Winter 2017 Capsule Wardrobe

This is probably the most difficult capsule wardrobe I’ve put together so far, probably because I’m in the awkward stage where most pants with buttons and zippers are uncomfortable to wear and I don’t have a baby belly to hold up my maternity pants anymore. I refuse to give into the trend of wearing leggings as pants outside the house. 1) I think I’m too curvy and too short to pull of this trend, 2) I have a spandex allergy which makes finding leggings nearly impossible, and 3) I have a muffin top from two pregnancies which  no one wants to see, except for for Hubby (who will always think I’m beautiful). As the weather has cooled off significantly in the Midwest, this severely limits my options. I hope my body will change/heal more from my c-section as the season goes on so I can go back to my sort of uniform of jeans, a top, and a cardigan.

Here is what I have included in my capsule wardrobe so far, with items in bold carrying over from previous capsule wardrobes:

  1. Striped scarf
  2. Red and blue floral scarf
  3. Cobalt blue silk scarf
  4. Grey cowl scarf
  5. Grey cable hat
  6. Trench coat
  7. Blue winter coat (this is actually the same coat I had last year)
  8. Navy skirt
  9. White skirt with paisley-ish pattern
  10. Dark wash straight leg jean
  11. Dark wash jean
  12. Navy leggings
  13. Navy cardigan
  14. Grey cardigan
  15. Dark grey sweater
  16. Teal 3/4 sleeve sweater
  17. Blue and green plaid shirt
  18. Dark blue button down shirt
  19. Navy and white long-sleeved shirt
  20. Teal long-sleeved shirt
  21. Navy t-shirt (organic cotton)
  22. Navy t-shirt
  23. Grey t-shirt
  24. Navy short-sleeved top with striped detail
  25. Teal top
  26. Navy tiered tank
  27. Navy belt
  28. Brown boots
  29. Dark blue flats
  30. Black wedges
  31. Grey sneakers

I plan on adding either another pair of pants or another shirt. I may also add in a skirt I have from a previous capsule wardrobe. When I switched over to my maternity clothes, I significantly pared down my wardrobe because some of my clothes didn’t quite fit right or had started pilling. I wanted to start with a good base when I started fitting into non-maternity clothes again.

I will probably swap out my coats for a lighter jacket and a pair of shorts and exchange my sweaters for a sleeveless top toward the end of the season. We can get some warm weather here in March, and I tend to be flexible with my capsule at the beginning and end of the season when the weather changes. This also gives me a chance to try out my wardrobe to make sure everything works well together.

I didn’t include jewelry in this capsule wardrobe, even though I plan on wearing jewelry. It’s very difficult to include this category in the colder months because I need to dedicate so many items to warmth and layering. However, I was able to include my coats this winter, which I couldn’t do last year. I see this as progress in paring down my wardrobe. More than 70% of this capsule wardrobe carried over from previous ones.

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Why I Rarely Comment on Facebook

My Facebook activity has decreased during the past couple of years, especially my commenting on other people’s posts. I have a few good reasons for this:

  1. Fewer notifications. I usually don’t like getting several notifications a day on the same post. There are some exceptions to this: fun pun competitions with my friends, answering questions about life updates (how my boys are doing, our house hunt, etc.), and answering questions about logistics (where to meet, when to meet, etc.).
  2. Avoiding conversation. Sometimes, an introvert just doesn’t want to have a conversation on a Facebook post.
  3. Avoiding confrontation. This one goes along with #2. Facebook has become a politically charged place. People post things to state their opinions or start a conversation and the comments becomes a heated debate. I can easily get caught up in a Facebook debate, which makes me edgy and irritable for days. I have found it is better for my own emotional health to stay out of Facebook debates.

I could go on about the negative aspects of Facebook, but I don’t want to get myself tied up in knots about it. I have thought about deleting my account or taking a break. My husband shut down his Facebook account for a while. He found the experience left him feeling a bit isolated. So, I will end by talking about the benefits of Facebook and why I keep it around.

