Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Midwinter Miscellany: Closets, Crafts, Cheesecake, Clickables

This is the winter that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends.  (Have I used that line before? It's a typical February feeling.) My children were actually pretty delighted by the latest snowfall though, and today it warmed up to 40 degrees which meant they got to play outside for several hours in it.  They came in with soaking outerwear, red cheeks, and happy faces.



I'm in a spring frame of mind, or at least a spring cleaning frame of mind.  The last few days I've been sorting out clothes to get rid of, refolding, and reorganizing the closet. 

I do not wear lounge clothes or pajamas around the house unless I am ill or pregnant (even then, real clothes give me an attitude boost).  Putting myself together, even if it's just a tee and jeans, helps kickstart a productive day, so my goal is an edited, practical wardrobe that reflects my eclectic style and personality and makes it easy to get dressed in the morning.

A little bit lost as far as how to pare down, I surveyed my friends on Facebook on how they decide when to get rid of clothes.  Some of the ladies that commented follow the "if you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it" rule, others donate something when they buy a new item. Others, like me, struggle with knowing when to get rid of something and hang on to stuff forever. I don't want to be a hoarder, but I don't want to throw money down the drain, either. I like the one year rule in principle, but not wearing something in a year might indicate that I simply buy too many clothes. Or it could mean that I need to get more creative about how to wear something.

Adding a few fashion blogs to my feed reader has taught me a lot about how to choose and pair clothes--Putting Me Together is probably my favorite to recommend to someone baffled by her closet, especially the Building a Remixable Wardrobe and Building a Wardrobe From Scratch series, and Audrey's tips for wearing One Piece Different Ways.  I recently found that I could still wear a sweater I had written off as too short by tucking it into a pencil skirt with a belt over the top.  




As I've been evaluating what to keep and what to get rid of, I'm asking myself these sorts of questions:

Is it ripped, stained, pilled, or otherwise disgraced by regular wear and tear?

Have I been regularly passing over this item for years because of the way it fits or feels, or because it needs to be fixed in some way?  And:
  • If it can be fixed, is it worth my time to do so?
  • If it doesn't fit right now, might I need the item again if I'm....pregnant? postpartum? nursing? not nursing? doing a messy job? gaining weight? losing weight?
  • Can I make the fit more flattering by tucking, belting, or layering with other things I already own?

Is it modest?  Or, can it easily be made modest with layers?  (I like HalfTees and Molly's Clothing for help with this. Maternity belly bands in a smaller size also make great additions to a regular wardrobe to give a layered look under shirts and extra coverage for low-rise pants or shirts that are just a touch too short.)

Is it a classic item that I might regret not having down the road?

Does it match my lifestyle?  (For instance, I have learned that blazers are too restrictive and get in my way.) 


Post closet purge, the items we are keeping in storage are reasonably minimal, and the things that are actually hanging up or taking up drawer space are all wearable. I need to do the kids' closets next. Their spaces are not as bad because their constant growth requires me to sort, pack, and update at least seasonally!  Baby girl is getting a little "wardrobe" upgrade too.  Time to prep the next set of cloth diapers!  Post on that coming soon. :)  One of the best things I did for myself was put together a few metal storage cubes that my husband used in college to store my super bulky hooded sweaters.  The hoods, many of them lined with faux fur, took up soooo much hanging space and were always knocking other things off hangers when I put them away.  Now they're neatly stacked and out of the way.



A great storage solution that's easy to maintain makes a huge difference in keeping things tidy.  We've seen it at work in the kids' rooms: large bins and buckets actually make it possible for them to clean up after themselves.  And I've been amazed at the difference a well-suited organizer has made in our bathroom.  Our house doesn't have a master bath, so space in the main bathroom cabinets is at a premium.  I was forever leaving my makeup all over the counter because putting it away was too complicated to do quickly and I was constantly knocking things over.  InterDesign makes clear organizers that fit inside even the slimmest of vanities and medicine cabinets, and it has been the perfect thing to corral my most-used mineral makeup and brushes (eye palettes and lip products are elsewhere). I've been using this system for a few months now, so I know it's working to keep the sink counter free of clutter. 

My mom's birthday was earlier this week and the family celebration this past weekend gave me an opportunity to make another cheesecake, and also to play around with a super fun recent thrift store find, an envelope punch board.  This thing is simple and awesome. Instructions are provided for making envelopes to fit cards of all sizes--a neat little addition to my crafting collection to make custom envelopes for handmade cards and all the kids' creations.





Oh, you are more interested in the cheesecake?  I remembered all the ingredients in this one. :)





I didn't make any changes in the recipe, so I'll just link you to Smitten Kitchen in case you want to make a delicious Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake for yourself.  Really a scrumptious treat, but the crust was rock hard. I might tinker next time. 

To wrap up, a few things I've found worth reading recently:

The Old Testament in 10 Minutes + the New Testament in 10 Minutes

Constant Love: Being a Trustworthy Wife

Having a Sabbath Heart

When God Does the Miracle We Didn't Ask For: Sustaining Grace Instead of Deliverance

Fretting And Fearful For Our Nation? Here’s Some Good Advice…

The Internet Makes Us All Miserable

And something to listen to (scroll to the bottom).  From a children's ministry conference, but words of hope and life for all believers and parents feeling discouraged. 
Holiness is for Hard Times: How the Holiness of Christ Sustains Children and Youth Workers over the Long Haul








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