Sparking Joy in the Bedroom (no, not THAT…)

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A little spring break reading (and motivation!)

Sorry for that post title, but I just couldn’t resist. Last year I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of  Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. The main premise is that you keep only things that spark joy, and you respect the things you choose to keep by taking care of them (finding a permanent home for them, putting them back where they belong after using, etc.). Visualizing your ideal lifestyle can help you identify the things that spark joy in you–and the things that don’t.

Now Marie Kondo has a new book called Spark Joy, “an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up.” It goes into more detail about how to choose the items that spark joy for you personally, and also how to tidy and organize (and fold!! lots of illustrations!) more effectively. I’ve been reading it this past week on spring break (while drinking lotsa matcha, of course!) and it has given me the kick in the pants I needed to do things the right way around the ‘ole homestead.

If you haven’t read Marie Kondo’s books, I highly recommend them. They’re written in a clean, simple, direct (uncluttered!) style. They’re quietly brilliant, and like watching an episode of Hoarders, they make you want to start decluttering right away.

Want to get started NOW but don’t have a copy of the books? MakeSpace, an on-demand storage company, created this handy KonMari Method Cheat Sheet:

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Having read both of Kondo’s books on the KonMari Method, these tips are a great reminder of some of the key points and guidelines.

 

 

It seems like common sense to keep just what sparks joy, but it sure never occurred to me to think this way. We are pretty good about decluttering and taking a minivan full of donations to our local Goodwill and Salvation Army locations, but according to Kondo you shouldn’t have to keep decluttering over and over again. If you put your house in order the right way, it will stay that way.

According to Kondo, you are really supposed to do a “shock and awe” on your entire house all at once, but I’m trying things out on a smaller scale during spring break. I’m going to tackle the whole house this summer when I have more time.

Since Kondo recommends starting with clothing, I went through every single item in my drawers and closet over the past few days. All of my clothes are in my master bedroom, so I took everything out, piled it all on my bed, and gave each item a thumbs up (keeper: sparks joy) or a thumbs down (donate).

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Image: MakeSpace

 

Once I’d been through everything, I gave the joy-sparkers a permanent home and moved the non-joy sparkers into trash bags to be donated.

Take a look at the results:

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T-shirt drawer: Is it bugging you as much as it does me that the white T-shirt in the middle column is facing a different direction than everything else in the drawer? How did I miss that?

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Shorts drawer: Shoot, now I see several pairs of shorts facing different directions. New rule: everything must face the front! Guess what I’m running upstairs to fix right now….

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Underwear and socks drawer: Never thought my undergarments would be proudly displayed on the Internet–guess this makes me an honorary Kardashian. The socks are not folded KonMari style, though. I prefer the roll-up method so I can dig around and the pairs won’t get separated. Guess if I got rid of a few more pairs of socks I wouldn’t need to dig around. Sorry I let you down on this one, KonMari. 😦

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Jeans drawer: See how nice it is that they are all facing the same direction? And the colors go from dark to light!! When I went back upstairs to fix my t-shirt and shorts drawers, I put them into “gradient” order, too.

Know what? Every time I open one of these drawers and see the clothes (just the ones that spark joy!) all lined up and looking so neat and tidy, that in itself makes me smile.

 

Next up was my closet, and the bulk of what did not spark joy for me was the tons of sweaters I had crammed in each of the shelves you see below. I was too embarrassed to take a “before” photo–they were packed in , wadded up, and falling out everywhere. Not anymore!

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The sweaters I chose to keep have some breathing room now. Breathe, little sweaters, breathe!

 

The results of my labor are these two jumbo-sized, bulging bags of non-joy sparking clothes.

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Looks like another Goodwill run is in order.

 

It’s so nice to see clean, empt(ier) spaces containing things that make you happy–and nothing more. Just a few days ago this chair was covered in scarves. I picked up a scarf rack at Ikea, got rid of all of the scarves that didn’t spark joy, and hung the keepers. From now on, whenever a new scarf comes in, an old one must go to make room.

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Actually there is still one empty hole so the first new scarf already has a place to hang. Time to go scarf shopping? 😉

Now when I look in my drawers and closet, I can see everything I own at once, and this makes it a snap to choose just the right pieces for each outfit. Not only that, but folded items are no longer wrinkled when I take them out.

The way my clothes are stored now makes me feel pretty good. I love Kondo’s philosophy of decluttering once, the right way, and that becoming your lifestyle. I could totally get used to this!

 

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Easter Dress

Today I thought I’d share what I wore on Easter Sunday. I probably only wear dresses three or four times a year (Easter, Christmas, and weddings), but every time I put this one on I wonder why. It’s so effortless and I love the macrame. I accessorized with gold: navy and gold are probably my most favorite combination ever and you really can’t go wrong with it (especially if you throw in a little white).  It has that certain je ne sais quoi.

