A Closet Re-Post

If you follow my Instagram stories, then you know I’ve been doing another closet overhaul. According to the blog it’s been 2.5 years since my last one. And so much of my thinking from that post remains true. So I leave you this post again, and the promise of just a few additional thoughts to come soon.

Dear readers, I’ve recently completed a closet overhaul of sorts, and have inadvertently created a capsule wardrobe.  All the grey sweaters!

Here are my thoughts on cleaning out my closet (can anyone say that without thinking of this?)

Best Walk-in Closets - 13 Enviable Closets From Pinterest - Elle

(and here is a closet that is amazing, and for some reason, blurry)

You will have clothes to give away:

My husband marvels at the amount of items I can scrounge up for donation EVERY TIME I clean out my closet.  This has always been my number one red flag that I have way too many clothes.  There are always pieces I can part with easily.  Lately, I’ve been picking up each piece with my own two hands and asking, “Does it spark joy?”  No doubt you think I’m crazy, unless you’ve read Marie Kondo’s book.  Regardless, the answer, more often than not, is no, and so into the giveaway pile go the things you only wear when everything else is in the wash.

You will give away clothes you have never worn:

These can hurt the most when you’re paring down.  The tags are a physical reminder of not just the energy, but the MONEY you invested in your closet.  But guess what?  You haven’t worn them in three months/six months/one year.  So, goodbye, random things from Stitch Fix I thought I would love.  Guess what?  I don’t love you at all.

You will give away clothes that don’t fit anymore:

Ugh, and this can be a heartbreaker.  Those corduroys you bought while you were at your skinniest right before you got married are a symbol that it can be done.  You can be that thin.  But you are not right now, and so, alas, those too must go.  Cleaning out your closet is not about sentimentality.  It’s about ruthlessness.

You will have (lots of) clothes to try on again:

Bring your patience.

You will have clothes that you know you should get ride of, and yet you can’t get rid of:

Hello, Maryland Basketball Hoodie circa 2001.  When I was in high school, as soon as you decided where you were going to college, you bought an aptly designed hoodie and wore it to school what felt like every day, and I hope wasn’t actually every day.  Maryland had just won the national title after I decided to go there, so my hoodie said more than “Maryland,” it said “Maryland Basketball.”  I love it with all of my heart and all of my soul.  It saw me through my senior year, 4 years of college, and the next 8 after.  It has a questionable stain.  I love it anyway.  It is worn thin, and I don’t care.  I will keep it forever.

And in the end, when everything is cleaned out, and you’re left with less than you ever thought you could function on…

You will spend two or three weeks wearing your “new” things, and be shocked and amazed that everything everyone ever told you about cleaning out your closet is true.  You will wear things you haven’t worn in a long time.  You won’t stare at your closet and wonder what to wear, because it’s easier to make choices when you don’t have as many options.  And perhaps, most important of all, if you wear something more often than usual, no one besides you will care at all.

 

A Fresh Start Brain Dump

Who’s ready for some rambling?

Yesterday, dear readers, I told you I didn’t have any resolutions, but my brain just kept spinning and spinning when it came to the idea.  Whether or not I’ve made specific resolutions each January, I’ve always had some sort of plan in mind; something I wanted to do. And this year, when it comes to the nitty gritty, I just don’t.

front hall.:
(hello, gorgeous)

I am not going to say I should eat better (of course I should, I’m guessing a whole lot of us should), or try to put down my phone (I love my phone for books and podcasts and way too much Instagram, and I’m okay with that).  And for some reason, I can’t get into picking a word for the year.  Maybe because my life changes pretty quickly these days.

ben and birdy: Yay, It's Wednesday Cake! Cake:

(found this one via Dinner, A Love Story)

But I do have a couple of big picture items I want.  A vision?  I just rolled my eyes at myself for even typing that word.  Despite my inability to make a resolution, I still want a great year.  And with that, here are some fresh-start-for-a-new-year ideas I found online.

