A Little Fun . . . on Friday

I don't like wearing shoes.  So, for me, one of the best things about summer is wearing flip-flops!  (Almost barefoot.  But not quite.)  

And flip-flops with a little bit of bling?  The Best Way to wear flip-flops.


(The hardest part is choosing which to wear!)

Hope you enjoy a wonderful summer weekend.

My Closet: A Metaphor for Life, Part III

I developed my personal wardrobe-philosophy over a lifetime of studying fashion, shopping, and twirling in front of mirrors.  

You know . . . 

  • Start with the basics.
  • Invest in high-quality items.
  • You can't go wrong with accessories.
  • Every woman needs (at least one) LBD.
  • Never get rid of a Burberry coat.
  • A scarf will pull it all together.
  • "If you don't absolutely love it in the store, you won't wear it."  (Sandra Bullock in The Blindside)
  • "Once you've dressed, and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off."  (Coco Chanel)

And, really.  I lived that philosophy.  (Except for the Burberry coat.  Which I have never owned.)

What did it get me?  A closet full of clothes . . . that I thought I loved; that I thought I needed.


Then, I met Project 333.  Talk about another perspective!

Project 333 is a minimalist fashion challenge that invites participants to dress using 33 items (or less!) for 3 months.

33 items, people.  Including shoes, jewelry, coats, and handbags.  You might imagine my reaction.  (Let's just say it involved the F-word, followed by a reference to myself.)  

But I was intrigued.

33 items?

I read all about it.  I checked out the Facebook page. I read blogs of Project 333 participants.  I even took the Project 333 microcourse because I wanted to learn more about minimizing my maxi-sized wardrobe.  The microcourse was just what I needed, actually, to get me thinking about my wardrobe and my clothes and my philosophy.  To think about WHY.  To think about how it all fits together.  To . . . explore the possibility . . . of reducing my wardrobe.

But, still.  I knew that Project 333 wasn't really for me.  [Because accessories!  I might be able to whittle my wardrobe down to 33 pieces . . . but I would never be able to give up my jewelry or my scarves or my handbags and shoes.  (Just no.)]

So, while I'm not climbing on the Project 333 bandwagon, I am folding many of its principles into my wardrobe-philosophy:

  • Love every piece in your closet!
  • Only wear what looks good and feels good.
  • Be creative in mixing and matching.
  • Shop for what you need; don't just wander and see what "grabs you."
  • Start with the basics.
  • Invest in high-quality clothing that lasts.


And with that, I started a major closet overhaul.  I emptied everything out of my closet(s) and drawers and shelves.  I sorted.  I bagged.  I donated.  I shared.  I sorted some more.  I packed some things away to decide later.  I sorted some more.  In fact, I'm still sorting!  Every time I put something on, I question myself.  Do you love this?  Sometimes I realize I don't.  So out it goes.


Although I know my wardrobe is still WAY too full to achieve minimalist standards, I've come a long way.  It feels really liberating to love everything in my closet; to wear everything in my closet; to be able to see space between the hangers!  

And I'm not finished yet.  The sorting will continue. . .  




My Closet: A Metaphor for Life, Part II

As I started clearing out my closet last month, I did some thinking about  how my closet got to be such a mass of clothes in the first place!  

I've already admitted here in the blog that I have a Thing for Fashion.  I don't mean to say that I adhere to Fashion.  (Because I don't.)  But I do follow along.  I appreciate Fashion . . . as an art form.  I  appreciate the juxtaposition of . . .





when it comes to wearable statements of art.

And, really, I always have!


(My sister and I playing paper dolls in 1967; I was in second grade so my sister must've been about 4.)

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite pastimes was playing with paper dolls. I loved collecting the cut-out sets you could buy at the dime store most of all, but I was also really happy just cutting people out of catalogs and collecting them in folders.  It was all about choosing outfits and figuring out what clothes I liked best of all.  I had the most fun dressing the paper dolls up to . . . go somewhere and do something!

It was the same, for me, with my Barbies.  I loved collecting - and even making - clothes and accessories for my them.  I liked to create ensembles and clothing combinations for their Barbie-life adventures.  (Some of my friends made me crazy -- because they never wanted to change their Barbie's clothes.  They liked Barbie-action; I liked Barbie-fashion!)