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Source Info — Dress: $78 two years ago from Banana Republic (similar); Shoes: Born; Necklace: $29, Stella & Dot Aurora; Bracelets and Earrings (old; probably from Target or Gordman’s?)

 

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I can’t tell how much I love this Stella & Dot Aurora necklace. I don’t sell Stella & Dot, but maybe I should! I love so many of their pieces, but sometimes I just don’t want to spend that much. But this little beauty was only $29 and I’m okay with that. As you’ve seen on the blog, I wear it several times a week. Today I have it flipped the “right” way so you can see the pave crystals on the front. Usually I wear it reversed so just the gold shows.

 

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I love this dress! It’s not too short, not too long (I have super-short legs and a long torso so that wreaks havoc on a lot of things that I wear). There are also no zippers and the lining stretches so you can get into and out of cars easily. Always a plus!

 

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This is something I could easily wear to teach. I’ve never done that yet, but I think I will before the end of this school year. Why the heck not?  🙂

Got Matcha?

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My own cup of (warm!) matcha

The backstory

I stopped drinking soda about a year ago (buh-bye, Diet Mountain Dew) when I started eating more healthfully. One thing I did miss was the caffeine boost from that good old Diet Dew at school during lunchtime. I heard about matcha and decided to try it–for the wake-up effect, but also for the purported weight loss boost green tea can offer.

I had been hearing all kinds of health buzz about this trendy new tea, matcha. I decided to give it a try and started drinking matcha twice a day at the beginning of this school year (one on the way to my 5am kickboxing class and one about 30 minutes before lunch at school). I noticed right away that I didn’t get tired in the afternoons anymore. AND, something I didn’t expect also happened: I lost 8 pounds with the first 2 weeks with zero changes in diet and exercise. BONUS!! I had already been eating healthfully, drinking lots of (nothing but) water, and working out 6 days a week for 4 months at that point and I had been stuck at a plateau for the last month. Sure, it was probably water weight (green tea IS a diuretic). But hey, I’ll take whatever I can get!

I’m not gonna lie…the taste of straight-up matcha requires some getting used to. Unless you buy very high quality matcha, it can taste really bitter. Even the best stuff still has a distinctive taste–especially for people like me who don’t like coffee and really don’t like green tea unless it’s mixed with sweet stuff and flavors. But the health benefits are worth the time getting used to it! I have recommended it to everyone I know and a lot of my friends are now matcha fans.

When I’m home I like to whip up matcha lattes. I add cocoa powder, a dash of cinnamon, and a packet of stevia sweetener. I froth in unsweetened almond or coconut milk–nothing against cow’s milk [that’s what I use for cereal and drink other times], but I’ve read that the protein in cow’s milk wipes out some of the antioxidants; not sure that’s true, but I like the taste of almond and coconut milk in the matcha anyway. Yummy!

When I’m on the road to work out or at school I can’t do all of that, so most of time I just add a matcha blend from GotMatcha (this is where I get all of my matcha) into a shaker bottle with water and some almond milk. When I’m ready to drink it, I just shake it up. I like the their Cacao Matcha Blend because it energizes me for a tough workout, and I love all of their other flavor blends for my at-school matcha (two of my favorite blends are Mocha and Pumpkin Spice!).

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Got Matcha blends

So what is matcha?

Unlike regular green tea where the leaves are steeped then removed, matcha green tea is a fine powder that is mixed into hot (or cold) liquids and consumed. Matcha has been used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies since the 12th century (remember it from Karate Kid 2 where Daniel goes to Okinawa with Mr. Miyagi?).  The best matcha comes from Japan and has to be grown in very particular places, during particular times of the year, and harvested in particular ways. All of this “particular” process makes it pretty expensive.

The best matcha comes from Japan and should be a bright spring green in color. It should be organic and the best-of-the-best matcha comes from the first harvest.

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Image from Gotmatcha.com

Matcha is absolutely packed with antioxidants. One cup of matcha is the nutritional equivalent of 10 cups of regular green tea! Yes, this means there is more caffeine, too. But somehow the caffeine in matcha makes you calm and alert, not jittery. And then there’s the whole “green tea weight loss magic” thing.  The only downsides I have experienced in the 7 months I’ve been drinking matcha is the price (yep, it is expensive). So on the whole, I HIGHLY recommend matcha to anyone who wants an alternate to coffee that has a lot of great health benefits.

Have you heard that matcha is officially a 2016 lifestyle trend? I am not surprised at all.

Disclosure: I have recently become an affiliate for GotMatcha, so if you were to sign up for or purchase any matcha or matcha blends from GotMatcha using my affiliate link (which is the one used for the GotMatcha links in this post), I do get a small kickback. I do really love their blends, though, and I was drinking them for months before becoming an affiliate.