fixing things with sugru

Have you heard of sugru? It’s a little bit like polymer clay – you mold it like play dough, but it air cures to a flexible, durable, waterproof rubber that can be used to fix, modify or make things.

A couple of years ago we bought a package with 4 black and 4 white mini packs. I used a package of the white sugru to create a bumper on an over-door hanging ironing board rack. A few months later my hubby tackled the fixing that really needed doing – using black sugru to mend the knobs on the crockpot and the toaster oven. The crockpot knob had broken in the back – the delicate piece of plastic that turns the cooker switch between off, warm and hot. (Why do they make this crucial piece out of thin plastic?!) The toaster oven knob had cracked in half, but still worked. It just had a habit of falling off when guests tried to use it. Hubby made both knobs a lot stronger than they ever had been new.

The sugru was a little bit past its use by date by now, but I had a couple of things I really needed to fix, so I used one more mini pack of white and mended some things around the house. I had way more than I needed for my tiny repairs, which is one of the reasons I put off making the fixes right away – if you have extra sugru it will start to cure once it’s exposed to air, so you really need to have a few extra project ideas in mind if you don’t want to waste it.

I started with a tear in my pink PVC raincoat under one of the buttons, and moved on to some cracks in the plastic in the fridge door, and a big crack in the plastic handle of the oven. I made a new zipper pull for my old sports bra, covered over an ugly fiberglass patch in our tub, and then used the last of the package to reinforce the ends of my computer power cord (just to use it up, but knowing that cord ends are very vulnerable to deterioration).

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The raincoat repair isn’t the prettiest, but will be mostly hidden under the button and placket of the coat, besides that no one is really looking closely at such things in heavy rain. The coat pulls a lot at that point, so I’m not sure if it will hold up over time, but I’m crossing my fingers.

The sports bra zipper pull was the other priority. Unfortunately the pressure on the zipper was a bit too much and the pull I made cracked when I tried to use it. If the pull had been on a regular garment I’m sure it would have worked.

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The fridge repairs are not too pretty, but neither was the previous epoxy repair that we did on another big crack. I covered up that epoxy repair for aesthetic reasons, and I think I could probably smooth down the edges a bit. The sugru cures slower in the fridge. The shower repair wasn’t so pretty either, but again, I covered up another repair that was even uglier. When we have our glasses off in the shower, we can’t see the details!

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The oven door repair doesn’t quite match color-wise, but I haven’t heard the terrible cracking sound when I use the door since I did the fix. (Please excuse the dirty stove – I guess I should have cleaned before taking a close-up!)

The shower, oven and fridge are all things we will probably upgrade at some point. The shower enclosure was terrible quality and poorly installed, the oven was a scratch and dent model that came with the house and is an ugly cream color (which looked horrible in the all-white kitchen they had it in – it was a crappy cheap reno). The fridge was a secondhand replacement for a horrible cream fridge that came with the house, and it is probably nearing the end of it’s (efficient) life. My rough fixes are good enough to keep everything together for a while longer.

I bet most people could find a few things around their houses that could use fixing. sugru‘s website is packed with ideas for things that can be improved or repaired.

I think we’ve repaired pretty much everything we can with sugru for now, but if anything else breaks I’ll definitely buy some more.

Jo:)

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Project 333 update: April

(Check out the basics of Project 333 here)

I counted my clothes and I think I’m right around 33 items! (It depends whether I count sweatpants and yoga capris – I wear them enough I feel like I should count them). And I’ve been writing down what I wear in the margins of my day planner since the beginning of April. It will be interesting to see what I wear the most. I seem to have plenty of variety in what I wear so far.

A lot of the time I still feel like I have nothing I want to wear, but there are a lot of reasons for that which have nothing to do with the clothing itself. It’s not like I’m wanting to pull things out of my non-P333 storage to wear – I just don’t want to wear anything I have! It has more to do with being uncomfortable about my appearance, or being uncomfortable about the thing I’m dressing for, or hating the cold/wet weather, or sometimes maybe boredom.