My family is spread out all over the United States. I have been able to reconnect with some of my far-flung cousins and enjoy seeing what they post about their children, trips, events, etc. Some of my friends have moved back home since college or moved away. So, I’ve been able to keep in contact with them via Facebook. I plan on keeping Facebook.

Favorite Books for Babies and Toddlers

Since we welcomed baby #2 almost one month ago, I wanted to write a quick post about my family’s top 10 favorite books/series for babies and toddlers. As a bookworm, I want to encourage my sons to read. I started reading to my older son when he was just a few months old. My younger son has already heard quite a few stories in his first month of life. Our favorite books, in no particular order, include:

  1. Dinosaur Roar by Paul and Henrietta Stickland. This is the first book my older son showed any interest in because the brightly colored dinosaurs on the white background are easy for infants to see. The book uses dinosaurs to teach opposites. We had to get a second copy because our first one was loved to pieces.
  2. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle. This is another book we have read to pieces because my son requests it so much. It helped my son learn to identify farm animals and the sounds they make.
  3. How do Dinosaurs? series by Jane Yolen. We have several books from this series and have loved most of them. My husband and I have read How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? to put son almost every night for the past two years. He finally got tired of it recently, but he still requests other books in the series. The only book we haven’t liked in the series is How do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? These books contrast bad behavior with good behavior.
  4. Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss. My son originally showed interest in this book because of the cats on every page spread. Recently, he has shown interest in learning the different instruments. This book also teaches counting from 1-10.
  5. Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles. I’m not entirely sure why my toddler likes this book so much. The wording flows nicely. I think the story tries to teach children to enjoy who they are.
  6. The Bear books by Karma Wilson. Bear Snores On is probably the most well-known book in this series. We first learned of the series when we picked up Bear Stays Up For Christmas at my favorite used bookstore (yay Pete & Freddy’s Pages Aplenty). These wonderful books have beautiful illustrations and teach about friendship.
  7. Doggies by Sandra Boyton. This book can get a bit repetitive, but my son loves the different dog noises. It also teaches counting 1-10. Sandra Boyton has written and illustrated other good books. This one just happens to be our current favorite.
  8. Spot series by Eric Hill. Any parent of a ticket has learned to appreciate a good flap book. My son loves these books. They are expensive online, but we have found some at yard sales and such.
  9. Llama llama series by Anna Dewdney. These books are a lot of fun to read. We currently have Llama Llama Misses Mama and Llama Llama Time to Share.
  10. Penguin by Polly Dunbar. This is another book I picked up at our local bookstore. I like the colorful illustrations on the white background. This book teaches kids things don’t airways go they’re way.

Review: Wear No Evil

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Hubby recently picked up a copy of Wear No Evil by Greta Eagan to sell for the book business. Unfortunately, the price wasn’t right for us to make money off of our copy. The book looked interesting, so I ended up reading it this week.

wear-no-evilHere is the synopsis on Amazon: ‘Have you ever wondered, “How can I inherently do good while looking good?” Wear No Evil has the answer, and is the timely handbook for navigating both fashion and ethics. It is the style guide with sustainability built in that we’ve all been waiting for. As a consumer, you regain your power with every purchase to support the causes and conditions you already advocate in other areas of your life (such as local or organic food), while upholding your sense of self through the stylish pieces you use to create your wardrobe.

‘Featuring the Integrity Index (a simplified way of identifying the ethics behind any piece of fashion) and an easy to use rating system, you’ll learn to shop anywhere while building your personal style and supporting your values- all without sacrifice. Fashion is the last frontier in the shift towards conscious living. Wear No Evil provides a roadmap founded in research and experience, coupled with real life style and everyday inspiration.

‘Part 1 presents the hard-hitting facts on why the fashion industry and our shopping habits need a reboot.

‘Part 2 moves you into a closet-cleansing exercise to assess your current wardrobe for eco-friendliness and how to shop green.

‘Part 3 showcases eco-fashion makeovers and a directory of natural beauty recommendations for face, body, hair, nails, and makeup.

‘Style and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. They can live in harmony. It’s time to restart the conversation around fashion—how it is produced, consumed, and discarded—to fit with the world we live in today. Pretty simple, right? It will be, once you’ve read this book.

