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Registration for A Simple Year closes on January 23, 2017!

Join us for A Simple Year anytime through January 23, 2017 Noon EST for $240 USD. If this isn’t the right time, please sign up here to be notified when the program opens next year.

a simple year

For the last few years, I’ve contributed to A Simple Year: Twelve Months of Guided Simplicity. The course is the brainchild of my friend Courtney Carver—founder of bemorewithless.com and Project 333—and I’m thrilled to be part of A Simple Year 2017.

Course Overview

Imagine what it would feel like to breathe a little easier, and feel lighter moving through your home and life. How would things change if you started taking steps to be less overwhelmed, busy, sick, or tired?

If there was less on your plate, fewer decisions to be made, less stress about money and relationships, could you be happier, healthier, and feel more at ease?

Living simply provides so many benefits, but sometimes it can be challenging to maintain a commitment to long-term change. If you look forward to living with less stuff, less stress and less obligation so you can have more time, money and energy to pursue what means most to you, choose to live a simple year.

A Simple Year was designed to help you simplify your life gently and with purpose. You’ll learn something new each month and focus on what matters most with a simplicity advocate that specializes in topics like clutter, food, money, relationships, and busyness.

Each month you’ll receive written articles, plus an audio or video recording. There will also be a live monthly webinar where you can connect with the contributor, ask questions, and meet other people on a similar path. The live webinar will be recorded and provided so you can watch it anytime. You can even submit questions in advance.

Here is a quick overview of what’s included in the course:

  • new content every month all year long
  • live monthly webinars with recordings
  • private online group for support and connection
  • optional homework assignments with surprise bonuses for completing your homework

Because we encourage you to go at your own pace, we’ll give you a PDF at the end of the program with all of the content, and links to all webinars, so you can revisit the material anytime.

Read the full course syllabus, FAQs, and become A Simple Year member here.

And last but not least my friend Courtney Carver wisely noted:

“Maybe A Simple Year isn’t the answer, and there probably isn’t just one answer, but I want to encourage you to take a step towards change. You are brave and strong enough to answer the call. Big change comes from hundreds of tiny steps and they all matter. You don’t have to have a perfect plan for the next 10 years or even the next 10 days. All you need is an open heart and the next step. Not all the steps, not a big step, just the next one. You’ve got this.”

I hope you’ll join A Simple Year 2017.

With gratitude,

My Tiny Wardrobe (The 2017 Edition)

“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”
–Coco Chanel

Before I talk about my tiny wardrobe, I have a quick reminder to share. Registration for A Simple Year: 12 Months of Guided Simplicity closes on Sunday, January 22, 2017. Join us and simplify your clutter, money, relationships, and more. Course details here.

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Since my adventures on the Tiny Wardrobe Tour with my friend Courtney Carver, I’ve received lots of questions about my small wardrobe. Over the last few years, I’ve shared brief updates about my outfits (see here and here). However, I haven’t posted a formal essay on the blog about my closet since March 2014 because my attire and philosophy about fashion are the same.

As Courtney recently noted:

“I haven’t been sharing my daily looks, partly because they haven’t changed much. All of these pieces from my Fall 2015 collection were in my Fall 2016 collection, and they are in my Winter 2017 collection too. Minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 isn’t an excuse to shop and wear 33 new pieces every 3 months, but an invitation to dress with less to create time and space in your life and figure out what really matters to you.”

I’m in a similar position. Dresses, skirts, and leggings are still key features in my tiny wardrobe because I’m not a fan of jeans. However, I’ve turned into a fan of convertible pants. I bought a pair in 2015 for my hiking adventures, and they’ve been a great addition to my closet.

Today, I thought it would be fun to answer commonly asked questions about my wardrobe. With that, let’s dive into the Q & A.

Question: Can you share an updated list of the items in your closet?

Answer: Sure! The list below includes everything that’s in my closet.

Wardrobe staples

2 long black skirts

2 dresses

1 cotton leggings

3 workout pants (which double as leggings)

1 convertible pants

1 waterproof pants for biking or walking in the rain/snow

1 green long-sleeved merino wool shirt

1 black long-sleeved cotton shirt

1 blouse

10 t-shirts

2 vests

1 black jacket

1 bright orange waterproof jacket (thanks, Mom!)

2 swimsuits


1 goggles

1 scarf

1 mittens

2 beanies

2 necklaces

3 rings

1 set of earrings

1 day pack

1 luggage bag

1 tote bag


1 fuzzy pink robe

3 pajama pants


It feels weird to share a list of my undergarments with you, so that’s not going to happen. I will say that my socks and underwear fit neatly into a small drawer (kind of like this).


2 trainers

1 dress shoes

1 slippers

1 flip-flops

1 muck boots

Question: Do you think people notice that you wear the same outfits frequently?

Answer: In 2005, I paired down my wardrobe significantly. At the time, I was working at a traditional 9-5 job and felt slightly nervous about having a smaller selection of clothes to wear to the office. It turns out I had no reason to be nervous. As long as I dressed in business casual for work, wore a suit to specific meetings and events, and covered up my tattoos, no one noticed my attire. In short, most people don’t notice or care what I’m wearing.

