Are Capsule Wardrobes All They're Cracked Up To Be?

This outfit is like the Fast & the Furious series... too many sequels!

This outfit is like the Fast & the Furious series... too many sequels!

Just before I embarked on my honeymoon, I completed my capsule wardrobe challenge. Two+ months of wearing essentially the same 35 things. (You can read about the challenge here). 

 

Wow, I learned a lot. 

 

For example, people don't notice what you are wearing all that much.

Zero people mentioned that I wore a buffalo check shirt to my brother's rehearsal dinner...

Ready to party, Paul Bunyan-style!

Ready to party, Paul Bunyan-style!

 

...to the airport on the way home from my brother's wedding...

The dog makes almost as many appearances in the pics as this shirt. 

The dog makes almost as many appearances in the pics as this shirt. 

 

...to Thanksgiving...

I really like this shirt.... can you tell?

I really like this shirt.... can you tell?

 

...and Christmas...

Holding hands/paws for grace.

Holding hands/paws for grace.

... and to work a few times, to a movie, when I filmed my first Hey Eleanor webisode, dinner with friends. I've easily worn this shirt 20 times in the past 60 days.  

 

Layering is key!

Wearing a mix of high-quality, luxe-feeling pieces makes you feel really put together, even if you're dressed casually.

Exhibit A:

Clearly I am trying too hard to look bookish. Patsy is confused. 

Clearly I am trying too hard to look bookish. Patsy is confused. 

 

I started out believing that a capsule wardrobe meant investing in "nice" pieces.

Aka expensive. Truth be told, my two favorite pieces (the buffalo plaid shirt and the grey sweater dress below) came from the Gap & Old Navy, respectively, and cost less than $30 apiece. 

My cheapie sweater dress. 

My cheapie sweater dress. 

 

Other notes (many of which I've discussed at length in previous posts):

Having less clothing to choose from made my life markedly easier.

It hardly ever took me more than five minutes to pick out my clothes and get dressed in the morning. Once I dialed in a few great outfits, I returned to versions of those over and over again. My morning stress nearly disappeared.

 

I loved my breezy, mostly empty closet

I could actually see everything I owned. What a concept. 

 

I just can't have needy clothes. 

For example, this great shirt.

Oh how I love and hate this shirt. 

Oh how I love and hate this shirt. 

I loved it. It accidentally wound up in the drier and shrunk. After much hemming and hawing, I decided to replace it. Well, guess what? My husband dried the new one. It shrunk.

You know what I learned? I care more about sharing the laundry responsibilities with Josh than I do about having a few select items that can be machine washed, but not machine dried. So instead of micromanaging the laundry, I've decided to avoid "lay flat to dry" items. 

 

So... will I continue with this capsule concept?

To some extent, yes. I have no desire to look through the clothes I put away last November. I don't even remember what I don't have in my closet. I've spent less money on clothes, less time shopping, more time writing and exercising and substantially less time getting ready.

I'm no longer of the "I need that shirt in every color" or the "you can never have too many jeans" mindset. I just need enough, and enough turns out to be barely any.

However, a strict 35-item rule doesn't currently work for me. There were still things I wore all the time, and items I hardly ever wore. I think I am still struggling with is the idea of personal style. Do I have one? What is it? I was hoping this would give me a little more clarity in that regard, but it hasn't. Maybe it's time I switched my mindset from capsule to uniform.

I just need to make sure my uniform isn't yoga pants and a sweatshirt.

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Your thoughts on keeping a limited closet? And do you have a uniform? How'd you pick it? I am stumped, but maybe I actually do have one and am not even aware of it. 

The best part about this entire challenge was cleaning out my closet. Check out the before and afters and maybe you'll be inspired to do it, too. And if you are so tired of this stupid topic (honestly, I kind of am! How can people exclusively blog about 30 pieces of clothing?!), here's a link to an interview I did with a porn star

Quitters: How Going Gray Launched My Modeling Career

Oh, the dreaded first gray hair.