‘Wear No Evil gives new meaning—and the best answers—to an age-old question: “What should I wear today?”’

Eagan kept part 1 short because most people who pick up her book already know about the problems with the fast fashion industry. Her integrity index gives factors by which to judge whether a clothing purchase is ethical. These factors include: natural/low-impact dyes, natural fibers, organic, fair trade, recycled/upcycled, secondhand, local (country you’re in), social (linked to a cause), zero waste, convertible, vegan, low water footprint, transparent, cradle to cradle (ability to have a second life cycle as clothing), slow fashion, and style. Since finding a piece of clothing which matches all 16 factors would be nearly impossible, Eagan also came up with the diamond diagram.

The diamond diagram is shaped like a baseball diamond where style always takes the home plate position. Style always takes the first position because if a person doesn’t like the style of the garment, that person is not going to wear it very often. The rest of the diamond is filled in with what the shopper considers the most important factors. Eagan also encourages her readers to have a reserve factor. These 3-4 factors can be arranged in any order on the diamond. In order for a purchase to be considered ethical, it must meet the style factor and one other. My diamond diagram includes: style, natural fibers, secondhand, organic, and fair trade or local.

I really enjoyed this book because Eagan included eco-friendly brands in various price ranges. She put together sample outfits for various occasions (dates, job interviews, weddings, cocktail parties, etc.) and included the brands for these outfits. Eagan included brands for pretty much every category from pants to shirts to jewelry to makeup to skin care products. The book also includes a chapter for men, who usually get left out of books targeted for ethical fashion.

Eagan does focuses entirely on fashion. She does not have a capsule wardrobe, nor does she write about them in her book. Although, she does include a short section about doing an initial closet decluttering. This is one area where I find her system lacking. I think one of the best ways to be eco-friendly is to own fewer clothes. Some of the wardrobe basics Eagan suggests also don’t apply to my stay at home mom lifestyle.

While I purchase the majority of my clothes secondhand, some ethical brands I have purchased/want to purchase from include:

  • Ten Thousand Villages: fair trade, usually natural or recycled materials, supports artisans in developing countries (purchased jewelry, coin purse would repurchase from this brand)
  • Changnoi: fair trade from Thailand, uses handwoven materials from local tribes, hand sewn & embroidered products (purchased crossbody bag via Amazon would repurchase)
  • Econscious: sustainable fabrics, certified organic cotton (purchased basic tee via Amazon want to order more)
  • Fair Indigo: fair trade, some USA made products, some recycled products, some organic cotton products, some vegan products (purchased OkaB shoes via Amazon, want to purchase 100% cotton jeans and cardigan)
  • thehungersite: fair trade, portion of purchase goes toward providing food in third world countries (purchased a top, jewelry would repurchase)

2016 Reading Challenge: October

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Confession: I didn’t actually read a book for this month’s category. One of my friends chose “a book you have previously abandoned.” Since I had expected to welcome baby #2 by now, I did not really feel up to picking up a book I had abandoned. I usually give up on a book for good reasons. I did almost give up on finishing Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo at the beginning of October. I picked it up out of curiosity at a book sale because I have seen things about it pop up on the internet.

Here is Amazon’s description: “It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry — and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.”

I think I lost interest in it because some things just hit a little too close to home for me. My parents separated, divorced, and remarried during my elementary school years. In the book, Flora’s parents are also divorced in the book. It just reminded me too much of a time in my life I don’t like to dwell on, but I managed to push through and finish the book.

Books my friends chose include:

  • The Orphean Passages by Walter Wangerin
  • Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

A Year of Capsule Wardrobes

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I just realized I have dressed with a capsule wardrobe for more than a year now. I started this journey last fall after researching capsule wardrobes. I originally intended to use capsule wardrobes to further discover my style and minimize my closet. While I did accomplish this goal to some degree, I feel like I still have more to do in these areas. The limited availability of maternity clothes contributed to this immensely. I also think my body will change yet again after I have this baby.

