fit entirely, have been well worn... Given this point I will not hesitate to invest more money into a pair to replace these - I'm thinking a pair of blue Nudie High Kais to join the black pair I bought earlier in the year.  Nudie High Kais are flattering and comfortable on me.

On top of what is pictured above, there were a number of other purchases from Country Road, including dresses, tops and a pair of boots. All have been regularly worn.

Cue Purchases

I find Cue to be a little hit and miss for me.  I get quite excited by their mega 70% off the original price sales, but often buy things that are not quite right. The two slit sleeve blazers I bought and since culled have instilled in my mind not to get sucked into weird cuts and shapes that appear to be 'cool' because more probably than not these pieces are totally impractical for me.

I think the bow belts will get more of a work out in Summer - being a big wearer of black and grey in Winter, they highlighted the fact that I'm not so skinny anymore. I look forward to wearing them with printed dresses.

On top of what is pictured above, I also bought a couple of dresses, a few skirts and tops. My choice in tops has proven to be a little bit questionable, so these may in fact end up on the cull pile to be sold to raise funds for a more thoughtful purchase.

Online Purchases

I love shopping online.  Surprisingly the majority of the time I get it right. The items I have labelled best buys really are.  The much hyped Isabel Marant 'Dicker' boots are honestly one of my favourite things in my wardrobe, as is the dark grey jacket from her spin off 'Etoile" label. I would buy both of these pieces 100 times over.

The jacket marked "to be culled" has become superfluous due to the love the IM Etoile one gets, the striped top is not quite right and my Mum managed to wangle the red jeans from me after I returned from the US with burgundy J Brand skinnies.  So really, all in all I haven't done too badly in the online shopping department. I guess you could say that my saving grace is that I am yet to buying anything from ASOS (I've heard it's hit and miss).

Witchery Purchases

I think the proof is in the pudding: I should stay generally stay away from Witchery, especially from their sales on sale items.  I loved both the floral dress and the over-the-knee 'Ella' boots to death, alas each only lasted one season before they literally fell apart. I still have the dress for around the house as I adore the print, but I think next time I would rather invest my money elsewhere.

Miscellaneous Buys 

I'm glad I bought the Joseph trench coat, but it has not received the love that it deserves, problem being that as soon as I started wearing the coat pictured below - I forgot about all my other coats. I think next Winter I will make more of an effort to wear it.

The top I like, but it drives me insane. Within 15 minutes of putting it on the sleeves are stretched (as I like to scrunch them up my forearms). I'm vowing to myself not to buy anymore 100% linen tops.
And the dresses... they are cute - but I'm not anymore *sigh*.

The Winners

Every item pictured above except the animal print shoes has earned its keep.  I really like both animal print shoes but I have not worn either enough to determine whether they truly belong.

More Animal Print and Stripes

Some of the above items have helped me understand that things are not always what they seem... 
  • Both striped items seemingly simple and classic but had features which annoyed me.
  • The animal print items were badly cut, I returned the blouse for this reason but kept the dress due to my lack of work appropriate dresses at the time. The dress ended up tearing the entire length of the back seam within the year!
  • The Country Road grey dress is a size large (!) and still quite fitted. I now often find myself with three different sizes of the same item in fitting rooms to get the right fit.
  • The ACNE Pistols seemed like the perfect ankle boots, yet I have found that on me they only look good worn with skirts and dresses... thankfully, I wear skirts and dresses a lot of the time, so they have been consistently worn throughout Winter.
In retrospect

This post has helped me see that it's worth spending a little extra to buy the things that one really wants (my handbags [not itemised in this post], all the ankle boots, the IM Etoile and IRO jackets fit into this category for me).  I realise now that if something seems a little unaffordable it's worth foregoing the cheaper bits and pieces (that will end up on the cull pile in any event) to eventually save for the pricier items.

Also, I have to say that I am shocked about the volume of new things that I have added to my wardrobe throughout the time since starting this blog!  What's scarier is that I have not blogged about all of my purchases... For example pictured above are only two items that I bought in the US - but upon my return to Australia they almost didn't let me on the plane (which tells me that there are many more recent purchases)!