I have yet to spot mine, but I'm fairly certain my grandma was white in her 40s, so that day might not be too far off. Until I met Cindy Joseph, I hadn't given much though as to what I might do when my 100-percent natural blonde hair is no longer. Cindy makes silver (not gray!) look fabulous and I'm not the only one who thinks so: Dolce & Gabbana, Ann Taylor and Boden all think she's pretty hot stuff, hiring this beaut for national ad campaigns. I talk to her about embracing her natural hair color, beginning a modeling career in your late 40s and why embracing, not fighting, age is more fun.  

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Let’s get down to business: What did you quit & why?

I quit coloring my hair. I felt like it was a lie. I wanted to know what it felt like to experience what it is like to surrender to what Mother Nature painted and embrace authentically all the aspects that the next stage of life was offering me.

I wanted to show the world that over 45 can bring a realistic and genuine beauty.  I wanted to create a beautiful and positive image of age, without covering up the physical signs of age. 

What did your life feel like before you quit coloring your hair?

Trapped. I was not free. I felt my energy was stuck because I was hiding something.   

What pushed you to quit? 

I had been discovering how wonderful aging was. I was getting better as time went by, as the world was telling me that I would get worse. I realized that most people in our society do not have a positive image of aging. I wanted to show my age so others could see that age is sexy, healthy, full of vitality and enthusiasm as well as came along with silver hair, crows feet and age spots. I find all of these physical traits as badges. They are medals of honor we earn as we live a rich and passionate life. 

Was it a specific moment, a constant internal nagging or something else?

It was an epiphany I had during a conversation I was having with someone about age. 

The hardest part about quitting?

Waiting for the real hair to grow in. Being patient is the hardest part. 

Was quitting scary for you? Why or why not?

I was excited and a little nervous wondering how I would look. I had to break through my own conditioning and prejudice about looking older. 

How did you feel immediately after you quit?

Exhilarated. Scared. Thrilled.

How do you feel now? 

Free and fabulous!

Any regrets?

Not one bit. It started a whole new career for me! I was approached in the street the day I cut off the last bit of dye and asked to model for a world wide fashion campaign! [check out some of Cindy's modeling photos.]

The most amazing thing that’s happened since you quit?

Well, that was it. It was like the Universe gave me a reward for facing my fear and going for what I believed in! 

How has quitting changed your life?

I not only have had a 15 year career modeling specifically because I went silver, my modeling career was the platform for my pro-age skin care line, as well as the impetus to spearhead the Pro-age Revolution! 

Advice to someone who’s considering going silver?

Do not judge your natural hair color by three inches of silver roots. Let it grow all the way out. Get a fun hair style.

Show off your locks! You might be amazed by the color you discover. Grey, snow, silver, pewter, salt and pepper. Silver comes in many different tones and colors and dimensions. Just like blondes, reds, browns and blacks Be proud in your age and your body and your features.

Give those younger than you hope that age is fun and challenging and exciting. Let them know that you become more of who you are and that you become better with time. You are more experienced and skilled. You have more self knowledge and wisdom. You can only add on to who you are as time goes by. Remember that aging is simply another word for living. 

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Want more Cindy? Of course you do! Find her on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Her makeup line, BOOM! by Cindy Joseph, is designed "for women who want to reveal their genuine beauty with an honest and realistic approach." No shellac here, just nice natural stuff to enhance what you're already working with.

Check out my other Quitters stories in the archives. 

Have a great Quitter story? Share it! Email me at heyeleanorproject@gmail.com.

How To Kick Jet Lag/Travel Fatigue's Ass

Hey, it's me. Mr Airplane. Just waiting here, ready to screw up your mind, body and soul.

Hey, it's me. Mr Airplane. Just waiting here, ready to screw up your mind, body and soul.

Did you know I just returned from Australia & New Zealand? Of course you do, because I won't STFU about it. 

Prior to our trip down under, people loved asking about the flight time and time difference. I still don't exactly know the time difference, but I know it's a lot of hours (and a day ahead). Honestly, I didn't want to know. Dwelling on it just makes jet lag worse. It's not all in your head, but I think largely ignoring time differences is a huge help in conquering jet lag. Here's how I do that.

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Set it & Forget it.

