September garden progress – back yard

Continuing on from my front yard garden projects earlier in the week, on Friday and Saturday I made progress on the back yard. Mimi prefers when I stay in the back – she can hang out with me if she wants to, without being tied up. She doesn’t care for outside all that much, so it’s easier if she can come and go as she pleases.

I’m afraid these projects got a little more wordy than the front yard section. I guess there’s more backstory. You might notice a theme of me undoing stuff that hubby did 10 years ago – he would prefer to do things once and never again, but I like to make changes that reflect how life has changed, even if it means undoing something that took a lot of effort. I hope I don’t sound too exasperated by our different ways of thinking :)

Friday afternoon: I tackled the garden cart and patio area in the back yard. I noticed that the shaded not-dead portion of the lawn needed mowing, so I quickly tackled that. Found some baby Rose of Sharon plants for my friend who wanted one and potted those for her. I pulled a few weeds, and lightly pruned a plant that was getting in the way of the mower. Then I decided to tackle my garden cart. That is a longer story…

gardenpatiomess

a recreation of some of the mess that was piled in the cart – it was much worse than this

The cart came from the guy who lived in Riley’s house back when we moved in 10 years ago. He gave me the cart with plywood box sides he’d built for it. I didn’t care for the box. I had visions of carting bags of mulch and compost and tools to and fro, but the box added a lot of extra weight and made it much more difficult to get things on and off the cart. I talked to hubby about getting rid of the box, but I think he felt that it was better with it, and that it would be difficult to store or get rid of, so I should keep it. So I didn’t move the cart anywhere. It sat on the patio and became a place to store things, which is not terrible, but not really a good use of something with wheels.

Yesterday I discovered that all of the tires had gone flat from sitting still – not really surprising. One of the most important things I’ve learned about hoarding/decluttering is that things wear out even if you’re not using them. It’s better to get rid of newer things you don’t need rather than letting them rot. Luckily these days I have more connections and means of getting rid of things. I offered it to my gardening friend, who will try to pump up the tires. She has more space to store it and will hopefully make good use of it. She thinks she might even have a use for the plywood. And she’s going to take my giant pile of empty nursery plant pots. I purge them every so often, but I think they breed when I’m not looking.

gardencardboardI made some space in the basement to store the useful things I had stored in the cart. I also got distracted dealing with reorganizing the massive hoard of cardboard boxes we have down there. Running a business results in boxes and boxes full of stuff colonizing my house and basement… Most of the boxes end up being recycled, of course. But I always keep a box full of good boxes to reuse, and their number keeps growing. I’m not really sure I need to keep that many considering how often we get boxes delivered and how infrequently we ship things. The practical side of me likes to keep good boxes in a range of sizes though… in the hope of having the right size when I need it.

Luckily my friend talked about how she uses cardboard and a thick layer of mulch to kill weeds and lawn, so I have a use for the excess if I can find the time and energy to execute it. I just need a lot of mulch. That would be an easier way to handle the rest of the neighbor’s weed/lawn so that I can garden it next spring. (tutorial here)

gardensandtubAnother big obstacle to my cleaning up of the back patio is this giant tub of paving sand. When we were done creating the patio (in 2004 or 5) we had a bunch of paving sand left over. Hubby shoveled it into this tub and put a piece of plastic over it to keep it clean. And there it has sat for the last decade… I removed all the stuff we had both piled on top of it and tried to move it – of course it won’t even budge. I cursed my hubby’s practical save-it just-in-case nature, but also acknowledged that it was the best solution we could come up with at the time.

We also kept the sand to renew the “grout” between the pavers, so I spent some time shoveling sand into the cracks and sweeping it around. I probably used less than 10% of the remaining sand. So we probably have enough to maintain our patio for the next 100 years! I’d like to give the sand away to someone who can use it. I would much rather see someone I know build a patio with it now, even if we have to buy new bags of paver sand in the future. We’ll see if hubby agrees.

