Sustainable Shaving?

Muhle safety razor and The Billie

Now that there are two ladies shaving in my household, I’ve upped our shaving game. Thankfully, my husband has been willing to serve as a guinea pig for alot of “innovations” for our family. When Harry’s arrived on the scene, we were all in and then to take our sustainable game further I urged him toward the safety razor. Meanwhile, I was sticking with my Venus.
However, as my daughter inched closer to needing her own supplies for the shaving game, I realized I needed to test drive a few options for myself. First, I tried my husband’s safety razor.  When I finished with all my fingers and toes still intact and only a very little cut, I figured it was worthwhile. I ordered my own, shown above.  It has a slightly longer handle and a texture along the handle to help with grip. It’s been about 4 months and while I still get a small cut every other time I shave, despite slow and careful strokes, I’m really happy with the result. BUT, when I thought of my daughter, a complete shaving novice, I cringed. Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, now that it’s headed toward summer, when I’ll be shaving twice as often, I’d like something a little more forgiving. Read, faster!  So, while the Muhle is my winter razor winner, I continued hunting for another tool in my grooming kit.
Enter, Billie. I’m guessing the normal Billie customer is 30 years of age and under.  You can choose a razor handle color from about 4 options, there’s a subscription to send you razors, the marketing refrains from mentioning anything about shaving in relation to “sexiness” – I’m looking at you Venus.  But the reason I pushed the buy button was due to their  “Pink Tax” rebate program.  It felt really good to tackle this topic and support a solution with our razor purchases.  While the sustainability is low, the social awareness is high and for this next phase in my family, it feels like the right way to spend our money.  The shave is great, there are 5 blades, it is super responsive, very easy to handle.  Both mama and daughter are very pleased with the results, no nicks, no cuts, no interrupts!

This post is not sponsored, just hope this helps someone navigating these purchases for their own people!


Wardrobe simplification: a challenge

Back in January I set a small challenge for myself.  No shopping for clothes, or shoes for 6 months.  I’d love to do a whole year but I’m a bit chicken.

A few weeks into the challenge, a special date night came up.  That is typically the kind of thing that sends me running for “something new”.  Sure, “new” might mean thrift shopping or resale but it’s still adding something to my closet that was previously not there.  Resolved to stick to my challenge, I hunted around my closet, got myself dressed and headed out to enjoy an evening with my husband.  My “date night” outfit was nothing special yet, I felt beautiful and very myself: black jeans, white t-shirt, black blazer, and shoes, that are older than my first born child.

We sat down to dinner with beloved friends, chatting and laughing through each course, then as I was leaving the bathroom, the heel of my shoe caught on the bathroom door.  There was an audible “snap” and my previously buckled sandal, slid off my foot.  Hmmmm, I’m in the middle of a restaurant, do I try limping back to the table and keep my shoe sort of on my foot, or do I just grab it up and walk with one bare foot?  (I went with limping, it was awkward.)  I returned to the table with a frown thinking my night was now over.  My husband assessed the situation and successfully MacGyver-ed my sandal back on my foot with some handiwork and a band-aid!  Our evening continued with two shoes on my feet the entire time.

Not ready to consent to the death of my sandals, I later set off to the cobbler to see what could be done.  It was an easy, inexpensive fix and my 13-year-old, resoled twice, sandals continue to trot on.

Without this challenge, I undoubtedly would have purchased something for my date night, would have tossed my old, broken shoes, and then spent hours looking for something new.  Thanks to this challenge, I had a nice conversation with the cobbler, saved myself the time and frustration of trolling the internet for sandals and realized my date night clothes don’t need to be very different from my daily clothes.

Anyone else doing challenges like these to reduce their consumption?




Repopulation of the Night Furies

Meet Toothless, the lovable night fury from How to Train Your Dragon

Meet Toothless, the lovable night fury from How to Train Your Dragon

Halloween is nearly upon us and it’s a big holiday in our family.  My kids begin discussing costume possibilities in July.  This year my son made his proclamation in August, “I want to be Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon“.  I start trying to visualize some half-homemade type creations I can bang out for him.  Then in September, my daughter’s got her final choice, “I’m going to be Toothless too.”  Hmmmm.
“Did you check with your brother?”

“Yup, we are both going to be Toothless.”

“Okay, sounds good”.

Better than good, my job just got easier.

Then both my kids mention they are over trick-or-treating, they just want to hand out candy this year.

