Accumulate Less in a Material World

Uncluttered: beautiful & relaxing

Living a less-is-more lifestyle can be challenging. I aspire to let go of material things and live more minimal, but I’m also not fooling myself – I can’t survive with one pair of shoes. Or even six pairs of shoes. What’s a girl to do when they all spark joy? Not to worry, I have a couple of tips to help you accumulate less in a material world.

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The Beauty of Style

Beauty and style are by definition different, but the two are so woven together that we often confuse them.

Beauty can be found nearly everywhere. That’s my opinion. And that’s the beauty of beauty—it’s subjective. I see it in the blue of a summer sky, smell it in the scent of a gardenia, and feel beauty in the chaotic excitement of a family gathering. It’s savoring the taste of a favorite food and being awestruck by the setting of the sun. I see sadness, but also beauty in dilapidated buildings and rusting railroad cars.

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Best Travel Makeup, Ever!

Can you travel for a week with nothing but a carry-on and a tote? Would you like to?

Start by paring down your makeup bag. There is some serious bulk and weight in all of those tubes and bottles and jars! How do you not take the essentials, you ask? And let’s face it, once you’re into a beauty routine, it all feels essential at some point, right?

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A Beautiful Business

Reaching for the sky! photo credit: Rose + Anchor Photography

This is how I’ve been feeling since July! Seriously!

What happened in July? I started my own business. No, wait. I started MY OWN FREAKING BUSINESS!

Owning a business/being my own boss is something I’ve dreamed of for a long time. I thought being an author would be my business, but the last time I checked, one would have to finish her book to be an author. Hmph.

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Chalk Paint: Not My Jam

I’m usually happy with my DIY projects. They usually take longer than expected, but in the end, I have something nice that I’m mostly proud to show off. I might have dropped the ball with the chalk paint thing.

After reading about it, hearing about it, seeing videos about it, oohing and ahhing over before and after photos of it, I finally jumped in and tried my hand at chalk paint. I’m underwhelmed.

The tutorials showed how simple it would be to apply the paint (just brush back and forth, sometimes in circular motions, very quickly before it dries) and said that I could paint over any surface–even hardware–no primer required, so you can imagine my disappointment to find none of that to be the case for my project.

To be fair, I painted a smooth-surface particle board (or maybe MDF) black file cabinet white, but still. If the whole world is screaming “it’s so easy and it covers anything,” then I think it should be easy and cover anything. Amiright?

Valspar Chalky Finish Paint

Valspar dark antiquing wax and Waverly clear wax and brushes

Perhaps you really do need to use the Annie Sloan brand to get the best results. I didn’t listen, and I cheaped out and used Valspar, which is a good quality paint in normal paint world, but maybe chalk paint isn’t V’s thing. The bottom line is that I had to paint three coats to cover the black even before I could do the antiquing and the finish wax. They lost me at three coats.

Here it is before the antiquing (I should have left it right there)

Close-up of the antiquing finish

I then chose the wrong color wax for the antiquing look. I should have gone a shade lighter. And lastly, the clear finishing wax isn’t what I expected. I thought it would be a paste to really protect the finish, but it was the consistency of chocolate milk. I pushed it around with the brush, let it mostly dry, wiped with a rag as instructed, and repeated a few times, yet it didn’t feel like much of it “took.” Months later it still feels sticky and unprotected.

I really do like it better now than when it was black…it’s just not exactly what I had envisioned…and took a lot longer than expected. Imagine that!

The finished product looks fine, maybe even cute and not too shabby for a first try. If I were to do it over, I think I’d go back to my old ways of sanding, one coat of tinted primer, and one coat of paint and be done. But who knows, maybe I’ll get the hang of it and chalk paint every wood surface in my home 1950s aqua or dove gray like the rest of the world. But then again, maybe not.