Actually, in the process of writing this I came up with a specific plan – I’m going to buy the some polypropylene sandbags online and fill them myself. They will be easier to move, store in the basement, and/or give away. I don’t know what I’ll do with the giant tub though… it’s HUGE! but at least empty it will be movable. I’ll figure that out later.

Without the garden cart and the tub of sand in the way, I can create a small patio space. We have some plastic chairs that could be used there, or the little bistro set that is currently squeezed onto the back porch. All of that stuff would be movable so we could clear it out of the way if we want to use the space for some other purpose on occasion.

gardenpatioafter

One of the things that was piled up was a spare bag of bark mulch, so I ended the day by weeding the long neglected alley strip. It helps protect the fence hubby built from reckless drivers. It was built with landscaping cloth to prevent weeds, but over time they have found  away through. It didn’t take me too long to rip them all out, to rearrange the jagged rock piles that further protect the fence, and to spread the bag of mulch. The alley is still a mess, but what do you expect from an alley?!

gardenalleystrip

Saturday: I left my gardening until very late in the day so I decided to do a small task – pruning the low hanging branches on the Rose of Sharon tree – the ones that annoy my tall hubby. They filled my tubtrug which always makes me feel like I’ve achieved something. After I emptied it into the green waste bin I decided to do some more strenuous work – I was listening to music so it seemed easy enough to continue (I’m learning how to trick myself into working longer and harder!)

We have a bench shaped thing under the tree that hubby built a decade ago out of excess fill dirt and old fence wood, more things that we would have had trouble disposing of. It is covered in impenetrable weeds and the wood is rotten, so I have decided to spread the fill dirt out into small hills in the garden (which wasn’t there 10 years ago). First I dug up the day lilies that I had dumped in front of the bench a year ago. I never got around to planting them, but they didn’t care – they rooted and grew and flowered anyway! I’ll find a spot for them.

benchbeforeafter

before and after (but still a work in progress)

Then I started attacking the bench with a shovel. It didn’t take much to break the structure up. The wood was very rotten. The weeds were holding it together better than the wood was. I dug into the weeds and tried to pull them by hand, but they were tough. In the end I undermined the weeds by digging out a lot of the dirt under them. I got the hose out thinking that damp dirt would yield a little more easily. But I’ve been watching too much Gold Rush on Discovery – Parker Schnabel had to move a huge amount of overburden dirt on Smith Creek Hill, so he used a high power water jet to wash it away. So I did the same – hose on “jet” setting, I washed away as much dirt as possible from the sides of the bench and under the weeds. I haven’t used a drop of water in that garden this summer, so I didn’t feel bad about wasting water this way. A bit more digging took care of most of the weeds but one really huge stubborn area remained – so thick and compacted that none of the water I had blasted at it had penetrated through. I used the jet of water a little more and finally loosened the last chunk of weeds.

I’m going to let it all dry out for a day or two before I sort through the dirt to throw out the weeds and roots. There’s a little more bench structure I need to tackle – I need to ask hubby how he anchored the corner posts. But then I just need to spread the fill dirt out into pleasant “hills” in the garden, then plant and mulch the area.

I’m sure the bamboo appreciated the water. It’s so horribly dry back there…

Well, that was a lot of gardening and tidy up! There’s still plenty more to do of course, both in the front yard and in the back.

I have a big gap where the feather grass was, but I’m going to move the hydrangea forward so that I can see and enjoy it. My small hydrangea, the one I think of as “the one that didn’t die after all,” needs a new home too, maybe in the back yard where the bench was. I have a few dead looking plants in pots that I will put in the ground in the hopes of fall rain saving them. And of course there’s always more weeding and mulching to be done. I also have daffodil, hyacinth, and tulip bulbs ready to be planted for spring happiness. 50 of each – I love Costco. My feather grass experience confirmed that I will need hubby’s muscle to divide the clumping bamboo, so that probably won’t happen for a very long time. Maybe years!

If I keep working on one thing each day, whether big or small, I think I can get a lot done before the rain settles in for good. We only have 3 or 4 more days of hot sunshine before we have to settle for warm and partly cloudy, chance of showers. I’m going to enjoy it in my shady Beetopia, getting prepared for next spring.

