January 15, 2012

Coming out of my closet...literally.

My New Year Resolutions is:

Keep it simple.

There are many reasons why I have chosen to  keep things simple.

Here is one of them:


You have probably run away from the computer
and are trying to turn off your browser with a ten foot pole right now.
But wait....

Now, for the really scary part....that is actually an AFTER picture NOT a BEFORE!
We couldn't see the CD shelves AT ALL (nor the floor) the same time last year because there were so many boxes piled up!


A lot of people have been commenting in blogland about how we tend to show the pretty, perfect and peachy sides of our lives.

I am

Or now I can say...was one of them.

That room above is not supposed to be a closet, but it is, and we are changing that.
Finally...been sort of "working on it" for ages.

Thanks to  numerous videos on youtube and websites like flyladyzen habits (and his books) and for inspiration, better homes and gardens I have been able to stay focused.

One of the most helpful were books by Dominique Loreau.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to find anything by her in English (only in Japanese and French) but I did find this lovely blog by someone who has posted about reading her and decluttering:
I hope the blogger doesn't mind my posting a link....

so here are three steps I have taken so far:

step 1.

I went through my summer wardrobe and threw away everything I hadn't worn!


Then I went through my winter wardrobe and threw away everything I knew I wouldn't wear this season.

Now, I am only going to buy clothes when something gets old and even then it will have to be in one of these colors:
blue, gray, green or pink.

Why?  Because I use to keep buying shirts in outrageous colors that I could never match with my business suits etc.  (They looked pretty in the shops...)  If everything can be coordinated it makes it easier to pack for business trips etc.

Once I cleaned out my wardrobe I could feel the weight of my belongings lift up, rise...and...
fly away
Less clutter in your home means less vibes you are constantly getting from your "stuff".
(check zen habits again here:

Miraculously throwing things away started to get easier and easier.
I started to throw away a garbage bag a week just by opening up two or three boxes at a time.

step 2.
They key was to not overdo myself.  But since it was fun, I would clean out a corner of my apartment or 3 or 4 boxes every other week. (I had LOTS of business trips over the weekend last year, so under those conditions I think I did pretty well!  It actually takes only an hour or two once you get in the habit of
LETTING GO.  (You just have to give up playing computer games...or shopping...or couch potato-ing.)

step 3.  

When you notice something... just don't walk by...stop, consider  (if you don't need it, if it is redundant or you had even forgot you owned it) and toss!

If you don't have the heart to throw something away, but you know you don't really need it:

have a clean garbage bag or a cardboard box or even a suitcase you no longer need open, toss stuff in.
The next time you have a garage sale, attend a flea market or charity bazar, you are ready to go!


As you may have noticed from the picture, we have lots of CDs.
So this is what we have been doing:
repackaging CDs. 
Taking them out of the hard plastic cases and putting them in slim cases.
It saves a lot of space!
The CD shelves start to look like this:
We are putting them in alphabetical order.
Where there is a little bit if space, I have placed some of the stuff that came out of the boxes...
I know, I know...more stuff...but I am taking things one step at a time.
AND enjoying it!

Although we had to buy lots of plastic CD jackets, don't forget, I have found that the trick is not to buy more stuff to organize your stuff.  
Get rid of what you don't need first, then and only then, find the perfect place for what you have.
If you are like me, and like to collect boxes and bags, you already have lots of storage!

Thank you for reading this not so pretty blog but...

I am still on the path to clarity (mind and material).  
The art of living in Japan (and anywhere else) for me, is to:

Keep it simple.

January 9, 2012

Wow.  Three months went by fast...again.

I hope you have been doing well.  I hope you had an awesome holiday season and an exciting but not tiring New Year!

Too much has happened in the last three month so today I will focus in on Christmas and my New Year's holiday....

I use to love watching a Charlie Brown Christmas or How the Grinch Stole Christmas on TV when I was a kid in the USA but this year in Japan guess what was on TV!

Although only about 1% of Japanese claim to be Christians, Christmas is none the less one of the most popular foreign holidaysin Japan with cakes and teeny tiny Christmas trees. 
(Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan.)  

Winter vacation usually starts from the 29th and goes on till about the 4th.  (It is a bit longer for students though.)

I took a pretty long holiday.
The 23rd to today!


Here's what else I ate during the New Year holiday:
in Nagasaki
"Osechi" is a boxed meal that is filled with dishes that are made to last for a few days so that housewives don't have to be constantly cooking...we are supposed to let the kitchen rest... but you know how things really doesn't end up that way!
The white bowls with the white round rice cakes on top are called "ozoni".  This is a soup that you put the rice cakes in.  Each region in Japan has their own flavors.  Osaka is miso based.  The city where my  mother is from (Fukuoka) has a clear fish/seaweed broth and in Nagasaki (where my husband is from) it is made with a seaweed and chicken broth and has lots of vegetables in it...which is actually quite unique in Japan.
I still have not mastered the Nagasaki style...

Rice cakes also show up as decorations with little mikan (like tangerines) on top.
The above are the decorations my mom had.
The flowers must include"sho-chiku-bai":
Pine-Bamboo-Plum blossoms (or Japanese apricot)
It is hard to see all three but they are there!

Speaking of New Year decorations, 2012 is the year of the dragon and this is my dragon at home!

This year I have made a motto:
Keep it simple.
and my NewYear's resolution is:

Combining the two means lots more de-cluttering this year!
I can't believe no matter how much 2stuff" I throw away there's still tons more.

Today I threw away old yellowed cards and envelopes and organized the ones that I have like so:
I had so many categories that I couldn't find the right cards when I needed them the most....I'd just keep buying and buying....
(the postcard with the girl in the kimono is something I bought in Kyoto but I do not know who painted it....)
If anybody out there would like to trade postcards please let me know!

Also, if you have any questions about my de-cluttering experience please leave a comment.  I will be posting more about my motto "keep it simple"soon!

Until then, I hope you have a wonderful January and a happy New Year!