I really think that I need to get a wish list together for the following year to keep better focused on this 'ideal wardrobe' plan of mine.

Moved but no settled...

So we've moved into our new place... but we're a long way away from being settled in just yet.

Due to needing to get my boyfriend's place ready to rent out, we have not had the time to unpack and set up much except the kitchen (the most important room in the house in my opinion).  There are boxes stacked in every corner of almost every room and I am living out of various clothing receptacles; suitcases, boxes, department store pillow bags, you name it. I don't even know where half my shoes have gotten to? In light of my comment in my last post about not putting away anything until I determine its need, I have left unpacking my clothing and shoes until such time as I have a solid few hours of spare time to sort it all. Maybe this weekend...

On the shopping front, I am proud to say that it's now been exactly 1 month since my last fashion related purchase.  Sure I want to buy pretty new things, but items for the new place seem more important right now (eg a new kitchen bin, new furniture, a dish rack, new crockery, things for our garden etc etc etc).  Also when window shopping, I think back to the suitcases, boxes and department store pillow bags full of clothes and think to myself that before I buy anything fashion related, the new item must earn it's place in my limited wardrobe space. 

My mind is also bursting full of things I want to do around our new place - some 100% necessary (build and install flyscreens in all windows*) and others 100% conceited (pretty up my boyfriend's old filing cabinet so that it doesn't make our study look ugly). There are honestly not enough hours in a day!

* Not only did we discover that all the windows in our new place had been painted shut (hahahahaha *sigh*) but there was not a single flyscreen to be seen anywhere! The things you fail to notice during open inspections...

Ready, set, Pack! Move! & Reset!

I'm packing in preparation for our house move this coming Monday.

In a perfect world I would have liked to declutter our possessions whilst packing.  Alas, the world is far from perfect, so I will make do with vowing to myself that nothing shall be put away into a shelf/cupboard/wardrobe in our new home without first being scrutinised as to its usefulness.

There are no walk-in robes or built-in wardrobes in any of the bedrooms in our new home (a deal breaker for most, but I maintain that the existence of such features makes rooms less versatile), so as of this coming Monday my boyfriend and I will be back to sharing a 3 door IKEA PAX wardrobe.  The last time we did this I had my boyfriend storing his knits in Net-a-Porter boxes (oh, the humanity!). Welcome to my new nightmare... or should I say challenge?

Although my wardrobe is far less over flowing than when I started in my culling adventures over a year ago, thanks to an overseas shopping spree and a number of momentary lapses of judgement during the Winter sales, again I feel a necessary cull brewing.

In the outset I had hoped to have my 'ideal wardrobe' sorted by the start of 2012, but in reality my wardrobe is far from ideal... So just as the Australian Bureau of Statistics has reset the index numbers for each index series as of the September quarter of this year (which by the way totally caught me off guard whilst doing a calculation at work - I knew something was not right when my calculation indicated that the cost of living had halved in the last year... if only), I'm resetting my cull tallies and hence my ideal wardrobe journey.

Self-imposed spending bans vs those due to circumstances

Lately I've been reading a lot about self imposed shopping/spending bans (by the way, I think they are to blame for my record poor eBay sales).

I find it very interesting to read about participants' grand objectives with respect to undertaking a ban only to read weeks later that they purchased x (but it doesn't count because a voucher was used) or they purchased y (but it doesn't count because it was an item that was on their wish list for months if not years).  I giggle to myself but then think - I've been there and done that! I can totally relate and at times it's almost as if I am reading about my very own shopping ban attempts.

So yes, I too have tried to put myself on a shopping ban on many occasions. I've even written about my different shopping philosophies and strategies HERE and HERE and HERE. Although I have loosely succeeded in changing the way that I shop, when it comes to shopping bans, I have failed miserably.

Self-imposed spending bans

I could never really figure out why maintaining not shopping was such an issue for me?  It's only now, with the purchase of our new home (yes, settlement when smoothly) and the responsibility of servicing three mortgages between my boyfriend and I, that the penny has dropped as to the reasons for my past failures.