Here are some things I did learn:

  • I don’t really like the way infinity scarves look on me. I think they make my face look rounder and my torso shorter.
  • I prefer cardigans to sweaters.
  • I really like the way grey pants look on me. In desperation, I bought a pair of grey maternity pants at the thrift store and discovered I really like them.
  • I don’t like black clothes. They don’t really work for my skin tone and coloring.
  • It’s hard to find a good pair of navy or grey shoes. Most shoes come in black or brown, which makes finding shoes to match the clothes in my capsules difficult.
  • I like fall/winter clothes much more than summer clothes. I like the darker colors, scarves, and cardigans. (I have a hard time resisting the urge to buy scarves and cardigans at garage sales and thrift stores.)

Goals for the next year:

  • Pare down my wardrobe to the point where I can include jewelry in my fall and winter capsule wardrobes.
  • Support more ethical and sustainable brands.
  • Make more mindful purchases for my capsules. (I usually buy something close to what I want at the thrift store because of the cheap price. Then, I end up donating it a couple of months later. This prevents me from investing in the higher quality items I actually want.)

2016 Reading Challenge: September

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Last week was banned books week, so I chose banned books for this month’s category. I also got to choose the book for September’s meeting for the large book club I’m in. Everyone reads the same book for that club. I chose Fahrenheit 451 for everyone to read. Since three out of the four other people participating in the Reading Challenge are in the same book club, most of us read the same book.

451Here is the book synopsis on Amazon: “Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

“Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

“When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.”

I read this book for the second time for this category. In some ways, the book reflects the time it was written: almost everyone smokes cigarettes, women stay home while men work, the popularity of the beetle, etc. However, I think Bradbury’s warning about technology replacing meaningful relationships remains relevant to today’s culture. Bradbury also purposefully made most of his shallow and lacking in dimension. They are meant to represent ideas and things rather than real people. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

What I Packed in My Hospital Bags

Baby #2 is due to arrive sometime in the next month. Since I like to plan ahead, I have already packed my bags for the big event. I plan on taking two bags with me to the hospital: one for the baby and one for hubby and me to share. This time around, hubby will probably spend more time at home with our older child and not all of his time at the hospital. He won’t need as much as he did with our first child.

Baby’s bag:

  • Fox hat
  • Blue hat
  • Lightweight swaddle
  • Fleece swaddle
  • Light sleeper (newborn)
  • Fleece sleeper (0-3 months)
  • Receiving blanket
  • Big brother present
  • Little brother present

The weather can be a little unpredictable at this time of year in the Midwest, so I packed one set of things for warmer weather and one set for cold weather. I also have a car seat cover I will keep in the car in case we need it for the ride home. I decided to include presents for the boys to exchange when they meet for the first time. My hospital provides diapers, wipes, clothes, etc. for the duration of our stay, so I only needed to pack things for the trip home.

Carry-on bag:

  • Change of clothes for hubby
  • Travel deodorant for hubby
  • Snacks for hubby
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Going home outfit for me
  • Hair brush
  • Comb
  • Deodorant
  • Chapstick
  • Nursing pads
  • Slippers (hospital floors are gross, and I want something I can slip on and off)
  • Tablet (loaded with ebooks)
  • Camera & charger
  • Phone charger
  • Liquid stool softener

My hospital provides most toiletry items, so I don’t need to pack much. The liquid stool softener is completely optional. I have a hard time swallowing pills, and the hospital didn’t have a liquid option for me last time around. I decided to pack my own. I also didn’t like the hospital socks last time around. They made my feet way too hot. My hospital does not provide meals for hubby, so I packed him some snacks to have while at the hospital. I will also grab my boppy to take along to the hospital. Since my chances of having another c-section are 50/50, I really wanted to have a nursing pillow to take with me to the hospital. This helps keep the baby from putting pressure on my incision. It has also been a little while since I have had to hold a baby for long stretches of time.

I could have fit everything in one bag. In fact, I currently have baby’s bag inside my carry on. I wanted to make sure I had room for the things the hospital will send home with me (such as an open package of diapers, wipes, leftover pads, etc.) This is all I have decided to pack in my bags. Let me know if you think I forgot anything important. As I said before, my hospital is great about providing most things I will need for the duration of my stay.