Happy Sunday! I’m banishing myself to the yard today while the business men work on admin and financial stuff in our tiny dining room, probably while listening to football on TV. I might have another post when I’m done.

Jo:)

 

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September garden progress – front yard

I’m very pleased with myself. I’ve been taking advantage of the sunny warm weather this week. I’ve done at least one thing in the garden every day except Monday (when the weather was grey and I was feeling blah). I give a lot of the credit to blogging about my intentions – public accountability seems to help me stay motivated. Here’s what I’ve been up to earlier in the week in my front yard.

Tuesday: I dug out the weeds and grass on the little strip of ground that runs up the fence next to what I’m going to call Riley’s place. (Riley is a very sweet, very lonely black lab pup, about a year old, who amuses me with his playful antics.) This strip of ground is narrow and shaded and quite useless. If I plant small things there they get overrun by weed grass from Riley’s lawn and they are invisible from the street or the front stoop. So I decided to move something taller and more substantial over there.

While I was sweaty and dirty and had the tools out I also cleared the ground in front of the porch – the rhododendron garden. I need to mulch that area!

Wednesday: Part 2 of the Riley’s fence yard plan. Digging up some tall grass (I call it feather grass, but I’m not sure exactly what it’s really called) from the flax garden on the right side of the porch. It crowds the shortcut pathway the mailman uses and along with the 10′ flax, blocks the view of the large hydrangea I planted back in 2004 when we moved in. That’s what happens when you garden haphazardly, without a plan.

Digging up the feather grass was a big job. I knew it would be, but I didn’t realize how big… The Internet told me I should have cut it back in winter and waited until just before the spring started to move it, but I planned to do that last spring, and never got to it. I also wanted the instant privacy effect of transplanting 6′ tall grass. Riley’s people are messy. So I started digging. And worked my way around the grass digging, levering, digging some more, levering some more, standing on the spade handle trying to get the roots to budge, falling flat on my face more than once, getting scratched up and sweaty and exhausted. I broke the handle of my spade. But almost 2 hours later I finally was able to push the whole plant over and free the rootball.

Huzzah! Halfway done.

digging up the feather grass

After lunch I returned to what I had started with a carpentry saw and a pruning saw, ready to try to divide the rootball. After 8-9 years growth the grass had gotten quite huge and I was determined to get at least 4 plants out of it… which meant 3 cuts through the rootball. I’d barely gotten started on it when I started wondering if I’d bitten off more than I could chew and begged my Facebook friends to come help me with a chainsaw. At least one offered to help, tomorrow. But since I had the whole root system exposed I didn’t think it was wise to delay, so I kept sawing and sawing and sawing. And falling over and tripping on things and scratching my arms and legs up even more… I think the sawing part took about 90 minutes. I used my spade to help cut through and separate the two halves which seemed to speed the process up a little. The feather grass was very dense and very hard to divide. But I eventually got my 4 quarters.

I got 3 of them evenly spaced in the space by Riley’s yard and (much to Riley’s delight) they created a curtain of grass, giving me a little privacy from his porch area where Navy sailors drink, smoke, grill, and chat all summer long. I got them watered in and tied back to protect them from the evening’s strong breeze. The 4th plant could have fit in the same area, but it would have blocked the gate a bit more than I would like, so for now I have it in a container. I think it might end up back in that flax garden area, in the back, where its height will work better. Next week I’m planning to dig up some short, lime green elephant grass and moving it into the spaces in between the feather grass to add a little pizzazz to that area.

feather grass new spot

I finished off my Wednesday by eating ice cream, showering, baking a banana cake (I had taken the butter out of the fridge earlier in the day so I felt committed to follow through), then walking 4 miles with my friend, something else I had already committed to. I was very sore and exhausted when I was done! But probably no more than I would have been from doing the gardening and then crashing. The banana cake topped with whipped cream made for a tasty dessert treat after my long day.

