Monday, June 19, 2017

Quick Tip For Easy Bathroom Upkeep

Remember how I was telling you about me always trying to keep my downstairs bathroom sink wiped down now, since starting my cleaning routine?
Incase you don't, I'm just trying to keep up with all the random grime that the kids get on the sink and faucet all the time. I figured out that its easier (and overall nicer) when I just quickly wipe the sink nearly every time I'm in there.

With that going on, I was inspired to add a hook to the back of the door just for keeping my wipe down cloth handy and giving it a place to dry out. (This hook is from Lowes.)
Soon after I was inspired to make these so they would stay hanging up easily on the hook.
I grabbed a cheap pack of washcloths at Walmart. I liked the set with some white and grey stripes cloths, and some solid grey cloths. Thought they would look nice in the space. And then I sewed on a loop of ribbon for them to hang on. I happened to have this thick grey one on hand and think it looks great.
I just cut enough for a loop, tucked each end under and sewed to a corner of the washcloths. I used a cute stitch on my
machine, but any stich would do.

And now I have an easy, pretty cute, very functional, way to keep up with the messy sink.
Once they are too dirty I toss in the laundry and grab a new one from the drawer. And I'm ready to keep on keeping on.
What do you think? Pretty simple and convenient, yeah?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Few Living Room Updates

Hey Guys, sorry for the slow posts again. I’m kinda in a funky place again.
I suddenly have a really big passion and drive for being more of myself, and myself really loves interior design, so I really want to push past a internal barrier I have, and turn the blog up a notch, and maybe even purse a bit of something more than just on the blog (we’ll see) -- but my barrier is hung up on a bunch of stuff I’m working through. So my fears are louder than normal lately, and I AM working on pushing through those and really bringing it. But just like that discussion I had about weight loss before -- my fears are almost always more afraid of success than failure (Which is saying something, because I HATE failing.)  But I have this lame hang up about my success being detrimental to others. (It’s hilarious in a way, how cornered I can get within that mindset. But then it’s actually not funny.) Which is wrong, I know. But I’m training my heart and it’s kinda stunted here. 
   So I’m really -- well it’s like when you want to go off the high dive for the first time, but you are also terrified. That’s where I am -- inching forward, pulling back, looking down, shaking -- excited and horrified, wondering if I will survive, thinking about how cool it would be if I did it. But what if ALL THE WATER goes up my nose! Oh my gosh….forward, back, forward, back. Standing still.
    And all that is happening just because I want to take pictures with my real camera and maybe do a little staging (try to look legit) when I show you my backyard.
Who does that? Who get’s scared of that?
I do.

ALSO…gotta be real here -- some of my delayed blogging is also the fact that I have to clean off my hardrive because it’s so stinking full of photos, that to upload any new ones takes... for stinking ever getting my photos off the real camera….and I’m just dreading the upload process --wondering if it will even be worth the payoff. 
AND I’m dreading even more the idea of trying to clean up my computer (because I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m afraid I’ll ruin something.) Which might maybe after the hard work make moving forward better. But I don’t even know if that’s true. I’m not techy enough. I’m guessing. lol

SO ANYWAY -- Not sure you care about that stuff.(?)

I thought for today I would take a couple iPhone photos of a couple things I haven’t showed you. (Of which there is a lot -- because grief messed up (is messing up still) my sense of time and so I think I’ve been more interactive than I have been. But lots of stuff has shifted and I forgot to blog it.

So apparently I did this in January, says my camera roll. Geeze I have an amazingly messed up sense of time. I thought I just did this.

This mirror came with the thrifted dresser I got and redid for the girls’ room. I was really excited about it it’s a cool shape. But the frame is blah plastic that’s yellow-ivory, with touches of gold in spots.
I wanted to make it look like weathered wood. So this was my process. I got out this tan paint. Forget the name but it’s a valspar sample jar I had made up for re-doing some tables. It has something about wood or a tree in it’s name.
Then I dry brushed white craft paint over it.

Kept playing with it.
Then I got out the brown craft paint. I went light at first, tried focusing on the edges and keeping the brush strokes looking like grain and sandpaper marks. This look was really pretty and I would have left it like this for some spaces. But I decided it needed to be a lot darker since it would be going up next to a really dark “wood” medallion I have over our fireplace.

And so I just kept going. It was actually really fun. Each step from here on out could have been a good look. But I just kept going until I was happy with the look for the living room.

Then I took off the brackets it came with (to attach to the dresser) and then added some mirror hanging bracket-loop things and hung it up over our living room couch.

(Never mind the bodiless guitar hanging there -- Blake’s doing a project.)

Figuring out what goes over that couch has been hard for me.  This whole room’s scale is so hard. I don’t know if it’s becuase 60’s vs modern scale furniture, or if it’s just a hard room. But everything in this space’s look is so hard earned.
I do like this mirror there. I like how it bounces more window light into the space, because the back of the room doesn’t really get the sunlight, so this helps a little.
I hung the mirror lower than would be good for tall people to see themselves in, because room scale (but I’m short so it doesn’t matter.)
I’m still not 100% sold on just that mirror there. It still feels a bit small for the space. But it’s good for now.

Moving onto another thing I find hard. Lighting sources. I need to up my Pinterest-interior-studying game on lamps and ceiling fixtures, cause those really challenge me. 

But I’m finally happy with two of my lamps.
Over here I had envisioned a clear glass lamp vase -- however reality struck and I didn’t want to spend a fortune on something so delicate with kids around. So I found this lamp for I think $9 at ReStore. (I may have showed you it before?) But the lampshade I was using didn’t feel super great. It was vintage so it’s scale was right, but the tone was less right. I found this one at Goodwill a few weeks (probably longer - ha) ago for maybe $4(?). And it’s so good for this lamp. I was really hesitant to buy it since it’s always so hard to tell without the lamp there -- but it’s great.

I had actually been hoping the shade would fit this other lamp I’ve been struggling with over on my entry way dresser. But it totally did not fit that one. (Lucky for me -- it was what the stripped lamp was looking for!)