That Time I Wore Slippers to Work

I did it. I wore slippers to work — to my upscale, traditional, business professional office. Not intentionally, of course. It all began with a trip to SteinMart with a friend who had never been. I went specifically to look for a chair, and in perfect SteinMart fashion, left with an arm load of things that were definitely not a chair. Does anyone else identify with that?

My faux UGGs (FUGGs?)

Anywho, on our way to the back of the store where the home goods live, a wallet caught my eye, and then the scarves, and then a pair of boots. Cute little UGG-like boots by Isaac Mizrahi named Short Boot with Faux Shearling Lining. What I did not know is that these are found online under Women’s and then Slippers. I was enamored with the darlings and with the deal. The boots were $14.98 – less than $15! Sold. Let me check out before they realize their mis-pricing.

My faux UGGs (FUGGs?)

I wore my fake UGGs to kick around town, meaning the Lowe’s, Home Depot, Costco, Target circuit. It was a little concerning that the soles were already looking tattered after just a couple of wears, but I still wore them to work on a colder-than-usual morning. I carried my heels and wore the boots, changed at my desk, and did the same when it was time to go home that evening. No big. But on my way to the elevator in our lobby with its glossy, marble-esque floor, I shouted goodbye to the ladies in our reception area and slid past them with a whoosh like Tom Cruise in Risky Business (except with pants).

My suspicions about these fantastic $15 boots were rising. I was telling a friend about how the soles felt like cardboard, had no tread, were already worn, and that I was surprised because the SteinMart I know has always sold quality merchandise. She loved the boots, forgave them their apparent cheapness, and had also never been to a SteinMart (gasp, two friends in one week who had never been!), so she asked where in the store was the shoe department located.

As I began telling her, as the word balloon left my mouth — “the boots aren’t in the shoe department, they’re with the accessories” — it hit me. These are not boots at all, they are slippers! Slippers! Giant palm to face, smh, rofl, etc.

And that, my friends, is how it came to be that I wore slippers to work. Well heck, I’ve worn them in public this much, I may as well keep on, right? It’s like when you order a Margherita and realize it’s only 11:30 a.m. You know it’s poor form to drink before Noon, so do you leave it sit for 30 minutes and drink a watered-down, room temperature Margherita mid-day, or do you tip your glass like nobody’s looking? I thought so.



Personal stylist helps heal after loss

A little more than a year ago, my good friend Debra lost her husband suddenly and tragically. She lost her husband, Ron–her best friend of 25 years. It’s difficult to imagine what you would do, how you would cope, in the face of this unimaginable heartbreak. I watched my friend grieve, and there was little I could do. Cards, phone calls, and sitting at her kitchen table felt feeble. Inadequate. Yet, I watched Debra find strength she didn’t know existed. She put one foot in front of the other month after month, day after day, and sometimes just minute after minute.

Debra is a giving person who has always cared for others, seldom thinking of herself. It was Ron who pushed her, on the rare occasion, to treat herself. So, when she told me she needed to find who she was now, and that she hired a personal stylist to help her with that, I was thrilled for her. To say Debra dislikes shopping is an understatement. But, she lost weight and her clothes no longer fit. On top of that, her occasional trip to the store was something she and Ron did together. This was a huge step in her healing process. Not knowing where to begin, she searched “personal stylist” and found Suzanne Libfraind of Wardrobe Consulting.

The two of them spoke on the phone, Debra completed a profile and provided a snapshot to give Suzanne a sense of her current style, and they scheduled a time to meet at Debra’s home. Suzanne brought fabric swatches to determine what colors look best on Debra, she assessed Debra’s wardrobe (shoes included) as Debra tried on each item, and gave advice on what should be donated, what could be altered, and what could be kept as-is. Suzanne accompanied Debra to the tailor, and then they went shopping.

Suzanne chose pieces of the correct fit, color, and style based on their conversations and her expertise. Debra tried them on, and the two of them decided what looked fabulous and what did not. Debra told me what a positive experience this has been for her, and as she showed me her updated look, she lit up. It was clear how good she felt about herself in that moment. It was wonderful to watch my friend experience a snippet of joy.