WHAT?  What kind of children have I raised that running from stranger to stranger and collecting all the contraband I never allow is now passé at the ripe ages of 7 and 9 years old?

So I decide we’ll find a party to attend all together and bring some spark back to this family favorite.  But now my husband and I need costumes………

“What if your dad and I also go as Toothless.”

“Oh yeah!  This is going to be awesome.”

“Yes, we’ve obviously been working on repopulating the night furies since the last movie came out.” (I think I’m very clever to work this all in).



Kids:  Hoodies from Target, Black knee high socks for the tails also from Target, packed the tailed with left over packing materials, I used garbage bags that I cut and sewed for the wings and tails, mask from Etsy.

Parents:  Hat found Target, Black dress (old)

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.46.38 AM


One afternoon of sewing and voila, all finished.

We’ll even dress up twice this year thanks to our first “truck or treat”.

Hope everyone has a nice Halloween!



So, I finally get the itch to write a little something to all of you wonderful folks who tune in now and again and I actually forgot my web address.  I’m a little horrified, but mainly I’m thinking it’s the perfect example for how I’m trying to live my life this summer.

You’ve heard me talk about “growing your garden” before, planting your interests, desires and hobbies.  Well, I’m working on tending my garden this summer.  A few rows were left forgotten, the weeds took over and everything is dead.  That, in a nutshell, is a metaphor for my efforts on waste reduction,  living minimally,  and living with heart.  I’ve done more shopping than reducing, I’ve made purchases based on fear “what if” type stuff or fantasy life stuff, aka Pintrest worthy life, and with each of these steps it’s been harder and harder to hear my own voice…’s getting drowned out by the media I’m surrounding myself with.

Enter these fellas who I stumbled upon.  The Minimalists are currently touring with their latest book “Everything That Remains”.  I LOVE the title.  A nugget I’ve begun reciting is “Organizing is often well planned hoarding”.  Yup, that one smacked me right in the face after 2 weekends spent “organizing”.  The Minimalists’ site is composed mainly of short essays, most revolve around very similar topics.  This repetition annoys some, I’m not among the annoyed.  I like hearing the same message 20 different ways, I need to hear the same message 20 different ways.   I’m not sure most of us realize how often we’re forced to absorb messages, if you open a computer, watch a TV show, pick up a magazine, drive down a road, walk into a store, go see a movie.   The majority of the time we did not go looking for these messages, images and temptations – they are just THERE, EVERYWHERE.  So if someone can fill my head with the stuff I want to think about, the more the better as far as I’m concerned.

Here are a few more experts that are helping me get my garden back in shape.

The master of lists – Leo.

The waste reduction goddess – Bea.

A great reminder to enjoy life’s journey and be happy.

These rules for a 2 1/2 year old would arguably work well for anyone wanting to tone down impulse buying.

Happy Gardening.

P.S. this one is unrelated but I have always wondered about the do’s and don’ts of working out in underwear.


Training gear

Like so many kids across the nation last month, my kids were glued to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, at ages 6 and 8, my kids could appreciate the drama, the agony, the triumph, the importance of these nations coming together in competition and celebration.

Snowboarding, in particular, made a huge impression.  After hearing the story of Canadian Mark McMorris, Bronze medalist for Slopestyle, who grew up wake boarding and skateboarding in preparation for snowboarding, they couldn’t get on their scooters fast enough, “to begin our training”, they said.

As you can imagine their first runs at riding horizontally on scooters without holding the stick  ended up with bloody knees and hands.  What’s a mom to do?  Run out and buy knee pads, wrist guards?  Nope, old socks to the rescue!

Future pressure, though.

Hands:  Old kid socks, toes removed for fingers, small hole in the “heel” for thumbs.

Knees:  Old adult socks “feet” removed, ankle portion used for knee protection.

repurpose 2

Winter Olympics 2022, here we come.

Power to the shopper

Image via

Image via

With fall approaching  (even as most of us sit here sweating) it’s time to review your fall stuff.  I usually take an afternoon, try everything on, create my piles for:

donate – If it’s past it’s prime, Goodwill can still create rags from your riches which still keeps it out of the landfill for a bit longer

alter/repair – sew buttons, fix a moth hole, shorten/lengthen a skirt, repair a boot sole

consign – if you have something in your closet that just sat there last fall/winter/spring- maybe it doesn’t fit right, the color is wrong, you don’t feel good in it.  Consign it.

