jane + jo + julia
i read this article over the weekend and it had me wishing for a signature style of my own. i love how alice gregory writes that her own thoughtfully adopted uniform of black turtleneck and decidedly not tight dark jeans can adapt to any situation, making her look arty in a gallery or bookish in a book store. her uniform is both universally appropriate and comfortable. while i might fear that adopting a uniform could plant me firmly in the background, alice believes hers puts her in the ranks of the protagonist.
when i gave it some thought, i realized that i have a sort of progressive uniform thing going on. i have a series of favorite outfits for different times of year. i wouldn't actually call this my uniform, but it wouldn't be very hard to move it in that direction. :) at this transitional time of year, my favorite outfit includes a long-sleeved striped shirt, stretchy, hit-at-the-right-place-on-my-ankle light jeans, and my trusty tennies. jo and i like to joke about everyday pants (as inspired by ramsey). it's not joking really, it's more like admitting. :) these are my favorite right now pants and those are my favorite right now shoes. it's the short time of year when i can wear these without socks (my long preferred way) and not get sweaty feet or freezing ankles.
i find the idea of a uniform appealing, because i think it gives one the air of someone who has style figured out...someone who doesn't need fashion to tell her what to do. adopting a uniform would make a having simple wardrobe easy. it would make getting dressed a cinch and one would always feel chic and put together. my "uniform" might need a bit of tweaking to get me into those categories, but maybe it works just as well for me and my life.
so that's pretty much my right now uniform! do you like the idea of a uniform?
some uniform inspiration:
rachel ashwell's timeless jeans and boots
michael kors's black, white and denim…but mostly black
vera wang's black with leggings
our favorite…rory gilmore's schoolgirl chic
i held off all week on posting this, because i'd like this to be a happy, encouraging place. this is reality though, and i want to be real. :) so here goes… this autumn's shopping has been a bit of a stressful quest! i have spent entirely too many hours hunting for the fair trade items on my short shopping list. i think that the ideas i have about how to organize and then shop for these items is good, but this season i've been struggling to carry them to fruition.
let's take my hunt for sweaters, for example. the main help for me in simplifying and being fair trade-minded has been embracing the simple wardrobe. over a couple years, i was able to decrease the size of my wardrobe more and more in the pursuit of finding my working number of items in each category, be it sweaters, pants, tops, whatever. i definitely believe in a happiness arc, for myself. i believe that there is a certain point at which more goes from making me happier and making life better…to the point at which more begins to make me feel more unhappy, stressed and heavy. one sweater might have me wanting one more, but 10 is definitely too many. over time, i've found 4-5 sweaters to be the number with which i am most happy. i wear a sweater every day for at least 6 months of the year.
i started the season by taking out my five sweaters. most fair trade of all is reusing what we have. i've been wearing the same sweaters year after year…and mostly they have been just what i need and like to wear. this year, i felt it was time to replace a couple of my beloved, but bedraggled looking sweaters. a few stains hadn't come out of one cardigan and the cuffs were dingy looking. i wore that sweater so much and enjoyed it very much for years. i really like the other sweater, but it doesn't go with my tops and i hadn't worn it more than a couple times per year for a while. i think both sweaters were about 10 years old. they have been donated.
the shopping started with two sweaters on my list. first we tried thrift stores in the area. using what already exists is always better than creating need for something new. no luck. i searched all the resale sites (including ebay, etsy, and thredup) that i like…numerous times... and found that the used sweaters available were not my size or what i was looking for. the fair trade new item sites held sweaters that were either not what i wanted or too expensive. ugggh! my simple wardrobe stresses the importance of finding just the right sweater. i know this may sound too picky, but i feel like picky-ness is one of my best friends in remaining fair trade and simple. if i settle, i will find myself picking another sweater from my wardrobe every time, and the settled-for sweater will be a waste. i will end up getting rid of it sooner. thrift store donation is positive, and my hope is for my donated items to find a new home where they are enjoyed... but, not all items get bought from a thrift store. many get bound into bales and sent to places like africa, where the clothing messes with their economies and markets for locally made items- thus threatening jobs, livelihoods, and opportunities of the people there. we can't use thrift stores as our excuse for frivolous new purchases.
i looked through all the knitting patterns i could find. becoming the producer of your own clothing and using fairly made materials is fair trade. i love this yarn, made from american sheep in america. my payment for making a sweater is wearing it! i do like to knit, but as i've written before, i don't always love the outcome. i just never know if the sweater is going to turn out 3 inches too wide or too narrow. i didn't feel like that was the right choice either.
here's the thing: somewhere along the line, i found a couple sweaters i liked from one of my favorite (who knows how fair trade it is) stores. they have a social responsibility statement... that i have read. i struggle with how to read it, however…with trust or suspicion. i don't know for certain how appropriate "the minimum wage" is in these countries, or what "inappropriate deductions" from a workers salary might be qualified as. i don't know what "extraordinary business circumstances" would qualify as allowing workers to work over 60 hours per week or how this would be enforced. i don't know if monitoring is sufficient or if appropriate action is taken when infractions are uncovered. i feel a twisting in my chest. i am struggling.