Career pieces to mix and match
Career pieces to mix and match

Shoes, shoes, and more shoes!

Lavender and gold necklace
Suzanne even provided jewelry options

White pants and blue top
A casual weekend look, but more importantly, a smile

I don’t know that anyone ever stops grieving after losing the person they loved most in their life. It seems unlikely. But, to live and find pleasure, even when there is grief, is okay. I am over-the-moon happy for my friend that she had the courage to take this step in her healing process. And that her smile is returning, one moment at a time.



A Spoonflower Tour – fabric, gift wrap, and wallpaper galore!

This past Saturday I attended a WordPress class in hopes of becoming a bit more savvy with this blogging thing. I chatted with fellow Pressers, had some pizza, and learned a bunch. Take note of the lovely Contact form for your contacting-me convenience. Thank you, thank you very much. I’ve also taken care of (mostly) that pesky hyphenation problem that was going on here. Just about every line ended with a hyphenated word. That needed some ointment for sure. It was a good day of learning from some incredibly intelligent people. A huge shout out to Girl Develop It – RDU!

The class was held at Spoonflower in Durham, which is a fabric, wallpaper, and gift wrap shop. Our leaders taught not from a podium or a desk, but from an ironing board. You know I eat that stuff up! An unexpected bonus was a tour of the facility after class. This shop is a little different in that Spoonflower doesn’t actually own any of the designs they offer, rather, users create designs and share them on the Spoonflower site. You can create your own design or browse their huge offering created by others. If you create your own design and add it to their library, you can be paid a royalty every time someone orders your design. Pretty cool, huh?

Spoonflower logo
Spoonflower lets you design your own…if you want

A custom fabric being printed at Spoonflower
A custom fabric order being printed

Spoonflower is a North Carolina start-up that began in 2008 and is growing strong. Everything is made to order and shipped, and the fabric is printed on digital textile inkjet printers. Their process is a departure from traditional textile manufacturing–digital printing creates little waste of fabric, ink, water or electricity. “Spoonflower prints using eco-friendly, water-based inks on natural and synthetic fiber textiles. No additional chemicals are used in the printing or preparation process.” Yes.

Spoonflower fabric order being hand cut
A custom fabric order being hand cut

Spoonflower fabric is sorted after printing
Fabric is sorted after printing

Rolls of gift wrap sorted
Gift wrap is sorted too

Spoonflower safety sign
They even make safety look good

I’ve been looking for wallpaper to cover the inside of a bookcase and have found what I love at Spoonflower. I have measured and ordered just the right amount of Patchwork Gypsy Nautical (as fun as nail polish names), and I promise to share the before and after photos once the project is complete. It’s been years since I’ve wallpapered anything – this should be fun!



Comfy Shoes for Work and Weekend: Ciera Dusk by Clarks Artisan

As promised, I’m sharing with you another awesome pair of shoes. I love these because they look fantastic dressed up at work as well as with jeans and a tee on the weekend. Who doesn’t love a comfy and versatile shoe?

This little beauty is the Ciera Dusk in Grey Leather. The color is grey/brown, and I can’t quite decide if it looks more grey or more brown, which is a plus because it goes with both! This pair is from the Clarks Artisan collection and is leather inside and out and has a 3″ heel. It has a rubber sole which I like because it’s relatively quiet. No tip-toeing around that authoritative clack you get with some heels.

Clarks Artisan Ciera Dusk

I can’t say enough about this shoe! My feet stay pain-free for the 9+ hours I wear them at the office and they couldn’t be more cute. I’ve worn them with dress pants, a skirt and tights, and jeans. I was able to say goodbye to two older pairs of shoes when I brought these home. They replaced a pair of navy pumps that had been causing some toe crunch, and a pair of cheap tan pumps that were looking too worn for my taste. Since I’ve been on a downsizing spree, that’s a bonus.