But I finally figured this one out too.
I found this lamp shade at Lowes

Once again, nervous. I’ve tried so many things with this lamp. 
I love it, I think it’s so cool with the scales on it. (Probably due to the mermaid love being revived with young ladies in the house.) A long while ago, I saw it a Restore for $8 and left it, but I had to go get it later because it wouldn’t stop speaking to me. But very recently I was *this close* to sending it back to the thrift store since I couldn’t find the right shade. I was starting to think it was hopeless.

Finally Lowes came out with this and I was pretty sure it was the one. But when I brought it home I was thwarted because the lamp had a tall shaft that holds the light bulb, so the lampshade wasn’t looking long enough. We fixed it by taking the lamp apart and putting the lampshade harp at the base of the shaft. That required Blake to rewire the lamp for me -- but it was pretty simple, just took a couple minutes for him. And then finally the lamp made sense.

I like that it’s harnessing my British Cowboy vibe again. Pairing well with my “new” mirror -- which also works the British Cowboy theme for me. 
I had a different mirror here (well actually a couple have tried this space out -- one moved to the dining area and it perfect there) and the last one just wasn’t right and I finally admitted it. I found this antique mirror from a dresser (not sold together with it) at Goodwill for I think $12. My world is always made by these kinds of finds. Beautiful History for cheaper than new. Life is good.

Since it had the knobs for how it attached to the dress on it still, I decided to do this rope look. I got the rope from Menards in their rope section. It’s one of their medium sized hemp ropes. And the knob it’s hung on is actually a drawer pull, also from menards. It’s (I think) black porcelain. It felt like the right material to pull off this antique/modern look to me. And I was able to just shove it over a finishing nail I put in the wall. I went through our box of nails trying them out, picking the one that fit the tightest since they are irregular. It worked well. It’s been staying put fine. But if I need to I may add a bit of flexible glue called E600 (that stuff is sooo handy for everything!).

So yeah I’ve been enjoying this look for a bit now.
(The tray there is actually intended for my coffee table, but it’s currently a lego castle, so ya know.)
(Also ignore that black thing behind the dresser -- its a project I abandoned while pregnant and now don’t know if I want anymore -- need to make the call and get it out of there.)

Alright well I hope I tided you over with this post.
And Hopefully I can get my mind to let my heart take those pictures of my backyard.

(Did I mention outside photos are harder because lighting is more fickle? Well that’s true.
Also because bikes, brooms and ladders seem to pile up on our patio and I will have to find toddler free time to accomplish allthethings!)
(But hard things can’t stop me. It’s my head that’s in my way. 
Maybe if I call myself hard headed it will mean my head can’t stop me!)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Extreme Spring Cleaning

You guys, I get bit by the weirdest bugs.
I'm not sure what really got me started, it might have been the combo of our across the street neighbors painting their porch (the rest of their house is brick) or seeing our friends with a similar house to ours, painting their house --- and how fantastic each is looking. It might just be my own internal intensity propelling me. 
Actually, now that I think about it... it might have just been a moment where I was trying to keep the kids busy while I did something else and gave them rags to clean with, and seeing the siding start looking actual-white again, and not being able to resist that glorious improvement.
 Whatever it was, I started washing our house.
I started over our garage door, and as you can see above, there was actual dirt build up.

I don’t know. When we bought this house, I fell in love with it’s good bones, it’s good space, and it’s great location. I had zero emotions about it’s exterior. I didn’t have positive or negative ones. I guess they leaned more towards negative because... well the house looked terrible on the whole. And I’ve never given a lot of thought to exteriors and my dream-look, and at first the black and white seemed boring to me, and the house just looked aged and tired. So in the back of my mind I just kinda figured the exterior, like everything inside, needed a makeover. I even have a photoshopped picture I did before moving of the color I was thinking it would need to be. (Now that I look at it, I don’t really like it. ha. Good thing I couldn’t do it. I was just bored waiting to move, and trying not to go crazy waiting.)

However, recently my interior designer instagrammers have all started posting (here and there) cool houses they see on walks, or inspirational exteriors, or their own work….all these white houses with black accents. And it make me head-tilt and think about my own house. Maybe this house has a great classic look. Maybe I don’t need to change it --- maybe it just needs a little spa day, and a little mascara. (Because let’s face it -- being a classic beauty is always desirable….BUT saving money….well that’s usually the main director of operations in my planning (you know, as long as “saving money” consults with “beauty” )….so yeah, how much money can I save by calling the house good as is….LOTS.)

So I’ve been pondering, what would count as mascara for the house? I’ve been coming up with the plans, I’ve gotten SOME done.

But what I’ve mostly been doing is the spa day(ssssssssssss) for the house, giving a never ending sponge bath. Every time Bronny has been asleep lately I’ve been outside with soapy water and a rag, wiping down the siding. 

Never did I think to myself, “You know what we should do, self? Hand wash the house!!” But here I am doing it. And I would feel like a crazy person only, the difference it’s making is astonishing. I just feel crazy-pleased with the results.

The reason I am hand washing it is because our contractor brother in law told us when we re-sided our first house, that you should not power wash siding, because it forces water behind it and causes rot and mold. Also I’m not sure I could actually get it as clean that way, there are so many cranny’s I’ve dug into with the rag.

I don’t have any good before pictures besides that one up there. Because I just did not foresee a visible shift so strong that I’d want before and after photos. So this may be a really lack luster blog post. But I had to do it, because in real life this really makes a major change (maybe not really an understandable change -- I doubt anyone is like “wow their house is cleaner” But I do think people will think “Wow their house is looking so well kempt these days.” But maybe not know why.) Anyway,  I am riding high on this random change in my house.

The other day I had the chance to just really scrub down the entire front porch. It was encrusted with cobwebs and dirt and it just looked really old and worn out. I was shocked to find that when I scrubbed down the porch roof, a lot of what I thought was peeling paint, was just the cobwebs’ dirty effects. The porch could still stand a repaint, but it suddenly looks awesome, and no where near as worn out and mildly haunted. It now looks like a really happy house. I keep thinking it almost looks like a new house. (That’s my motherly bias talking. It’s still a 1960’s looking house -- but it’s a fresh and homey and happy 1960’s house that’s loved and cared for.)
I mean look at the door frame and window frame -- they glow with clean bright whiteness.
I keep just popping out onto the porch and thinking “I cannot believe a simple cleaning was THIS BIG OF A DEAL!!!"
Also look at my cute fern I found on clearance for $7. That fern adds the best level of “cottage” and  "Anne-of-Green-Gables-ness” to the house. That’s a new summer must (as long I prove able to keep it alive anyway.)