I went through some clothing that I was on the fence about and chose to donate a few more things – the aqua striped top that I almost took to NZ (which didn’t pass the “would you pay $2 for it?” test – it simply wasn’t flattering or good quality), a lovely skirt that someone gave me that I just didn’t love, and the olive blousey tunic that never quite felt right. I’m trying to finish off the pretty blue skirt I refashioned out of 2 dresses – adding an elastic waist. But I will probably donate it when I’m done. (I wouldn’t donate it unfinished, because it would be trashed).

Aprilclothing

I decided to keep the olive utility vest for now. I’ve worn it twice since I made that decision. I don’t like the way it pulls on the back of my neck (I have issues with collars), but I do like that it has lots of functional pockets. It’s on probation, so if it bothers me more than it benefits me, it can go.

I got 4 bags of donations out of the house (including a bag full of bags!)

I laundered my North Face fleece jacket and put it away for the season (and wondered whether there’s any way to get white pug hair off black fleece, because laundering/tumble drying doesn’t make any difference at all).

I dragged the giant suitcase with all the winter coats back down into the basement, but I ran out of energy before I put it back in its spot. Which means I have to do that sometime in the future. Ugh. It was really heavy! It kind of horrifies me how heavy it was.

I successfully returned a top that shrunk in the wash to Target – I liked it, but it was too tight after only one (cold water) wash. I was worried they might refuse the return, but they didn’t make a big deal about it. Thank you, Target! I also took a couple of striped tshirts back to Nordstrom. They weren’t bad. They just weren’t great. I don’t like to return a lot of things, but I’m glad to have that option when it’s necessary.

I took some old running shoes to Niketown for recycling, and tossed a nasty old pair of flip flops – the back porch is tidier now! I have an old pair of slip ons for running out into the yard, and a pair of rain boots for gardening. At some point I will have to take a hard look at my front door everyday shoes too.

At a certain point I suspect this project will become less interesting to read/write about, because it’s so simple and straightforward. It’s a tricky thing, writing about minimalism or frugality – there’s only so much you can say about not buying things, about wearing a small wardrobe, about not needing the latest and greatest thing. The purpose of these things is to make room for other, more important, aspects of one’s life, so eventually all this stuff should drop away. Some people get a bit too caught up in the process of minimizing and perfecting everything, turning that into a new obsession.

Thanks for stopping by!

I’ll be back soon with a post about fixing things.

Jo:)

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Lately…

This was going to be a quick list/update of what’s been going on around here during the last couple of weeks. It got a little out of hand.

I spent 2-3 hours pulling weeds out of the yard. One spot in the back yard looks quite nice now. At this rate I’ll never get things under control, but I’m trying not to give in to that overwhelmed feeling. I was having fantasies about getting rid of all of the remaining lawn in the back and creating a patio with raised planters… but that’s not going to happen any time soon. Mowing the lawn is actually the least of my troubles – 10 minutes with the push mower (human powered wonder that it is) and my postage stamp lawn looks trim and green and beautiful. I sometimes dream of starting over again in the front yard too, but again, a project of that scope is out of the question right now. I just need to get outside and work on the garden, a little bit each day.

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I spent some time with a friend and walked down to the new “uptown” Sunday flea market, which was bigger than expected and was drawing a decent crowd. I spotted a painted side table that might work for hubby’s bedside, but I didn’t love it. I thought I’d found a perfect compact aqua/teal typewriter for Project Life, but the space bar was broken, so that was a deal breaker. (Not that I really need a typewriter at all! Where the heck would I put it?) My friend got a lovely hand-embroidered tablecloth with cutwork for $8 and she gave me the linen napkins that went with it. They’re soft and beautifully vintage and have cross stitched pagodas on them.

I made a small artwork out of some slides. I stapled them together to make a small sheet of slides and stuck them up on a frosted window. The colors are very pretty.

I gave away some extra Hobbit postage stamps I had and some extra sugru too. I also left some crafty things from Studio Calico on the free table at work. I didn’t need them. I wasn’t going to use them. Giving things away is good.

I met with a couple of friends to help them start to figure out their finances. I was glad to be able to help them. I’m really enthusiastic about saving and investing, and I like to share the wisdom of people like Mr Money Mustache with anyone who is interested.

I wrote a letter to a friend. On pretty paper. With a Harry Potter stamp.

