Monster knees.

Since I pared down my wardrobe I have only had one pair of jeans to wear.  I am beginning to re-think how I went about removing items from my wardrobe, mainly because I wear my jeans and tees so often and so hard.  I definitely need more of these than I previously thought.  A month ago my favorite (read: only) pair of jeans tore at one of the knees. I planned to patch them, but in the meantime I bought another pair of jeans (which are passable but nowhere near as good as the torn ones). This morning I woke up and went to put on my jeans only to discover they were dirty.  It was totally a jeans kind of day, so I immediately set about planning my patch. I’d seen Monster Knee Patch tutorials before (most notably when my gorgeous friend patched her farmer husband’s work pants in this way… He wasn’t happy but I thought it was great) and was eyeing them for my repair. I perused a few this morning and then set to.  I used left over placemat material from the tool belt I made, plus a bit of t-shirt left over from a baby sleeping bag I made years ago and some vintage buttons. It took about 45 minutes including toddler wrangling, bobbin winding and machine unsnarling. You know that’s pretty good for me.  You could probably make this in about 10 minutes. Here is my take on the monster patch (previously thought to be appropriate only for kids).

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The up-cycle project inspired by Zach Braff.

When Big Poppa and I first met we spent many, many hours lying around watching Scrubs. We’d hang out for every new season, buy it on DVD and watch it until the discs wore out (I mean this quite literally). When we met we used to joke that all we had in common was a mutual love of Bill Murray, but the thing that probably kept us together was our common brand of humour. We loved the crap out of Scrubs and both of us were pretty fond of Zach Braff. We didn’t write this song, but we probably would have if we’d thought of it first.

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So, years ago, when I discovered this t-shirt available for sale of course I bought it for BP. Of course I did. BP was leaner then (okay, if I’m going to be fair we were both so much leaner then), but he’s always been particular about the shape of his shirts and he prefers black, so he never wore it much. With all the decluttering and shifting of stuff, I just haven’t been able to pass this one on. It doesn’t fit BP and it doesn’t fit me, but maybe one day…?

Today a post that promised 25 minute sewing projects came up in my feed. I’m always looking for 25 minute sewing projects, because then I am absolutely certain they won’t take me more than 8 hours. Waking today and realising that no one had any plans (an oasis in a storm of activity) we decided to have a pyjama day. Big Poppa has been working on a mixtape for someone special, so I figured I had time for a mini project. This DIY kids nightie caught my eye. Even better – it boasts that it’s a 15 minute project. That’s only about 4 hours in Mama time. Super!

I rummaged through the sewing box and found the vending machine t-shirt. At men’s size XL I knew I was stretching being able to do this in just 15 minutes, but I figured I could probably get something to work. Even if it just kind of worked. Little Fearse is never particularly critical of my sewing adventures, so I reckoned it was a safe bet.

The Fearse Family: Zach Braff t-shirt upcycle.

It took me about 2 hours in the end. Due to the size of the t-shirt I also had to cut out and reset the sleeves. I only knew this was a possibility from reading other t-shirt up-cycle tutorials previously and I’m sure that if anyone who actually knew anything about sewing checked this out they’d be horrified. It works, anyway, and Little Fearse (although very grumpy for these photos) seems wiling to wear it. And I reckon she looks just as spiffy as Zach Braff.

Mama xo

Garden magic.

The Fairy Garden

Despite my best efforts I have let winter get the better of me again this year. I have really felt the oppression of the grey skies and the claustrophobia of day after day hiding from the rain. Even when outside I’m wrapped in so many layers that I don’t feel fully free. The first signs of spring have appeared here and there and I can already feel myself breathing a little easier. September 1st is the unofficial first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere and it is my absolute favourite day of the year. Spring brings hope and restoration and rejuvenation.

Little Fearse has been asking me lately if she can plant something. They have been talking about gardens a lot on Play School and I think she has got the green thumb bug from there. I’m still stalling over that veggie patch and am not a confident gardener, but I felt as though maybe I could manage a small succulent garden. Of course, I did already have a small succulent garden in the bathroom which I managed to kill, so time will only tell whether I do any better with this one.20140820_125042

I took her to the nursery to choose some pretty succulents and then we took some cuttings from a couple of plants at home. At the op shop she chose a little shell, a miniature bird bath, a tiny little gentleman bear and an old Christmas angel to decorate her little fairy garden. She was super excited and kept saying things like “This is fun! This is a good day!

The three of us made it together. Little Fearse got a kick out of throwing dirt around with the trowel and BP got a kick out of teaching her how to squeeze the pot to get the plants out and I got a kick out of being outside.

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When her garden was finished I made the most of the sunshine and set up a couch my Mum picked up from hard rubbish and restored for us. We always intended to paint the cane coffee table (something Mum’s cousin picked up from hard rubbish for us) the same colour, but I’m tired of waiting for it to happen. There are enough different greens in our yard for it to not really matter anyway. I added a few more potted plants and created a little oasis, ready for some yard fun during the spring and summer.