As I’ve been doing this, I keep thinking: “You know this will get dirty AGAIN right?!?!” And I tell myself, “Yep! But this is worth it. Besides this has got to be at LEAST 8-10 years of dirt on here, based on what we know of the ownership. So it won’t get as dirty again for a while. I’m so impressed with this change I HAVE to keep going.”

It’s delightful.

Ok….I’ll stop now with the “I washed my house” crazytown talk. (But I might have more to come later because I’m NOT done washing. This is a ridiculously involved task I have taken on.)

We’ve been doing SO MUCH to our backyard (including washing the back of the house. ha!!) And I want to show you -- but I really want to hold out for a good big reveal post when it’s more done.
But so, one of the projects was raised garden beds, and we bought a lot of dirt for that project and turned out to have leftovers.

Blake had been talking about a project for a while now -- he’s been wanting to address a low spot in our front yard where water collects. So since we had the dirt now, he went for it. It wasn’t on the immediate plan list, but life moved it up the Que..

I don’t have pictures of this, but he dug a trench and laid down a drain pipe from the front gutter, to a pop up drain near the side walk.

Then he added a small retaining wall of bricks which match our patio and tiny drive way add-on area. And then filled it all with our extra dirt. (All three kids where ALL OVER helping filling the wheel barrow. It was quite adorable and somewhat hilarious. But man, little Bronny has been INTENT on doing helper-stuff since he could walk, there was no stopping him and his tiny sandbox shovel. And the girls where right there too.) And now we are watering the grass seed.

Blake and I are both like “WOW! That added SO MUCH. It’s one of those bigger than expected pay offs again.
Maybe not in these photos, I don’t know. But in person it’s so “professionally landscaped looking."

It looks awesome from our dining room table.
Feeling fancy with our clean porch views and our landscaped-selves.

So yeah….I was telling Blake, I think we are at the point now, where we’ve put so much into the house that every little thing we do now looks impressive. And that’s really nice. Because when we bought the house, we were just pouring every ounce of energy in and the difference was not always apparent yet. Some of it just was non-visually impressive, but needed. And some of it was a visual change, but the rest looked so bad it didn’t make sense yet. But we are finally to the “ooo” stage, where each thing does something notably good.

So for now I’m just detail, detail, detail, detail. Each one adds up to something over time. Like painting the (never used by us…but maybe it should be?) rusted out flag holder white. These little things really just take the age off.

I feel like the house is one of those scruffy strays you find (like in a movie or something, because this has never happened to me) and you think this dog is a poor kinda gangly mut, but then you wash it and love it and it’s this pure bread beauty who’s so sweet and wonderful.

I’m really loving this process, and stepping back and seeing the house shine.

As I was waiting for the photos to upload, I scrolled instagram and found this black and white house. Just like I said -- all my instagrammers feeding my mind with good beautiful things. 
Pretty right? See -- classic. 
Sometimes I toy with painting our brick white. BUT only the SMALLEST of toying….because that’s like a HUGE decision. I’m not ready to decide something that big.
Does my porch roof ever want to go black? Hmmm? Not sure, but I LOVE it here.
(Welcome to my endless mental testing of ideas. It never stops in here.)

Anyway. That’s all for today.

I’m so excited to show you our back yard stuff. But I gotta finish it first….back to the grind guys.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Well I've been painting and painting and painting since last we chatted.

Painting list:

A week on the chairs. 

A couple days up on the roof painting details like rusty vent pipes and faux brick, tin chimney. The wood on the garage cupola. That stuff was oddly satisfying in the extreme. I just love seeing those tiny improvements add up to big fresh vibes for the house. (I still have to address the cupola's aged roof and missing-top-weathervane. Looking forward to that!)

A FULL day painting some raised beds for a garden. (And the  perfectionist in me hasn't signed off on that job, so it's not done. {Sigh...why does she do this to me?!?!...because she  knows what looks good, and sometimes you don't get it right the first time. It's frustrating. Especially when you get sunburned in the process. But I'd rather get it right than leave it there bothering me.})

So yeah. We are really focused on the exterior for a bit.
I've brainstormed:
--the light fixtures (currently misfitted, rusty 80's brass ones), 
--the garage door (paint + trim added) 
--and some back yard shutters (need to spray paint some serendipitous thrift store finds for our family room window that sits in front of the patio). 
--Not to mention a few special things for the kids for the backyard.

So we are trying to take advantage of Blake's semester break (which is small since he's teaching summer classes) and I'm trying not to get ahead of myself and lose my mind doing too much.

So for today I will leave you a teaser photo of a painted chair. 

Hopefully soon I can do a backyard reveal.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Sunroom progress

Before I show you the sunroom…..

Quick personal update:
I’ve been kinda slow to blog much. But I’m still truckin.
I just finished a 13 week Griefshare class. That was really good for me -- entirely exhausting. But then that’s just grief -- so not the course’s fault. But that’s had me kinda just introspective and quiet.

Because we switched churches, I’m joining more groups and classes, I’m making more friends, doing more stuff on occasion. That’s been refreshing.

Besides that I’ve been picking out stuff for the kids' school year next year. First year officially teaching two kids. Kinda excited. Kinda scared. (That toddler quotient, that ups the ante a bit….eek.) 
But yeah that took up a lot of time and energy, and I’m still not sure I’m done. But I know where I’m leaning. Choices are so nice, and yet so draining. I like to really look into things, so it get’s kinda crazy.