I tried bacon and egg oatmeal (I forgot the cheese but put in some avocado).

I finally painted my 2013 Project Life Handbook albums! I had some white distress paint which I applied in a light coat, giving the albums a simple whitewashed look. It’s not anything special, but it looks nicer than bare chipboard. I was going to paper the insides of the covers with tickets and other leftover ephemera, but it turned I didn’t have that much after all, so I made a few 6×8″ pages out of them instead.

AprilPLHandbook

I have a couple of projects I keep meaning to work on:

  • doing something with some CDs and liner notes, maybe creating a book out of them?
  • using the printstagram prints I ordered around Christmas 2012 for something – some will get pocket-page-scrapbooked, perhaps, and some can be used on greeting cards.
  • building the foundations of a scrapbook (?) of my school/uni years by trying to write down what I remember, inspired by the paperclipping roundtable discussion here.
  • and I haven’t actually done any old photo color correction since I got back from my trip, so I should get on that.

I guess maybe I should blog a little more often, so that I can stick to one topic :)

Actually, I reread what I had here and realized that I had way too much for one “lately” post – I had really written three posts in one. So expect something about clothing/Project 333 and donating stuff, and another one about the fixing things with sugru really soon.

Jo:)

 

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letting go – some questions

It’s April 1st. A new round of Project 333 begins today. I’m aiming to post an update about what I chose for this season by the end of the week.

Lately I’ve been spending some time over at recoveringshopaholic.com (even though I am not a recovering shopaholic. Debbie has some great posts about wardrobe planning) and I found an article there about paring down your closet after you have gotten rid of all the obviously ugly, out of style, too tight, things.

How do you continue to declutter if you have a lot, but they’re things you really like?

Most people would probably ask, why bother? Why not just leave things the way they are and forget about it? Which is a perfectly valid answer. But not for me. Because I am trying to challenge myself to create a smaller wardrobe of things that I love, I need to go deeper, and Debbie had some great questions to ponder.

One of the questions that came up, that I’ve heard before, was

“Would I buy this again?”

And a variation of that question:

“Would I buy this again in its current condition?”

It’s that second one that really resonated with me. Because I am a thrift shopper, I have a tolerance for worn clothing. In fact, I prefer some things because they are worn – they have a softness that comes from regular washing, they already have imperfections so I don’t have to worry that I’m going to ruin them, they’ve held up well already so I know they’re sturdy. But it also means that my “new” things are already closer to that point where they are shabby, faded, and just plain worn out. And I become a little blind to the way things look after a while, until all of a sudden I see that they are worn out.

So I was thinking of a couple of items I was on the fence about, and I asked myself “would you buy this item right now for $2.99 if you found it at the thrift store?” and suddenly realized it was time to part with those things, because the answer was no. They’re shabbier than I would ever buy used, so why am I still wearing them? The fact that they’re not even worth $3 to me is a signal that they’re not worth keeping.

I also realized I was hiding some things I value amongst some things I used to value. I have some things that were absolutely wonderful a few years ago, things that I wore every day, that I felt defined my style. But they are living in the glow of that love I had for them years ago which, in all honesty, has gone. There are a couple of pieces I will keep because I truly do love them (even if I don’t wear them often – although maybe when they are separated from the rest, I will). But their imitators, their cousins, the extra items can go now. Sometimes it’s so hard to see that just because you love the blue skirt doesn’t mean you also love the same skirt in pink.

One of the other questions came from a woman who has needed to evacuate her home several times. She has enough time to pack up the really important things (pets, photo albums, and so on) and to pack a bag of clothes that she can use until the danger has passed. If you imagine yourself in that situation, “Would you take this if you were evacuating?” shows what we love and what we actually wear. If you had time to think about it, you would want to take the things that you actually wear day to day, that make you feel good, that fit you right now and are appropriate to your needs and the current weather. The ball gown you’ve been saving just in case you get a black tie invite, assuming that you could lose 10 pounds and find an appropriate wrap to pair it with, isn’t going to make the cut.