From Cup of Jo (who found them from Dolly Alderton):

  • Always carry a book in your bag. Trains will be delayed, post office queues will be long; you’ll be able to rattle through a book a week if you fill dead time with reading rather than scrolling through Instagram.
  • Switch from black to navy. Black is chic, but navy is soft. (Oh wait, this is how I’ve always lived my life except for like, two years in high school, when I tried really hard to be into black because it was cool.)
  • Send your best friend a bunch of flowers to celebrate her achievements, from as big as getting a promotion to as small as standing up to a difficult boss. We owe moments of excitement and surprise to our dearest and oldest friends as much as we do to our partners and lovers.

And from Kelle, at Enjoying the Small Things:

  • Clean one kitchen cabinet. If you feel inspired to keep going, that’s fine, but go for one. (I love the idea of committing to one small step.  Do more if you want, but just do a little bit.  That’s about all I can handle with someone pawing at my ankle all day.)
  • Make sure you have a desk drawer stocked with pretty stationery so you can send lots of snail mail this year. Buy new stamps. I got these pretty botanical ones for the new year, but these Wonder Woman ones are a powerful way to celebrate your woman power as you go in to the new year.
  • Visit the Valentine’s section at Target and smile.

Tracy wrote this post about getting organized for the New Year, and you have to follow her Instagram stories sharing her steps.

Becky posted a list of affirmations and while I kinda roll my eyes at that word too, a whole bunch of them lined up with how I want to live my life.  Here are the highlights (but so many that I didn’t post are how I want my family life to play out over the years, so click over and read them all if you love a bulleted list as much as I do.):

  • I honor my role as a mother and my children know and feel this whole-heartedly. They never have to wonder if they’re more important than work / friends / hobbies / etc.
  • I recognize that traditions are grounding and special and significant in our lives and I do my part to carry out and create traditions in our family.
  • I support my husband and children in the hobbies and interests they pursue because I know what my own hobbies and interests mean to me.
  • I am a loyal friend who avoids gossip. I take a sincere interest in others and find value in learning from different people — regardless of how well or how little I know them.
  • Our home is a place of refuge, peace, joy, comfort, and happy memories — for the five of us and also for our guests.
  • When it comes to material things, we only have things that we USE or that we LOVE. Clutter is a thing of the past. In our home we have pictures and decor that remind us of what’s important.

From Emily Henderson:

Survive while smiling – So easy. Our christmas “vacation” was riddled with small things that went wrong (car broken into, basement flooded, HFMD, sick toddlers, SO MANY DROPS OF WATER FROM THE SKY THAT WE AREN’T USED TO IN LA, etc.). But we survived and really, really tried to stay positive (thank God for grandparents). I’m pretty good at keeping things in perspective, but it’s always nice to remember that no one has ever died of a blog failing or an instagram post being ‘unliked’. No one has ever died of being an insecure parent, watching too much reality TV (GAH TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT!!! #bachelornation), or forgetting to provide socks for their baby. In fact no parent has ever died of crawling into their toddler’s crib and cuddling with him (many mornings in a row) because he is scared and just needs his mama even though I know that when he begs for cuddling in the middle of the night and I acquiesce, that I am creating quite the (cuddle) monster. I don’t care anymore. I’ll be cognizant of my decisions, but i’ll do whatever I want to to make our kids the happiest they can be (especially during a big change like a move) and keep Brian and me in a healthy and happy marriage.

And I’m always inspired by Elise and Ali’s chat about their words to kick off the new year.  I’ve listened since their first one, three years ago.

Thursday Check In – On Being Full

Whenever I watch someone blast their life all over Facebook and Twitter, declaring their happiness each step of the way, I always stop and wonder,

“If you need to announce your happiness to everyone, are you really that happy?”

Happiness just is.  It doesn’t need to be announced.  It’s a feeling that takes over every part of you and makes you feel full inside.

I want to feel full.

carefree.:

And for once, that has nothing to do with food.

When I feel full, I don’t check my phone compulsively.  I don’t worry about what everyone else is doing rightthissecond.

When I feel full, I make time for friends.

When I feel full, I’m not afraid to say no to something, if it means more quality time spent on something else.

When I feel full, it feels like my priorities are in line with my actions.

