Top 3 Ways to Live With Less

My mom and I are different in that she is a saver and I am a spender. She has a natural inclination to save her money until she finds an item truly of value. I agree with this concept in principle, but just seem to have a broader definition of “value” and therefore my savings have historically been scarce. This doesn’t mean that I compulsively blow all my money, or that I can’t understand having a savings or preparing for the future financially (Tristan and the angels rejoice!). It does mean that I have a lot of things.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned a bit more about what items are worth spending money on – I have a better sense of what style of clothing is most practical for my lifestyle; I no longer have an eclectic college decor palette and have instead edited down to certain colors and textures; I research thoroughly to know whether a particular item is truly an amazing deal and/or hard to find. I’m better at distinguishing the ACT-NOW-CRUCIAL-PURCHASE feeling from the ooooo pretty! impulse feeling. Does that make sense?

Back to my mom. One way she has majorly influenced me is by giving me a love of purging. She is constantly getting rid of unnecessary items for the sake of “being tidy.” I too love editing; partly because my petite apartment sizes to date have necessitated it (and I like the challenge), and partly because I firmly believe that we are more creative when we have less options. For instance, we both loved this tiny RV-sized apartment (click the picture for a photo tour):


That website led me on a several hour tangent looking for tiny inspiring homes. I found this video from Life Edited founder Graham Hill on his 400 square foot Manhattan apartment that is six rooms in one and can host a dinner party for ten:

Here’s a quick 5-minute video where he explains how Less Stuff Leads to More Freedom:

I’m constantly looking for new ways to push myself in this area. Getting rid of clothing can be tricky, because we’ve all told ourselves that most trends eventually come back around and our currently outdated sweater could one day be vintage fabulousness. I personally am pretty ruthless when it comes to getting rid of clothing (and Buffalo Exchange has rewarded me) and am fortunate to have had very few regrets. Here are my top three tips for living with less if you’re a spender like me.

TOP 3 WAYS TO LIVE WITH LESS - Torie and Tristan

1. Temporarily store it. For the last two years, I’ve only unpacked half of my fall/winter clothing from storage. The pieces that are packed away, I don’t miss. The pieces that are in my closet, I completely love. I am used to living without the extra clothing, but without the anxiety of getting rid of them altogether. I then enjoy looking at the options in my closet, finding new creative outfit combinations, and actually being able to move the hangers on the rack (…).  I feel far more comfortable getting rid of the items stored away at the end of the season. I’m currently doing a similar experiment with my candle/candlestick stash.

2. Make a list. Us spenders are not going to just stop buying things to “live on less” – no fun at all! But figure out what you tend to buy extra of and make a shopping bucket list. For me, this is clothing. I have a bucket list of 10-12 classic items that I completely love and am slowly procuring. There is no deadline, so I have a lifetime to find a way to get a St. John suit, but I still have a sense of purpose when I’m shopping. I also have a “trendy” shopping list for each season (so, 4x/year). I used to do this in jr. high and high school, when I had to strategize how to get the most out of my clothing allowance.  When I started earning my own money in my early 20s, I went a little crazy with the clothes spending, and I have since returned to having a seasonal list to help me focus. This type of list helps you take advantage of trends in a thoughtful, less impulsive way. You can even develop a fashion mood board for yourself. And limit the amount of daily deal sites you allow yourself to subscribe to!

3. Focus on upgrading versus adding. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve honed in on what types of clothing are most suited for my lifestyle. As such, many of my purchases are replacing and/or upgrading current items in my closet. I do work out, but do I need 12 college T-shirts for the gym? Or, would I prefer a small rotation of cute sport bra tops from Lulu Lemon or Zella? A less expensive example of this would be DIYing furniture you already have. It looks new, but it’s not taking up any more space in your home. When I’m thrift shopping, I almost always check the sweater rack to see if there’s a cashmere version of a sweater I already own. The black jersey wrap dress I recently purchased has replaced a cheapie jersey swing dress with holes from overuse. And so on. You already know you’ll wear/use the item, so it’s a safe use of a shopping obsession. 🙂

You might have already seen this gal’s amazing DC studio apartment tour, which proves that one doesn’t have to be a minimalist to live on less.

425 Square Foot Apt

Here’s a shot of my old 400 square foot studio apt. I’ve posted a full tour on the Torie & Tristan Facebook page.

Torie Studio 5- Torie and Tristan

I’m also totally loving the Tiny House Swoon website right now.