I saw someone else online go through her things and compare them in pairs. (Is that called A-B testing, or is that something else?) I don’t remember where I saw this, or exactly how it worked. But basically, she put 2 tanks together and asked herself which one she would choose, and then another 2, and another 2, comparing things with their peers. She ended up with a pile of favorites, and then pitted different combinations against each other to end up with a pile of things that she loved, and a pile of things she would never choose if she had any other choice. Those are the ones that we think we like but we never wear because, except on laundry day, there is always another choice. Or we wear them because we think we should, but we would rather not, so we feel less than our best.

There are some pieces that we don’t even realize don’t work until we try them on. We have to keep changing combinations until we eventually give up because nothing works. I’m trying to put the problem item in the donate bin, not back in the closet! Or we wear something that has us pulling and tugging and fussing all day. I’m trying to throw those kinds of things in the wash when I get home and then put them straight into the donate bin/bag before I forget that they just don’t work for me.

I have a few pieces that I really like, but I’m coming to see that they just don’t work for me and they can have a better life with someone else. I don’t need to keep things just because they’re amazing and awesome finds – not unless they are things I really love wearing. I foresee some difficult partings ahead. Some things you might be surprised to see me let go of.

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late spring 2011

I practiced some of these same decluttering skills in the garden today too. Last summer I transplanted a lime green barberry, a plant that I bought in the very earliest days of building my front garden. It didn’t like being moved and the whole thing shriveled up and appeared to be dead. At first I was bummed, but then I realized I was actually kind of happy about that. But I didn’t have the energy to dig it up again – it has thorns! So I left it, thinking that if it regenerated in the spring, it could stay. (Survival of the fittest is my general gardening rule.) Lo and behold, it started sprouting tiny little lime green leaves on some of its branches last week. My heart sank. But I had a moment of hesitation, thinking maybe I would just leave it… it was out of the way now… and it looks so pretty with the bright color in the spring… not that you can see it from the street…

And then I asked myself “would I buy another lime green barberry at the nursery to replace this if it had died?” and the answer was “hell, NO!” because I am over plants with thorns, and there are so many other plants I would rather buy. So I chopped the barberry into little pieces and fed it to the compost bin. When I was done I felt better about my garden. I moved my early blooming pale yellow rhododendron over into its place, where it will have plenty of room to grow.

In that same part of the garden the bluebells (which grow like weeds) were choking everything, so I decided to stop trying to fight them and moved most of the small perennials elsewhere – when the bluebells are done I will look at planting annuals there, or I will try to live with bare mulched ground.  I’m trying to pick my battles.

I pulled some more grass. Pulled some more weeds. Mowed the lawn.

Pull weeds while the sun shines.

Jo:)

-

(btw, no those are not current photos of my garden. They were taken in June 2011)

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Pruning: roses, possessions and life

I have a large and rather unruly rose bush in the back yard. Every year I try to prune it back and keep it in shape, but it’s a rose that thrives on neglect and grows like a weed. Every year I wonder how it could get so massive again, even after I pruned it. This year I missed my opportunity to prune it in the very earliest part of spring, and before I was certain that winter was really over, it had already sent out a lot of new growth. I figured I might just let it go this year. It would hardly matter. I could use a stepstool to deadhead the highest blooms this summer. Or maybe go into my neighbor’s yard which is 2-3 feet higher than ours, so the blooms are at eye level rather than out of reach. The neighbors love it when the rose gets really tall because more of the blooms reach over the fence into their yard.

beforepruning

Yesterday was a lovely to day to be out of doors though, and I was looking for a task to do in the back yard so Mimi Pug could keep me company (not that she chose to, but that was her loss). So I started pruning the rose, cutting things down to a manageable level, getting rid of growth that was crossing over other branches, taking off buds that would grow into the fence, and getting rid of unnecessary or unhealthy looking bits. Working in the sun gives the mind plenty of play, and soon I was thinking about the nature of pruning in a much more metaphorical way, as I’m sure a great many people have before me.

It always goes the same way. At first I am always hesitant, because I’m afraid I might make the rose look ugly or go too far. I start with the easiest bits, the obviously dead bits.

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Isn’t that how decluttering goes? It’s fearful at first, because there’s a risk you might go too far, that something will get thrown away that was valuable or precious. So you start with the low hanging fruit (to mix some plant metaphors). You grab some ugly, nasty, broken things you never liked anyway and toss them away. It’s easy and you feel good.