The fashion-bug stayed with me as I grew older.  When I was in junior high and high school, I learned to sew and made most of my own clothes.  I got great pleasure in choosing patterns and matching up fabrics to create unique and one-of-a-kind pieces for myself.  For awhile, I even dreamed of some sort of career in fashion.  One of my friends in high school was also an excellent seamstress.  Together, we took our high school elective classes in the home ec department -- courses in tailoring and creating your own patterns and fashion design.  It was fun (and a nice alternative to biology and algebra!), even though we both gave up on the dream of fashion design careers.


What happens when a young fashion junkie grows up and gets a walk-in closet?  


Scan 7

(This is magnet was a gift from my sister several years ago.)

As I emptied my closet, I came to the realization that . . . I'm too old for paper dolls and Barbies now, so I've collected life-size clothes . . . to dress myself up! 

And that, my friends, is how my closet became the MESS that it was.

(Stay tuned.)



In Fashion

I have confessed already:  I follow Fashion. 

I get really excited when the fall fashion mags come out.  I buy them.  I read them.  I pay attention to the trends.  (But, of course, I don't follow them.  I'm just  . . . intrigued.)


I've tried to just . . . let it go.  But I can't.  It's like driving past the scene of an accident.  I just . . . can't help but peek.

So. Yeah. I pay attention to Fashion.  And I'm not going to apologize.


That acid-y green color I love is Really IN this year. 


(Like . . . really IN.)


And boots!

I also laugh at fashion.  (I'm interested, for some reason -- but I don't take it seriously, y'know?)


Can you pull off tights with mid-calf skirts?

Which shoes work with those new wide-legged pants?

What to wear with flat and stack-heeled boots, cuddly clutches and top-handled bags?



Still.  I read on.

#5 - If you choose only one leather piece this season, make it a biker jacket.

Okay.  I'll remember that. 

When I'm out shopping for leather this season.

So.  You see.  It's an obsession. 

But a really silly obsession. 

Because leather shopping?


Still.  I read on.

Looks like knits are BIG this year.


Trendy, even.


Get those needles clacking, knitting friends!



It's Raining Cats and . . . Chickens!

Spring is trying her best to (finally) take hold here in Southwest Michigan.  But Spring is fickle.  Seemingly here one day . . . then snow the next!

We've been getting a lot of rain.


But I don't mind!  It gives me a chance to stomp about in my new, birthday rain boots . . . a gift from my Mom and Dad.


They lighten up the dreariest of wet and muddy days.

Aren't they awesome?

The Treasure Chest: A Tale of True Confessions

First, join me in congratulating Cookie . . . who won my Travelogue Comment Contest.  The St. Petersburg Matryoshka dolls will soon be on their way, Cookie!



Next, I thought I would share a little True Confession.

My sister and I pack very lightly when we go on our trips together.  For our 10-day cruise, for example, we each packed just one carry-on sized suitcase.  This doesn't leave a whole lot of room for . . . shopping.  On our previous trips, we've done a little shopping; a few things here and there, mostly small and packable.  But for this trip?  We figured we might want to do some Shopping!  (I had been planning on finding yarn, of course.)

So.  We brought an empty suitcase with us!  To fill with goodies we might pick up along the way.  We called it our "Treasure Chest."

And. . . fill it, we did!

In my family (and this tradition has now spread to my sister's family as well), we always buy a fridge magnet from every place we visit.  (I'll have to do a blog post about our magnet collection someday.)  So. . . new additions to our magnet collection went into the Treasure Chest.


I also have a special little cabinet on the wall in my bedroom -- handmade by Brian in his 8th grade woodshop class . . .


and on the middle shelf, I keep minature reminders of my trips with my sister.


What ELSE did I pack in the Treasure Chest to bring home?

A dala horse and a tomte from Sweden (to join others I already own).


Books, also from Sweden.  (I usually bring home coffee-table books as a souvenir of my travels.  Such lovely reminders of visits -- and very packable!  My sister, though seeks out cookbooks to bring home.  This time, I followed suit!)


I brought a pair of fulled mittens from Finland. . .


and a wool shawl from Russia.


My sister and I fell hard for the Baltic Amber jewelry, and each of us bought multiple pieces to bring home.  Here are my rings (not usually worn together!).  They're such delightful reminders of our trip.


I went a little crazy in Estonia.  I had been admiring the style of the Scandinavian women we saw on the streets of Sweden and Finland.  Linen.  Layers.  Simple.  Lovely.  And when I saw things in the shops of Estonia, I had to have them!

I got a long, linen vest (handknit) and a convertible shawl-thing (wool; also handknit).


Lovely.  And the closest things to "yarn" I saw!


The kind of Estonian lace. . . that suits my style!  Not too fancy; lovely in its simplicity.


