Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Earworm Wednesday: Iron and Wine

On Monday, I will be crossing a band off of my concert list. I'm pumped to see Iron and Wine in our little town of Kalamazoo at my favorite venue, The State Theater.
My favorite Iron and Wine song is The Trapeze Swinger. After searching setlists from this tour, I can see that my chances of hearing it are hit or miss. Also, some of the setlists are crazy short, while others are intense... I hope Samuel Beam is feeling the love from Kalamazoo and that we get a great show... fingers crossed.

In honor of seeing Iron and Wine, here is The Trapeze Swinger, which has been playing on a loop in my mind over the last few days:

In other news, my allergies are KILLING ME. I thought I'd found the perfect combination of allergy meds, but this year the combo isn't as potent as usual. I wonder if you build up a tolerance and should switch it up every few years. If so, this is the time to switch it up. Goldenrod, I shake my fist at you.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Purge Project: The Long Term Wardrobe

My first huge clothing purges are over. The next purge will come six months to a year from now when I see what I've actually worn through every season. After that, I'm hoping that I will never have to do such a crazy clothing purge again!
As of today, I've got twelve hangers flipped #FTW.
Since I flipped the hangers, I've removed a few pieces from the wardrobe because they don't feel like me anymore. Being in a different career than teaching has meant that my style has had to adjust a little.

On the super plus side, getting dressed in the morning takes a lot less time now that I don't have to dig through so many clothes. Plus, they all seem new to me.

I'm working on defining my style. I even took a few style quizzes to see what they said:
This is the one I agreed with, although I don't agree with the "You are what you wear!" statement. The other quiz I took said to wear big silky wide leg pants and flowing tops with lace and embroidery. Maybe when I was spinning in circles at moe shows at the age of nineteen, but not now. 
Having money while I reshape my wardrobe would be amazing, however, no will fund my Pretty Woman shopping spree:
Why you gotta be so rude? Don't you know I need clothes too? 

On that note, I had a fateful moment in the car with All Things Considered on NPR yesterday. I heard a piece about online personal stylists and checked out the site that was being discussed. That's how I found myself taking some time to read the FAQs on Stitch Fix and signing up for a bi-monthly Fix.
This could be good because...
1. I won't be tempted to go shopping and spend way more than I have because I will only have five items to deliberate over instead of a whole department store.
2. I filled out a style profile and connected the stylist to my clothing board on Pinterest. I tried to be as detailed as possible. Will this "stylist" really look it over?
3. It's $20 per fix and the money goes towards any pieces that you purchase. Score.
4. I was complaining about probably never being able to afford a personal stylist and now, maybe I can?

This could be bad because...
1. I'm curvy. It's not a bad thing for me, but it might be bad for my self-esteem if everything that is sent to me doesn't fit. 

My first Fix is coming on October 11th... is this what I've been waiting for? Was my moment with NPR not a sign that I should try Stitch Fix? We shall see.
Click here to check out Stitch Fix, but maybe don't sign up until you see if I've wasted $20. I will post about my first Fix as soon as I get it.

Inspiration for rebuilding and replacing pieces of my wardrobe:
On building a grown up wardrobe: aj wears clothes
On the idea of a French wardrobe: The Urban List

Inspiration for being picky and further paring down the wardrobe:
On contentment and a happy closet: Pink Ronnie

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Purge Project: Office Makeover Plans

My office is a blank canvas now and I'm looking forward to turning this space into one that I actually want to hang out in.

I'm looking to do five things to this space to make it my new hang out spot:
1. Find a spot for my owl collection. I've been collecting owls for years-- I think it started with the weird macramé owl that hung in my brother's room when we were growing up. Many of them are vintage, were gifts from family, or came from all over the world:

2. Hang some pictures on the walls, in particular...
The green and black Radiohead print pictured above from their 2012 tour.
This Death Cab for Cutie print from their tour with the Magic Magic Orchestra in 2013:

This Radiohead print from their 2008 tour:

My favorite concert poster...this Modest Mouse print from their 2006 stop in Kalamazoo:
This placemat from Cafe des Deux Moulins in Paris:
 In 2010 we stopped there after the research project in Dakar. I made my colleagues go to every location that could be found from the movie Amelie in and around Montmartre, ending with crème brûlée at Cafe des Deux Moulins. I don't know if they loved it, but I loved it!