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I’m feeling really excited about the change in seasons. How much are you influenced by the weather? Do you enjoy all seasons, or have a preference for one?

Mama xo

Communing with Nature.

snail pic

For the past two weeks I have taken part in a Joyfully Green online photography course. It has been such a lovely step outside my day-to-day life. I can even say that I love some of the photographs I’ve taken. The wonderful thing about the course was that I could do it using any camera at all. My own camera broke (and then broke some more when I attempted to fix it) a few weeks before the class started, so I was left with only my phone camera to use. I found that this was pretty good for taking nature photographs (though, of course, there are things I’d like to do but can’t really) and I even learned about some cool features on the camera just by playing around with it on a daily basis.

miniature flower

I love that now when I’m out and about in the wintery weater I’m looking for something unusual or beautiful to photograph, rather than bemoaning the grey skies and constant drizzle.I’m so grateful to Joy for giving me the confidence to explore photography in this way.

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I look forward to sharing more of my artistic endeavours with you in the future.

Mama xo

hidden gnome

Give. Life. Hack. Hair.

Last week I cut off over 35 centimetres of my hair. I didn’t do it to simplify my life, but ohmigosh. It takes about a minute to wash, uses so little shampoo and conditioner and about 5 minutes to dry. It barely needs brushing and it needs no styling. I had completely overlooked how much time I was spending (without ever doing much at all) on maintaining and then, mostly, hiding (in a bun) my hair. I’m so relieved. If you want a truly simple life, cut your hair. (Better, shave it all off.)

hair after

I was prompted to cut off my hair to donate to a company that then uses the hair to create wigs for cancer patients. I did this in honour of a beautiful, passionate woman who I both respected and admired. We lost her on June 27th, too soon. I don’t doubt for a second that if I had offered her my hair during her 9 month battle with cancer she would have said “Hell no!” Nevertheless, if someone out there can use my hair, I’m happy for them to have it. I didn’t even know that it was possible to donate hair until my gorgeous cousin posted about doing the same thing on FB last year. I thought this was a good opportunity to share this info with our readers and spread the word a little (although, to counteract advertising for a hair product company I will be entirely forthright – I would never put their products anywhere near my hair).

I don’t miss my hair. I had the choice of keeping it or cutting it. Other’s don’t.

Mama xo

 

A rookie mistake.

BP and I made a rookie mistake last week. I call this a rookie mistake because it’s the kind of decision we would have made thoughtlessly in our pre-BNN life. And here we are, 19 months later, making the same sorts of mistakes. Unlearning life-long habits is hard.

My laptop isn’t functioning all that well and really needs to be kept in one steady place. In addition to this my back doesn’t thank me for using my laptop as it’s intended (on my lap). We decided to get a small desk for our living area so that I could remain a part of the gang while using my computer.

BP recalled, with sentimentality, how much he’d loved his childhood desk The Fearse Family: A Rookie Mistake- an 80s style map top desk (chunky and brown). He asked around and found that it was located at his sister’s house. She kindly offered to have it fixed and delivered it herself.

We have had it less than a week and it has served its function as a table for my laptop quite well, but it has also quickly become a new surface to add clutter to. We knew this was going to happen. Everything we have learned about removing clutter from our home tells us that we need less surfaces and less storage, not more. Everyone who has lived in a house knows that it is going to take less than a month for those drawers to be loaded up with stuff.

Although we had already discussed the need for a dining table in the front room, sentimentality clouded our vision and we brought in this desk that is all wrong. During the winter months we only heat the front half of our house. The back half has few blinds and curtains and most of the heat would be lost. The only time we use that end of the house is for eating dinner. We could easily have solved this issue and the desk issue with a small, compact dining table in place of the big, chunky desk.  If we had a dining table here it would still be a surface, but at least it would be one that we had to clear every night to eat.

I’m disappointed in our thought processes which basically showed no growth from our impulsive decision making prior to our first buy nothing year.

Of course now we have a fierce Fearsian stand-off. BP is sentimental and wants to hold on to the desk and I am a cold-hearted clutter clearer and want to move it on (or at least out of the house) to make room for something more practical to our purposes.

When you make significant changes to the way you lead your life, you owe it to yourself not to relax on those ideals. We have worked too hard to claw our way forward to now allow ourselves to slip backwards into old habits that don’t suit our purposes.