Thursday: I got some walking in, but I took it easy in the garden. While I was watering the feather grass in its new spot I cut back some fronds from the huge fern on the other side of the narrow pathway.  I should probably scrape some of the moss off that pathway, but I kind of like it like mossy. Hubby probably wants it clean, but I don’t remember the last time he used that pathway, except to come out and see what I’d done and give Riley some over-the-fence between-the-grass-bushes cuddles. I squirted him with the hose like he likes. Riley, that is. Not hubby!

Next time, continuing the busy week of gardening in the back yard.

Jo:)

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front yard tomato relish adventures

My front yard cherry tomatoes are still going strong! I have harvested at least three 4 cup bowls of them this season. Enough that it seemed like we had too many to just snack on and throw into salads. So I went searching for a recipe online for something like a roasted cherry tomato relish.

The roasted part was missing, but I did find a recipe for cherry tomato relish that looked like the kind of relish I know and love, and seemed very quick and easy to make. I made a few adjustments based on my own experience making relish from an old recipe and based on comments left on the online recipe.

relish prep

My version of the recipe:  

(based on the recipe from eatlittlebird.com, who based her recipe on one from Donna Hay magazine)

Finely dice 1 small red onion, cook gently over low heat to soften (about 5 mins) in a medium saucepan, adding a little salt to avoid browning. Add 1 sliced garlic clove, 500g halved cherry tomatoes (about 1lb), 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/2 c red wine vinegar, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil and cook over med-high about 15 minutes until slightly thickened/jammy texture. Add up to 1/2 tsp of curry powder to give it more flavor and to thicken, stir and cook another few minutes.  Season if needed.

My original recipe also uses ground mustard powder which should already be in the curry powder, but will add extra flavor. I need to buy some fresh stuff. Mine was too old.

It’s not a fussy recipe – I used 600g of tomatoes without altering anything else and it was fine. I used a bit more curry powder the first time and a bit less the second time. Adjust the spices and seasonings to your taste. Substituting part of the red wine vinegar with balsamic might be delicious. Some commenters had tried that, but I haven’t.

It made a little more than 2 cups. I put it in 2 small jars the first time so I could share with my friend M (the one who gifted me the tomato plants in the first place). She liked it enough to make her own batch. The second time I made a big jar which I hope will last me until the end of September. It should keep a lot longer than the week the original website gave. It’s got sugar, salt, and vinegar in it, nothing that would suggest it should be eaten asap. I’m assuming it should last as long as I’m going to take to eat it – a few weeks – a month. As long as there’s no mold, it should be good (like jam). The original blogger said hers never lasted more than a week because she ate it too fast, so she’s never had a chance to test how long it would keep, but there’s no reason to toss it unless it has visibly gone bad. Sterilize the jar in the oven or dishwasher.

blogtomatorelish

 

Tomato relish is excellent with cheesy things and pastry-wrapped things and meat. I add it to avocado toast, grilled or toasted cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, any kind of cheesy lunchmeat sandwich. It’s good with sausage rolls or meat pies, if only they existed in America. It would go just great with a steak, or with sausages and mashed potatoes. There’s nothing wrong with adding it to the top of a slice of cheese (with or without a cracker) for a snack if you have more dairy tolerance than I have.

My next cooking task is to try to reverse engineer my favorite Watties Bit on the Side onion marmalade or find a copycat recipe online. I have a basic idea that you soften the (sweet?) onions, cook with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar, and season them, but the seasoning is probably the trick to it, and the label listing “spices” is not very helpful. My friend M is also going to share some of her family’s relish, pickle, and chutney recipes with me. And my lovely friend B might be sending me some Yorkshire relish for my birthday later this month. Pudsley Pickles was the brand name I think. De-lish!

Now that I’ve made both of us hungry I shall say bye bye for now.

Next time, who knows? I might be back with a rant about people choosing their possessions over their own health and safety, or I might show you my lovely new belt.