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So you keep going. Things open up. As I pruned the rose I began to see more and more crossed branches (canes, I guess they’re properly called?) and buds that were shooting off in odd directions. Little by little, I pruned them away so I could see more of what I was working with.

And so it goes in the home and in life – as we clear things away and pass on things that are not valuable to us, we see more and more clearly what is valuable and necessary – the structure of our rose/life.

At a certain point I think I’m getting close to being done, but then I realize that I’ve still been holding back, out of fear of going too far. I see buds that are not really serving the plant, that will eventually cross over into some other growth, or that will end up crowded and ultimately invisible – so why am I saving them? Each little bud of growth has the potential to become a rose though, a beautiful flower, so I’m trying to keep as many as I can so I’ll have an abundance of flowers come summer. But I know I can’t keep them all.

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This is when I started getting quite philosophic. You have to sacrifice some things that have potential to be wonderful because you can’t have it all. If your life is too full, you don’t have the time or space to appreciate everything you have. If you have too much, you can’t even find the beautiful things you have tucked away. Sometimes we say yes to everything and then find we can’t follow through because we have overcommitted ourselves. The things that end up getting done are not necessarily the most important, wonderful, valuable things we would have chosen (if we had chosen to prune things down to the essentials in the beginning).

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We can chose which are the strongest, healthiest, best positioned rose buds, or we can let mother nature choose, tangling everything together, maybe giving pests or powdery mildew a foothold that will ruin all of our blooms…

As it is in life. We run out of time to spend with our loved ones, we lose or break the one piece of jewelry that we really loved under a pile of junk we don’t care about at all, we never start the novel we want to write, and so on.

And why don’t we prune? Because we don’t know that it makes the plant stronger, putting all its energy into fewer, healthier buds. Because we’re afraid that we might prune too far and that it won’t grow back. Because we don’t have time because we’re doing too much, or we don’t want to make time because it’s hard work. Because we tell ourselves that wild and free and chaotic is more fun, more creative, more natural.

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Taking a little time every so often to figure out what is most important to us, what we value the most, and pruning back the things that aren’t, can save us a lot of time and trouble in the long run. We can select the parts of our lives that we want to cultivate and give our energy to those, but we need to prune away the other parts, the useless parts and the bits that will become an entanglement later if we let them go. If we let things go, they will “grow back” – life has a way of getting fuller, things have a tendency to accumulate, if we don’t actively say no. There are few things that we would ever discard (or few activities we might decline) that won’t come around again if we change our minds.

My front garden is being overrun with grass weeds from the neighbor’s lawns, encroaching from both sides, sneaking underground and resisting my attempts to pull it all up (again). It will take many, many hours of hard work to pull it all out, but I’m going to try, just as soon as the sun comes back out. I’ll let you know any brilliant philosophical thoughts that might come to me while I’m working on it ;)  For now, all I’ve gotten is scratched hands, a sore back and a deep hatred for lawns. The only words that came to mind were curse words…

Bye for now,

Jo:)

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spring decluttering

The house is a mess. And because it’s spring, I care, and I have the energy to do something about it!

I can’t control some of it – we’re running a small business from the house now, and right now that means we have a lot of extra things being staged in what feels like every corner of the house. That’s something that I can live with, in service of a greater good. But there are other things that are a mess that I can take responsibility for. There were some random bits and bobs tucked in random places that have been bothering me – those things that tend to end up in junk drawers, things that I can’t quite get rid of, but don’t have a good home for. So a couple of weeks ago I got started on finding a place for everything and putting everything in its place.

I pulled everything out from my built-in bookcase that wasn’t actually a book.

I gathered all of the bags that I was having doubts about.

I gathered all of my camera accessories which were on the bookcase with my cameras.

I pulled everything out of my “junk” drawer, which was actually the drawer with my extra stationery and wallets, pouches, glasses cases, and other occasionally used miscellany.

I put everything together on and around the hibachi in the living room, a central spot where I could slowly work through everything and find proper homes for it. (Sorry, I didn’t take a picture.)

And then I sorted through the piles, a little each day, or when I felt like it.

