Following a couple of additions and changes, my capsule wardrobe for this season is in pretty good shape. It’s looking to get pretty cold this year, but plenty of layers and thermal tights will keep me toasty.
Following a couple of additions and changes, my capsule wardrobe for this season is in pretty good shape. It’s looking to get pretty cold this year, but plenty of layers and thermal tights will keep me toasty.
So, it’s been a wild ride. We did our KonMari over six weeks ago and, you guys, it’s turned out just great. Things haven’t really shifted much from where we put them, so they were pretty close to being in the right place from the offing. THere are a couple of areas that perhaps need a bit of attention – getting into the habit of getting rid of paperwork is still hard going. It’s all in the right place, but there’s still too much. On the whole, the house is as neat and tidy as the day we finished the job. Not bad, considering I’m a hider.
The biggest wins for me on a day-to-day level have been my clothes and Milo’s toys. My wardrobe is still immaculate. Yes, there’s a bulk box of nappies and a bulk box of wipes in there, but my clothes are neat, uncrowded and exciting. By which I mean I like them all. It’s significantly easier to get dressed. Having lost a few lbs, I needed to replace some key elements in the capsule, and add some for the winter season. Knowing EXACTLY what I had and where the gaps were this was actually enjoyable. With Milo’s toys, they’re all organised in sets where he can reach them to get them out, and more importantly…PUT THEM AWAY. Which he does about half of the time. It’s not a rule, it’s not a chore, he just notices that he’s run out of space and starts to put things away. It’s freaking awesome.
To this end, the ‘having more space to play’ end, I moved his room around.I didn’t mention it, but a couple of months ago we got the little man a toddler bed. We had been searching for this elusive ‘perfect bed’ for months, and weren’t sure that he was 100% ready, but when a nice enough bed came up with a brand new mattress for £15? Yep. So, he hasn’t fallen out, he can get in and out by himself without any problems. As he hasn’t had crib bars since he was 11 months, the ‘freedom’ thing wasn’t an issue either. He just stays in bed.
MUCH better. The rug is still strategically placed. When he pulls toys out of the cupboard…they hit the rug and not the floor. Inside the cupboard looks like this, 99% of the time.
Because he knows where everything is, he just helps himself. Things are static, they don’t really move around. If he’s focussing on a particular schema, we’ll tend to have those toys in the living room on his table to work on, but it all comes back here eventually. I also made a new duvet cover. I love Swiss crosses SO MUCH.
Oh room, we’ve come a long way. I hope I can keep the evolution going and always meet the little one’s needs.
Five days of KonMari. It’s been pretty intense. Marie Kondo suggests that the Tidying should be done ‘quickly’, which in her world means around six months. I can’t see how that would have worked for us, as I think we just would have been tidying round in circles. That being said, we still need to do the powertools/DIY supplies, and it’ll take a little bit longer to learn where everything wants to live, but taking a week off work and doing a thorough, intense Tidy was definitely a smart move for me.
What have I learned about the process? There have been some things that have surprised me along the way:
It took much longer than I expected
The things that took the time weren’t what I expected
I actually had less stuff than I thought
On my mental to-do list, I thought I would get through the categories much quicker than I did – It took nearly a whole day to do my clothes, and another day to deal with arts and crafts. The traditionally difficult category of ‘sentiment’ took me an hour and a half. I guess everyone’s different, and I personally found the logical categories harder than the sentimental categories. Does this spark joy? No. It’s a cable. I guess my beloved iThings spark joy of a sort, and without their cables they’re useless, so there’s joy in the equation somewhere.
The flat feels different. It’s not just that it’s tidy-really tidy-but there’s something else. It seems like there’s balance. There’s a practicality to it – I know where things are, and it’s not a fight to find the things I need when I need them. I know that cupboards and drawers aren’t stuffed to bursting, and I know that there’s nothing I don’t need or love. How could that fail to bring happiness into a home?
I’ve bought two things this weekend, and they both filled a need and were well considered. Firstly, I found that we only had one Mario Kart Wiimote wheel, so one of us always has to awkwardly hold the controller. I like Mario Kart, even if it does make me a bit sweary, so having two wheels makes sense. Secondly, I bought a new pair of grey jeans. In my wardrobe purge I felt almost total joy through my grey (maternity) jeans. If only they were non-maternity! Oh wait…they TOTALLY make grey jeans for people that aren’t pregnant. Simple.