Until then,

Jo:)

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Project 333 – August is over, September has begun

Hello, hello,

We’ve entered into that strange in-between month of September where (in the Northern Hemisphere, or at least in the Pacific Northwest) summer is not quite over, but fall has not yet begun. The days are a little cooler and cloudier, but there isn’t usually that special chill in the air. I like September because near the end of the month I will celebrate the 40th anniversary of my birth! I was born in the southern season of daffodils and spring lambs. Here in the US September means hanging onto summer if you love summer and getting psyched for fall if you don’t. It also means Back to School, which means shopping, of course – for school supplies and a cool new look.

I don’t go to school, but I am tempted to begin some kind of back to learning project to celebrate the season and provide some excuse to go shopping for supplies. I contemplated Shimelle’s Learning Something New Every Day project or the 30 Day of Lists project, but I think I need to focus on some of my ongoing (on and on-going) projects rather than jumping into something new right now. So we will see where that takes me.

Note to self: I wonder if every month of the year should have a theme or project…?

For now, let’s review my P333 closet. The tracking continues as before, the spreadsheet is slowly evolving. 

This month’s most worn – summer’s usual suspects –  my blue cotton print dress, navy cardigan, denim skirt, basic layering tank tops, and my striped tank dress that’s shapeless and awful but perfect for wearing at home when the house is 80+ degrees. My new accessory, a wide black braided belt, got worn 4 times since I bought it late in the month, so I’m going to say it’s also a winner. It might even get its own blog post!

blogAugmostworn

My not-worn items, 6 of them, are mostly pieces where I have another similar option available. Some months are all about the grey sweatshirt, other months it’s the pink one. Ditto with the Kate dresses – this month the indigo/green one got passed over. It’s a fact of life when you have duplicates you love. In unsurprising news, the long sleeve tee just wasn’t necessary in the hot summer we’ve had, but I bet it will be a staple again by the end of September. I’m going to buy one or two new versions of it this fall – it’s been so useful and comfortable. 

I had 3 dresses that I think of being “on the bubble.” I’ve worn 2 of them, once each. I think I will donate the chevron one this month. I’m mostly over chevrons, and the dress isn’t the best quality. The black cotton dress is going to get a reprieve until I stumble upon a replacement. It looked cute with my new belt and a cardigan. The blue cotton dress that didn’t get worn needs to get a try-on with the belt, but it’s a cute basic, so I think I will keep it anyway. Next year it will still be (un)fashionable and I might be more into it. If not, I will pass it along. The maxi dress which is also on the bubble can stay for now – it’s actually more of a transitional season dress anyway – it’s too clammy for mid-summer and I like it with a short sleeve cardigan. 

Right now, in this in-between season I need to be careful to remember that it’s not actually fall yet and that I don’t particularly like fall. I’m a summer girl. I love my summer clothes. In this climate we only get 12-16 weeks to wear summer clothes each year, so I might only wear my favorite sundress 5 times in a summer – or, as is the case so far this year, TWICE! How sad, for something I consider a favorite. Last year I started wearing my fall things (denim skirt and sleeved tees) in September and then realized that I had missed my last chances to wear pretty summer clothes. So this year I’m going to be more intentional about wearing my summer favorites a little longer.

The things I want to keep wearing now – my linen shorts (which I put on today with a light sweatshirt – LOVE that they have pockets!), my floral cotton sundress (which looks all wrong unless the weather is truly summery), all of my sleeveless tops, and my cotton dresses (even though I can wear them with layers, they’re really just perfect for hot weather).

blogsummerything

Try as I might to avoid it, I have been thinking about autumnal wardrobe choices. I have been trying my chambray shirt on with everything in my closet as I think of combinations. It looks fine with my black cotton leggings so I might not need to buy black skinny jeans or pants after all (maybe?). I’m going to try to fill in a few more wardrobe gaps around it before I commit to keeping it though. It’s way too hot to consider wearing it yet so the tags are still attached (not that Nordies cares abut such things anyway). I have a little wishlist of things to buy to change up my horribly boring winter wardrobe. I want to find someone selling cherry red jeans in a style I can fit into. I might have to give up my kermit sweater and find a more neutral sweater so I don’t look like a bad Christmas decoration.