If this still says what time it is at home, you're grounded!

If this still says what time it is at home, you're grounded!

Once I am at my departure gate, the current time is dead to me. I'll set my phone and watch (ha, as if I wear one) to my final destination's time. Nothing reinforces the fact that you should be feeling like crap if you're getting breakfast on the plane "but it's really 7pm back in [blank]." NO! Believe it's whatever time your clock now says, not what it said yesterday when you were sunning yourself on the beach in Tahiti. 

 

Sleep on the Plane.

The flight from Dallas to Sydney is 18 hours. It's the third longest flight on earth. 

Yeah, I know. That's a lot of time.

But this is actually good for jet lag because it gives you enough time to play into the airline's overnight game-- where everyone pretends like it's dinnertime when you leave and breakfast when you land. In between those times, I get to watch a movie or two, guilt-free! But then you must squeeze in a few hours of usually uncomfortable, limb-numbing sleep.

Some folks swear by Tylenol PM or Ambien. I avoid the first because it makes me feel like junk when I wake up. I'd never take Ambien in public because I'm not entirely sure I wouldn't end up naked, surfing down the aisle on a beverage cart.

Instead, I rely on an eye mask and regular ol' earplugs. Something like this. So simple! If you're lucky, you can actually get six or seven hours of sleep on a really long flight. You can't do that on the measly eight-hour flight to Europe!

Next thing you know, they are serving breakfast. And then you're landing. 

 

Say Yes to Liquids.

This is pretty obvious, but I'm saying it anyhow. Drink every non-alcoholic beverage that comes your way. Hydration is key! It keeps your insides from drying out and makes you have to get up and stretch your legs en route to the tiny bathrooms. 

You can also say yes to booze, but maybe only once (like wine before you fall asleep).

 

Once You've Arrived, Force Yourself to Stay Awake.

The biggest obstacle in the fight against jet lag: Staying up until it's appropriate to retire for the night.

I say that means until sunset local time, which could be really hard if you arrive at 7am. Drink a coffee/tea/coke or drink a 5 Hour Energy (I hate to say it, but nothing works as well!) and spend as little time in your hotel room as you can.

 

Go Outside & Get Some Exercise

Your hotel room is poison until sunset! Do this instead.

Your hotel room is poison until sunset! Do this instead.

Natural sunlight cues your body's circadian rhythm and exercise get the blood pumping, You don't have to do a 10-miler or anything, just walking around town will help your body adjust to the new time zone. So on day one, plan a fun, low-key activity outside. And if it helps, pretend your hotel room is hot lava until the sunsets. 

 

Eat your greens.

Everybody poops... except when they are traveling. Call it a jet lag symptom or a lack of a "safe toilet" issue, this is what happens when our bodies are out of whack. Try to eat lots of fruits and veggies to keep things moving.

* * *

How do you deal with jet lag? Has anyone tried taking melatonin? I hear that works, too. 

PS here are some other travel related things... like the time I brought a puppy through US Customs (and if you are going to Cancun/Playa del Carmen/Cozumel from the states, you can too!) and the time I went on a trip to Arkansas with almost strangers.

12 Things You Should Probably Know Before Going to New Zealand

The hubster and I just returned from our 16 day honeymoon in New Zealand and Australia. Lots of adventures, driving, wine and coffee and not a lot of Internet. I can't wait to tell you more about all the crazy stuff we did, but in the meantime, I feel compelled to share a few things we learned about traveling New Zealand that I wish we'd known before we left.

Good stuff, bad stuff, useful stuff.

Keep in mind that we only did the south island, which is much more remote than the north island. At any rate, I think this info would help anyone planning to go there.  

* * *

1. Customs

I've always ticked the "nothing to declare." I only once got in trouble for brining an unopened package of gummy bears back home from Germany (I mean, really. I was supposed to declare those?). However, the customs people in New Zealand take this stuff super seriously.

For example, I saw one customs officer tear a lady a new one for not declaring a wood carving she bought at the Sydney airport. The same one aggressively shamed Josh for not declaring his hiking boots, pointing out that he had signed a legally binding contract where he lied about carrying outdoor gear. She then inspected his boots and said it's a good thing they weren't dirty because it's a $400 fine

Not the warm welcome we'd expected, but I guess we'll know for next time and so will you!