When I feel full, it means I’m happy to sit on the floor with Gooplet and watch him try to figure life out.

It’s the best feeling.  And I’m making it happen more.

Starting now!

(image)

Homemaker

This post has been a long time in the making.  But this post goes back beyond the date I started writing it.  It goes back years.

As of right now (pressing publish, right now), I am a homemaker.  I left my job.  The job that was the only one I ever wanted since I was 5.  The job that I trained for for years.  The job that was the first one I interviewed for and exactly where I wanted it to be.  The job I got.  The job in which I worked so hard to grow.  The job that paid my first rent check.  The job that had its ups and downs, but for the most part, gave me energy and motivation and life for 10 years.  The job I believed in.  The job I loved.  Love?  I left it.

DEAR STELLA. Sketch, illustration, fashion.:

It was, to date, the hardest decision I’ve ever made about anything before in my life.

Pretty cushy life, huh?

Shiseido is committed to creating products that support holistic well-being and enhance natural beauty. After 20 years of research, we launched Ultimune, the first immunity-boosting concentrate that enriches a wellness routine, effortlessly! #LightMyStory  Like Shiseido on Facebook and share the moments that define you for a chance to win a Shiseido prize!  Illustration by Inslee by Design:

It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, nor was it one I made quickly.

But it was one, after several months of agonizing (no, seriously, ask my husband or Wooden Nickels, agonizing), I knew was right for me right now.

Unlike a lot of people who leave their jobs, I left mine without too much direction.  A wing and a prayer, and the words I read from Ina Garten that said something along the lines of, you can’t know what you want to do next when you’re still deeply rooted in what you’re doing now.

Huggies, Mom Trends and Inslee | The Sketch Book – Inslee Haynes:

And so right now, with nothing else on the horizon, I am a homemaker.  Remember how I said this post was years in the making?

This is how I picture myself.  Reality is a little bit different.- how true!:

I have always loved and been fascinated by the idea of home.

You’re not supposed to say you want to get married and stop working.  You’re not supposed to say you’re okay without bringing in a paycheck.  You’re not supposed to say that you’re perfectly happy to plan meals, go to the grocery store, and cook everything.  You’re not supposed to say that doing the laundry is satisfying.  That folding clothes and setting them in just the right place brings with it a sense of order.  That you manage to derive a bit of joy from making the bed each morning.  That these little routines you’ve carved into each day are comforting, and worthwhile.  You’re not supposed to be a woman who thinks these things in 2016.

Markette anne ve çocuk Huggies-Inslee-2:

I am.

I don’t wear aprons, though.  I do have some limits.

“This sketch was created for some pasta loving ladies and is a reminder that Christmas is coming and original art is the ultimate gift. Get your requests…”:

Stay with me on this next leg of the journey dear readers, I think it’s going to be a good one.

*All images by the insanely talented Inslee.  (I have no idea how to sew.)

On Eating

I’m one of those people who loves to eat.  I love the whole process, from start to (almost) finish.

I love sitting down on the weekends and planning out dinners for the week.

I love taking my time shopping at Whole Foods.

I love getting to know the vendors at our farmers’ market.

I love the Italian man who sells me pasta and tells me I’m his favorite customer (I mean, duh).

I love preparing dinner.

I love chopping garlic.

And mincing onions.

And browning meat.

And I love eating.

It’s a joyful process for me.

parmesan fries.

Is that too much?

Then know this.

I hate doing the dishes.

But I do love eating.

And it’s amazing how much my tastes have changed over the years.

I went from making one pot dinners from my mom’s issues of “Women’s Day” and “Family Circle,” to using ingredients like prosciutto and arugula.

It didn’t happen overnight.

on eating.

It largely happened because I started reading and watching pretty much anything that had to do with food.  After you’ve watched enough people make kale chips, you figure, it’s time to try them for yourself.

Yeah, I still don’t like kale chips.

But the more I watched food being made, the more interested I became.

And the more I had to try for myself.

When I make a dish with my own hands, I’m so much more likely to enjoy it.

I have a vested interest in the results because of all the preparation I did.

I think this is all just to say, don’t be afraid to try new things.