It seems I’m becoming partial to Clarks. As long as they keep making super stylish and comfortable shoes, I’m okay with that (and so are my feet)!


Click HERE to purchase Ciera Dusk by Clarks on Amazon using the Chubs Lived Here link.

Walk a Mile in My Shoes…or at Least These Shoes

For some reason, if you’re a woman, having an office job is synonymous with wearing heels that pinch the toes together, cause blisters, and wreak havoc on your arch.  Lest you think us women put this on ourselves [entirely], I recall a conversation between a couple of friends wherein one stated that she wore the same outfit to work twice, one week with flats and the next week with heels.  When she wore the heels, she got compliments on how dressed up she was.  Same outfit.  Ugh.

I can’t explain this thinking, this warped perception, especially since men can wear the same three suits for years, never don a pair of heels, and be deemed dressed up every day.  But I’m not here to get on my soapbox about double standards (beyond what I’ve just dropped).

I’m here to say that I am done with painfully limping through my days at work – I am liberating my feet from the shackles of awful (cute as they may be) shoes that were not made for walking, much less running to the copier.  So over it.

Here I am in my 48th year, and I have finally given myself permission to wear comfortable shoes.  Wow.  Sounds simple, even superficial, but let me tell you it is huge.  Don’t think for one minute I’m giving up fashion.  You can’t make me.  I do love a cute shoe, with a heel, and I have found some that are…wait for it…comfortable!  Yes I did.

I’ll still wear flats to work when I’m so inclined, and kick around evenings and weekends in flops, flats, and athletics, but how could I not share this with you?  Everyone deserves to be in on this.  I have a few pairs of good looking, comfy work shoes so far, and promise to fess up any time I find another that fits the bill.  We need to have each other’s backs (or feet) on this!  Without further ado, here are the three pairs of shoes that are currently helping me maintain my sanity, what’s left of my orthopedic health, and my sense of fashion:

First, a big no-brainer is the tried and true mary jane.  This is the Roller Rink from Aerosoles.  A fully enclosed stable shoe with a 3″ heel and a wide toe box (that’s a big deal for me – the piggies need some wiggle room).  I like this shoe not only because it’s as cute as can be, but also because it can be worn in the summer without stockings and in the winter with tights.  A great look year-round.  Aerosoles is good about providing a nice cushioned foot bed too.  Always a plus!

Roller Rink from Aerosoles. Wear these with pants, skirts and dresses – any time of year.

Next is an open-toe option from Clarks Artisan – the Wessex Shay.  This shoe is made with soft leather and nubuck, and although it has a 3 1/2″ heel, it also has a platform in the front so it doesn’t feel like 3 1/2″.  I have to say, this shoe is comfy and I get more compliments when I wear these than any other.  There is a lot going on style-wise: peep toe, sling-back, windowpane cutouts.  I wear this shoe a lot – also with pants, skirts, and dresses.  You can see this heel is not as chunky as the Roller Rink heel, thus, less stable.  If you’re wobbly in high heels, be sure you test this one out before committing.

Wessex Shay from Clarks Artisan. Super comfy and super stylish summer shoe.

Third in the line-up today is the Shira Brenna also from Clarks Artisan.  Of these three shoes, this one is the most comfortable.  It is described as an open-toe, slingback “shootie.”  It too has a 3 1/2″ heel, and this one does not have a front platform, so it feels like a true 3 1/2″ heel.  If I could change one thing about this shoe it would be to add a platform for even more comfort.  But, see that soft leather that wraps the foot?  It feels like my feet are wrapped in silk!  I have them in tan (below), but am seriously considering a pair in black as well since I’ll wear these as long as they’ll have me.

Shira Brenna from Clarks Artisan. Feels like my feet are wrapped in silk!

So there you have it – comfy and stylish heels you can wear to work and not feel like the tootsies have been through a battle at the end of the day.  Who knew?