2. Sandflies

My god, the sandflies.

As a Minnesotan, I am used to mosquito bites. Sandfly bites are a whole different thing. They are tiny and relentless. Josh and I each had about 30-40 bites on our ankles and nearly a week later, they still itched like crazy. Like can't sleep at night crazy, I don't know if I can even live one more second without cutting off my legs at the shin crazy. 

What's worse, we could only find "natural" repellent and "natural" anti-itch stuff. And we all know how well that stuff works. If you're going to New Zealand, do yourself a favor and bring DEET repellent and real AfterBite

3. Coffee!

Mark this one under pleasant surprises: Every bar, roadside stop, restaurant, hotel and many gas stations have a ridiculously nice espresso machine with amazing coffee beans. I had no idea Kiwis were so obsessed with coffee. Even in the most podunk of podunk towns, you can find a cup that outshines most hipster-filled urban coffee shops. It is great!

4. It's So Remote

The country's total population is somewhere between 3 and 4 million (though there are 60-some million sheep). In the south island, there were multiple times we drove for hours without seeing a gas station or a grocery store. So fill up on food and gas while you can. 

5. Freedom Camping

Gillespie Beach, New Zealand.

Gillespie Beach, New Zealand.

Unless it's posted otherwise, you can basically camp on any conservation land (which is almost everywhere) if you are in a self-contained unit aka campervan/RV. Which is a great thing when you're driving through the alps and haven't seen an open business for two hours. Plus, it allows you to stay in some stunning places, like the above Gillespie Beach, just outside Fox Glacier.

6. Rent a Campervan

A classy steak dinner while camping? We're in!

A classy steak dinner while camping? We're in!

Before we booked our trip, I was intrigued by traveling via campervan. It seemed so convenient to not unpack every night and have our hotel and car be the same thing. Plus, freedom camping! But would we look like absolute tools driving around New Zealand in an RV? We decided to go for it.

Fret not, potential New Zealand campervan travelers! Basically 25 percent of the vehicles on the road are campervans. We didn't stick out at all. Locals, tourists, everybody is into the car camping thing. We went with Maui (fancier than we needed, but I am not complaining!) and lived in the lap of RV luxury for nine days. We could cook, eat, sleep, pee, brush our teeth, refrigerate food and drink wine out of real wine glasses. Barely camping, but still able to hang in the outdoors. 

7. Take Kiwi Advice with a Grain of Salt

Before heading to New Zealand, a Kiwi warned Josh and I that we should avoid Greymouth, where we'd intended to spend a night or two, because it's incredibly industrial and not scenic at all. Josh and I immediately thought of Gary, Indiana. No thanks!

Here's what Greymouth looks like:

Greymouth: It's like New Zealand's Detroit! Photo by Kelsi

Greymouth: It's like New Zealand's Detroit! Photo by Kelsi

I guess if you live in the most stunning place on earth, this might seem like an eyesore.

We were also told by Kiwis that Milford Sound, while beautiful, is terribly touristy. To me, that means a million trinket shops, a McDonald's and at least one Bubba Gump Shrimp equivalent. Milford Sound, while full of tourists, has a lone airstrip, two restaurants (one where you order at a counter), two small hotels and a few boats that will take you out on the sound and literally nothing else. So when a Kiwi says tourist-y, they're not talking Navy Pier. 

Hot pools? More like Wet-n-Wild.

Hot pools? More like Wet-n-Wild.

Oh and Kiwis love to recommend the hot pools, but be warned: these are not the outdoor, nature-y oasis they seem. We drove an hour and a half out of our way to visit Hanmer Springs, which turned out to be a water park with screaming kids, a lazy river, water slides and crappy burgers. Lesson learned!

8. This Place is run by 20-something Backpackers

Almost everywhere was staffed largely by 20-somethings from places other than New Zealand. It's pretty easy to apply for a year-long work visa and bum around the country, picking up odd jobs here and there. Restaurants, outdoorsy tours and hotels seem to employ a lot of college-aged kids who've only been working there for two weeks or a month and are probably moving on soon.