I also picked up some scarves . . . because I loved their colors and textures.  (The blue wool scarf is from Sweden; the linen scarves are from Estonia.)


I also found this charming linen tote bag in an Estonian shop.  The buildings will always remind me of the fairy-tale charm of Estonia!


And in Copenhagen, I bought a pair of Royal Copenhagen coffee mugs.


(Which happens to be sitting on a hand-woven Swedish table runner.)


Let's just say. . . the Treasure Chest was not empty on our way home!

Friday Round Up: A Blast of Color

The last few days have been A Sign Of What's To Come:  grey skies, blustery winds, rain.  The leaves are past their prime.  The gardens have stopped their blooming.  The bleak months are on their way.

Time to add some color!

A couple of weeks ago, Margene showed us her new Keens.  Bright, colorful, happy feet! 

I have the same shoes. . . only mine are in a different color scheme.


It's such fun to look down at your feet and smile at the riot of pattern!

Personally, I'm a fool for navy and white ticking stripe.  That's what sold me on these shoes!


Even on a gloomy, dark day . . . you can get a blast of color from your feet.


In mid-September, Target launched its Missoni for Target line.  Cool Missoni stuff . . . at Target prices.  I didn't get there in time.  By the time I arrived (the day after The Launch), nothing was left.  So.  Imagine my surprise when I stopped by Target last week for some essentials. . .


and found this. . .


A full month after The Launch, there was a lonely rack of Missoni merchandise.  Not on clearance.  But there all the same!


I bought a blouse (that is surprisingly well-made, although the buttons are really cheap-looking and need to be replaced) and this cute little knit bag.


There is nothing like Missoni to bring in a blast of color!


And then, there is this. . .


a cute little baby set I finished up as a gift for a former co-worker who is having her first baby (a girl) next month.







A perfect blast of color for a gloomy day.  (Ravelry details here.)


Enjoy the weekend!  Add some color ... whatever you're doing.



True Confessions

Soundtrack. . .


Oh, come on now.  Everyone has at least one!

It's time to confess. . . my dirty little secret. . .


I follow fashion.

There.  I've said it out loud.

It's not like I practice fashion.  Not at all.  I don't own any designer labels of anything (well, except a few carefully-selected pieces from Eileen Fisher).  No Christian Louboutin shoes.  No Prada bags.  No little Michael Kors dresses.  But that doesn't mean I'm not interested!!!  (And you can be sure I'll be checking out the new Missoni line at Target next month!  I'm all about affordable fashion.)

Anyway.  I do like checking out the fashion mags -- especially the September issues (when they cover all the new fall styles).  And I read a few fashion blogs -- preferring the ones that don't take themselves too seriously.  And I can't seem to turn away from Project Runway.


I'm not exactly why I caught the fashionista bug, but I did.  And I caught it early.  Like, as a pre-adolescent.  I learned to sew . . . and sew well. . . at a young age -- just so I could copy the styles I saw in Seventeen magazine.

I've always considered my fashion-thing . . . a dirty little secret.  Because, well, fashion just seems so superficial.  And I'm not a superficial person.  But I am a person who likes . . . clothes, bags, shoes, patterns, textures, color, form, line, and design.  I also think clothes DO make a statement about who we are, what we care about, how we feel -- and how we WANT to feel.

This summer, I'm reading a book called The Thoughtful Dresser: the Art of Adornment, the Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter by Linda Grant.  Superficial as it may sound, it's an interesting book.  (Linda Grant's blog -- The Thoughtful Dresser -- sports this tagline:  "Because you can't have depths without surfaces.")  The author explores the "dark side" and the "light side" of fashion, clothing, and dressing -- making the point that an attraction to fashion and beautiful clothing is not rational, but based on pleasure (sort of like. . . choosing to eat a chocolate eclair rather than, say, a container of Greek yogurt).

Here's a little quote from the book -- and actually, the passage that made me decide to confess all in a blog post!

“The purpose of this book is to advance no thesis, to break no ground in the history or theory of fashion, but rather to explore what is already known but rarely thought about by the ordinary mass of humanity who is interested in fashion and might, quite wrongly, feel a little ashamed of this passion.  Might fear that they are not going to be taken seriously.  That in announcing this preoccupation they will have confessed that women are not really fully grown up; unlike our male counterparts, who have mature and adult preoccupations without which the human race could not survive, such as moving balls from one end of a grassy field to the other with the aid of the human foot.”

So, yeah.  I follow fashion.

(Jenny does NOT follow fashion . . . but she does follow yougurt!)