Do you have any tricks for getting yourself to live with less? I’m well aware that I don’t have all of the answers. Do you know me personally and find it hard to believe I am such an avid purger? 🙂



Thrift Store Dress Find

I went thrift shopping on my birthday last month, and had an extensive wish list. I spent $60 that day, and got a few items on my wish list and several other gems that I didn’t know I needed. This dress is one of those gems.

BR Wrap Dress 2

Banana Republic Wrap Dress, available here for $39.50 (originally $98; I paid $6). Here is how I styled it, trying to experiment with the “pilgrim trend,” as seen on Who What Wear:

Thrift Store Find -Torie and Tristan

White bow blouse – Instyle Essentials; available here. Textured tights – Nordstrom; similar here. Shoes – KORS; available here. Jewelry – earrings (old from Nordstrom), ring (old, like maybe even from Claire’s!), bracelet from Ebay (similar here).

And here’s the look in action at last night’s event:

Seattle Refined

Not in a pilgrim sort of mood? Here’s another way to wear the wrap dress, which is more practical and quite simple to copy:

BR Wrap Dress

Image from Petite.About.com

What do you think of the pilgrim trend? Some looks I like, some iterations are a bit too literal for me.



DIY Manicure #4

Metallic Ombre

Metallic Tip - torieandtristan  Metallic Tip - torieandtristan

Metallic Tip - torieandtristan

At the last family get together a few weeks back (okay, it was Thanksgiving),  all of the girl cousins decided to pretend it was a slumber party and go in the hot tub, watch a movie and paint our nails. And whenever there’s high schoolers involved, let me tell you – the glitter nail polish quota goes up, by like, a million.  Here’s our stash:

DIY Manicure 4 - Torie & Tristan

Ever the strategist, I thought this would be a good time to try a sparkly metallic look I’d seen on Pinterest. There was a Husky football game the next day, so I thought shades of purple and gold would be appropriate. I started out trying to do purple with a gold french tip (see third example photo). Two fingers later, when I botched my attempt at free-hand french tip, I re-strategized. Ombre look! Way easier to execute.

Here’s the after photo, with my mug o’ cider:

DIY Manicure 4 - Torie & Tristan

I chose that picture because it conveniently shows the nails I had yet to pick off.

DIY Manicure 4 - Torie & Tristan

I failed to remember that I can’t handle manicures that aren’t smooth. Remember this manicure I did? So, like, a day later, my nails looked like this:

DIY Manicure 4 - Torie & Tristan

Ug. Oh well. I’ll give the trend another go when I grow up and stop fidgeting all the time.

Up next: the final DIY manicure trend in our series, Sally Hansen Salon Effects.



The Pinterfast


I’m not into new year’s resolutions, but by necessity, I do need to make some lifestyle changes this year. I got the flu in early December, did a full round of antibiotics only to have an allergic reaction to the antibiotics at the tail end, and then get violently sick with flu and pneumonia a week later. I am now done with that round of antibiotics and have had the full realization that I need to take it easy and rest, and build a rested lifestyle for at least a month or two. I don’t want to just “do less;” I want to completely remove everything that complicates my life and/or causes me a modicum of stress and re-build from scratch.


In terms of meal planning and grocery shopping, I have a few solutions in mind. I’d like to try Amazon Fresh, for one. Amazon is headquartered in Seattle and our city is one of a few around the country to test-drive their new grocery delivery services. I’ve heard good things – you can get free delivery if you spend $300 or more each month, and specify a really narrow delivery window (i.e., between 8 – 9 a.m.). For produce, you can select ripe, almost ripe, or not ripe. You can pre-set different grocery lists onto your account for different meals and rotate lists throughout the month. It appeals to me that I wouldn’t be able to impulse shop, which would hopefully counteract the lack of sale pricing.

Second, Tristan and I recently finished our first round of Blue Apron meal delivery. I will definitely post a full review, but off hand, it was great … even Tristan thought the meals were worth the money. Blue Apron delivers ingredients for three meals for two people each week, and you can skip weeks whenever you want. The meals are $60 each week ($10 per person per meal), but there are Gilt and Rue La La deals periodically. This meal subscription service is perfect for people who like to try new foods, use seasonal produce and enjoy cooking, but who don’t like (or have time) to plan or shop. Sounds like me!