I’ve also been sewing lately. Hemming things. Jeans, linen pants, bedsheets! (My kids beds have no more box springs, so sheets look sloppy and droopy, on the lowered height. I just hemmed them yesterday and... wow I feel SO accomplished because the room looks so much more put together. (By the way I need to show you the girl’s room. It got a makeover.)
I’m also attempting some thrift store clothes altering (Our weather has been crazy. The other day in April it was in the 80s. So I ran and got a bunch of  “I’m too hot” clothes. Only to have it go back into the 50s so that I’m back in my winter sweaters this week. But that’s ok, because it gives me time to work on my projects.)…I’m hoping I get a summer jumpsuit out of the mix -- but time will tell if I succeed. I don’t know what I’m doing, I just have my fingers crossed.
So far I’ve hemmed dorky shorts into what I think are not-dorky-shorts. However I may be crazy. I don’t know. But I’ve always hated shorts -- I got them bunchy-legs -- I can’t keep trendy shorts from wedging up my legs. So I’m trying “vintage” shorts look this year and seeing what happens. $3 wasted if it doesn’t work for me. Or if I get laughed out of the neighborhood. ;) I don’t think I will be seducing Blake with them -- he’s politely quite about them. ha. (If I’m brave I’ll show you. If you’re kind you’ll pretend they are hot.)

I’ve been reading like crazy. I have more books than makes me feel sane from the library. I have grab-5-books-from-around-the-one-I-wanted disease. I can’t read everything I think I should. But I am trying.

I’m also trying to get back to working out. This month is the month. I’ve let stuff slide too long. But now I’ve gotten through griefshare, I’ve got more stuff in the house settled. It’s time. I miss feeling as fit as I did last summer. This is close to when I started last year -- so it’s kinda like a total do-over, only with less to lose. I put a bit back on, so there’s a bit to lose. But nothing major, I just miss feeling so vital and just good-feeling physically. I gotta get back on the train.
I also have to fix my brain about it. If anyone wants to comment about this -- PLEASE DO. But I have this really backwards struggle….I think that when I get fit, I’m mean to people. I have a hard time separating people’s personal emotional response to it, from my own responsibility. Like when I lost weight last year, if anyone acted jealous, backhanded, or insecure around me, I felt like I was personally mean to that person -- just by walking into the room (thinner.) I’m working on it. I keep being told I am not responsible for other people’s emotions, only my own. (Because I’m SO not flaunting anything, or doing this for anyone other than me.) But this is a major uphill mental battle for me. So feel free to share any thoughts you may have -- I’m needing all the help I can get. It’s honestly a major part of why I put a few pounds back on, this stupid mental game. 

ANYWAY…Now onto the sunroom.

I’m not expecting to impress with these quicky iphone photos, but here’s a glimpse of our sunroom progress.

I picked a color! It’s called "Olive Grey.” 
And the nice thing about moving at the pace of a turtle in this space is, I literally got to see this color’s paint chip play with each season’s light. So I know I like this color in the sun, rain, fog, snow…you name it. I like that in the winter it feels warmer and in the summer it feels cooler. The room isn’t air conditioned, and we don’t normally heat it with it’s electric heaters. So having a color add the right mental temperature to the space is really helpful.

Here you can see it butted up against the white primer. White was perfectly acceptable, and to some, likely preferable. But for me, the white was too strong in here. It called attention to itself. And I wanted this space to feel like it almost didn’t exist -- like I was outside, inside. I wanted the walls to disappear, not  get attention. And for me, this color is it! The bees knees, the cat’s meow. I’m thrilled with it.
Its a magic color, sometimes I still think the walls are white (when I’m not seeing the still white wall.) But other times it’s green, other times it’s tan, other times it grey. The green varies in depths and darkness. It plays wonderfully with the brick, the white-almond-bleh of the electric heaters, the kinda yellow-khaki of the shades this room came with….and most importantly the trees and grass and nature outside these windows.

No one could convince me this color is bad. (If you don’t like it, that’s fine. But I will love it regardless.)

So here’s the deal with the white wall -- we are making sure we have the roof sealed enough before I paint it, and before the ceiling goes on. 

 I’ve change my mind about the ceiling, and now I want to copy this technique I saw done by Lowe’s Spring Challenge Bloggers.
Only of course mine will be angled with the vaulted-ness.
Only I want to paint mine the wall color like these two spaces have done.


I can’t imagine the white ceiling working for my outdoors-inside schemes. Especially with the vault coming down -- it calls a lot of attention to the ceiling then.
But I would like to get a fan similar to this one below. Simple, dark-tone. But will need a light source.

Ok so let’s talk furniture.
 I did not attempt to make these couches look photo ready. They are freshly kid pounced, but they do smooth out and fluff up. (And my side table is style by my crew as well.)
I got this couch and love seat off craigslist for $100 total, for both. They are very comfortable. And to be honest... I don’t hate the color. My goal is to sew them a neutral “pottery barn” like cover. But I’m not mad at them, so I won’t rush. 

Off to the side, stacked up messy, I have my patio chairs still waiting for paint. I wound up choosing a soft black. I think it’s going to be very chic. 

And you can see that I have moved my chinoiserie chairs and their table out here. I wanted a table out here for games or summer dinners. And I decieded this was the table’s proper home. And I choose something else for the kitchen. (There’s actually a very long story about my table hunting, and rehunting, and rehunting, that I will save for another day.)
But I really like it out here. It’s a great spot for it.

I still need to choose a new door. This one is the really bad-seal one. (I wanted to paint it olive grey too -- but decided to save my paint for the real thing.) I can’t decide on a style for here. Same thing? Or instead, a window floor to ceiling? (Panes/no panes?)  Zero window -- solid door? (Panels, one panel, flat?) What does this room ask for? I wish I could hear it speaking better.
I will also see the outside of the door from my family room. So I’d like it to fit the whole house vibe.
Wow -- our smoker’s gorgeous! Ignore that and the bag of…sand? Just look at the door  over the patio step.
You guys have any thoughts on the door? Comment away. I’m stumped. But it’s gotta happen.

Anyway --
Here’s a pano. (it makes the room bigger than it really is -- but it is a big room.) I’m so excited for when this whole room is done -- soft green and quite, or loud with rain.  It’s going to be so beautiful. I think it’s going to be my favorite room of the house.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Unexpected Decor Defining

Something really unexpected happened when I did my big closet purge.

Most minimalists advocate putting sentimental things on display whenever possible, to enjoy them and cherish them, as opposed to storing them away and never seeing them. 