Why didn't I know about this ten years ago?

9. Internet

If it's even available, it's slow and it sucks. Just come to terms with that and you'll be fine.

10. Beware of the Weather 

It'll be hot one moment, then raining, then freezing cold, then hot. Just bring lots of layers, a rain coat and socks that cover your ankles (not only for the cold-- sandflies!). 

11. Few Things are Oversold, Merit-wise

The entire kitchen at the Cray Pot

The entire kitchen at the Cray Pot

The best fish & chips.

The best fish & chips.

I'm always skeptical of any restaurant recommended by any tourism company. The New Zealand tourism folks would not STFU about the Cray Pot in Jackson Bay, reportedly the best fish and chips in the land. For whatever reason, we decided to check it out anyway. After a 40-minute drive along...wait for it... a road with no businesses, we landed at this postage stamp-sized restaurant. Three ladies cooking up fish and chips and cray fish (also known as lobster). 18-seats in the joint and every one was taken. Worth every bit of time and money, and just one of many examples of things that lived up to and surpassed expectations. 

12. Few Things are Oversold, Space-wise

We visited during high season and hardly booked anything in advance. Aside from Milford Sound (where we still got one of the last camping spots), most places had plenty of space if you arrived before 3pm. So don't worry about plotting out your every move before you go. You will probably be just fine. And if all else fails, freedom camping!

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Any other travel advice for folks heading to New Zealand? Comment away! And PS here's another very different place I traveled recently and ADORE. Plus, 7 non-essential things that make travel better.

 

This Week's Best Stuff on the Internet

The award goes to this gal, whose dedication to a prank on her brother goes on far longer than it needs to. Precisely why I love it. 

An essay about being a woman in your thirties who is ambivalent about kids but knows, theoretically, that she wants to have them? Wait a sec.... did I write this? 

In case you were looking to have your heart explode today: these before and after doggie pics!

Maybe there is a god, and no, I am not just saying that because Netflix is apparently making a Wet Hot American Summer series.

Wow. Consider my life changed by these envelope-pushing, real-life food hacks.

Have you seen this 70s photo essay from Time magazine featuring rock stars at home with their parents? This should've broken the Internet, not a pic of Kim Kardashian's butt.

ATTN! Don't touch that beautiful, mid-century Mamie [Eisenhower] pink bathroom! Look how chic they can be!

Traveling/camping/living your regular life? Yep, me too. I bought this dry shampoo and am never looking back. It's made this whole camping in New Zealand thing waaaaay easier.

PS if you are going to New Zealand, splurge on a night or two here. We did, and I couldn't be happier about the stunning views, great tea, excellent hospitality (snacks! Wine! Rides to town!), lightning-fast Internet, fancy herbal soap, roaring fireplace and hillside hot tub. I never want to leave and am currently trying to figure out how to convince Josh that we need to stay one more night. 

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If you like these links, you might like following me on Twitter & Instagram, where I'm always sharing the coolest, scariest, funnest stuff I find on the web.

You can also sign up to get all my posts delivered to you via email. Easy!

Everyday Eleanor: Ross Everett

Ross, eating a fish in Istanbul. 

Ross, eating a fish in Istanbul. 

You might know him as the YouTube dude, but I know Ross Everett as the nicest person I met in all of 2014. He was also the host of the New Show on Discovery Digital, until it got cancelled. Instead of cryin' about it (PS Ross, it's totally cool if you did cry about it), he leapt at an opportunity to travel Europe-- which he had yet to embark on prior to this interview. I talked to him about being Internet famous, what freaks him out about traveling alone and who killed Hae Min Lee (you did listen to Serial, right?). 

* * *

How did you get into film (do you call it film? Moviemaking? Videoing? I have no idea.) in the first place? 

Film is a very prestigious way to refer to YouTube videos, but seeing as how you don’t get into the field without a healthy dose of narcissism, I’ll allow it.  