Question: How do you manage to stay focused on your shopping goals? 

Answer: Other than buying high-quality fair-trade clothing from companies like Patagonia, I don’t have “shopping goals.”

My biggest problem is under buying. For example, last winter I gave my winter boots to Goodwill. They were still in good condition, but they weren’t great for long walks. I told myself I’d buy a new pair for the 2016/2017 winter season, but that didn’t happen.

My procrastination came back to haunt me this month. During the first two weeks of January, a huge winter storm pummeled Northern California, and I didn’t have a pair of waterproof boots. Thankfully, Logan let me borrow his gaiters, and he bought a pair of muck boots for me at a local store.

And last but not least, Logan and I love looking for new additions to our wardrobes at thrift shops. For instance, a few years ago, Logan bought two suits at a local thrift store for $40. Then, Logan spent another $40 to get the suits dry-cleaned and hemmed.

Question: Do you never get tempted by special offers or sales? 

Answer: Of course! Whenever I receive a Patagonia catalog in the mail, I want to buy all the things. Thankfully, I don’t buy everything I want, and that’s because I don’t purchase new stuff immediately. Typically, I wait a week or two—sometimes longer—before I purchase new clothing, shoes, etc. As I mentioned, I tend to be an under-buyer and that aggravates my sweet husband.

Question: How do you do your research when you actually need to buy a specific item? 

Answer: I’m a major research geek. However, if you’re new to research, try these tips:

  • Make a list of subjects you’d like to learn about or purchase
  • Google your topic and write down what comes up
  • Beware of online filter bubbles
  • Look at the publication date of books, article, etc.
  • Before you purchase something from a company, read their mission statement
  • Ask a librarian for help

Question: Do you ever feel pressured (by adverts, medias, or magazines) to be sexier, trendier, or more glamorous? 

Answer: During my teens and twenties, I felt enormous pressure to be thin. Today, I’m happy, healthy, and I’ve learned that buying a new wardrobe, makeup, etc. isn’t going to make me feel happier or healthier. In short, I don’t feel the same need to “be sexier, trendier, or more glamorous.”

Actions that helped shift my mindset included counseling and a renewed focus on building physical and emotional strength. I also avoid websites with lots of advertisements. I don’t read glossy magazines (like Vogue), and I don’t watch much television. I prefer to spend my free time reading books, magazines (like Flow), attending CrossFit classes, swimming, and taking photos.

With gratitude,

Extra Reading

On Photography & Project 333—this essay is about fashion, photography, and a $500 Levi’s gift card.

Edit Your Wardrobe—I wrote this essay in March 2013. The tips, advice, and wardrobe staples are still true.

Dress with Less and Create Your Capsule Wardrobe—a fantastic micro-course by Courtney Carver.

Weekly Happy Links: Look for Beauty & Meaning 

{This week: Palliative care, sobriety, starting something good, music for your brain, and more.}

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Hi all,

Below are 10 happy links that inspired me this week. I hope you enjoy them, too!

1. One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die—this piece took 30 minutes to read, but it was worth my time. NYTs reporter Jon Mooallem profiled B.J. Miller, a doctor and triple amputee. Learning about how Miller’s personal experiences led to the creation of a new palliative care model was fascinating.

Also, Miller reminded me to savor every moment of my life. In a recent talk he said, “Parts of me died early on. And that’s something, one way or another, we can all say. I got to redesign my life around this fact, and I tell you it has been a liberation to realize you can always find a shock of beauty or meaning in what life you have left.”

2. Fun Bobby was wrong: the unexpected lightness of being five years sober—a beautiful personal essay by Sas Petherick.

3. The start of something good—Susannah Conway’s “Love Letters” are one of the few newsletters that I arrive in my inbox. I love her writing and honesty.

4. Brain.fm—music for the brain.

5. Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents—This looks like a helpful book.

6. A 98-Year-Old Yoga Celebrity Tells All—Katherine Rosman’s profile of Täo Porchon-Lynch inspired me. Growing older is a gift and I want to see more profiles of older women in the media.

7. The Power of Positivity—This video features Täo Porchon-Lynch and Dr. Terri Kennedy. It’s beautiful!

8. I Don’t Know What’s Best for You—I don’t know what’s best for you, either. As Courtney Carver wisely noted, “Use the information you find on the internet, in books and courses, on this site, and anywhere else as pieces of the puzzle, but not as the end all be all. It’s not. No one knows what’s best for you but you.”

9. The Simple Truth Behind Reading 200 Books a Year—I read over 100 books in 2016 and I want to read even more books during 2017. Chu’s essay offered some fantastic reading ideas and tips.

10. A Simple Year 2017—Join us and simplify your clutter, money, food, relationships, digital, travel and more. Registration for our year-long course closes ‪on Sunday, January 22, 2017—that’s only a week away. Details here.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy my weekly happy links roundup and want to support it, share this post with a friend.