      Blake has two pairs of cowboy boots that were his grandpa’s, a brown and a black pair.

      His grandpa John lived and ranched in North Dakota. I got to go out to his ranch once when Jasmine was about a year old. I will always remember grandpa John’s eyes sparkle when he told us this adorable story about his childhood and how he always wished he had dark hair like his brothers did, and how they told him if he ate burnt toast it would darken his hair.

     We’ve had the boots on the upper shelf of our closet, but once I got it all cleaned, I started conditioning all the leather shoes. And so while I had them out, I thought I’d try the display concept for at least a tiny bit.

I took the brown pair of boots and the quirt (a riding whip) that Grandpa John made for Blake as a kid, and set them by the mirror. 
I found this stunning antique mirror at Salvation Army once for $8. I was floating on air. It was sitting right next to a boring new mirror priced at more than $20. I couldn’t believe it. I am head over heals for this mirror. I think it’s me embodied into a furniture piece -- Every time I look at it, I think the wooden curves are my hair poeticized.
When the boots got near it I couldn’t get over how good the wood tone of the mirror looked with the boots.

I loved having a sentimental thing out for us to enjoy. And I especially enjoyed that it’s cowboy boots, because I have cowboys in my family history too.  I have done nothing cowboy-esque in my life. But I feel it in my veins anyway.

Actually, this story proves to me just how much it’s part of me. 
One time when I was a teenager,  I was talking with a friend, and I said, “You know what would be really hot? A British cowboy.” I’ve always had a soft spot for the English accent, and stuff from England has always really intrigued me. And well, that cowboy spirit -- if they were combined… well, I thought that would be amazing. But I knew that wasn’t a thing. England didn’t have cowboys.

WELL, come to find out (and this was totally unbeknownst to me at the time) one of my great grandpa’s was from England, and he moved to America and became a cowboy. My mind will never cease to be amazed by how that was part of my soul without being part of my mind.
So when I saw these cowboy boots next this mirror it reminded me of my British Cowboy soul. And all of a sudden I had a flash of clarity on my entire home decor personality. It was a major lightbulb moment for me. 
I’m not planning on being as literal about it as this small vignette happens to be. But it does really help me when I’m making choices on what stays, what goes, and what comes in.  
I had no idea, doing Marie Kondo’s method in my closet was going to do anything for my interior design! But I love that it did. 
Looking at so many interior design blogs gives me so much inspiration, but it can confuse me at times, “Which look is really me, when I love seeing all of them?" Pinning this concept down right here was so comforting and invigorating at the same time.

I’m not always sure what exactly looks like “British Cowboy” style in the rest of the house -- but I’m having fun figuring it out.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Minimalism In My Wardrobe

Ok so before I start here’s my internet disclaimer: These posts are only intended to convey my own personal experience. They are not meant to make promises, nor do they have any implied implications towards anyone else's anything. They are just my own story.

I loved Marie Kondo’s books, and am so behind her general ideas. But I didn’t wind up using them exactly to recipe in most of my home. However I did use them 100% her way, in my wardrobe.

First of all, Marie wants you to start your entire purging journey in your wardrobe. And that I did. I and I can see why she has people start there -- it makes a lot of sense.

Now to be fair, I’ve actually been on a few-year journey to downsize my closet.

I think I started my journey by accident with my first pregnancy. Before I got pregnant I had an entire room set up as a closet. My husband and I had a 4 bedroom house to ourselves. In our bedroom we had a modest reach-in closet. So since we had the space, I bought a couple ikea clothing racks and set them in our smallest bedroom and made a sort of dressing room. At that point I had a lot of clothes. I loved thrifting and clearance racks, so I wasn’t spending absurd amounts on clothes, but I did have a lot of them.
    Once pregnant I had such sticker shock from the maternity clothes price tags. We didn’t have a lot of money at the time, and so I really could not build up much of a wardrobe during those months of shifting body changes. I felt really thrown off initially. And I didn’t have the skills to know how to buy multitasking clothes, and things that mixed and matched. So most of the pregnancy I hated my limited wardrobe. BUT by the end of my mid summer pregnancy, I was two weeks past my due date and uncomfortable in EVERYTHING. So I was living in one of two dresses for perhaps a whole month? And while I was definitely feeling the end-of-pregnancy-frustrations, which at times I would wrongly aim at my lack of clothing…in reality I was actually in love with the zero effort of not having to try when getting dressed. I would throw one dress in the wash every night (me pregnant in summer = sweaty), and wear whichever was clean the next day. I found an extreme liberation in this no thinking dressing.

However, I lost sight of that lesson as I was trying to get used to my ever changing body after I had my baby. I was so fixated on “getting back into my jeans” that I wanted my whole old wardrobe back.

Over the years that followed I started to lean towards that old simplicity, and I tried different ways to get there. The capsule wardrobe caught my eye, and I tried that and liked it. But I was too “heady” about it. I over thought it and didn’t really reach a true comfort level in what I was wearing. I picked things that I thought other people (fashionable bloggers ect) might piece together, and things that could mix with each other. I didn’t really reach into my self to come up with this selection. I wasn’t looking for what sparked joy in me.
(FYI: At this stage, I didn’t get rid of the extra stuff, I put it into bins, trying to figure this out without the risk of loss.)
My Capsule from Fall 2014

But soon after trying that capsule wardrobe, another pregnancy and body shifting happened (during and post pregnancy), so I kinda just drifted through as best as I could there. (Clothes felt messy with such a surprisingly sick pregnancy, and many life trials after that pregnancy.) (I did try to give effort postpartum, even aiming at capsule wardrobe concepts, but it wasn’t really all I had hoped -- I lived, but ya know.) After I got to a stable weight I was ready to join up with Marie Kondo’s ways.
The vibe of my closet pre-Marie (clothes mostly pulled and on my bed already though.)

Her whole ideology is to keep only things that “spark joy.” And her theory is clothes are the easiest place to learn the sensation. She even wants you to start with specific types of clothes and go in a certain order. She starts with shirts/tops because they are worn closets to your heart, then you move on from there.