We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks, but for now all is well. There’s absolute joy in the flat right now, and hopefully I’ll develop mindfulness when shopping, too. Verdict on KonMari? Yes. It works for me.
Day four of the KonMari has been something of a rest day for us. Mr E’s been tied up in the bathroom plumbing and building a new bath surround, and I’ve been able to spend the day with the little man. While he was napping, though, I managed to sneak in a category out of order. Photographs and sentiment are usually left until last, but as I had some time, and I can’t do the final two categories (electronics and powertools) until tomorrow, I thought ‘why not’?!
I’m pretty good with this kind of thing, so there wasn’t a great deal to go through – although I haven’t even contemplated my digital photos…-but there was still some pretty potent stuff in there, and it was nice to just keep the joyful memories.
Tomorrow there’s just two categories remaining, and they’re logical rather than emotional – electronics and powertools. We also need to do more tip runs, charity shop runs and dropping some things back to their rightful homes. Once that’s all done and the house can breathe, it’ll be time to put everything away. At this point, it looks like there’s more than enough room for everything to have a home, which is something that I honestly didn’t think would be an option. I’ll do a big clean tomorrow and let the fresh air blast through, and wake up on Saturday feeling fresh and clear. Stay tuned for the mop up and final thoughts!
Today has been a long day. Quite aside from the KonMari, my tumble dryer broke this morning so I had to make an emergency run to pick up an airer lest my laundry be stranded and soggy. I also had a two hour journey to pick up Milo this afternoon, so there was a fair bit of time lost…
The kitchen was done today as well, and I realised that I had mismatched plates from five different ranges stashed in ever more ingenious hiding places in my kitchen. Also, did you know that edible lustre dust has an expiry date? I didn’t. I haven’t even tried to take any after pictures of the kitchen because as I was taking the rubbish out, this happened:
And I kind of gave up.
Day two of my KonMari journey is over, and I’m shattered. Luckily we’ve got a two day straight without Milo as he’s having a sleepover with his grandfolks. For Mark that’s meant that he’s been able to pull the bath off the wall and replace the taps, and also fix a leak that we’ve had for a while. The new tap TOTALLY looks like a cylon though. This meant that Mark’s been tucked neatly away in the bathroom while I go to town on my stuff. The komono categories are likely to be different for everyone, and cover a lot of miscellany. For me today, that meant:
That’s a full filing box, a regular box, a carrier bag and a pile. Goshums.
Mortgage papers and house deeds, driving licences, marriage and birth certificates and bits and bobs. So much is on-line and paperless now, there’s little need for actual paperwork, do almost all of it went.
My arts and crafts piles before:
This one took me far too long, maybe five hours in total. I split it into arts and crafts, and textiles. I got into a real mess sorting things out though. I snapped an in-progress shot…
Arts and Crafts before:
OHMYGOSH so many pens:
It felt good to sort the pens out. I went through a lot of pencils until I found ones that I loved. I kept the ones that I loved, and the ones I didn’t went. It was as simple as that.
Pens and pencils after:
Total arts and crafts after:
It’s been an interesting day. Our KonMari journey started with apprehension and frustration, as although Mr E was totally on board, he hasn’t actually read ‘The Life-Changing art of Tidying’ and my explanations were a little bit…crap. We got there in the end though, and managed to work our way through:
Clothes (his, hers and the kid’s)
Oh. I thought there was more. Well, that’s not an entirely fair estimate, as we did actually spent quite a while emptying the storage nooks and cupboards and sorting stuff into the relevant categories. This was surprisingly challenging. Usually I would discard as I emptied, binbag in hand, but I had to resist the urge and just focus all my energies on EMPTYING, knowing that the sorting came later. This freed me to go on autopilot, in which I could just put something in the right place – arts and craft, bathroom, tools… And that’s sort of where we are this evening. There are boxes and piles of pre-sorted stuff everywhere – well, everywhere that a toddler can’t reach.