But. . . I don't LOOK like I follow fashion!


It's just my Dirty Little Secret!

Such Distractions!


Some days I wonder how I functioned without the Internet.  No blogs.  No YouTube.  No Wikipedia.  No Google Earth.  No Ravelry.  No Facebook.   No LOLCats.  What did I DO with my time?

This week, Ten on Tuesday has us exploring our Ten Favorite Non-Knitting Blogs.  This is a dangerous topic, folks.  Because I'm pretty sure I'm going to be tempted by whatever the rest of you post.  And, trust me. . . I really don't need any more distractions!

When I'm not reading knitting blogs. . . or checking in on Ravelry. . . or Facebook. . . or playing around with aerial views of the Nile River. . . or looking up old commercials from my youth ("ancient Chinese secret, huh?") I do check out some other blogs and sites quite regularly.  Here are are a few of my favorites:

Screen shot 2011-02-14 at 9.02.59 PM

  1. Tom & Lorenzo: Fabulous & Opinionated -- I won't let a day go by without checking out what T'Lo has to say . . . about fashion, television, and the red carpet.  Whether it's a critique of the designers on Project Runway, a detailed analysis of the fashion on Mad Men, or a hilarious re-cap of figure skating costumes, I can count on T'Lo to make me smile.  Witty and fun . . . with pretty pictures, too!
  2. The Oatmeal -- Nothing like a good comic to make your day!
  3. Whole Living Daily: Body + Soul in Balance -- Okay.  It's Martha Stewart.  But this site includes some great tips, recipes, and ideas.
  4. Cook's Illustrated -- Best. Cooking. Site. Ever.
  5. Cooking Light -- Another great cooking site.
  6. Everyday Food Blog -- And another great cooking site. (I get really distracted by recipes.)
  7. Fail Blog -- Because every day needs a little fun. . .
  8. PlantJotter -- Not really a blog.  At all.  But it's a great way to organize your gardening information (like. . . Ravelry without the yarn).
  9. The Morning News -- It's black and white and read all over.
  10. Pinterest -- I try to avoid this one, because the potential for distraction is HUGE!  (But what a concept!)

Check out other Ten on Tuesday posts here. . . and Get Distracted!

Friday Round Up: Catch-as-Catch-Can Edition

Well.  It's been a busy week.  Time for a Friday Round Up. . . catch-as-catch can!


My garden is winding down for the season.  I think it's lovely at this time of year -- although quite hit-and-miss.  My roses are blooming their little hearts out right now.  I think they know it's their last blast!


We may even get a frost this weekend.  Kind of early. . . but, then, the weather has been a bit crazy all season!


I really love the structure . . .


of a garden winding down . . .


for the season!


I haven't done a "purchase of the week" post in a long time.  But, clearly, I've been busy "purchasing."  I got this in the mail this week. . .


Oh, brother!  I've got "gold member status" at Eddie Bauer.  What does that mean, exactly?  Well.  It means I've spent way too much time and money shopping there.  (It's not a credit card; just a frequent buyer card.)  This makes me feel a little silly, actually.  And sort of . . . creeped out. . . by the fact that they track my shopping.  (I'm not naive . . . I just would prefer to live in the illusion that my life is my own!)


I know that patterned rubber boots are popular these days . . . but I had No Idea what an absolute RAGE they are on the college fashion scene until last weekend at The Pull.  There were so many (so VERY many) girls running around in boots . . .


that even Tom (who is, trust me, typically blind to fashion!) noticed!  They were EVERYwhere!


And speaking of fashion . . . how about that Mondo?


Way to work a color combo . . . not to mention stepping away from your own edge!



Tomorrow - October 2 - is Livestrong Day.


Check the Livestrong website for information, resources, and support.  If you - or someone you know - is dealing with cancer, be sure to check out the Livestrong Guidebook.  You can order this great tool for FREE.  The guidebook (two volumes) provides solid, pertinent information designed to help cancer patients and their families navigate the health care system and understand what's going on at every phase of the journey -- from diagnosis to survivorship.  Also included -- organizational tools and journaling guides.  Live. Strong.


In knitting news. . . well, there really isn't any.  I've been knitting on a secret project -- a Christmas gift for someone who reads this blog regularly, so. . . Do Not Open 'til Christmas. . . totally applies!

But. . . you might be interested in learning that . . . Twist Collective patterns are NOT test knit . . . and tend to be fraught with errata.  Hmmmmmm.  I'm feeling a rant coming on.  But not today.  Because . . .

it's the weekend!  Have a good one!