 She asks you to hold each item to your heart and see what you feel. I did this closing my eyes (I can’t remember if she instructs this or if that was just me.) And you just try to see what you feel. Is it joy? If so, you keep it.
This closet felt like a picture of my brain

Guys, at this point in my life (I was freshly, emotionally scarred by 10 months of painfully sick pregnancy (yeah I always have 42 week pregnancies, lucky me), mothering three young kids, and mourning the loss of my grandpa and brother - in addition to a bunch of secondary losses related to those) I felt like I had absolutely nothing to lose in terms of what clothing stayed or went. I had just lost all the pregnancy weight, and pretty unwilling to look at the concept of any more body shifting for a long, long time. I was in a mental space where I knew that clothes did not matter enough to stress over giving them away. But I was simultaneously in a mental space where I wanted to live my best life -- and personally I enjoy feeling good in what I’m wearing. I was also in a space where I knew there was no safety in keeping clothes around, and no real fear of the future should I need to buy a few more clothes. SO…I just trusted that this Marie Kondo system was safe enough to try and I did it.
I held each item up and just waited to see what happened.

This post might wind up sounding hilarious and over the top, but for me, doing this, when I did it in my life, was one of the most deeply soul mining things I have ever done. I was shocked by how deep this got and how amazing it really was for me.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of what “sparked joy” would feel like. So I started with a piece I really loved, and held it up. With the shirt to my heart, and my eyes closed, I waited... and I started to feel an actual feeling. The best way I can describe it was I felt a warmth in my heart. And my mouth felt a smile coming to it. I was surprised to find something so tangible happening.

The items that didn’t spark joy, nothing happened at all when I held them. No matter how long I would hold them -- no response.
Generally speaking that is... There were items that actually brought up negative responses: sadness, regret, embarrassment, hard memories…things like that.

So after you do this, there is one more thing Marie Kondo asks you to do: thank your items for what they provided for you before you send them off. When reading her books, I wondered if her idea comes from any type of eastern religious concepts (She’s from Japan) -- I don’t know. She doesn’t really say that at all, in fact she has a story about where it came from and it was just kinda of a interesting incident that stuck with her. But when I read this “thanking" part initially my gut thought, “I’ll do all the steps but this. My things aren’t alive, I’m not thanking them.” I started going through my clothes I suddenly felt like I needed to go ahead and thank them like she said.  It just felt too hard to get rid of some of them without doing it, so I went for it. And what I found was that I was really just talking to myself and giving myself permission to learn and move on. Some of it was even grieving the leaving of different parts of my life, in a really beautiful way, that I would have missed out on if I had skipped this “thanking step.”

So here is a peak into my experience:

It’s been a while ago now, so I might not be able to share things in a clear or orderly way. But I’ll just share what comes to mind.

I was very surprised at how much I still could get rid of. I had already been paring down my clothes for years, and it had gotten more and more intentional. But somehow I was still able to get rid of a few garbage bags of just my own stuff.

Some of this was from around the whole house, but still!
I don’t know how I filled these bags…I thought I had already purged a lot before.

I remember picking up this button down shirt that I bought shortly after having my second baby.
 It was a thrift store purchase. It was a “this is a good fit for now” kinda buy. I felt nice it in at the time, but I hadn’t wore it anymore after she was a baby. And this year, when I held it to my heart I felt wistful and sad, an ache of memories gone.
 It was very clearly not joy I was getting from the shirt. But there was also very clearly a connection. And that connection was what had been keeping it in my possession for about 2 years longer than I had worn it. I knew this was time to let it go. And this was one of the most powerful thanking sessions of my closet cleaning. This was early in my closet cleaning and it taught me a lot about how I wanted to do this process.
    The heart feeling I had when I held it to my heart was so strong that it prompted me to be very deep and vulnerable as I thanked that shirt.
     I thanked it for holding me, while I held my baby. I thanked it for it’s sacrifice in being covered in milk, and spit up and pee and poop and supporting my day in these hard ways. I thanked it for being there for me -- for being the soft feeling on my skin while I rocked my brand new Ruby.  As I went on, I shed genuine tears. And I kept going, thanking and letting the tears fall, until the tears felt beautiful and grateful. And I was SO grateful for the chance to really appreciate those tiny small things. I felt a real release after I said enough things and I felt good as I set the shirt down in the donate pile.

I would have never gone to that place inside me had I not tried this process and really went for it. I would have missed cementing some beautiful things in my heart. After that shirt I knew I would be thanking my things. And I knew it was for me, not the things.

I was surprised how sweet it wound up being. Things as silly as socks wound up touching my heart and helping me feel blessed. Nursing bras brought more tears. (Not every one of them, some I was not at all sad to see go, but I still enjoyed saying an amused “Thanks for holding those outrageously huge nursing boobs up for me.”)

     I was also surprised to find that as I went through and landed on things that sparked no joy, and no deep memories, that I could still remember very clearly why I bought them, or how I got them. It was very surprising that I could bring all those forgotten things to mind. And it was really clarifying to see it all lined up together at once. I wound up thanking a lot of things for: giving me something to do (shop), or for distracting me from what I didn’t want to deal with/feel at certain points, or for helping me not be bored, for entertaining me, or for helping me pretend to be ______ (someone fancy, etc), for helping me feel pretty/skinny/special, or for being so cheap that I thought I couldn’t pass it up.
Hearing all that come out of me, all at once -- wow -- I wound up really confronting my habits. It was really awakening.
Having all that faced in one afternoon really stuck with me, and has been extremely directing in my shopping ways going forward.