4. Get a daybed with more storage for the room that can be used as a bench and will double as a guest bed.
IKEA Brimnes
IKEA Hemnes
5. Paint, possibly this weekend!
I found this amazing website with loads of beautiful color schemes-- Design Seeds
These are the options right now:

Accent wall color... definitely don't have a fireplace!
Slowly, but surely, I'll get this room together! Paint is definitely the most affordable change right now. The frames for posters, materials for another bookshelf, and the daybed will come. 

I'm excited... 

Other posts in this series:

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Purge Project Part 3: De-cluttering and Organizing

This has been so much work. 

Besides the other victories expressed in earlier purge posts, in the course of the three weeks I spent purging:
1. I filled the large rolling garbage and recycling bins twice.

2. I only spent $25 on a few small organizers because I had so many empty boxes and containers from the purge.

3. I got rid of every piece of paperwork I didn't need using this advice:
I am left with a huge bag of paperwork that needs to be shredded burned in a campfire. S'mores anyone? 
4. I had no social life. My background noise was provided by the last few seasons of How I Met Your Mother (before the terrible ending) and the Parenthood. Friends reading this, now you know why we couldn't hang out.

5. I found $75 in random gift cards. Score!

and finally...

6. I tackled the bookshelves:
Bookshelf One Before
Bookshelves Two and Three Before
I'm down from three bookshelves to just one. The tall one is now holding records in the basement. The short one is going into the guest room and will replace a cheap particle board cabinet.

I will keep the square bookshelf forever. The Hubs made it for me one Christmas and it is one of my favorite gifts of all time. The shelf is too full, but I'm a reader and--like keeping my Converse and T-shirts--I'm not going to compromise my love of books. So many people have said, "Just get an eReader!" Come on people. I have a Nook, but I still like the smell of books. I also can't read to learn without writing in my books-- I don't care if there is a way to take notes in eBooks.

I went through all of my books at least three times, but it was tougher to purge the books than the clothes because I have memories attached to so many of them. That said, I did purge a giant IKEA bag full of books. This bag of donations went to a teacher friend and then the Three Rivers Free Store. 


Next up... the plan for this room and my wardrobe.

Other posts in this series:

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

What I'm Not Doing...

I am still awake at 12:29am the night before school starts. I'm leaving for a work trip tomorrow and I'm still not packed, but I'm feeling seriously excited about the future.

I don't have to have a first day of school tomorrow for the first time in my adult life. I'm not going to lie and say I didn't feel a little nostalgic, especially when I looked back to my very first blog post from 2006.

I loved teaching, but not the anxiety of the the month/week/day/hours before school started.

This weekend, I didn't...

  • Go into my classroom to ensure it looks absolutely perfect
  • Redo my syllabus after finding one error that no one would really notice, but I know they would notice because students LOVE to correct their teachers
  • Make my lunch
  • Pick out my first day of school outfit
  • Wake up after anxiety dreams in which I wasn't prepared
  • Make seating charts
  • Lesson plan 
  • Worry about my to-do list
  • Make other to-do lists
  • Look at my class lists for siblings of students I've had in the past or students I've had in the past
  • Have to leave my end of summer weekend up north early because I wanted to get home so I could mentally prepare myself for the first day of school
I'm so relieved. 

I'll be back to blogging about The Purge next week!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Purge Project Part 2: The Hot Mess Express

 I've always loved clothes. For as long as I can remember, I've been into dressing up, fashion trends, and experimenting with fashion. As a kid, I got yelled at for using all of the tape and newspapers in the house to make paper dresses. 
Matching visor, shorts, and socks? Pink My Little Pony purse? Plaid skirt with bows?
Pulling. It. Off.

In high school, I tore through the Salvation Army and thrift stores searching for one-of-a-kind pieces. I even looked into the Savannah College of Art and Design for fashion design, but it was too expensive. I don't love all of my past fashion choices, but I've loved trying it all!
Let's just NOT talk about vests. 
When I was a teacher, my favorite compliments about my clothes were, "Oh, Ms. H! My daughter stops by your room every day just to see what you're wearing. She loves your style!"
"Ms. H, I act better in your class 'cuz you dress like you care."
and even
"Ms H. you look like a JCPenny catalog lady today." (I responded with, "Thanks?" The kid said it was a compliment. I'll take it.)