I kind of tripped and fell into it. During an internship in college I met my friend Brett who was very involved in YouTube- sorry, “film”- and he brought me into it. I was already very interested in making my own videos but hadn’t really explored the online platform until we met. After that it was a combination of being in the right place at the right time with the right material. Brett and I started a web series together called “Shitty Roommate” and eventually making YouTube videos became a full time gig. 

I hear you’re a pretty big deal on YouTube. How’d that happen? 

My favorite type of rumor. I’ll let it perpetuate. I wrote and produced for a lot of popular YouTubers before I was even in front of the camera myself. It wasn’t until I joined SourceFed (a popular YouTube news channel) that I gained any sort of public persona. I was there for about a year as part of the ensemble and then left to pursue my own show. Which I see you’re about to ask about in the next question. 

Ross & those houses from that show with Bob Saget that wasn't America's Funniest Home Videos.

Ross & those houses from that show with Bob Saget that wasn't America's Funniest Home Videos.

Recently, the Discovery Digital Network picked up your talk show, The New Show. Even more recently, they cancelled it. What was your biggest takeaway from the experience?

I like working with people. I realized how important to me it is to be in a creative space surrounded by likeminded individuals. I’m glad I took the opportunity because I think we made some amazing content on The New Show and that exists online forever now. It’s the kind of thing you want to exist online forever, no offense to those that hate that idea like Anthony Weiner or Paula Deen.

Instead of wallowing in the cancellation sorrow, you decided to take a big-ass adventure. Why?

I made the mistake of not traveling before. I had this break between SourceFed and The New Show that I spent worrying about my next gig instead of taking the down time and doing something amazing. I promised myself that if I got that opportunity again I would take advantage of it. Also, it didn’t hurt that less than an hour after I got the call that the show was cancelled I got a trip offer to go to Israel. So, the universe gave me a nice nudge on that one.

When/where are you going & for how long?

I’m going a bunch of places and nothing is totally set in stone yet. I know that I have a flight into and out of Israel a month apart and I’m going to fill the time in between with some very cold places. Tentatively, I’m looking at Istanbul, Budapest, Prague, Krakow, and Berlin. I’d also like to see Rome, but that’s mostly because I like Gladiator movies.

You’re hitting the road solo. Are you scared? How is that affecting your planning/decision making?

I’m not scared, but I’m also not comfortable (which I think is just my normal state of being). Part of this trip is to do something brand new that I’ve never done before, so I don’t exactly know how it’s affecting my planning/decision making other than I’m the one to plan and make decisions. I think I’ll make friends who are also traveling and if they have more experience than me I’ll just copy everything they do. I assume “fake it ‘til you make it” applies to everything, not just show business.

What are you most excited for? Most nervous about?

I’m most excited to be doing my own thing. Often I get caught up looking at what everyone else is doing and comparing myself to them, which always makes me feel like I’m behind in some way. I think getting away from all that so entirely that it’s impossible to compare is going to be really liberating. “Who cares if So-And-So just released a book, or Yadda-Yadda is getting a talk show? I’m in a bath in Budapest.” is what I hope to say.

I’m most nervous about no knowing the language. I’ve had dreams recently where I’ve been in a French speaking country (which isn’t even on my itinerary) and been totally lost. I’m a talker so not being about to talk to people would be a nightmare for me. In this case, quite literally.

Prior to this trip, what’s the farthest away from home you’ve ever been?

I went to Israel in High School on an organized trip, so I guess distance-wise that’s the furthest, but I knew everyone on the trip so it wasn’t incredibly out of my comfort zone. 

What’s next for you, workwise? 

I just went on a road trip with my friend Steve down the west coast (as a bit of a dry run for this bigger Euro trip) and filmed it for my channel. I’ve really liked editing them together as sort of a Travel Vlog meet The Wonder Years type video and I’m going to keep doing that as I embark on my own. 

Last question: who killed Hae Min Lee?

Best Buy.

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Follow Ross Everett on TwitterYouTube, Instagram and if you're really lucky, through some train station in Europe. 

You can check out my other Everyday Eleanor interviews in the archives. You know you want to.

I want to hear your Everyday Eleanor story. Email me at heyeleanorproject@gmail.com.