The reasons are as follows:
  1. I have always been dissatisfied with the contents of my wardrobe - there's always a piece or two missing.  Upon buying those two pieces, I realise that there are another one or two pieces missing.
  2. I will refrain from saying that I like to shop (because I seldom make a day of it), but I do love bargain hunting. This usually occurs in short spates in my lunch break. Let me tell you, a lot can be purchased during a lunch break, and multiple bargains soon add up to a mountain of money.
  3. Until recently I could afford to shop like a maniac (read: go crazy during sale times and make single expensive purchases).
  4. I have had no reason to budget until now, meaning that my level of disposable income was high. This of course leads to disposable purchases, in the sense that one starts behaving like a spoiled child with too many toys... you wear it once and then toss it in the corner.
Does this sound like you? If not, then why do you think that you have failed in your shopping/spending ban?

Spending bans due to circumstances

To say that being faced with the challenge of servicing three mortgages has changed the way I view spending my money and the true necessity of my possessions (more to do with having to pack them than anything else) would be the understatement of the century!

There are two ways I could go now:
  1. Not spend as much as I have in the past.
  2. Accumulate a massive credit card debt in order to maintain my unrestricted lifestyle.
No prizes for guessing which path I plan to take and already I have noticed a mind shift in the way I approach shopping and spending money.

My first observation is that I have stopped buying things that I do not NEED.  This may seem like a no brainer, but I challenge you to think of the last 5 things you bought and ask yourself: "do I really need this or did I just want it?".

Take my last frivolous shopping spree (if you can even call it that) that I enjoyed in Melbourne - I bought 5 things and truth be told I don't need any of them.  Not to say that I will not use or wear my purchases or that I am not pleased with them - but I bought everything simply because I wanted it.  Needless to say, no more buying the latest moisturiser just because it sounds good and I want to try it, because for the time being I have enough moisturiser to turn the Sahara into an tropical oasis.

Secondly, I have noticed that the things that I do need (arguably) have become glaringly obvious.  I find myself looking out for this stuff and my vision is no longer obscured by the things I just want and buy first or buy because I like or buy just because I can. These items that I NEED have now become the only items that I plan to buy.

My third observation is that I have parked the necessary purchases until such time that the need for them truly arises. For example I really do need new layering tops (I have been saying this to myself for years now). Say I was hit by a bus tomorrow and my clothes required to be cut away from me in hospital - I would be embarrassed by what lies beneath.  But given it is Spring here in Oz, this much needed purchase can be shelved until such time that it is truly required and I will make do with what I have for now.

And last but not least - I have come to acknowledge to myself that am an extremely lucky woman. Not only can I still afford to buy what I need, but I already have a wardrobe full of lovely clothes that would make most women pretty happy. It's time to take advantage of this blessing.

So next time you go shopping and are considering the purchase of yet another bottle of pink nail polish or the 10th striped top to add to your collection - ask yourself DO I REALLY NEED THIS?  I mean really ask yourself this question.  Answer it for yourself.  Don't feel compelled not to buy the item just because your answer is no (because maybe your circumstances allow you to go crazy Broadway style and also I would hate for you to miss out on the bargain of the century), but don't be surprised if you walk away empty handed.

Here is a video of Bart and Millhouse going crazy - Broadway style. Enjoy.


Good news!

The last month has been a whirlwind for us... we finally found a house!

Apart from the break we took for our holiday in March, we have been looking at open homes without fail each weekend and participating in auctions with no success for a year now.  We were thinking about giving house hunting a break for a month or so because we had lost our drive and then THE ONE came up when we least expected it. In fact the morning of the auction we almost didn’t bother getting out of bed thinking we had no chance (it was marketed for more than our budget).

Finding the ‘perfect’ home did prove difficult in the end, but we are very pleased with what we found and I truly cannot wait to ‘settle down’ at long last. I have felt like a nomad for a very long time now, knowing that where I was living was not long term.

Settlement of our new place is on 22 October. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly.

So needless to say the last couple of weekends have kept us very busy...  We have just finished preparing my little cottage for sale. We even had to re-build the picket fence as the monkey who built it in the first place used untreated timber so it was literally disintegrating before our eyes (it was so bad that we pulled it apart with our bare hands). I’m so happy with the new fence and that it doesn’t look like a Homer Simpson job that I have to share a picture.