With gratitude,

How I Use My Journals (The 2017 Edition)

“If you want to write, you need to keep an honest unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you.”
—Madeleine L’Engle

Photo by Tammy Strobel

During 2017, I’ll be using the following notebooks/planners:

1. Pen & Ink 3.5 x 5.5″ Notebook. Originally, I began using the Pen & Ink journal to record gratitude lists, tiny pleasures, and observations about my day. However, I decided to turn this notebook into a bullet journal because it’s the perfect size to slip into my pocket and carry everywhere with me.

2. Generic composition notebook. In September 2016, I read a fascinating essay (see here) about basic composition notebooks. I was so inspired by the article that I purchased a few composition notebooks from the Dollar Store and began using the notebooks to write first drafts of blog posts, courses, and more.

3. Hobonichi 4.1 x 5.9” Techo Planner with a royal blue cover. I learned about the planner on Instagram. It’s described as:

“. . . a Japanese daily planner from the creators of the website Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shimbun, or ‘Hobonichi’—who set out to make the kind of planner they would use. Designed for maximum customizability, it evolves every year based on customer input.”

I’m using the monthly calendar feature to map out business projects, the daily list section as an exercise log, and I’m utilizing the daily pages to record:

  • Something that made me happy
  • Something I’m grateful for
  • Something I learned

Finally, the book is stitch-bound, the Tomoe River paper is luscious, and the paper is sturdy enough to handle fountain pen ink.

4. Mindful Budgeting 2017 Planner. During 2016, Logan and I reviewed our income, expenses, and savings goals each month. In 2017, we’re going to have weekly money meetings because we want to stay on track with our savings goals. In addition to Mint, the Mindful Budgeting Planner will be a great tool to track our numbers and reflect on our financial progress.

How I Deal with My Old Notebooks

I keep my old planners for business purposes, and I’ve started to hold onto travel and adventure journals because they bring me joy. I shred my other notebooks every six months. Before I shred my journals, I reread the entries. As I read, I jot down themes that I want to revisit, reflect on, or write about in the public sphere.

Keeping a large archive of old journals isn’t that important to me. The act of writing daily is what brings value and joy to my life.

Plus, my daily writing habit helps me:

  • Stick with creative rituals like photography and blogging
  • Simplify my life
  • Reexamine my relationship with money
  • Write books
  • Unplug from the Internet
  • Remember what I’m learning
  • Practice gratitude

What about you?

What types of journals and/or planners are you using in 2017?

Extra Reading:

How I Use My Desire Map Day Planner—The Desire Map Day Planner was my main planner in 2014, 2015, and for a portion of 2016. I decided to change my planner in 2017 because I wanted to try a new system.

My Analog Tools—a list of my 2015 journaling tools and a few tips for you.

How I Use My Journals—the 2014 edition.

On Grief and Notebooks—an essay about how I used journaling to cope with grief and why I shredded my journals in 2014.

With gratitude,

Before You Go …

If you’ve been thinking about joining A Simple Year: 12 Months of Guided Simplicity, but need more information to make your decision, join founder Courtney Carver for an hour of Q&A and discussion about the year-long program.

The webinar is on Thursday, January 12th at 6:30 p.m. EST. Register here. If you can’t make the live session, please register and we’ll send you a recording.

a simple year

Weekly Happy Links: A Year of Learning

{This week: 52 key learnings, wellness trends, Hello Sunday Morning, and more.}

Photo by Tammy Strobel; My Hobonichi Techo Planner.

Hi all,

Here’s a list of 10 happy links that inspired me this week:

1. 52 key learnings in 52 weeks of 2016—Tré Wee’s thoughts on the process of reflection, recall, human memory, and his year-long learning experiment inspired me. I’m going to incorporate Wee’s tips into my journaling practice.

2. 11 Wellness Trends To Watch In 2017—it was intriguing to learn that minimalist fashion is on the rise (#2) and that the sobriety movement is growing (#3).

3. Hello Sunday Morning: Reflections on 12 months off alcohol—a powerful essay about sobriety and Australia’s drinking culture.

4. A Year of Slow Living Experiments—Cait’s new project is really cool!

5. The Vanilla Beanie—I’m overly excited about adding a second hat to my minimalist wardrobe.

6. Meal Prep Monday—a helpful and fun essay about meal planning. I’m excited to try some of Heather’s tips and recipes.

7. How to Become a ‘Superager’—a fascinating piece on aging. The article reminded me that engaging in uncomfortable activities like—CrossFit and writing—is good for my brain.

8. Shifter Variance—I read Tina Gower’s new novel in two days! I love the characters and the story line.

9. Side Hustle School—Chris Guillebeau’s new daily podcast. The project is “for everyone who wants to create a new source of income without quitting their day job.”

10. A Simple Year 2017—The course is the brainchild of my friend Courtney Carver—founder of bemorewithless.com and Project 333—and I’m thrilled to be part of A Simple Year 2017. I hope you’ll join the class!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy my weekly happy links roundup and want to support it, share this post with a friend.

With gratitude,

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Every week, I share new essays, photos, and a roundup of happy links on RowdyKitens.com. When you subscribe to my blog, you’ll receive a free PDF copy of my latest book—My Morning View: An iPhone Photography Project about Gratitude, Grief, and Good Coffee.

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