In regards to mental health, I’ve decided to take a serious whack out of my Pinterest habits. I think it’s made me more manic than anything else. In the words of my friend Kiri, Pinterest has a tendency to make you hate your clothes and want a brand new house. I would agree – and if I’m not feeling inadequate, I’m feeling judgy. Or just plain overstimulated. I mean, am I the only one here, guys?! I have enough pins already pinned to last me a lifetime, and I’ve enjoyed that creative inspiration, but constantly looking for that new pinspiration is causing more headache than it’s worth (perspiration?). I’ve removed the app from my phone so that I can’t “mindlessly” scroll through in bed or when I’m killing time. I am “allowed” to refer to existing boards and pin my blog posts but not look at the main feed. No. new. pins.

Similarly, I am taking a serious look at my blog consumption, especially now that I have a blog myself. My friend Erika wrote a great post on jealousy … which I read immediately following having the thought “gosh, I’m so jealous of her blog.” HA! She says, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” Isn’t that the truth? Anyway, I have a solid handful of blogs that I follow regularly, and I’m not going to get too caught up on never ever looking at them ever (I have enough on my plate trying to give up Pinterest!). But I do want to be cognizant of things in my life that cause me to be discontent; that make it all too easy to fall into the comparison death cycle, and again lead me to feel inadequate and/or judgy. I think I can have a completely inspired blog without “seeking inspiration” as much as I have been.


In terms of keeping up on chores, back in December, I did some research on grown up chore charts. In case you’re wondering, here were some of my findings:

As a newlywed, for me it was helpful to simply see all of these tasks listed out… it made the chores seem finite and therefore doable. But the most important thing I started doing was to stop trying to be Superwife. Tristan had me tell him the stuff I needed help on. He’s far more a creature of routine than I am, so even if I don’t get to my chore goals each week, at least one of us is doing something around the house.

I’m not sure I want to pour myself into some new chore chart while I’m working on a getting a “rested lifestyle,” but perhaps adding just one weekly chore a month into my routine will slowly add up to a clean home. Or maybe I make a chore chart, but keep it lighthearted by integrating stickers and prizes. We’re all really just a bunch of big kids in this world. What do you think? Any non-stressful ideas to keeping up on housework?

I’m kind of excited at the prospect of giving myself one giant break. When I’m busy trying to be the perfect wife, I’m not a very fun wife (I’m exhausted, for one!). It’s important that the things I’m investing in are meaningful to Tristan, too.

It occurred to me that pioneer women back in the 1800s (the quintessential housewives) didn’t have modern technology to waste time on or compare themselves to others with. Even Martha Stewart didn’t have the internet when she first got famous for being able to “do it all.” Were we ever supposed to be perfect housewives AND have full time jobs AND document it all via perfectly posed pictures and eloquently written blog posts on the internet? Surely we can’t expect ourselves to uphold all the tasks of females in generations past AND in generations present! I’m ranting. But it seriously makes me question the sheer volume of tasks on our lists and why we try to do it all. Is it because we look at our blog sisters and assume that they’ve got it figured out? Until I learn how to be realistic with myself, I need to seriously wean off the blogosphere.

Anyway, I’m getting all worked up and clearly that is not very restful.



Juice Cleanse + Giveaway

One of my favorite perks of attending the International Food Blogger Conference was a coupon for a free three-day juice cleanse from Suja Juice in exchange for blogging about my experience. I’ve always wanted to do a juice cleanse, but I’ve heard that even if you buy your own produce to juice, it’s still pretty expensive. Not to mention purchasing a juicer! The prospect of 18 chilled, fresh juices (valued at $7-9 each) delivered to my doorstep was highly enticing. Imagine my excitement when I found out that Kate at A Byte of Life ordered her cleanse the exact same day as I did! Now I have a comrade to starve with.

This is the lineup I will drink each day – aren’t they pretty?


I didn’t exactly follow the pre-cleanse instructions, so we’ll see how this goes. It said to start weaning off caffeine, alcohol, dairy, red meat, bread, sugar, etc;  instead I went to a wedding last night and a had a steak dinner and a cocktail or four.


I’m delighted to announce that Suja Juice is also providing one Torie & Tristan reader with their own three day cleanse (valued at $162)!

Here’s how to enter: Like our new Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Instagram if you don’t already; and share this post on social media in some way. Leave me a comment to let me know that you did these items and you’ll be entered! One entry will be picked at random on Wednesday. Ready…GO!