Hopefully potential buyers will fall in love with the fence and submit a nice offer...
Apologies for the dark photo... I literally put the paint brush down after painting the last brush stoke moments before I took this photo with my iPhone at dusk.

Last weekend we worked on the garden and after deciding that I could not afford to professionally style my house and hire furniture etc - I did it myself with the help of my amazing boyfriend. We were working on it non-stop all weekend.  I will do a separate post on that as I am amazed with the results. Our effort was well worth it.

Next weekend we are off for a preplanned mini holiday to Melbourne... Having just bought a big house, we can't really afford to do what I usually do (shop) but we truly deserve it, so I will at least spend my Myer vouchers which I have been saving for a while now :)

Staggered Springtime culling

So it's Springtime here in Australia, and my wardrobe is in desperate need of a Spring clean.  I would love to stage another all out assault on my clothing, shoe and accessory collection like I did earlier in the year, but for the time being while my weekends are mostly spent out on the road searching for the perfect house, I will be staggering my culling.

This week I am waving goodbye to a Country Road dress - Lord only knows why I opted for the khaki colourway instead of the grey, two pairs of gorgeous flat boots which although I love the look of, I just don't wear, a Country Road shirt and drapey skirt that taunt me "you are fat" and an ACNE blouse which would look better on me if I was 10 years younger.

All of these pieces are for sale on my eBay page along with a few other goodies culled by my Mum and Aunt.

In search of miracle potions

I don't know about you, but I find that no matter how put together my outfit looks - if my face is not glowing I feel very average indeed.

Lately I have found myself obsessing about my face (vain, I know). I have general concerns about uneven tone, dryness, redness and achieving flawlessness but my particular concerns are as follows:

  1. A spring chicken I am not.  I'm starting to see the first signs of ageing having found myself on the wrong side of 30 some time ago now.  The lines appearing around my eyes sadden me.  It's really happening - I am getting old :(
  2. I have deep-set eyes that are a little close together. Let's just say that I do not look to Kate Moss for eye makeup inspiration. Further all this talk about contouring creases is completely irrelevant to me unless I'm doing a Halloween makeup look.
  3. Dark circles are my nemesis. More so than just the average shadowing caused by the fact that my eyes are deep-set and that I don't sleep enough.  My Mother recently commented on a photograph of me that I looked sick around the eyes...
  4. Extreme cheek and nose dryness has plagued me this Winter. My skin has been very flaky. Appropriate moisturisers are one thing but smooth application of BB creams and foundations are a whole new kettle of fish.
  5. "Allergy" is my middle name.  Red raw dermatitis on my eyelids and lips occasionally flares up.  I have a prescription cream of course, but I don't like using it as it causes thinning of the skin. I also suffer from hay fever which gives me the I-cried-all-day look all spring long.

Recently, I have spent many hours watching beauty youtubers and reading consumer reviews about creams & potions, primers, foundations, concealers, BB creams and tinted moisturizers. I'm in search of products which will hopefully become my HG (holy grail) products to plump up my skin and products to create a flawless base.  Of course reading reviews only goes so far, as one can only know if a product will work for them by trying it for themselves. I'm very keen to try Clinique's Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector and Mario Badescu's Control Cream.

Do you have any issues which you strive to fix with miracle potions?

Have you seen results upon using a product regularly?

Are you interested to read about bloggers' beauty routines and their HG products (I know I am).

The Cull Diary - Winter summarised

I've lost count of what I've culled and what I've bought since I returned from my US holiday in after Easter, so this post is an attempt to summarise my wardrobe goings on for the past few of months. After I'm done with this post I will recommence normal programming and restart documenting my wardrobe journey. I must admit I have lost my way a little. I guess you could even go as far as to say that I have been a little bit schizophrenic when it comes to my wardrobe culling and shopping lately... hearing voices and stuff:  

"K, you don't NEED to buy that!"
"K, why haven't you worn this dress you bought in the US yet?"
"K, don't go for one of your lunchtime 'walks' you know it will only result in spending your money."
"K, yes it's a bargain, but do you really NEED all three colours?"
"K, you should really get off your butt and re-cull your shoe collection."
"K, your eBay items are not going to photograph themselves..." 