Thanks for stopping by,

Jo:)

 

 

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as summer comes to an end…

Hi!
I apologize for my absence. I don’t know what happened to my blogging mojo in August. I had been working on 4 different posts, and when I got them done I closed my wordpress dash and never came back! I even have a few things noted and bookmarked to talk about, but I’ve not made it all the way to writing a post.

So what better to write about now than getting organized to get things done in September?

late summer garden left

We’ve had a lot of hot sunny weather lately and I’ve not spent much time in the garden since Mimi had her surgery in June. I’ve watered and tried to keep everything alive through our 2 months of drought (as always my garden is so parched!), and I’ve done a couple of quick weeding tasks on the patio and tied up some things that were falling over, but for all intents and purposes I’ve left my garden to its own devices. That’s not going to work long term. I lose interest in the garden every fall, and pay the price every spring. So this year I’m going to set very specific goals for September – the month between the hot summer weather and the cold wet fall weather. I figure if I can get a few key things done before the weather turns I will be ahead of the game come spring.

The preliminary list:

  • clear moss off pathways (so it can start accumulating again in our 9 month wet season!)
  • clean green gunk (PNW algae) off gates and the fence (ditto)
  • cut the lavender
  • clean the flag (if hubby will get it down for me)
  • prune the rhodos and the rose of sharon
  • prune the flax where it’s sticking into pathways
  • transplant a small hydrangea that I thought I had killed (it’s alive!)
  • plant a couple of things I had in pots that I have almost killed
  • plant some bulbs 
  • WEED! (yes, still, and again….) 

right side gardenSome of these tasks are quite quick and easy – if I grab a tub/bucket and the pruners I can easily take care of the pruning in an hour or so. And as long as its dry I can cut the lavender at the same time. (Note to self – cut the lavender the next dry day we have, maybe even this afternoon. Delaying because it’s prettier to have lavender in the garden doesn’t make good sense. It’s already past its prime and it’s more important to get it cut while it’s dry so I can use the buds). 

The flag requires marital cooperation. It’s low on the priority list because I can’t reach it myself and I’m not going to ask hubby to do it when he’s busy with business stuff. But if he does get it down for me I can try to de-algae-fy it. (If you stand on the north side of anything for long enough around here you’ll grow moss. We’re the Ever-green state.)

Transplanting is a good idea as soon as the rain looks ready to start, although I’d rather do it in the sun. I had a list of things to move in the spring, but a lot of them depended on moving one thing to make space for another. I’m going to make another list and see what needs to go where. I have struggled to find a good spot for that hydrangea. It’s in a terrible spot right now, barely visible. But it gave the plant a chance to recover and grow and I think with some planning I can find a new spot for it where it will be happy. The bigger issue of moving my big hydrangea to a spot where I can see it more clearly will take more planning. It’s hidden behind a 10 foot flax right now! I need a spot that won’t be too hot and dry, but has plenty of space. The hydrangea is one of the first things I planted in my garden, back when the porch gardens were sand, paint chips and weeds. It’s amazing how much things have changed. One or both hydrangeas might end up in the back yard. 

can you see the hydrangea?

My cherry tomatoes have been producing like crazy this summer so I need to plan to leave space for them in the front yard for next summer too. I’ve only ever grown tomatoes in pots before. Growing them in the yard works so much better – I don’t have to water as much and I get a lot more fruit. (I’ll share my tomato relish making adventures in the next couple of weeks). 

tomato garden

I have a bad habit of keeping old to do lists that I haven’t finished so I’m going to go back and see if I have lists of all the things I intended to do in the spring that I still need to do. I think I know what most of them were – transplanting the hydrangeas, some of the clumping bamboo, digging up the elephant grass which has been engulfed by free grass and can’t be weeded (because it’s grass growing in grass…), and probably moving some lavenders around. Planting some things in bare spots and moving some things out of overgrown spots.

I think if I can get into the garden at least 10 days next month I can get everything done. If the weather is fairly decent, that shouldn’t be a problem at all. I’m not one to garden on cold or wet days. Fingers crossed that we have a bit of an Indian summer!  