A Summer Check-In

 

No What I’m Reading this week, dear readers, because I’m reading more real books than Internet these days (it’s a great thing).  Instead, a little summer check in.  How’s yours going?alsi.

What I’ve Done:

Gone to the beach.

Walked a lot.

Visited 3 states I hadn’t before.

drink.

What I’m Doing:

Tackling some long-neglected at-home projects.

Reading a ton.

Trying new cocktails at night.

juice bar.

What Still I Want to Do:

Binge on all of these episodes.

Finish this book (It’s been a good one, but you can’t read 100 pages about soil as fast as you can an Emily Giffin novel.)

Make stuff with all the fruit that is finally (FINALLY!) available at the farmers market.

Take Back Your Sundays

While Justin worries about the night, my main concern for quite some time has been on taking back my Sundays.

I’ve been experimenting with this idea for several months now, and there was a little stretch where I was worried Sundays were slipping out of my grasp again.  But now I’m back in the game.

take back your sundays.

Sundays are for church and then nothing.

Unless you count throwing a large slab of meat in the oven for the remainder of the day something.

I don’t.

take back your sundays.

You see, I’m an over-scheduler.  I thrive on busy-ness.  But when I’m working full time and figuring out how to make cupcakes for AGOMYR’s wedding and traipsing all over creation to see some of my favorite tweens play soccer, I tend to get a little frazzled.

I also have FOMO.  It’s real.  I hate knowing something is going on without me.  More than just about anything.

take back your sundays.

But I like being a pleasant person.

I like getting sufficient sleep each night.

I like the way my face looks without splotches and dark circles under my eyes.

And I really like Netflix.

So I have to build in breaks.

Sundays are for breaks.  I clear my calendar and do whatever I feel like.  Sometimes I read, sometimes I binge on Netflix, and sometimes I do chores and errands.  And if my ex calls to see if I can run out to meet her for lunch, then I do that.
I change the sheets, and wash our towels on Sundays.  On good Sundays.  But I also don’t beat myself up if none of that happens.  Because going into Monday well-rested and fully recharged for the week ahead?  That’s a feeling that beats any number of items crossed off a to-do list.

 

Things I Wanted to Buy But Didn’t

It’s over.

It’s done.

I gave up shopping for 3 months, and now I can buy whatever I want!

But I’m going to try not to.

Because otherwise what was the point of challenging myself anyway?

And besides, it’s not like I felt deprived for one second because I didn’t have another sweatshirt in my collection.

In hopes that posting some of what I avoided helps fill that void, here are just some of the items, I saw, I loved, and I ultimately walked away from.

sunday sprinkles.

I wanted the Scotch & Soda Home Alone sweater because I wouldn’t just wear it when home alone, I’d wear it always.  Thoughts of this sweatshirt have actually taken up permanent residence in my head, and I wonder what else I’d have space to think about if I just up and bought it already.

I wanted Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant because I was working through a tube of Kiehl’s I didn’t love, and a tube of Burt’s Bees I felt only mildly more excited about.  Didn’t need = didn’t buy.

I wanted Notes from a Blue Bike because I kept hoping the DC Public Library would get a clue and get a copy.  Still holding out on that one, though I know a local MD library could help me out.  I will continue to remind myself that I never read half of what I buy, and I never love half of what I read, so books aren’t a great investment.

I wanted The J.Crew Claremont Perforated Tote in navy.  Gonna call this one the biggest challenge of the whole three months.  I walked away because I have some lovely bags, and I use them often, so I’m not really in want of a bag.  AGOMYR purchased this bag and had the nerve to flaunt it (read: carry it) in front of me a couple times in that three-month window.

I wanted to rent Frozen because everyone who’s anyone was talking about it and I never got to the theaters to see it.  But I said I wasn’t going to buy or rent movies.  Luckily, I hung out with some of my favorite ladies who had recently made the purchase for themselves, so I can now say I’ve seen it.

Bottom line of this crazy ordeal I put myself through?  I can live a perfectly pleasant life with the things I already have.  I might have had to dig deep into my Pinterest quotes board for some inspirational quote to affirm that, but it is the truth.  It’s also important to know that I didn’t walk into a single Anthropologie during those three months.  All bets are off once that changes.