I remember holding up a blue dress to my heart. I anticipated it sparking joy, because it was part of my capsule wardrobe. I loved the color and fit of the dress. It was pretty, I felt pretty in it. And I thought it was useful because it was layer-able as well. But when I held it up, I could not find joy there. I kept setting it down, and kinda trying to reset and retry. But no joy was sparked. I couldn’t figure it out, But as I held it, my fingers started to really register the fabric-feel, and it dawned on me that I never felt good in the dress --- I felt pretty when I looked in the mirror, but never good as in comfortable and at ease which, didn’t truly make me feel good about myself during the day I wore it. I liked how I looked, but I didn’t enjoy how it felt on, which subconsciously wound up getting misplaced onto me thinking I was uncomfortable with myself. So I realized when I chose that dress, I usually put it on with a subconscious bracing for an uncomfortable day -- not just physically, but in a subtle emotionally bruising way.
     It was that dress and that realization that really shifted my focus on what I like. I realized I enjoy my days more when my skin feels certain textures. Throughout my closet journey I wound up realizing I love natural fibers. First and foremost cotton. Which made me laugh -- I couldn’t believe I had ignored that part of me for so long. It would have been an easy one for me to see had I been willing to. My whole life, I remember my mom’s efforts to find 100% cotton shirts for my dad -- he couldn’t stand it if they were anything but 100%.
     I don’t feel quite as strongly about cotton as he does. I don’t mind other stuff mixed with my cotton. And I still have a few favorite items that are 100% non-natural fibers -- but they have a nice hand-feel to me. I feel comfortable in them.
     But after doing my whole closet, I saw that my favorite, favorites were cotton, and my favorite shoes were real leather. It was very interesting to figure this out with my heart. The realization was deeper than if I could have thought my way there. And it makes me very aware while shopping.
Examples: I almost bought a sweater the other day because it was 90% what I was looking for (style, color were just right), but that 10% factor of non-quality material helped me leave it on the rack and save time and money and closet space for the right sweater I will find someday. For the same reason, I’ve left SO MANY shoes on racks, not even picked up to try on because I’ve seen the shoes that I gave away and the shoes I’ve kept, and now I know “just cute” isn’t enough for me. And I’m willing to wait for something I know I’ll want to keep.

I wound up with very little left in my closet initially. But to be fair, that was to be expected. A lot of my clothes no longer fit me.
But I was unintimidated to have very little. I’ve really embraced the memory of having only 2 dresses I could wear and I have leaned on that memory when I want to think “this isn’t enough.”
And if what I have left truly sparks joy, then I just have a nice handful of joy.
This is from today, not my initially very small number. And I have a few more things in the laundry.
After my initial purge, I figured out that I did leave a couple tentative pieces. I think what happened was mostly that I think I just didn’t get a full sense of emotion, when I was in the process and I didn’t take that as “no joy” -- but I think I should have. So I’ve purged as I’ve gone forward with my journey, and those have gone.

I’ve been picking up clothes slowly now -- trying to find my real style (which includes good comfort and nice hand-feel.) Once again -- I was at a point where I literally had to buy clothes because I was a different size. So for me this process was kinda inevitable at some level. Some of the intensity is not Marie Kondo’s fault at all, just where I was at in size shifting.

As far as maternity clothes go, initially I DID NOT know what to say here. I’m honestly not sure I ever want to go through another pregnancy, but I’m also not sure I want to rule it out for certain.
    So when looking to keep going and make progress on my minimalism journey -- I had to decide that, for now I’m not in a place to know that part of my future, or even try to attempt thinking about it. Which prompted me to just treat my maternity clothes like the rest -- if they sparked joy they could stay, if they didn’t they had to go. So I have a couple things left. We’ll see what becomes of them. Maybe they will stop sparking joy and they will go move on (future irrelevant.) I’m not sure. But I’m happy I went through them, so that I’m not fixated on it. It was really bothering me until I just went for it and got it done. It’s at a place for me of peace and not stressing over “knowing.” And I like finding ways to get rid of any lurking stress in the background.

As for as the "after process” (mainly storing your things):
I’ve begun using Marie Kondo’s folding for my socks and bras and underwear. I really like it. (You can google and see videos of how to.) My socks, underwear and bras are in my largest drawer, and it does feel kinda boutique-y with her advice.
(As I’m writing this, I relize I should try it with my other two drawers. Because when I first did this I had SO MUCH room in my dresser it didn’t matter, now I could stand to try her folding.)
      Initially I tried hanging my clothes in her recommended way -- and it was pretty. And I liked it. But I don’t have the mom-time to keep it up -- I just put my clothes in willy-nilly, fast and furious, before Bronny starts scrubbing my bed with the toilet bowl brush or something.

But yeah -- I found this whole experience to 100% live up to her books title of “Life changing magic.” I’ve never felt so empowered to be me, as the week or so after doing that. I felt like I had given myself full permission to see who I am -- and be her. I was walking around thinking “I can decide” all the time and reveling in it -- and it was an “I can decide...without guilt" -- for some people that sentence might not be a big deal -- for me that was an enormous perspective shift. I was now deeply aware that I could be happy, and I could enjoy what I enjoy, and that doesn’t have to depend on a lot of stuff I used to think it did (both physical stuff, and philosophical stuff.)
     It’s hard to wrap words around it. And I would have NEVER expected the intensity level of it.
I don’t know if it had to do with all my surrounding circumstances more, or if the experience is always intense. But even now, about a half year later, I’m still in awe. And I’m still respecting myself more because of it -- which really impacts how I shop (but many more areas of life as well.)

I shop less, but with more intension. I know myself and I dress myself, not my imaginary self. (That was SUCH a trap I used to fall into -- before, if it was cute then I bought it, even if I’d NEVER had somewhere to wear it. I shopped for an imaginary life.) So I don’t grab anything unless I really enjoy it and see purpose to it.
When I shop (or plan to shop) I’m always thinking about how these items will fair inside my life -- like facing ketchup fingers. As well as the item's real comfort level, such as it’s play-ablity when I’m spending 90% of my time with my young kids. I’m shopping for what actually goes into my real day to day life. Because of that I also like to try to find pieces that seemlessly transition well to anything nicer I might be doing (going to church, the library, coffee…) So comfy and durable, but pretty. And if I can find things that can layer and multitask, then it gets bonus awesomeness points.

So these days:
Getting dressed is very easy. Even on days where I don’t try, I usually look somewhere between acceptable - to - “Hey cute outfit.”
Which…. before minimalism was NOT the case.
When I had my “dressing room closet” I honestly was always trying on clothes, trying to make outfits, but I usually just felt forced or lame when I left the house.
And after I had my second baby, I usually looked absolutely terrible -- ancient pjs or weird attempts at “clothes” that just didn’t work -- every day but Sunday (the one day a week I left the house).
     Now though, with having just a handful of clothes that I really get joy from -- I feel like me, and I feel put together and I can do it in about 3 mins, and so I get dressed much of the time.
(But reality check: I still have some “What the heck are you wearing?... half pjs, half “hmm…?” days --  I mean -- its just part of life I think. I’m NOT saying I look like a catalogue person -- I don’t. 
I also still have low self-esteem days where I just feel like a jr. high girl all over again and “have nothing to wear” because I feel ugly. That still happens. I’m human. But I’m just saying that with what I have now, getting dressed doesn’t take real thought to make a nice outfit.)