I could go on and on.

Apart from the bow belts and tweed peplum skirt (which I wrote about this post), I also bought enough to fill half a wardrobe from Cue during their sales including a few items for this coming Summer.  So in short my wardrobe is full again!

My wardrobe DOES NOT look like this anymore :(

As per my 'one in one out' culling strategy this year, to make room for these new additions I have culled the following items:

  • WITCHERY snakeskin pumps... too high;
  • TONY BIANCO wedge booties... not worn these since I bought my ACNE pistols;
  • MOLLINI button detail booties... not worn a long time;
  • CUE:DION LEE slit sleeve blazer... it's impeccably cut, but the sleeve slits were just too weird for me;
  • COUNTRY ROAD black silk dress... it tore;
  • COUNTRY ROAD animal print silk dress... it tore;
  • WITCHERY animal print dress... not cut right for my bootylicious booty;
  • GORMAN grey dress... I tried to wear it again after it went AWOL for a couple of years, but I changed into something else each time as it was not quite right anymore;
  • GORMAN black dress...same dress as above but in black - so ditto;
  • ZAYT black cigarette pants... great fit but to think that I will ever fit into them is a pipe dream; and
  • CUE black bow detail skirt... it didn't make me feel great anymore when I wore it.

Looking at this very short list I'm not certain whether I managed to strictly adhere to my 'one in one out' rule (because as I said my wardrobe is FULL again).

My original idea was to blog about each new item I bought and the resulting cull item at the same time, but LIFE got in the way of that as much as I enjoy keeping this blog.  When I say LIFE I mainly mean house hunting over the weekends (that's EVERY weekend - agh!).  Also my boyfriend and I are now experts at losing auctions ... let me know if you need any tips.

Makeup organisation and my new makeshift vanity table

So we finally bought a stylish new desk for the study nook (pictures to come once we find a stylish new chair).  I was relieved that we could finally get rid of the cheap and ugly hand me down desk that my boyfriend has been using for years.

I was so happy about getting rid of it, that I even considered taking to this old desk with a sledge hammer to release my pent-up emotions about "stuff", but then I had an Oprah light bulb moment and I thought to myself I going to make a makeshift vanity table!

The results:

Not surprisingly the ugly desk looks a whole lot prettier (just) with a mirror and pretty girly things on top, also note the kitchy vintage glass for brush storage. Anyways this desk is in the spare room so the door can be shut at any time to hide it away.

Why the spare room? Well I usually get up before my boyfriend each morning and I would either need to turn on the lights or open the blinds to do my makeup - neither are especially nice things to be doing to someone who is trying to get a bit more sleep.  As a result I have been applying my make-up in the bathroom.  I have noticed however that over the course of each week the products slowly build up on the bathroom vanity which is not a large space by any stretch of the imagination (it's actually a very small space).  By the end of the week it looks damn messy to put it bluntly.  I find also that the majority of my makeup is neglected as I tend to use what has made it into the bathroom for the week (usually the same things that made it to the bathroom as the last week).

Enter the spare room.  Open the blinds in the morning and this room is bathed in natural light - perfect for putting on makeup.  Plus now that I have this 'pretty' vanity table, I have all the makeup that I own at my disposal which hopefully means that I will use it all and not neglect certain products.

What's that cool clear container that I see on top there? I hear you ask... well it's the KEJI 5 Drawer Desktop File in clear from Officeworks.  It was only $16.99!

The organiser also comes in a 4 drawer version where the bottom draw is twice the depth of the top three draws.  For the record, the depth of each draw of the 5 drawer unit perfectly houses eye shadows, palettes and tubes of stuff. Foundations can also be stored in there if you don't mind placing them horizontally.  Items that will not fit into the drawers of the 5 drawer unit are products such as moisturiser jars and powder jars, hence why my MUFE HD powder is sitting on the silver platter.