So, now you are ready to plan your shopping using the snazzy tips listed below that I just read on another blog created by a “seasoned professional”….in the realm of shopping and style that is.  I think it’s pretty solid advice, in fact I plan to follow it myself this fall – HAPPY FRIDAY


Before you leave, prepare a budget and a list divided into 3 sections:

  1. 800 arrows note:  Make a list of your local resale, consignment, thrift and vintage stores.  You may not be able to fill all your needs at these little gems but it’s a smart place to start.
  2. The Replacements – items currently in your wardrobe that need to be replaced (worn out, damaged, wrong size, etc.)
  3. The Completers – pieces you need to make a complete outfit (you have a fabulous skirt you never wear because you don’t have an equally fabulous top to wear with it)
  4. The Trends – trendy clothes, shoes, and/or accessories to update your look for the season

Ask someone to join you:

  • The person you ask should be someone who will give you honest feedback. This person has to be comfortable with your budget, your figure, and the stores you choose.
  • Shopping with someone who can view you in person and from every angle is an advantage you can’t get even with a 3-way mirror.
  • Shopping with someone allows you to keep ‘the power,’ so you’re less likely to be the victim of a sales associate who’s chief concern is her commission check and not your long-term happiness.

Choose stores wisely:

  • Go to stores that carry lines you know fit your body type and fit within you budget.
  • Make sure you understand, and are comfortable with, the store’s return policy.
  • When you find a store you like, stick with it. Not only will it save you time, it also will give you an opportunity to develop a relationship with a salesperson who will have a vested interest in your long-term happiness; be more likely to call you just before the out-of-budget piece you’ve been lusting after goes on sale; and be motivated to quickly resolve a problem, should one arise.

As you shop, keep these thoughts in mind:

  • Buy whole outfits (unless your buying a piece from your 3-part list)
  • If you find something you love, but it’s not on your list, make sure you have at least 3 other pieces in your closet you can pair with it to make a complete outfit.
  • Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Ask yourself if you’d buy it even if it wasn’t on sale.
  • Consider cost-per-wear. Even though something may have a seemingly steep price tag, think about how much wear you will get out of it over the course of the season. On a cost-per-wear basis, it may be less expensive than your daily Starbucks habit!
  • My personal motto: When in doubt, leave it out!

After you get home:

  • Keep the tags attached to your new purchases and keep the receipt handy, in case you decide to return it. Some stores will issue a credit for items that go on sale within a specific period of time after the initial purchase – another good reason to keep your receipt handy.
  • If you experience buyer’s remorse, learn from it, so you don’t make the same mistake again.
  • Most important, have fun.

Making good

Awhile ago, I wrote about the “100 things” guy and mentioned I’d be doing an inventory of my own.  Well, I’ve slacked and now I’m thinking of building a closet so guess what?  I took an inventory of my clothes!  No use creating a space to store things unless I know exactly what I need to store, right?

closet 1

1 of my 2 (very small) closets

I am terrified of your judgements, as I have FAR MORE than I dreamed, I have 8 sets of PJs for example.  But, before I further reduce my clothes, I thought I should take stock, as embarrassing as my 8 sets of PJs are, not knowing about it is worse in my mind.  The awesomeness of doing this exercise is in touching and looking at everything you’ve purchased to put on your body.  It’s easy to see what you are really wearing.  My favorite shirt that is threadbare from so much ware sitting next to the two others I bought as “replacements” but I never actually wear.  Also, to remind myself that I can do with FAR LESS, I’ve included a clothes inventory from Bea**, of Zero Waste Home, following my own list*.  To write down and categorize all of these clothing items has been SO helpful in so many ways, I am excited and scared to move on to the other parts of our home.  Alright, drum roll please……here’s my list:

17 Dresses – 2 formal, 9 dinner appropriate, 5 summer day dresses, 1 winter day dress

8 Skirts – 5 summer, 3 winter

3 Shorts

15 Hanging tops – 5 fancy, 10 daily button-downs

7 Jackets – 2 blazers, 2 workout, denim, rain jacket, cape

6 Coats – 2 Fancy, Pea coat, work coat, shell, trench

5 Cardigans

8 Thick sweaters

4 Light sweaters

13 Tees

6 Tank tops

11 Leggings/workout bottoms

13 Workout tops

8 PJs – 2 nightgowns, 3 winter top/bottom, 3 summer top/bottom

30 Shoes – 4 sneakers, 10 flats/boots, 9 heels, 6 sandals, 1 slippers

* My list is still incomplete, should take note of: bathing suits, intimates (bras, undies, tights, slips), socks, purses, hats….do I include the clothes I constantly borrow from my husband?

Bea’s List

  • Seven Tops: Four basics, three “fashion”. In order: Black long sleeve scoop neck, black 3/4 sleeve boat-neck, black spaghetti tank, black loose tank, hot pink loose tank, grey sparkly tank, ruffle long one shoulder. Tip: Find shirts that are long enough, so they can also serve as mini-dresses in the summer.
  • Three Sweaters: *Hooded sweater (heavy weight), black V-neck (medium weight), striped boat neck (thin weight). Tip: Buy good quality that does not fuzz up.
  • Three Dresses: Black sheath, denim shirt dress, colorful dress. Tip: Dresses for a simple wardrobe are made of a material that is cross-seasonal; for example, tweed does not apply.
  • Occasional Dress: Green Awards/dress for my brother’s wedding (I am now ready to donate, sell or redesign this one). Tip: Buy an occasional (once every five years) dress used, and donate it back to the thrift store after the event.
  • Six Bottoms: Jeans, trousers, black leggings, fitted skirt, loose skirt, shorts. Tip: Stay away from khakis/khaki color, which do not work well with winter pieces.
  • Intimates: Seven undies, matching convertible bra, two pairs of medium socks, *two pairs of thick socks, footless tights, PJ’s, and a swimsuit. Tip: Find the perfect bra first, match undies second. PJ’s should be light enough for summer, warm enough for winter, and be decent enough to wear overnight at someone’s house.
  • Six Shoes: High heels, boots, medium heels, jazz flats, sandals, *slippers. Tip: Match the color with your purse(s).
  • One All-Purpose Purse: I used to have three purses, but found this one used on my last shopping spree… my computer fits in it, and it has a removable strap to turn it from messenger into clutch for occasions. It is black to match my shoes. Tip: Make a list of items to fit in the “new” purse, take your computer to the store if necessary.
  • Five Toppers: The family blazer (Max, Leo and I have all shared it), black cardigan, *leather jacket, *sporty waterproof jacket, and a *cozzy. Tip: Go for texture and don’t be afraid of color, if your purse matches your shoes.
  • Accessories: *Winter hat, summer hat, belt, jewelry (wedding ring, belly piercing, fashion piece), All purpose cover-up, sunglasses, and *gloves. Tip: Stick with a hardware/metal color that fits your complexion (gold/silver), and find accessories that carry your base color and have dual function, such as a necklace that can serve as a belt.

** More of Bea’s tips for maintaining your Zero Waste wardrobe.

Forget spring, I like winter cleaning

Seriously, spring is all beautiful days and frolicking outdoors.  Winter, however, allows for many days indoors which is why my basement now looks like this:

base 1  base 2   base 3  base closet

I soooo wish I had a “before” picture of our basement, but the lighting, as you can see, is not so good – so I guess I was never moved to take any pictures down there before.  BUT believe me when I tell you it had become a dumping ground for all things.  Anything that wasn’t being used regularly – ended up in the basement, anything that didn’t really have a home – ended up in the basement, anything that we thought, maybe, possibly, we might use in the future – ended up in the basement.  You get where I am going with this.

Now, the basement only holds well earned storage, things that are used regularly or seasonally, but not everyday.  Guess what that left room for?!

base play

That’s right, room to frolick – indoor style!

It’s a whole new world

One of the things my husband and I were trying to shift into is more bulk buying and less packaged goods.  Most of us know packaged goods are generally not good for us nor for the planet.  But we frequently got caught up in the logistics of living with this new idea – what kind of containers do we choose, how do we do this at the grocery store, what will we be eating?

The change started innocently, I wanted to invest in a few glass jars for my juices and smoothies so I stopped by our local hardware store and picked up 12 oz. Ball’s canning jars, they come in a package of 9.  Hmmm, I didn’t need 9 jars for smoothies and we were in need of glasses so we used the extra for some drinking glasses.  Well, there are only 4 of us in the family so I still had glasses left over.  Those I filled with some nuts and rice crackers that were basically getting stale on my shelf.

Guess where all that has led?

reorg 1

Shoddy photo of pantry

reord 2

Shoddy photo of baking and spices


Getting caught up on the logistics was so 2012, in 2013 we are making it happen.  Bring on the mistakes, failures and learning.  2013 is the “year of fun” – pass it on!

Kitchen Porn

Photo via refinery29

Photo via refinery29


Here are several more pics.  And the BowlOvers for your hard to shop for, minimalist, waste reducing friend – genius.