But why it’s so easy is that, my clothes pretty much can all go together. I've found since trying a capsule wardrobe a while ago, and then in doing the feeling-for-joy process, that I really personally mainly like neutral colors (black, white, grey, cream, nude-tones) as well as Navy or blue, with a small dash of red varieties (I don’t really have straight reds right now, but maybe wine-red or orange-poppy-red.) I don’t necessarily have only those, and I don’t try to make it happen that way -- it’s just what I have found to bring me the most joy. And it’s also easier to get dressed when you don’t have anything but stuff you really like in your closet.

Remember how I said, my closet looked like a picture of my brain? Honestly, my mind feels so connected to my stuff. Now that I have less…my mind is cleaner, and clearer, and more peaceful. It’s easier to find my thoughts, because it’s less cluttered in my mind.

(FIY: My closet’s physical makeover is still in it’s future. I want to move the clothes rod, and shelves, and figure out a door or curtains so it’s not just open. Why are reach in closet doors the bane of my design process? Eventually it will look even more clean and clear and peaceful in my closet’s layout.)
I really think each thing I owned was taking up real estate in my mind too. And so part of the thanking process really cleared up emotional and mental space inside me to let it go and be free of it.
That’s also why it’s easier to get dressed. I’m not fighting all the negative emotions I had attached to my clothes -- stuff like embarrassment, sadness, hard memories, guilt -- and trying to appease it in lame ways like wearing stuff I don’t like. That’s been released. And it’s good.

I don’t have a set number of clothes I’m trying to keep it to. I just know when I feel like it’s the right amount. I can tell when I started it was too little, so I added. And this past week I could tell I need to pull a few things out. (I’ve noticed that I always try to use the clothes I don’t like in outfits, as if to connivence myself that I should have bought them. But I never like the outfit that day. So last week I stuck those ones in the guest room to see if dressing got easier again -- and it has. So I’ll need to face facts and thank them, and send them.)
      For me -- with three kids and all that comes with that -- the less clothes I have the better I look and the better my house looks and the less I have to think or work.
     I could still stand to add a bit more to my collection (I’m severely lacking in summer things), but I’m going really slowly.
     I’ve wound up in a new place in terms of personal style and it has me really lost (so many life shifts at once, while getting to kinda a new age bracket = new me, but who is she?)  So I haven’t really figured my style out yet, not a lot of clothes feels like “me" -- so I’m buying very tentatively. But it’s kind nice to get to face that with this mind frame, it’s more purposeful.

With shoes, I have a few that honestly bring me joy, but that I might never wear again. I don’t know. (Like my nude heels -- I LOVE them. But with a baby, I never ever wear them. I might someday. But I might not. But joy still is there anyway.) 

Even if I am not wearing them all, I don’t have more shoes than I feel good about -- and they all bring me joy. So it’s a win. And it will be a win still if some stop bringing me joy and move on without me, or if I find a few more to add to fit whoever I’m becoming.

Bags/purses. I have VERY few left. I have the main one I’ve used ever since I’ve had kids which is a over one shoulder sling bag -- not the world’s most attractive thing. But SO practical it has my heart. I have one clutch still. And maybe a couple others? I can’t even remember. But very few. Because I accepted I just use the one I always use.

Belts and scarves -- very, very few. Maybe 3 per? I just realized I wasn’t ever using the VERY many I had collected and I wasn’t getting joy from them. I’d probably be willing to go to even less now, if I were to look. It’s like once I’ve tasted freedom, keeping things just in case feels cumbersome.

Marie Kondo says the reason we hang onto things we don’t need/don’t get joy from is: fear of the future or an attachment to the past.
(No one says you can’t keep things from the past that bring you joy. So don’t panic.) (Also, if you are panicking, no one says you have to get on this boat -- make your own path! Don’t join up with what isn’t for you.) 
     But I really thought about that fear of the future. And I really thought hard about that in terms of my personal faith. I want to trust God with my future, not my own stuff. Now---I don’t want to be wasteful and careless and own nothing in a detrimental way. Wisdom is needed. But what I kept coming back to (for my own mind’s sake) was this line of questioning: “Ok so let’s say the economy crashes and zombie apocalypse befalls me, will having this item help me? Can I save myself with it? Can I earn money with it? Can I sew something survival-y with it?” I would usually say nope to all of those. (I mean have you tried to sell clothes at a garage sale? You get like a quarter, and that’s without a zombie apocalypse situation.) And I can’t think of what I could need to sew with these extra clothes to survive. And I know I don’t need the actual clothing piece to survive.
     What it usually really was inside me, was just that hollow human “What if this is not enough?” without any real substance to the question.
I know I’ve lived with 2 dresses just fine. So what I have is actually abundance.
And I have nothing really to fear by not having even more, than the small abundance I am left with.

It gets profound guys. It really does. This stuff is heart level, soul digging, deep.

Personally, I have loved forcing myself to face this part of me. It’s not been a cake walk. But it’s been seriously lightening. My life feels less weighed down by not only my things, but my mentality tied to my things.
I’m not saying I’m perfect with it. I’m not saying I’m not still 100% “first world” and all that comes with that.
I’m just really happy I’ve made these choices.

So yeah -- that’s a pretty thorough look at me and my wardrobe perspective shifts.

Like I said -- I didn’t follow Marie Kondo’s method’s through my whole house -- but I loved her advice in starting with the clothes because it was SO clarifying for me getting all these concepts opened up here, helped me when doing the other rooms.

Stick around and I’ll share more of my minimalism stories in the other areas of my house.

What do you think? Feeling inspired?
Have you done this yourself?
Are you like “Mmmm. NO! Not for me.”?
Let me hear your thoughts.

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