I’m going to try scheduling myself a little time to do priority tasks like gardening (and blogging!) each day. I’m not good at schedules, but I can try to find a way to make it work. 

For now I’m going to take a few pictures to add to this post and while I’m out there I’ll cut the fragrant lavender. 

cut lavender - my first to done

Hey, I got something done!

See you back here soon,

Jo:)

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Project 333 July – shopping and new things

I haven’t been doing much clothes shopping this year, despite having several things that I “need” to buy to fill some wardrobe gaps. Although I have this list of “needs,” I find that on a day-to-day basis I can manage just fine with what I have, so I have very little drive to go shopping most of the time. It’s a good feeling.

Last month I took some advice from a style blogger and ordered a bunch of things online in different sizes to try on. Unfortunately I need to face the reality that I can’t wear that particular brand. Everything had to go back. I had a scare when the return package got held up in the post, taking 22! days to reach its destination. That’s not a good feeling when the goods inside cost close to $500… But I got my refund in the end. I’ve already asked that company to stop sending me catalogs. If they keep coming they’re going straight into the trash. I’m not buying the fantasy life they’re selling any more. Their clothes are just not cut for my figure.

(I’m not sure that I know very many brands well enough to risk doing much more online shopping. I should have taken more notice of that bloggers advice about buying from brands you know work for you, but when it comes to online shopping I can be quite the optimist!)

Luckily, after I mentioned to my friend that I had ordered a bunch of exercise skorts and had to send them all back she mentioned that she had recently found some at Costco for $5. She gave me 2 of the 4 she bought :) and they fit a lot better than the really expensive ones I ordered online! And they didn’t cost me anything (although I happened to find two items in my donate pile that suited my friend, so I gave them to her). I haven’t decided if I really need two skorts. I can wash them out in the sink after wearing and they dry really quickly, but having two would be justifiable. They work well for walking for exercise, but they are cute enough to wear for casual as well.

JulyNewThingsI did do a little more online shopping last month. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is worth making an exception for. Nordstrom is a local company with an excellent return policy, free shipping and free returns, but I can also easily visit to return things in person. It’s not somewhere I want to go during the thick of this massive sale though. (I used to work that sale – I don’t need that kind of chaos in my life any more!) I had early access to the sale because I have a store card. And most importantly, the sale has excellent discounted prices on my favorite bras, so I was able to replace mine and order a couple for a friend too. We saved some good money!

I also bought a few clothing items to try. First, a pair of linen shorts that weren’t actually on sale. They were actually fairly expensive. I had heard about them a few weeks ago when I was reading this great blog post written by someone who is built like me. She recommended the shorts specifically, so I thought it was worth trying them on. They fit well and they are probably nicer than any pair of shorts I’ve ever owned (even though they don’t look like it in the picture I took!). I don’t usually wear shorts in public, but I wore these linen ones into the city the other day and felt quite comfortable in them. So that really makes them worthwhile. They’re short but not booty short-short and they have 4 pockets! Who could ask for anything more?

I also bought two polyester “fancy” blouses and a chambray shirt that were part of the Anniversary Sale. The fancy blouses are going straight back. The sleeve/underarm/boob area wasn’t flattering (I think it might have been a slight dolman sleeve) and they just didn’t do anything for me. I need a set-in sleeve and more draping or a lower neckline.

I’m still undecided on the chambray shirt. It’s hard to judge it at this time of year when I can’t wear it, but it does seem to have some points in its favor. I think I’m going to need to try it on with my cool season clothes to see if it really works. And I’m going to need to buy some new things this winter. Honestly, right now I have very little to wear with this shirt. But the things I would need to go with it would fill some major cool season gaps and make my whole winter wardrobe work better. Luckily there’s no time limit for returning things at Nordstrom so I can take my time deciding. When the fall fashions come out everywhere I might find something else that works better.

The last thing I bought in July is a grey jersey knit dress from the thrift store. It’s going to be a house dress and nightgown. It’s not a very flattering shape on me (another odd sleeve shape) but it’s a really good quality heavy weight knit. I don’t think I would wear it outside of the house, not even for dog walking. But we’ll see. In winter it may work with other pieces layered over it.

I’m going to update my “to buy” list as summer comes to an end. At some point soon I am going to need to go to a store and try on some winter jeans and boots/shoes. ugh… Shopping sounds more and more like a chore to me. I have very little patience for it. And ideally I would prefer to get second hand jeans after reading about how much pollution results from creating a pair, but that’s a real chore.

Anyway, I’m in no hurry for summer to end!

Right now, I have some sun-dried laundry to fold and put away and some dress shirts to iron. I’ve decided that ironing is more fun if I’m re-watching episodes of my favorite show, so I’m almost looking forward to that. I’ve spent the day puttering around, cleaning up this and that, taking care of business. It’s a good way to spend a sunny Sunday.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jo:)

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Summer Project 333 – July in review

And suddenly, it’s August!

This month has flown by.

It’s been very hot for most of the month – 88-91F many days and we don’t have air conditioning, so that means 77-83 in the house, but we did have a break last week with 60 degree temperatures, clouds, and a day of pretty steady rain. We had a 30 degree F temperature swing, which is not really typical for this area in late July. But don’t get me wrong, we’re having a beautiful summer. We even had nice weather before the 4th of July!

I’ve been doing my usual things – spending a lot of time at home, walking a lot, and no special occasions. I haven’t had any major wardrobe challenges this month besides the heat. I’ve just been wearing whatever feels comfortable and that shows up in my tracking.

My most worn pieces this month:

My striped tank dress (usually a house dress, although I sometimes wear it as a tunic), blue cotton knit dress, pink sweatshirt, darker purple tank, basic black and grey tanks (almost always for layering outside of the house), blue capris, denim skirt and my jeans (not pictured). Each was worn 4, 5, or 6 times, or at least once a week.

July most worn

I actually thought I had worn that blue dress even more than I had. I’ve been reaching for it more often than I ever have before. It has a nice high back so I don’t have to worry about getting hubby to sunscreen on me (another favorite dress has a deep v back). It fits well. It’s extremely comfortable. And it’s cotton. I was going to try to shorten it last year but I’ve gotten used to the midi length (I think that’s what they’re calling it this year – look at me falling into fashion by accident!) This dress was one of my luckiest thrift finds.

It always surprises me that even when I feel like I’m reaching for the same things over and over, I’m actually not. As I reached for the blue print dress today I wondered if I had worn it to the library too many times this month. I decided I didn’t care, but the truth was that I’d only worn it one other time. It just felt like I was “always” wearing it.

These are the things I didn’t wear at all:

July zero worn4 of my dresses and my green polka dot top. The 3 dresses in the middle are the ones I wasn’t sure quite fit me any more. So far I haven’t chosen to wear them. I’m inclined to donate the chevron one before chevrons totally lose their appeal (they’re on their way out already). The black dress is one of my favorites for very hot weather. It was particularly nice to wear last year when we went out to dinner while vacationing on Maui. But then again, I don’t live in Hawaii. The maxi dress and the bright blue dress were both very useful last year so I’m not keen to get rid of them yet. But then again, they are looking a little tired, so we shall see. I’m not sure why I haven’t worn the emerald polka dot tank. It’s a pretty top and it’s good quality cotton from Lands End.

I didn’t need anything from my special occasion capsule, but that was to be expected.

Everything else got worn 1-3 times. Once a month means wearing a garment 6-12 times a year. That’s not very often. Those things might be unnecessary, or they might meet a specific need that doesn’t come up very frequently. I also cycle through things during the year – that grey sweatshirt I only wore once this month got worn at least once weekly during spring. That’s why tracking what I wear long term could be very helpful. At this point tracking is pretty easy and I quite enjoy seeing how things add up at the end of the month.

I know I could reduce my wardrobe further than I have, but I’m fairly satisfied with where I’m at.

I have a quick update for next time about a few new things I’ve acquired.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jo:)

 

My tracking spreadsheet is here if you’d like to take a closer look.

 

 

 

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