I found that I have a LOT of notebooks, both empty and partially filled. Many were lovely gifts from lovely people. A few were hubby’s corporate swag. Many of the empty ones are going to be passed on to people who can use them. The half filled ones are either packed away in my suitcase full of diaries, or have had the used pages ripped out (and stored or recycled, depending on content), so the unused portions can be given away. I rediscovered one notebook in my suitcase that I was unsure about – my Walls notebook. But when I opened it up I loved the pages I had done in it, so I’m using it again. I go through phases with these things.

I also have a LOT of incense, considering we haven’t burnt incense in a year or more. My husband told me he loves incense, so we’re going to make an effort to burn it more often. I’m keeping it in the hibachi which has a small storage space (useless for almost anything besides incense packages, but wooden, so it will absorb the smell wonderfully) and I can put the burning incense on the glass top.

incense

As you may have seen recently on this blog, I have a lot of bags. I also have a ton of pouches and a few wallets and a lot of furoshiki. I was able to sort out quite a lot of bags that weren’t living up to their potential, including some thrifted ones, some that were passed on to me, and one that I made, and they’re going to the thrift store. I already gave one to a friend who had admired it, and another to Dress for Success. The bags I am keeping cover pretty much every need I will have. I might upgrade my backpack. I might fix my striped madras cotton bag – I didn’t do a very good job on the handles. I have a favorite everyday purse now, so I don’t feel like I need so many different bags any more.

I was able to consolidate all the furoshiki and pouches and wallets and foldable bags into one African basket.

furoshiki

When I was reviewing my progress I started musing about the empty drawer in the sideboard and how people store their cameras and the many accessories that come with them. I have my cameras stored on the top shelf of the built-in bookcase. They fit there fine, but it was a dark spot, too deep and tall to really feature the cameras the way I wanted. They were also fairly visible from the front door or window, and I worried that a thief might not realize that they are mostly cheap junk cameras, not worth stealing. So when I thought about moving my camera bits & bobs to the spare drawer in the sideboard, I realized that the cameras could go on the top shelf, which would feature them a lot better. I rearranged some family photos and a few random display items (tea cups, small dutch oven) that could be housed in the kitchen, and now I have all my camera things in one spot, neatly and beautifully arranged. The gap at the right is for the dSLR I used to take the photo. My camera cases fit in the lower cupboard too!

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And here are where all my accessories and film fit, right below the cameras, right above the bag/case storage, right in the heart of the “Department of Doing” that is our dining room. (The photo cut out of frame right above this text ^ is a sign we found in NZ that says “Department of Doing” – which is actually an ad agency.)

drawer

As I was rearranging a few other things I came across the beeswax candle one of my friends from Japan gave me. I had always admired it – it came with an explanation about how pure and special and healthy it was – but I had only burned it one time, because we’re really not candle people. We have lamps on in the evening and we watch TV, so why burn a candle? It just seemed redundant. And I hate scented candles (they make me feel like I’m choking on fragrance!) But this candle only has a natural honey/beeswax scent, so it had that going for it. I sat down at the computer to find out a bit more about its claims to health and wellbeing, planning to give it to a friend who would love it. But in the end I decided that I didn’t want to give it away. I wanted to enjoy it like my friend intended when she gave it to me. I read about how it could purify the air and relieve stress, and hubby sure as hell needs some stress relief, so I lit it and enjoyed it. I’ve lit it during the day and in the evening, regardless of the light or TV being on, for the last few days. I’m actually planning to replace our emergency candles with slow, clean burning, beeswax votives after reading what they had to say about paraffin candles (yuck!). So I’m keeping this candle and passing on a couple of others that are scented and paraffin based.

candle

I’ve been able to rearrange my bookcase a little bit and I only have a couple of things that aren’t books or photo albums on the shelves now. And nothing is frivolous or junky – I just added a few decorative items, deliberately chosen. I have some empty space on the shelves, but it’s hidden behind the armchair. I’m not a big fan of empty space on bookshelves! but I don’t need more books either. I’m quite happy with the amount of built-in shelf space we have and how (half) full it is.

I have a couple of things that are still looking for permanent homes – an empty photo storage box, a large empty African basket, a pile of NZ music CDs (which I have digitized, but which no one wants), some instagram prints in a box, and my sewing basket. I hope to find good homes for everything eventually.