what i keep coming back to is the simple wardrobe. the less i need, the less i buy. the more i love the item, the longer it lives in my closet. i have to believe that these are some of the best fair trade principles. when it comes to purchasing, i need to keep my values at the forefront of my mind. for right now, my three remaining sweaters will suffice. one is off having a hole repaired at the moment, but it is supposed to be 84 degrees today…so i think i'll be alright. :)
any struggles or triumphs for you fair trade-wise lately? we'd love to hear about them!
autumn is here and i'm so happy to bring back soup night! this is a favorite soup and can be done so many different ways. we never get tired of it. that title is like seriously a direct quote from jo…regarding this here soup. :)
like seriously, yum, noodle soup
frozen peas (from our garden)
veggie broth concentrate
cover these with water (+ some) and bring to a boil. turn down to medium heat until the carrots are softened.
brown rice noodles
juice of lime
add these and continue to heat for 5 minutes.
these are the vegetables i used tonight. the great thing about this recipe is that you can change out veggies for whatever you have and is in season. try radishes, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. next time, i want to add a splash of coconut milk.
hope you are enjoying all autumn has to offer!
last night i checked in on an inspired site and found a new project! craft hope came from an idea to help crafters use their generosity and skill to fulfill the needs of the less fortunate. it has become a way for the craft community to highlight one need at a time and tackle it in force. the founder, jade sims, also wrote a book called craft hope: crafts for a cause. what i loved most about the book is how it encourages us to find need in our own communities and seek to serve them now, rather than to wait for need to be highlighted for us.
craft hope's current project involves an organization called, we are kenya, whose goal is to feed and educated children in the slums of soweto, kenya. the need they have presented crafthope with is for hats, gloves, scarves, stuffed toys and reusable sanitary napkins.
if you can sew, knit or crochet i would like to invite you to check out craft hope's website and learn more about this project. the sweet faces of these children and the loving words of those caring for them will be encouragement enough! i didn't find out about it until last night, so we only have about 3 weeks to work and mail them off to maryland. even one item will help though, because many hands will be at work! it is so exciting to be a part of this sending of love to these valuable and special children!
"just do small things with big love"! ~mother teresa
i SO hope you will join me!
the weather seems to be turning. we've swapped shorts for jackets this week. i have been sticking to my transitional pieces exclusively, and i've been really happy. a few pieces have yet to be worn. i think its time to swap a few pieces from my transitional wardrobe for warmer pieces. here's what i'm doing today:
-two short sleeved tops are being swapped for two of the long sleeved striped tees pictured above
-my grey jeans and olive shorts are being swapped out for black jeans and dark jeans
-i returned the white button-down, because i hadn't worn it. i do think it is a great piece to have, but i wasn't picking it to wear. i liked it best on its own, but don't have many times where it feels warm/cool enough to wear it on its own. i don't think i'd like the feel of it under a sweater. also i am kind of scared of spilling on white shirts. i know i can bleach it and i did get a few chances to do that this summer while wearing white! :) -i don't think i'll be wearing my clog sandals or denim shorts anymore this season, but don't have a swaps for them right now
that leaves me with 25 items. none of my swaps are new purchases. i really do feel like i have more than enough pieces in this simple wardrobe. i have been getting a little bored with my short-sleeved tops, since they've been around all summer. i am curious about having 4 capsule wardrobes like 333 or un-fancy. i just don't know if that makes better sense for me or not. i would not have all new pieces in each collection, but it might be nice to hold some items back and switch them out later. i will have to play around with that on paper.
right now i am working on my perfect sweater stack and putting together a fancy look (inspired by this post and a stressful few weeks leading up to attending a wedding recently). i don't have much occasion to really dress up, but i think it would be good to put together one look that feels like me. that way i won't be scrambling just to find something that ends up making me feel uncomfortable all night.
hope you are simply enjoying autumn!
this week i cleaned my bookshelves and went through my books…again! i would consider myself an aspiring almost-minimalist. i know i don't need books, except my Bible. i do like books quite a lot though. i love stories. i love pictures. i love inspiration. i love learning new things. i don't like having a lot of things.
something that i have learned over my years of simplifying is that there are two ways of filling a space, whether it is a closet, a bookshelf or a room. what often happens is we look at all of our things and zero in on the things we are willing to give away. this is great, because most of us have too much. we feel good that we have found some things to let go. then we gather up all the rest and put it back. this does work to some extent. but i think there might be a better way.
the other way is to set all of our things out and shop for the perfect collection from those items. we may end up letting some things go that we still like, but maybe we don't need them. i'd rather see a smaller collection of things that i love than a larger collection of things that are good.
when i look at my bookshelves, i want to see a collection of well-loved books that reflect my interests. this time, when i went through the books that i have, i decided to create a collection of books that say, "me". this little collection holds the books that have spoken loudest to me and have heavily influenced who i am and want to be. i love seeing them all together, like a collection of my thoughts, aspirations and dreams…in visible form.
i got rid of some books that i really like, but i know i can check them out of the library. i decided to keep my favorite book on my favorite topics in most cases. i don't necessarily need three books on the same topic. i did keep a few books that i need to read and then will probably donate. here are some ideas of places to donate books and magazines:
-hospital or retirement home
-someone who would like it more
- goodwill or thrift store
so here are my book shelves…my favorite books surrounded by one of my other favorite things…white space. i like it.
what are some of the books that say, "you"?
daring to choose fair one choice at a time