I think for us, the remaining categories will be:
Cables, leads and electrical
Arts and crafts*
DVDs and physical media**
*Arts and crafts could get interesting, as my hobby seems to be collecting pastimes. I’ve got everything from knitting and crochet, modelling clay, fabric paint, haberdashery, some serious pencillage, to origami papers and papercraft. I guess I’ll find some kind of order somehow.
**DVDs and physical media should be fairly light touch. Since we Music Magpied almost everything we owned not long ago, we haven’t really gained anything new. Some collector’s edition Blu Rays and that’s about it.
So, Here’s what it really looks like to confront your hidden life and discern whether it brings you joy, in the form of my clothes:
The ‘Joy’ thing was pretty easy for me. There really was a feeling when holding each thing, and it was so nice to have the question framed in my mind as ‘do I want to keep this’ rather than ‘should I throw this away?’. I reduced my total number of clothes to 81 pieces. – including gym clothes, night clothes, underwear, coats, bags and shoes – in short, everything. Discounting the undies and specific clothes, my capsule wardrobe kind of created itself. It’s now my Joy wardrobe, and it’s 63% smaller than it was this morning.
I learned that most of my clothes are beige, blue, grey and black, and that’s OK. I’m digging floaty tops at the moment, and I previously owned far too many scarves. This was down to the mistaken belief that I’d be uncomfortable with public breastfeeding. I totally wasn’t.
I think we said goodbye (literally; read the book) to about 12 bags today, across rubbish, recycling and the clothes bank. There was a full bag of miniature shampoos and shower gels, and expensive moisturisers that I turned out to be allergic to. Razor blades with missing handles, and handles that you can’t buy the blades for any more. It felt good.
With day one over, and much gone already, I’m starting to imagine what this will feel like once we’re done. The wardrobe is an excellent place to start, and it’s no accident that it’s the first category. Getting dressed is often the first ‘chore’ of the day, and knowing where everything is seems like a good way to get into a great head-space for the day. Let’s see what tomorrow brings, with books and paperwork and arts and crafts…
My KonMari adventure is drawing nearer, and I’m genuinely excited about the journey I’m about to take. I’m looking forward the a feeling or ordered calm and actually being able to find things when I need them. I’m also perversely looking forward to the capsule wardrobe challenge, I think it’s going to be tough to thin it out, but then so worth it when every morning I can get dressed without thinking, or fighting my overfull wardrobe only to find that the thing I’m looking for is creased to buggery.
Thanks to the wonders of Pinterest, I’ve been able to find a few pictures that spark that excitement a little further, and I wanted to share them. Next week I’m hoping to be able to post some before and afters of my freshly KonMari’d space, but for now, here’s my inspiration…
This is the Mandal bed from Ikea, and I love it, and all its promises of orderly drawers. What they look like at the moment though is shameful. This is a reminder of what we could have won.
And of course, my capsule wardrobe inspiration, courtesy of un-fancy.
See you at the starting line!
My favorite book of all time is probably V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. (The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy doesn’t count because it was originally a radio show, and technically the books were a spin off…) There’s a line in the book that’s been floating around in my head for a while now, where Evey says to V something along the lines of “I just wanted to get rid of anything that wasn’t necessary. Do you ever feel like that?” V’s response is simply “All the time”, but then he goes off on a murdering spree…so maybe not the best role model.
All this to say, I do feel like I own a lot of things that aren’t absolutely necessary. I picked up a book called ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo, and the methods noted really resonate with me. Kondo talks about the emotional bond we have with our stuff, and how sometimes we keep things long after they’ve served their purpose. For example, we may have kept a pair of jeans that are too small for six years in the mistaken belief that they’ll fit us one day. The purpose these jeans have served is to teach us that we don’t have the time/effort to slim down, and maybe we should live in the now and buy bigger jeans? Read the book. It’s a fiver on Kindle. You may agree, you may want to throw something. For me, it makes sense.
Mr E and I have some time off work coming up, with Milo at nursery, so I’ll be Tidying (capital T) and he’ll he tiling (lower case t), and finishing off some niggling DIY jobs. The reason I’ve committed these facts to the national record that is the Internet, is to introduce accountability into the equation. See.I have to do it now, because I said I was going to. I’m curious to see exactly what I end up keeping, and what truly sparks joy in my soul. I’m most looking forward to my wardrobe, which I’ve combined with a personal challenge; following much research I’m going to take the plunge into Capsule Wardrobe Land. My aim is a true 37 versatile piece capsule, with edits each season. We’ll see how that goes, but expect to see the odd post about that little foolish endeavour soon…
Once upon a time, I put a little thought into what I wore. I chose my clothes with care based on how they made me feel. Baggy jeans, cute retro gamer tees and cardigans were my jam. These days I’m all about the skinny jeans (they don’t drag in puddles), strappy vests (easy to change) and cardigans (Cardigans are the best). I don’t pay too much mind to what I’m wearing as long as it’s comfortable, functional and clean (ish). Milo on the other hand, is a different story. I choose his outfits each night from a well ordered closet. I make sure his socks match his dribble bib. I guess I’m hoping that the cute toddler giggling beside me will take any attention away from me.
I had a rare opportunity to hit up the shops alone this morning. I went out with the sole intention of buying chocolate, and I ended up in Zara. I’ve never been into Zara before, but I came across their kid’s range after finding some joggers on eBay. OHMYGOSH. The joggers were soft and comfortable and roomy in the derriere. Perfect for cloth bummers…. Anyway. My trip to Zara today did not disappoint. I could have come away minus some serious greenback, but I managed to hold it together and only bought 4 things. I did, however, put together a wish list….
1 Cashmere Knit Cardigan
2 Bear sweatshirt
3 Basic button collar sweater
4 Organic cotton Striped t shirt in grey
5 Organic cotton Striped t shirt in white
6 Plain white buttoned t shirt
7 Red checked shirt (I bought this!)
8 Blue nehru collar shirt
9 Grey jogging bottoms
10 Geometric print leggings (I bought these!)
11 Ribbed jeans
13 Fleecy grey coat (I bought this!)
14 Knitted infinity scarf (I bought this!!!)
15 School backpack
16 Classic leather plimsoles
For now, I’m content with what we have…
It’s been a while since I gave you all a peek into what I feed Milo. I’ve been trying to make balanced lunches for the little man, with tastes of food from all over the world. Luckily, he hasn’t settled into a fussy eating stage, and he eats pretty much anything.
here’s today’s lunch.
He’s had lots of snacks this morning – he has breadsticks, apple slices with peanut butter and raisins. He’ll probably have a yogurt after his lunch, too. Sometimes he just has sandwiches, PB&J or cheese spread or something, but I tend to use a circle cutter to make them a bit more interesting. I like to mix it up, he’s had a smoresbrod before too, with salmon, egg and prawns on rye crispbread. Yummers!
The late summer Bank Holiday always takes me by surprise. It always comes just when I think that summer is over and we’re officially heading into Autumn. (Which, according to the Pagan wheel of the year, we are.) The days certainly seem a little shorter, a little soggier, and a little crisper, but that’s A-OK. I love Autumn.
We certainly made the most of the long weekend here…
1. We all went to ‘Lo’s swimming summer school
2&3. An ace time at a local country park. Milo loves to swing, and he’s getting good at sharing.
4. Dancing to the Smiths after breakfast is an EXCELLENT way to start the day.
5. Zoo selfies in the rain.
6. Homemade Milo-sized pizza with salad and olives. SO tasty.
I’m starting to feel the sunshine get weaker and the wind get just a little bit colder. It’s September tomorrow, which has taken us all by surprise. Time to make the most of the last summer days, and pick up a puddle suit. After all, there’s actually no such thing as bad weather. Just bad clothes.
I read quite a few American home and lifestyle blogs. It just so happens that my design sensibilities align to select individuals across the pond. Usually this poses no problem. I mentally convert closet to cupboard, and faucet to tap, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that for most U.S. urbanites, a ‘small’ living room is probably bigger than my entire flat. (I’m discounting Brooklyn here, some of those places really are small.)
The one area that I struggle with though, is ‘thrifting’. It’s hard to translate that one. Thrift store becomes charity shop, garage sale equates to car boot sale, and flea market? I guess jumble sale. It can be hard to get excited about any of those things. I know there are people who get up as the ass crack of dawn every Sunday to hit up a car boot sale. Frankly, I’m not that dedicated.
There is one charity shop that keeps me interested though. It’s a British Heart FoundTion furniture shop and if you’re lucky, you can find a gem or two buried under the 90’s mass produced crap. Case in point, my beautiful mid-century teak sideboard. So, when Mr E called to say he’s picked up a headboard on Thursday, I was a little excited.
Mr E is kind of Brilliant at ‘British Thrifting’ or ‘Brifting’ as I’ll never say again, and our bed has been without a headboard for two years. It’s a little thing, but it bothers me. I was so pleased when he pulled said headboard out of the car. Boom.
Look at that. All teak and curved and sexy. I know it’s a first world problem to be bothered by a lack of headboard, but my life does feel a little bit more complete now. Perhaps one day I’ll be a successful adult after all.
I am lucky enough to spend two days a week alone with my little man. I work three days a week, and he spends two days at nursery and one day with grandparents. It works for us. I get my independance and time to be with other adults and do a job I love, Milo gets to spend time with other kiddos in an environment that’s created entirely for him. win/win.
Milo’s changed so much recently, and he’s starting to be interested in different things at home. I can’t just sit on the floor and play with him all day any more, we need a bit more structure. Pinterest can provide a wealth of ideas but it all seems a bit random. I decided to put together a list of activities to do together based on the alphabet – every day has a different ‘theme’. Some days it’s just an activity, and (hopefully) other days will be more involved and full on – I also hope to arrange some play dates with Lo’s buddies on some of the more interesting days.
So far we’re a week in, and we’ve done ANIMALS and BAKING. Baking was my favorite of the week. We weren’t just pretending, we actually made chocolate rice crispie cakes.
Hopefully we’ve got some fun ahead. I’m pretty lucky where I live – I’ve got parks and lakes and playgrounds and soft play all within walking distance. There’s a lot to do. It’s been pretty hot the last few days here, and I’ve been trying to keep out of the sun, which means indoor activities are the way to go. Next week we’ve got COLOUR and DANCE to look forward to!
I totally believe that our kids are a lot more capable than we give them credit for. This is an idea embraced by Montessori teaching, and it’s catching on. Milo is 14 months old now, and starting to get really involved in the world around him. We’re trying to encourage this and keep him safe as he figures out how he fits into the world. We built him a floor bed and now he gets up quite happily most mornings and plays. He loves wiping the table after meals, and today I was brave enough to let him help cook. (Pic 23/52. Where IS the year going?)
Boom. Scrambled eggs. I love the idea of helper towers for the kitchen, but there is no room in the kitchen to store one, or anywhere else in the flat for that matter. We’re going to get an Ikea Bekvam stool, and with help he can then stand up at the kitchen counters, and also at the sink to wash his hands. For now though we’re going old school and…
…Standing on a chair. In other news, the light was awesome this afternoon, and I grabbed an iPhone snap of the dining end of the living room.
It’ll be a while before I’m passing down my recipe book, but for now I’m happy to let the little man stir his own scrambled eggs.
I’m a bit of a science fiction fan, and a massive comedy fan, and I love it when the two come together. Red Dwarf was, in my book, a huge success when it comes to combining the two, and has served me with many hours of pleasant distractions, and been re-watched many times. In the episode ‘DNA’ Kryten (a mechanoid) becomes human and it’s hilarious. At the beginning of his journey, he discusses a list of observations about his new form with the ships only human occupant, Dave. It goes something like this:
Kryten: Ah yes, now, I wanted to talk to you about something. Something about, um, well, something I know we humans get a little embarrassed about. It’s a bit of a taboo subject – not the sort of thing we like to sit around and chat about in polite conversation.
Dave: Kryten, I’m an enlightened twenty-third century guy. Spit it out, man.
Kryten: Well, I want to talk to you about my penis.
Now, whenever I find myself starting a conversation with the words ‘I want to talk to you about my…’ I have to try REALLY HARD not to say penis. So. All that said, I want to talk to you about my…pancakes.
I love fluffy American pancakes. I love them with bacon, or blueberries, or lemon soaked raisins, or just tons of maple syrup and butter. I like to think that I’ve got pretty good at them over the years, and I’m frightened that one day I’ll lose the recipe. So, for posterity and y’know, friendly neighborhood sharing, here is my go to pancake recipe.
Get These Things
Do These Things
I make my pancakes this way so there’s only one dish to wash up. Usually you add the liquid to the dry ingredients, but NOPE. I use a scale with a zero function, and a large beaker with liquid measurements and a nice spout for pouring the batter.
If I were making blueberry pancakes, I’d stir in fresh or canned fruit before I left the batter to sit. If I were making lemon and raisin, I’d soak the raisins in lemon juice and then stir those in to the batter. Technically, I guess that recipe serves two, with three pancakes each, but often I eat it all by myself. I’m such a glutton. #NotSorry.
When we first bought the flat I was pretty clear on what kind of lights I wanted in the living and dining areas. Industrial! Multi-bulb! Coloured flex! And that worked over the dining room table. The living space was a different story. Just for shits and giggles, allow me to remind you of what was there.Not really my cup of tea. Fun fact: The light fixtures aren’t aligned to, well, anything. Not to the walls, not to the window and certainly not to each other. Our answer was to put in a single drop pendant, Ikea’s fanciest £3 paper shade and worry about it later. Two years later it turns out. I always thought a Kartell FL/Y would look awesome in the living room, but then I stressed over whether non matching lights would work in such a small space. (Incidentally, the answer is NO.) Thanks to some diligent eBaying by Mr E, we bought three FL/Ys. One green, one orange, which arrived smashed to buggery, and one blue.
Beautiful. Sure they get dusty pretty quick, but they’re so light and bright. They really do throw light everywhere. We’re currently using Ikea low energy globe bulbs, which are pretty bright and have a nice warm colour temperature.
I know I’ve been a bit lax on the kiddo front lately, life’s been oh-so-hectic. For those playing along at home, my new job is going really well, I’m loving being part time, and the fact that I’m writing and designing for a huge company is so…satisfying. All that to say, Milo is 13 months old already. We had a little party on his birthday with cake and buddies, but nothing over the top. He’s got teeth now and everything. Six of ’em.
Let’s see what this weekend brings.
Hey guys, I submitted my shoebox flat to the AT small cool contest and we made it into the contest. There are some really great little spaces, and we fit into the ‘international’ category. If we were in America, we would fit into the ‘tiny’ category, and I like that.
I have a problem with Religious holidays in the UK. I know we live in a ‘Christian’ country and I think it’s great that we get ‘free’ days off work and all, but I find the Religious bit tricky. I’m sure that most of the UK don’t consider themselves particularly Christian-I see more cars in the car park at the swimming pool than the church on a Sunday. That’s awesome-Sundays have shorter trading hours and families are encouraged to spend time together, rather than expected to go to church. I don’t have a problem with church or Christianity of any flavour, by the way, and if you let me do my thing, then I’ll fight for your right to do yours.
The problem I have is that the Bank Holiday system in the UK is based on Religious dates. Today is Good Friday, which is something to do with that Jesus. Sunday is Easter and then there’s another Bank Holiday on Monday for some reason. I’m Pagan by default, and celebrate the changing of the seasons rather than anything to do with any Prophet or Deity. I don’t really celebrate Easter. I don’t really celebrate Mother’s day. I do however, partake in the Spring festival of Oestra, which is a bit of both. For my first Oestra as a mama, we started what will hopefully become a family tradition. We headed out to our local independent record store, swapped shiny new money for dusty old vinyl, went home and danced all afternoon. We ate chocolate and looked at birds and were grateful for both our family and our ability to have a family. None of this involved overpriced flowers, cards with twee sentiment or chocolate eggs.
There is a ‘summer’ Holiday in the UK at some point, and that’s secular as far as I can tell. I know that holidays are all historic and based in the industrial revolution, but I end up having far too many conversations about ‘what I did for Easter’, as it’s just so ingrained that we will celebrate. The other problem is that the dates of Easter and Mother’s Day MOVE each year, and Oestra doesn’t really (FYI kids, it’s the Spring Equinox, around March 21st). That means I often end up taking holiday to celebrate the festivals that matter to me. Sigh. It’s a First World Problem, I know. I just felt particularly ranty about it this afternoon.
Here are some pictures of my kid to cheer things up.
All Milo wants to do lately is read. It’s awesome.
Milo’s first time on a boat. I was petrified. He loved it.
Milo’s really looking like his Daddy these days.