Two bags of stuff are going to the “free table” at work or the thrift shop, and countless things were put away in sensible homes. The house is still messy, but I feel like I accomplished a lot.

Do you spring clean? Or spring declutter?

What kind of things do you find it difficult to provide homes for?

Jo:)

 

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capsule wardrobe (progress) for spring

Hello again!

Laundry is done, and the sun came out today, so here we go. Pictures!

These are the things I have in my wardrobe right now, plus a few things added in from storage which I’m considering either getting rid of or working into my wardrobe.

I laid things out in groups, hoping to visualize the relationships between the different parts of my closet. Sorry, not everything can be clearly shown, but that’s probably a good thing because there’s an awful lot of dog hair on my dark clothes!

Here (below) are my basics. All of these tops go with my (thrifted) denim skirt, jeans, and black knit skirt. I wear the denim skirt more often than the black skirt or the jeans. You’ll notice I have a LOT of stripey tops. I’ve decided I quite like them. 2 are long sleeved and will be phased out as it gets warmer, 1 is half sleeved (thrifted), 3 are short sleeved (2 are navy – I may not keep both). There are stacks of basic solid color tees – the lighter colors are not very attractive on me, but they are good “basics.” (All of the plain tees are feeling a bit tired). There is a stack of fitted tanks which I usually layer with other items. I have a couple of “fancy” tops which are more interesting and dressy than tshirts. I would like more dressy tops, but I have a lot of trouble finding anything made from natural fibers in the styles/fit that I prefer. I also debate how many printed/patterned tops I need if I’m trying to include patterned skirts in my wardrobe.

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Below are 2 of my long (thrifted) skirts which I enjoy wearing. They are soft and flowing and though quite impractical at times (do NOT try to climb the tower at York Minster in a maxi skirt!) they are delightful feminine pieces that I really enjoy. The aqua one even has bells on the waist tie which jingle as I walk. I can wear my neutral (mostly less than flattering) tees with either skirt. I have a couple of aqua pieces that work with the aqua skirt. I have a new-to-me lilac tank that goes wonderfully with the purple skirt – actually that’s what I’m wearing right now! I was thrilled to match the purple tone so well, especially working from memory, and the new tank fits great and only cost $2 from our newest thrift shop! The other purple top is less ideal, and the pink one is not at all ideal – I have been planning to dye it lilac. btw, these skirts can work as strapless dresses with a cardigan and a belt added. I have a pink version of the aqua skirt too, but even fewer of my tops go with pink.

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Next, my dresses and cardigans. At least, the ones I have in the closet right now. I have a lot more dresses and a couple more half sleeved cardigans in storage. I wear both of these black and white dresses over a black knit dress (which doesn’t really work well as a stand alone piece any more). The longer of the two (thrifted, refashioned) needs to be worn over an underdress. The shorter “Kate” dress works alone, over a tee or tank, or over the underdress. (I have 2 more of these dresses, made by my friend, in different color-ways, which may come out for spring). The maxi dress is one of my favorites (although I wish it was actually cotton). The cardigans go with each of the dresses, and most of my basic outfits from the top picture too. I also have 2 long sleeved cotton cardigans, one black, one aqua, which are very useful with all of these pieces. My navy half sleeved cardigan goes with some of my outfits. If I include what’s in storage, I have a dress and colorful cardigan combo for almost every occasion.

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I’ve been wondering what goes with my military vest. I bought it last year, partly under the influence of a cute style blog. I like it, and I feel like it gives me a little more style. But the color doesn’t really fit into my bright, jewel toned, wardrobe. Here are some things that I can comfortably wear with it. The printed tunic (thrifted) in the middle is also on my questionable list because the fit is less than flattering and it doesn’t really fit in with my other pieces. Do 2 wrongs make a right though? :) I also realize that olive green is a neutral and that I could wear it with other colors. I think I might have tried it with the maxi dress in the previous picture, which is at least very muted tones. I tend to pair it with charcoal and grey, and maybe those new navy striped tops would look cool too. I can wear it with all 3 of my “Kate” dresses.