Fall 2016 Maternity Capsule Wardrobe

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October has arrived, and with it starts a new season of Project 333. I made several changes to my summer capsule wardrobe. I mostly changed out my jewelry when I received some new jewelry for free when I hosted a jewelry show in July. This actually turned out to benefit me in unexpected ways. I ordered long necklaces from the jewelry party, and these have regularly entertained my toddler during church services for several minutes at a time. I can even use one of the necklaces as a belt. This capsule wardrobe will probably see several changes because the weather starts out in the 80s and cools off into snow weather. I also don’t have many fall maternity pieces and plan to experiment a little this season.

I plan to breastfeed my baby and won’t have many opportunities to wear my dresses after baby #2 arrives around Nov. 1. I replaced my black sandals with a pair of black dress shoes and my brown sneakers with a grey pair. Both of these shoes just got too worn out and needed to be replaced. I may switch out my maternity pants for regular pants and leggings and swap my maternity shirts for regular ones before the season ends. I decided not to include jewelry in this capsule because I have to include so many transitional pieces and layers. Here is what I’m starting with (as always, items in bold carried over from previous capsule wardrobes):

  1. Teal dress
  2. Grey dress
  3. Cream dress with floral pattern
  4. Pink and purple floral skirt
  5. Black skirt
  6. Denim shorts (maternity)
  7. Jeans (maternity)
  8. Grey pants (maternity)
  9. Navy jacket
  10. Trench coat
  11. Navy cardigan
  12. Grey cardigan
  13. Black short-sleeved cardigan (maternity)
  14. Tan and black sleeveless top (maternity)
  15. Navy t-shirt (maternity)
  16. Black and white striped top (maternity)
  17. Pink top (maternity)
  18. Black and gingham top (maternity)
  19. Purple top (maternity)
  20. Floral top
  21. Burgundy long sleeved top (maternity)
  22. Navy belt
  23. Blue flats
  24. Black wedges
  25. Grey sneakers
  26. Brown boots
  27. Stiped scarf
  28. Purple floral scarf
  29. Red and blue floral scarf
  30. Grey cabled hat

Let me know if any of you are interested in learning which items I decide to get rid of throughout the season. Sometimes, a piece just doesn’t fit in well with the rest of my capsule wardrobe or doesn’t fit well anymore (bodies change during and after pregnancy). I’m also still discovering my personal style. I hope some of you will try out a capsule wardrobe this season, and let me know if you do.

 

2016 Reading Challenge: August

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I can hardly believe October is almost here. Some life changes and disappointments have distracted me from writing blog posts. For August, one of my friends chose “a book you’ve been meaning to read” as the category for us to discuss. I actually read three books for this category: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany; Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson; and The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson.

cursed-childHere is the summary for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Amazon: “It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

“While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”

I did not enjoy this book as much as I expected I would, probably due to the play format of the book. I have a difficult time reading plays when I haven’t seen them before. Maybe I would enjoy this book more if I saw the play, which isn’t likely to happen.

I also felt like this story did not quite fit with the rest of the Harry Potter universe. For example: I doubt Hermione would have become Minister of Magic at such a young age. All of the other ministers we know of have been much older. I also doubt Harry and company would have called Headmistress McGonagall “Minerva.” It seems much too forward of them.

Overall, the book was OK. I’m glad I read it. For no other reason, now I can participate in conversations about the book and stop covering my ears every time someone brings it up. I would recommend it to anyone who really enjoyed the original seven books.

bandsI also read Shadows of Self and The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson. These are the two most recent additions to Sanderson’s Mistborn series. I actually read these back to back. I enjoyed The Bands of Mourning more than Shadows of Self because it moved the plot along a lot more than the latter. The Bands of Mourning also introduced some new technology, which I really enjoyed. Both books worked on building the supporting characters and didn’t focus quite so much on Wax. (I’m comparing these to The Alloy of the Law.)

I would recommend these books to anyone who enjoys sci-fi/fantasy with an industrial era twist. The first set of Mistborn books are also good.

Books my friends chose for this category include:

  • Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
  • The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow
  • Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia