Capsule Closet Part Three | Seven Months Later


I started my journey towards a capsule closet 7 months ago. I’m far from the finish line, but here’s what I’ve experienced so far.

1. It’s slowed down my decision making process

Our clothing budget is $10/month.  For both Luke and I.  Luckily for me, Luke refuses to buy clothing until he literally has one grey t-shirt left with a minimally acceptable amount of holes in it so I get more than my fair share of the budget.  But still, you can do some simple math and realize that I’m not buying a whole new wardrobe at one time.

The result?  I’m very strategic about what clothing I buy.  As in, I made an entire inventory list of what I already own, wrote out a list of my “ideal capsule closet” and then created that closet on Pinterest (55 items total, excluding pajamas and t-shirts for working out), marked “Tried” on the items I already own and then added the items I’d still like to an Amazon wish list and Google shortlist.

The unintended consequence was that I also became more thoughtful about other non-clothes related buying decisions.  I’m typing this blog post out on a brand-new laptop, which took me 4 months to narrow down the options and purchase.  I went to Target to go on a mini-shopping spree and couldn’t bring myself to buy anything that I wasn’t already planning on buying.  This might sounds like a tortured existence for those who love to shop, but I’ve found it so freeing.  I’m completely in control of the purchased items that I bring into my life as well as the money going out, which feels great.

2. Easier to get ready/pack

Less clothes = less options = way easier to get ready in the morning.  Couple this with the fact that literally everything goes together (no more fashion missteps!) and I’ve gotten my morning routine down to a speedy 6 minutes.  Plus, creating a capsule closet has killed my habit to “contingency pack” where I bring 5 more outfits than necessary on a trip “just in case.”  When all of my items go together and layer perfectly, I can actually bring just what I need.

3. I love thinking about fashion

I was never into fashion growing up.  We mostly thrifted for clothes, which can be awesome, but typically just meant searching through racks to find something that looked passable in society.  I never thought much about  what styles fit me best or what colors to put together.  Now that I’ve become hyper-strategic about my closet, I’ve found myself really enjoying the process.  Instead of picking the least ugly option from a predetermined set at Goodwill, I’m dreaming up what kinds of clothes I’d love to wear and then trying to find them.

4. I’m happier in the clothes I wear

I’ve eliminated all the items that I don’t love to wear which means every shirt in my closet is my favorite shirt. Plus, since I’ve been thinking more about body types and how clothing fits, I’m narrowed my closet down to items that really fit me well, which is always a good boost for the body image self-esteem.

5. Cascading decision effect

Luke recently coined the term “cascading decisions” in our household to refer to the domino effect that some decisions can create.  In this case, my decision to create a capsule closet has led me to decide to be slower to buy  anything which means less knickknacks around the house and less coffee impulse buys on the way to work.  It means easier getting dressed decisions in the morning which means leaving earlier for work and a quicker commute to the office (also aided by less coffee stops).

I’m far from a full-blown minimalist but the benefits I’ve experienced just from minimizing my closet makes me excited for other cascading decisions to come!

A Happy Weekend

As a social media specialist, I spend most of my working hours browsing feeds. And I’ll be honest, it’s a little depressing. I haven’t run any stats but it does feel like 87% of posts are predominately negative.

In an effort to balance out that ratio, I wanted to quickly share 3 wonderful things that happened this weekend and 2 silly ones.

3 Wonderful Things

1. I had a chance to read in a coffee shop and this sparked a conversation with a girl and her grandma about Russian literature and wedding planning. If you’re hesitant to start a conversation with a stranger, go for it. It might just make their day like it did mine.

2. I went into a local gift store where I had a gift card to use. The name of the store had changed and I found out when I got inside that the entire ownership had changed, and thus the current owners didn’t have the money that was paid for my gift card and would basically be giving me free merchandise so they couldn’t take it. As a business-minded person, I completely understood, we had a pleasant conversation, I said I would make the purchase anyway, went to grab my item and when I came back was told they would honor the gift card anyway. Customer service for the win.

3. My husband and I made our bi-weekly trip to the library used book store and realized once we got there that we didn’t have enough cash for the awesome new (old) classics that had come in. Before we realized what was happening, a sweet elderly lady pushed a $20 bill into our hands and told us to buy all the books we wanted. Since our bill was way under that, we passed the book money on to the girl behind us.

2 Silly Things

1. We went to Costco on Friday and the receipt checker said “Thank you and see you tomorrow!” as we departed. I died laughing but almost felt bad we didn’t come back on Saturday to say hi.

2. A man was brushing his teeth in the Home Depot parking lot when I dropped Luke off for work. Weird, but funny.

How was your weekend? What made you smile?

You know you live in the suburbs of San Diego when..

  • Getting across town takes 30 minutes
  • There are 3 Costco’s within 10 miles of each other
  • The only snow you’ll encounter is a snow cone
  • There are 13+ hamburger joints in 1 sq. mile
  • You plant your garden in January
  • Bike lanes actually exist AND are used regularly AND also look like right-turn lanes (sorry, bikers!)
  • The oceans or the mountains this weekend? is a legitimate question
  • A doghouse costs as much as a small home back East
  • “Historic” means built in the last 30 years
  • The only legitimate form of entertainment is Disneyland (according to everyone)
  • The traffic is awful but if you complain, someone will always remind you it could be LA
  • Wine is plentiful but water is not

My husband and I both suffered from a bit of culture shock coming to Southern California from our Great Lakes background. As a friend once said and as we like to quote out of context incessantly, we are: “people of the ice.” We are having an absurd amount of fun in So Cal, but it’s spring already and it just isn’t as glorious when you haven’t endured months of icy tundra.

So all of you back east glaring at me through your computer screen as you shiver through winter, come visit!!

Until later,

T of Death (2/3)


I used to enjoy merging. On long drives home from Grove City, I’d merge happily on the freeway to keep myself amused and awake.

I realized today that I have become a right lane rider. After months of passing gruesome wrecks on the highway, merging has become a gamble with death. There’s a downside to parking in the right side lane too often, though. You tend to get stuck. The traffic flow experts can correct me on this, but it does seem that the left lanes go faster. But it’s safe in the right lane.

Last post about the T of Death, I bewailed against being so broadly skilled that you aren’t skilled at all. This week, I want to spread my caution against getting too stuck doing the same thing forever.

Ironically, this is often the result of being too diverse in one’s interests at some point. You take every job and internship you can get. Of course, a wood-carving class tends to lead to wood-carving internships which leads to a wood-carving job and before you know it, you’ve spent your whole life as the human equivalent of a termite.

I just want to make sure I don’t live my entire life in the right lane, playing it safe only to find out that I’ll never get where I want to go. The merge might be scary, dangerous, and potentially life-threatening but I’d rather be moving in the right direction than idiling in the same spot.


Regime of Uncertainty

I want to be a person that people can depend on.  I want to be a person who has dreams and achieves them.”

Last week, 2 incredible college sophomores (Harvard and Bates University) visited my workplace.  One had come from a family of 14, all living together in 2 rooms after the Rwanda genocide 20 years ago.  The other made the bold decision at 15 not to marry as all of her peers were, and to pursue an education instead.

My opening quote came from the former, and his words have been echoing in my head ever since.  Being a dependable person and an achiever of dreams are inseparably linked.  Considering the speaker came from a more unstable situation than I will ever find myself in (14 person post-genocide household), I think the value of being dependable could not be overly emphasized.

Unfortunately, us “Millennials” have a reputation for being narcissistic, addicted to technology, and fatally afflicted with wanderlust.  All of which adds up to = not very dependable. Yet we are bewildered when our dreams don’t fall into place.

The only memorized quote I remember from my 12th grade AP Lit class was a Hemingway: “You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.” (The Sun Also Rises)

 I’ve repeatedly fought this temptation (and often lost).   There’s a reason we aren’t as dependable as we’d like to be.  Commitment is hard.  It means saying yes to one thing and no to a whole lot of other things. It means denying yourself the ability to get away from yourself whenever you want.

So the question is: Are your dreams worth it?

Time Zones

My sister has lived at least one time zone away from me for the last five years.  Minus one, plus two, minus three.  My time, your time, Eastern Standard Time.

This summer, my fiance has been in two different time zones.  At first, I consoled myself by thinking, “It will be better once it’s a ten hour difference, not 7 hours.  7 hours is too awkward–10 will be better.”

Turns out, any time difference is the wrong difference.  For now, I am eagerly anticipating the day when I can call all of my loved ones without whipping out the calculator.

Following the Pact

When I was young and foolish, I could not get my mind around traffic jams.  Why were we just sitting there?  Why don’t the first cars just move already?

Nowadays, I still don’t understand all the dynamics of a highway, other than a slight decrease in mph
creates disproportionately high increases in road rage.  But I realize it isn’t as simple as a large block of cars, moving at the same speed.  There are entrances and exits, merging highways, adverse weather, the occasional deer.

Not to mention drivers’ personalities and motives.  While some are perfectly content to putt along, 10 mph under the speed limit, others seem to see driving on the highway as a real-life version of Frogger and get sick thrills from merging at dangerously fast rates, for no apparent reason.  Some are rushing to an important meeting, others are dragging their feet in getting into the office.  One has a sick spouse at home that they can’t wait to get back to, others have a sick spouse at home that they are trying to avoid for as long as possible.

I’m none of those.  I’m a copy cat driver.  I slow down when others do, speed when everyone else is, take the detour that the majority of cars are taking.  This works decently well on the highway.

But I have a tendency to do so in real life too.  We’ve been talking a lot about abiding in Christ lately at my internship.  One of my key take-aways was the foolishness of comparing ourselves to other branches (believers) instead of the vine (Christ).  I don’t know where they are going.   I don’t know there personality, motive, experiences.  I definitely don’t know what God has planned for them.  So why do I spend more time trying to mimic the growth or avoid the pitfalls I see in others rather than nourishing myself?

Driving like that would end me up in Houston instead of Lancaster.  Living like that means I miss out on my own journey and end up exhausting myself just spinning my wheels.

How To Survive A Lecture-Based Conference

You open up the obligatory “Schedule of Events”  A quick scan reveals that all you were hoping against will be your reality for the next few days.  Hours of lectures.  A break-out discussion.  More speakers.  If they’re feeling crazy, maybe even a panel discussion or two.

I’m very confident that we weren’t designed to thrive in these settings.  Yet it is a necessary part of the Summer of Growing Up and so I have compiled a survival guide in case you find yourself in such a predicament.

How To Survive a Lecture-Based Conference

  1. Pretend that you have stumbled upon this odd gathering of two-legged creatures by accident.  Take detailed notes on their habitat, diet, behaviors.  Compile into a log journal–including the peculiar sounds they keep making.
  2. Make friends.
  3. Develop your doodling.  I had to graduate past my trusty triad–the heart, the balloon,  and the square house–in order to not appear completely disinterested.  Instead, trying organizing your notes in creatively graphic ways and transform interesting soundbites into typography.
  4. Eat as much of the delicious food they provide as possible.  No portion control, no regrets.
  5. Explore!  If given the time, do some adventuring wherever the conference is.  My favorite way to do this is to do a few investigative  morning runs.  You get your bearings, find neat things, and don’t feel so sluggish during the 23rd keynote speaker.

Riding Solo

In this Summer of Growing Up, I have officially accomplished one of my many goals.  You’ll be hearing about the rest later.

I successfully completed my first road trip by myself!  This may not sound that impressive, but given my affinity for getting lost, the mere fact that I made it to my destination within a five hour window of my intended arrival time is something that I gleefully celebrated.

Even though I wasn’t able to indulge in my favorite activity of car sleeping, it went by quickly.  I became proficient in radio channel changing, food sign scanning, and meaningless merging.

Next Growing Up Goal: Surviving the Wild Topography of Lecture-Based Conferences

Stay tuned for more adventures!


Three Sixty-Four

In three hundred and sixty four days, I will be marrying my fiance.  It is hard to believe right now, when we are literally a world apart and the future is as unclear as it always has been.

And 364 days is a lot of days.  Yet I am excited by the possibility engendered in each one of them.  On one of those days, we will decide where we are living.  Another one will mark the decision of whether my business should be continued.  There will be job interviews and decisions.  Apartment and housing contracts to be signed.  A million and one wedding details to cement.

I’m told they will go fast and I hope they do.  Yet I plan to savor them too.  Ready or not, here I come!