Yes, I know this Keji box not as cool as Kim Kardashian's makeup storage drawer set, but this will have to do whilst I wait to have my own custom designed box made up...

It's Oxymoron Time! (Time for Country Road's "spend and save")

It’s that time again: Country Road Spend and Save time!

I always try to take advantage of the offer because I have long loved Country Road and I want to maintain my loyalty status - plus I'm always after something new for work.  

I'm hearing and reading online that people are loving this new season collection, but truth be told, I have found it quite challenging to really like anything in store to say the least.  The cuts are not flattering and I guess acid pastels aren't really my thing...  

I spent 3 lunch breaks last week to progressively try on every item in the store to maybe change my mind about it - to no avail.

As always the sales assistants have tried their big sell on me: "but you can tie it back with the neutral pieces in your wardrobe".  But I’m my own person when it comes to shopping and what I wear – you cannot convince me to be otherwise. 
Furthermore nothing really seems worthy of my hard earned money.  Two of the dresses that I tried on (including the one on the far left in the image above) and considered buying were comprised from polyester!  Country Road, if you want me to remain your loyal customer, please do not make garments comprised from inferior fabrics! 
I did buy something in the end (not new season)... a dress and matching bed linen and pillow cases... both devoid of colour, both black and white striped :)

What I spent my savings on in Country Road...

Questioning minimalist wardrobes and in a fashion rut... again.

Earlier this week I had an epiphany moment.  I am a LAZY creature of comfort and as a result my favourite pieces are falling apart and I need to change this because it does not make me happy.

Get me into a dress which I feel comfortable in, and although it may not be the most flattering of dresses, you will not be able to get me out of it - until it tears!  Yes, that's right, earlier this week I found myself in the ladies loos (rest rooms) at work armed with a roll of packing tape and some scissors fixing my dress which I had worn to death.  This came only weeks after I retired my favourite black silk dress after the tearing under the arms got so bad that I could no longer lift my arms without looking homeless...

One would think that I own only two dresses... and it seems that people do because the moment I wear something different I get asked "Oooh, is that new?" (and it probably is, but then I don't wear it again for ages, since I'm in favour of my dresses).

Recently not a week has gone by that I haven't worn one of the following dresses on at least 2 weekdays (funnily the same dresses which I wore last Winter):

From left to right: Country Road, Adam, Country Road, Country Road.

In the image above, I have included both retired dresses - the Country Road animal print dress dress (any ideas what I could do with the fabric?) and the Country Road black silk dress which incidentally I have managed to replace (thank you eBay).  This replacement will be saved for occasional dressing as the fabric is too delicate to wear on an everyday basis.

I know that it's a good thing that I now literally wear out my clothing (how it should be I think?), but I can't help but feel sad when I do given I have so many other things in my wardrobe which could be rotated around to prevent my favourites from wearing out.

It has made me wonder again how some of the women who follow the "minimalist wardrobe" method of dressing manage it?  Is it possible that they are all Law students with only 9 university contact hours hence most of the time they are just sitting around studying at home or in the library in their James Perse trackie dacks? (For my overseas readers 'trackie dacks' is what we Aussies affectionately call track suit pants).

I don't care how expensive an item is, if you wear it constantly it will fall apart.  Blazers will develop a shine from multiple dry cleanings, cotton breton tops will eventually look manky (especially under the underarms from deodorant) and a delicate silk item will likely develop seam slippage if you wear it normally. That is move around in it typing, carrying files and what not...

I'm sad that my favourites are gone, but the reality is that if you wear things, they wear out.  In actual fact I think that I'm just surprised.  Until recently I never wore anything out.  I would buy a heap of clothing, only wear it once or twice and then forget about it as I bought the next thing.  When I was a younger party animal, you would not catch me dead wearing the same thing in the company of the same friends.  Then Facebook came along and the has-this-been-photographed-on-Facebook test was born before getting dressed to go out.  Haha... those were the days.

My aim for this coming work week is not wear any of the above dresses (granted I can't wear the animal print one anyway as it's torn).  This is my way of injecting some impulse into my life.  Can I do it I wonder?  I might even need to plan my outfits for this week!