Challenging

Is this a milennial thing?  The idea that one should have a life list on which to work over a set period of time?  A 30 before 30? or a 101 in 1001?  I have neither of those going right now, but both intrigue me.

olive oil drizzle

Having (somewhat successfully) finished the 60 Days of Letter Writing Challenge, I decided to tackle something new.  Something completely unrelated, unless you think back to my word of the year.  Celebrate.

The 60 Days of Letter Writing Challenge got me to celebrate the people in my life who I love.  It got me to thank those people who never get a thank you.  Those people are usually the most deserving anyway.

This idea is more about celebrating what I already have.  Celebrating what I don’t need?  Is that a thing?  I’ve seen similar ideas on several blogs recently (here’s one, and here’s another), and I’m jumping in, feet first.

I gave up shopping for 3 months.  Today is the last day of my self-imposed credit card freeze.

dolcezza.

*Okay, actually, I caved last weekend because I had a completely unexpected hour and a half to kill in a town that wasn’t my own, and I found myself at the mall and called this thing done.  You can stop reading now if you think I’m a big phoney.*

Yeah, I needed to.  Not because I needed to spend less money but because I could spend less money.  Because someone with my amount of clothes should not be in want.

Why 3 months?  Don’t people like to challenge themselves to do things for just one month at a time?  Sure they do.  Or two, like in the case of my letter writing challenge.  But I don’t shop enough for a one month break to make sense.  At least I don’t think I do.  One month would mean putting off a couple of things, and rushing into buying them in a couple of weeks when the challenge is over.  This needed to happen for three months.  Long enough to make a difference.  Long enough for me to have some moments where I think I’ll die without a new _________, and long enough for me to realize I’m fine without it after all.  This, the most gorgeous navy bag of all time ever, remained a will-power tester for the duration of my little experiment.

Some (completely arbitrary) rules:

  • Nothing got placed in an online shopping cart for later – one of my old rules of shopping was that when I saw something I liked, but wasn’t sure if I needed, I would put it in my cart and see whether I remembered it was there in a day or two.  Things I remembered = things I needed, and they got purchased.  This seems a little ridiculous.  In light of my 3-month rule it also seems a little dangerous.  There are a lot of items that could sit around, waiting for me, no doubt calling my name once three months went by.  The last thing I want is a post-shopping-ban-spree that undoes what the past 3 months built up for me.
  • Starbucks purchases did not count – Yeah, maybe it’s a cop-out.  All I know is that last year, I gave up Starbucks for Lent.  It wasn’t the holiest of choices, especially considering I was doing it solely to break my addiction.  It was, however, the first time in a long time I kept my Lenten vow.  And it was the most miserable failure in that it taught me nothing in the long run.  I wanted Starbucks more than I thought possible by that last day.  I didn’t stop missing it.  I missed it more.  It’s safe to say that as long as I have to be at work by 7:30 each morning, you’ll find me in line for a green cup first.
  • iTunes and Kindle purchases totally counted – Which is maybe just my way to make up for the above.  But no renting movies, and no downloading new songs.  For the past three months, you could find me waiting for things to come out on Netflix, and praying that the radio started blasting the newest jams on the regular.  In fact, I’m still waiting for the DC Library to wise up and finally add Tsh’s new book to their collection because I’m dying to read it.
  • I could (and should) totally still buy things for other people – This could be a post in and of itself, but I’ve realized I have almost never regretted spending money on others.  I have almost never even thought twice about it.  I revel in giving gifts that mean something to those who receive them, especially those that don’t come on birthdays or other big occasions.  I love surprising people in this way.  Also I had a Bat Mitzvah, a bridal shower, and a baby shower to go to in this little three-month window, so there you go.

And that’s it.  During month one, the credit card bill was lower, but not dramatically so.  Month two was remarkable in that I did not know my husband and I were capable of spending so little.  And month three is currently full of hotel reservations for our big summer trip.  I shudder to think how much higher it would be had I been on my usual spending tear.