My love of fashion was instilled in me at a young age by my beautiful mother, who has always looked flawless. I would spend hours trying on her dresses, shoes, and jewelry. Good thing I got to play with her clothes when I was young, because I quickly trumped her tiny Filipina size by the end of fifth grade.
Wilma makes late 80s fashion look damn good. I don't know if I ever have or will look that good.
I just wanted to give excuses a little background about how I got to be a clothes hoarder. It's my mom's fault! 
No it's not. It's mine. 
Now. The second clothing purge:
The Hubs was out of town for this explosion of stuff that spread throughout the house. He would NOT have been a happy camper if he'd stayed around that weekend. 
After the first purge, I took every piece of clothing and pair of shoes that was left and put it in a pile:
I'm about a third of the way through the pile in this picture. Hannah is helping. 
Then I tried on every piece of clothing that I didn't 100% love. 
The piles of clothes in these pictures are the rejects.

I gained some new insight into myself as I spent 3+ hours trying on every piece of clothing I owned:
1. My body has changed since became more athletic.
Swimming has made the shape of my shoulders thicker 
Biking has made the shape of my legs different. 
None of the clothes that I was holding onto for when I finally "got to my goal weight" would even fit me if I ever reached said goal weight. I mean, I looked like the Hulk in some of my old shirts. 
Plus, if we ever have kids my body will probably change again and I will really never, ever fit into those goal weight clothes. 
They had to go. 

2. Blazers just don't look very good on me. It's time to invest in a really, really nice suit or let go of blazers all together. 
The pile of ill-fitting and cheap blazers from my first days of teaching had to go. 

3. I'm tall-- DUH. How about I stop buying pants that aren't made for tall people? 
The pants that I had to pull down every time I stood up had to go.

4. When you have big boobs, you just can't get shirts with high collars that cover your collar bone. It's not a good look. I can't explain it and I don't want to post a picture because I'm already doing enough revealing of my insecurities by posting the before pictures of my junk room. Let's just say the result of a high collared shirt on a busty gal is a mix of frumpy and saggy. 
Those shirts had to go. 

5. On the big boobs thing... button down shirts don't work and I don't know if they ever will. I need to let go of the idea that button down shirts=professionalism unless I want to invest in a more expensive button down shirt made just for busty gals. 
If I had to safety pin the big boob gap it had to go. 
6. I used to be so proud of saying, "This shirt was only $5!" or "This is designer and it was only $25!" Then I realized that I still had some of those $5 shirts with tags still on them buried in a pile of other $5 and $25 pieces of clothes that were quickly coming apart and/or didn't look good on me. Just because it's cheap or on clearance doesn't mean I have to buy it. Lesson learned, especially when I had the evidence in a hot mess of piles all around me. 
The cheap clothes that didn't look very good on me had to go.

The biggest lesson learned after trying on all of those clothes:
Buy clothes I love that look really, really good on me-- even if they cost a little more, even if they're not on the clearance rack, even if I could get ten $5 shirts for the cost of one good quality shirt that looks good on me and will last for longer than two washes.

Here is the end result of the second purge:
Just like after the first purge, I say seventy pieces of clothing when that was just what was coming off of hangers. It was probably closer to another hundred pieces of clothing and pairs of shoes (plus other random books and trinkets), which brings the grand total of clothing and shoes from my closet purge to something like...
Part of this load went to Goodwill because it was Sunday and nothing else was open. The rest went to my sisters, mom, 360 Degreesand the Free Store in Three Rivers. 

I've read about the regret people feel after purging so much of what they own. 
I have yet to feel that regret. 

I feel free.

I'll be gone for vacation and a business trip over the next week and half, but when I get back, I'll write about organizing what I had left, which was still a lot, but felt manageable. 

Other posts in this series:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Purge Project Part 1: The Tiny Closet

I was at the beach at the beginning of the month after a few nights of waking up in a panic with nothing to organize when I read this very well-written reflection from Meghan O'Rourke about her closet cleanse from the August issue of Elle Magazine.

"Dude," I said to my beach buddies, "I want two women to come to my house and make me get rid of everything that doesn't fit me well and then go shopping with me to find grown up pieces that make me look awesome." We quickly came to the conclusion that having personal organizers and stylists à la What Not to Wear probably costs thousands of dollars and that Elle Magazine probably paid or helped pay for Meghan O'Rourke to have these ladies help her out in order for her to write her piece about her amazing and life-altering closet cleanse and wardrobe makeover. 
I was inspired to put my need to organize towards my office area, which, in addition to being a junk room, had also become a closet and clothing storage room despite the built-in drawers in our bedroom. 

Step one of the purge was to get rid of some of my clothing, but I didn't know where to start because whenever I looked at the mess that was my junk room, I felt like I was slowly suffocating in quicksand:
So. Many. Clothes. Must. Breathe. Can't. Do. It. Slowly. Suffocating. Under. The. Clothes.
I decided to start small with one wall and a tiny closet. I went through the built-in drawers in our bedroom that I never use, yet were oddly stuffed to capacity with clothes (not pictured), the overstuffed clothing rack in my office (not pictured because it's on the other wall) and the smallest wall of my office that housed a cabinet stuffed with clothes, the small set of drawers stuffed with socks and underwear, and the tiny closet stuffed with shoes, hats, clothes, scarves, and belts:
All aforementioned storage areas were stuffed to the brim.

Before I started this purge, I'd never been able to shut the closet door due to all of the crap hanging on the overstuffed hooks. That's sad. 

My guidelines for getting rid of clothes during this purge depended on my answers to the following questions:
1. Have I worn this in the last two years?
2. Do I like this? 
3. Do I wear this size anymore?
4. Honestly, will I ever wear this size again? 
5. Is this in style? 
6. Do I have memories of this hurting when I wore it? For me, this question applied to shoes, but I guess you could make it work for any piece of clothing, amiright?

I also decided to embrace and love two aspects of my personal style without guilt:
1. I love t-shirts and although they must stand up to the purge, I will keep all of my favorites-- even if they fill up a whole drawer. 
2. I love Converse and although they must stand up to the purge, I will keep all of my favorites-- even if they fill up a whole shoe rack. 

I set aside two piles and ruled that as long as both piles fit into one Rubbermaid storage box, I was allowed to keep them:
1. Big Jen clothes
2. Lil' Jen clothes

When I obsessively and unhealthily lost 50 pounds a five years ago, so many ladies at Weight Watchers were like, "Oh honey, get rid of everything you have that will remind you of your old self! That way you'll have more motivation to keep it off!"
Mmmkay, ladies.
Listen. I did that. And then I gained some weight when I started eating again and I was like, "Where the eff are some pants that fit me?!"

I did get rid of anything size 8 and size 16 because I haven't worn those clothes in more than five years. 
Being a size 8 for a little while was fun, but then I gained weight when I drank water or at more than two M&M's. 
Being a size 16 after knee surgery was not fun. I have stayed away from that size for long enough to know that if I ever need that size again all of the clothes I had will be way out of style. 

I didn't try anything on during this first clothing purge. I just pulled everything out and looked at it.

Here is the end result of the first purge:
It was probably more than seventy pieces of clothing and who knows how many pairs of shoes. I counted seventy-three empty hangers and was left with a few empty drawers. I'd estimate that I actually purged about 100 pieces of clothing and shoes.

I dropped off my first load to 360 Degrees, which is my favorite consignment store. I donated everything they didn't take (which was a lot) to a domestic abuse women's shelter.
Here is the before and after of the Tiny Closet Wall:
1. The tall cabinet is now in our breezeway holding my outdoor workout gear, foam rollers, and winter boots.
2. The set of functional, but ugly drawers is now inside the tiny closet.
3. The Converse shoes are now hanging somewhere more discreet. I also purged one pair, even though I was okay with keeping all of them. 
4. The piles of stuff on top of each storage unit are now sorted and were either purged, tossed, or organized.
Ah, finishing the first wall and seeing the possibilities of the room was and still is a great feeling. 

On Thursday, I'll write about the second clothing purge, which was much harder than the first. 

Other posts in this series:
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