To do list success stories

In the interests of avoiding the all talk, no action pitfall I have refrained from listing all the things that I need to get done to organise my life on this blog.  Instead I have slowly plugged away at each task I know needs doing in between work, household chores, social engagements and property hunting (this last task in particular is especially exhausting and time consuming)...  I have a few successes to write about.

þ Finish my cosmetics cull.

One lucky Vogue forums member received 1.5 kg of my culled cosmetics including MUFE, Dior, Revlon, Lancome.  It felt good passing on this stuff to someone who would get a thrill out of it.  After having bought all new cosmetics in the US recently I knew that I would never use up all my older stuff since my shiny new things were a lot more appealing.

þ Sort out my paperwork. 

My boyfriend is happy we no longer hoard old receipts and cc statements from credit cards I have long cut up and an identity thief is currently plotting to become me since all of this was accidentally thrown away in the regular trash.  I still have an old paper accordion file to go through.  I have a sneaking suspicion that it is home to phone bills dating back to the mid 90s (from my first mobile phone).

þ List the remainder of my culled stuff on eBay. 

The majority of the photographs ended up being over-exposed since I was photographing mostly black Winter pieces in the dark (I miss you day-light savings time).  Thankfully it all mostly sold.  I still have a few Summer items to list.

þ Inch a step closer to actually donating the items from my charity pile. 

For months we have had an unsightly box in the hallway filled with stuff to donate .  Last weekend I packed it all away and it is now sitting in the boot of my car.  Next time I drive by a charity shop or a charity bin - it's good bye to this lot.

I’ve been battling through a few let’s just say ‘life’ issues lately so I’ve really had to force myself to do these things.  It is so easy just to surf the net or to vegetate on the couch and watch movies even though it feels so much more rewarding to get things done.  Sometimes the easy route is not easy after all...

Repurposing vases...

For ages now my Nespresso pods have been stored in one of those cheap IKEA food containers - you know the 17 for 7 bucks type. Not exactly pretty.

I looked into some of the storage products for sale at Nespresso but none really spoke to me apart from the clear perspex cube - but for forty something dollars I figured I could find something just as effective but cheaper.

I ended up buying a 16 cm diameter Maxwell and Williams Diamante Rose Bowl for $4.95 at General Trader and while I was at it, I also bought the 20 cm diameter version for a measly $9.95... Things then got a little bit out of hand when I visited IKEA and bought a further 2 vases for storage, but this time heavy square shaped ones. They were only $7.95 each - not bad.

So what can one store inside of pretty clear vases? Cat toys, makeup, nail polish, fruit, random knick-knacks making a mess of your surfaces just to name a few.

Inspiration - how to style a bow belt

I felt like needed some cuteness and happiness in my life at the moment, so I bought some bow belts made out of soft ruched leather.

Cuteness and happiness in belt form

Then my Mother dropped off her June/July issue of Harper's Bazaar and on page 40 I spied the original Burberry Prorsum version.

Then I got all excited about how Burberry Prorsum might have styled these whimsical accessories (and about the concept of "fashion" for the first time in a long time), so I had a look online.  Wear it over a skirt, a dress, a coat or a gown - you name it.

Burberry Prorsum - Pre-fall 2012 collection

Then I found a picture of Kate Bosworth looking magnificent in head-to-toe Burberry Prorsum and thought to myself, I must find a skirt like that!

Then I visited Net-a-Porter and I found out that said skirt costs a thousand bucks! Given my history with pencil skirts I thought I better not risk it (also spending that much money on a skirt seemed a little bit insane to me).

A cool grand will buy you this textured pencil skirt by Burberry Prorsum

Then I tagged along with my boyfriend on his quest to buy new glasses to the local shopping mall (I figured he might need the company).  Whilst occupying the time before his optometrists appointment, I found a similar skirt and for a fraction of the cost of the Burberry Prorsum original!


Now all I need is an owl jumper (!) but I'd happily settle for one with a different creature on it, maybe a squirrel?

Picture taken on a walk through Grant Park, Chicago, IL.

Don't you just love it when you get on a fashion roll?  It's been a while for me.