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So these are the things that don’t go with many other things. The greens I’ve covered. The grey skirt is really comfy, but I have to wear it with a plain top. It’s also kind of thin – when the dog sits on my lap I wish it was a much heavier cotton (it’s poly, if I’m not mistaken). The two aqua tops are part of my “fancy tops” mission from last year. They’re polyester. The lace one is a bit more fitted than I think I really wanted and I need to wear another top under it, of course. I haven’t really worn it yet. The printed top is nice, with a draped neck, but it’s also a bit poly, a bit too fitted, and it’s the exact same print as that maxi dress, just in different colors. It’s OK. I don’t know if that’s good enough.

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Back to basics, below – my cardigans, sweaters, and sweatshirts. I have 3 cashmere sweaters – black (with much dog hair), blue and kermit (from Goodwill). A hot pink 3/4 sleeve sweatshirt and a charcoal one exactly the same. The former much better than the latter. The long cardigan is an odd color, but it works with my green polka dot top and all my neutrals and black, and some of my dresses. It’s not the prettiest thing, but it’s quite useful. The grey cardigan has been one of my favorite new-to-me (Goodwill) pieces this winter. It works with all my basics, it’s adds some warmth, it can go under a jacket or coat (which the long cardi and many other fancy sweaters I’ve tried can’t) and looks really good with my denim skirt.

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(Cameras have such a hard time with my bright pink pieces! They’re not even that intensely colored, I promise.)

Lastly, here are my jackets and coats. Yes, I have more than one raspberry pink coat! One is canvas, the other PVC. I have 2 purple rain jackets too, perhaps a little redundant, but they have different strengths and weaknesses. The denim jacket is very useful this time of year, and I have once or twice gone double-denim and worn it with my denim skirt, but I prefer not to. I wouldn’t mind having a cotton/canvas/military style jacket if I could find one that wasn’t black (dog hair issues) or olive green. I wear my North Face fleece for warmth and convenience, not style. The lightweight black trench works very well over a dress. btw, 1 of the jackets and all 3 of these coats were thrift finds from Value Village!

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So there were go. That’s pretty much everything in my wardrobe. I left out a white cotton underskirt and my capri leggings. I also have quite a bit of stuff in storage that could potentially be worked into a spring wardrobe, although I don’t think I need any of it or particularly desire to wear any of it right now. Ask me again when it gets really warm!

You’ll have noticed that this is not a 33 piece wardrobe. I’m not quite ready to finalize and count my wardrobe yet.

Looking at how I’ve described things here, I’m obviously less than in love with some of my patterned tops. I hope to find a couple of nice replacement cotton blouses (I have a vague idea in my head, but all I see in the stores is polyester and froufrou). I also don’t love my light colored tshirts, however basic and classic they might be. I don’t think they look particularly nice on me. I don’t know if that’s because of the tops I have chosen, or if it’s really just an issue of the light colors not flattering my skin tone. I guess I might need to try some different styles.

Those olive green things might be a welcome change from all that pink and purple, or they might just be unnecessary. I spent all of ~$20 on the two pieces, so it’s no great loss if I decide to pass them on to someone else. I’ve worn the tunic for at least 4 years, so whatever I paid for it at Value Village, I think I got my money’s worth. And when I found the vest, it was meant to be a shirt term fashion whim. It’s a little too small, but I got it to try something current and new. No harm done.

Did you notice I only have 1 pair of pants? I don’t care much for waistbands, or pants in general. I sometimes wonder if I should look harder for another pair of pants, something that’s not jeans, or not denim, or something. But most of the time I accept that I just don’t love pants and that my jeans will do.

I’m pretty pleased with most of what I have and I know that it’s plenty. Quite a few things were second hand finds, which makes me feel better about experimenting and sometimes having to pass things along if they don’t work. Few things make me happier than finding great stuff second hand. Like that white and purple skirt, which I get a ton of compliments on). And then finding a great top to match it, also second hand, and as it turns out, nicer than anything I seem to be able to find in regular stores, just makes it feel like I’m on the right track.

Now I just need to narrow all of this down. I don’t need 20 tops! This is where I have to decide what I love the most, and what outfits/combinations I enjoy the most. Some of the outliers might have to get put aside.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading! I hope it’s interesting to read my thinking this through…

 

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