This week, to help us remember how far we have come, BP and I used ingenuity to repair a squashed, shattered and near destroyed washing basket. When I bought this basket, several years ago, I bought the cheapest one I could find. Everything about it was nasty. It didn’t take long for it to start deteriorating. Recently someone sat on it, or stepped on it, or was pushing someone else around in it as though it was a car and it collapsed into itself. Since we’re working on reducing our waste, and there was no way this was recyclable plastic, we knew that we had no choice but to find a way to repair it, or reuse it. I made the decision to buy the shittiest, cheapest basket I could find and I’m now responsibleWashing basket
for where that ends up. So, how do you repair a shattered plastic washing basket? Start by connecting all the broken bits back together with a few handy pipe cleaners, then insert a hardy backdrop (in this case some cardboard that came as the packaging for one of Little Fearse’s birthday gifts) and go to town with gaffa tape. Ta da! I reckon it will last us another decade, don’t you?

The daily decisions we make about our consumption and about the things we bring into our home need constant examination. This way of life is not yet ingrained in us, which is not helped by the fact that it is far from the norm in society. I see that there is a shift and change happening around us and I hope that things will change in this lifetime. All I can control are the choices that I make and hope that I can mostly make good ones.

Mama xo

Do you dare count your clothes?

The Fearse Family: Wardrobe tips and traps.

 

When I initially wrote about counting the clothes in my wardrobe it opened up quite a bit of discussion, around the blog and off the blog. I still have friends who talk to me about doing a clothes stock take as an idea and how it frightens them. It has been over a year since my initial count and my decision to no longer purchase any clothes. I did an interim count in January, but was still unhappy with the numbers. I’ve spent the past 6 months paring down my wardrobe further.

When I first did the count the number of items that were going to stay in my wardrobe (this didn’t include the things I had set aside for eBay) was 371 items. I was pretty shocked. I’d taken out an additional 30 – 40 items to sell, so my real number was very high.

When I did my January count I hadn’t bought an item of clothing for eight months. I had actively analysed all the items I had in my wardrobe and removed as much as I felt I could. I was given three items of clothing for Christmas, which were the only new clothes I’d added to my wardrobe in that time. At this stage I still had 304 items in my wardrobe. This time I also found a stash of ‘sentimental’ clothes in the storeroom and some ancient clothes that had been put away to repair and forgotten about. This would have bumped the original number up even more, but let’s try not to think about that too much!

So, we’re now in July. It’s been more than 13 months since I stopped buying clothes. I have added, in that time, 7 items from a friend, 3 items as gifts at Christmas time, 1 item that was cut down from an oversized 60s dress to a wearable skirt, 1 vintage shirt from the market and 1 pair of $3.25 jeans from the op shop. Most of those items have been exchanged with items I have then donated, so they haven’t added to my overall total. I now own (excluding some items still waiting to sell) 265 items of clothing. That means I have reduced my original number by more than 100 items. Am I happy with that? Yeah, for a start, I am.

Here are some of my best improved areas:

May 2012 July 2014
Undies 59 38
Socks 41 29
Leggings 18 8
Bras 22 9
Dresses 38 23
Singlets 28 11
Cardigans 12 4
T-shirts 27 8

How did I do it?

  • I have learned that white clothes don’t store well, so any white maternity clothes or unworn sentimental clothes have now become yellowish rags. Either wear your white clothes or donate them.
  • I looked at the items I had far too many of in the first place with a critical eye. I noticed what I wore most and what I had too many doubles of and pared down those numbers. There is still room for improvement here. I have 4 black singlets, for example, and I probably wear two of them at least four times as much as the others. (Conversely I have four black cardigans and they are all worn as regularly as each other and are perfectly justifiable in my wardrobe.)
  • I tried to let go of sentimental attachments. If I am not wearing stuff, maybe someone else will. I know the thrill of finding just the right thing second hand, so passing on those sentimental or beautiful vintage pieces might make someone else’s day. I still have 7 sentimental items in my wardrobe which I am not willing to part with. These include shawls and scarves of my grandmother’s and old school shirts from graduating classes I have taught.
  • I have been experimenting with the hanger trick for the past few months and have discovered that most of the clothes in my wardrobe that are in season have already been worn. I guess this means I’m doing something right.
  • You’ve probably heard the rule that we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time. I am finding this is very true, especially for my non working days (more than half the week). I will generally wear, at this time of year, many layers of singlet, long sleeved top, t-shirt, cardigan and jacket with jeans and boots or sneakers. This is my standard winter uniform. It may vary in different shades of grey, black and purple but day-to-day I’m dressed pretty much the same. I have, unfortunately, reduced my t-shirt and jeans wardrobe so much that the one pair of jeans I own get very worn and my four t-shirts that I regularly wear are getting very stretched and faded. It’s important to know your wardrobe and the way you use it before you start reducing. 
  • The good side of the above point is that on the days my jeans are in the wash I’m forced to dress with a little more thought. This means other items that might be ignored get a bit more of a work out, breaking me out of that 20% that gets overworked. On work days I rotate between several dressier outfits which gives the other 80% even more time in the fresh air.
  • Sometimes I get bored of my wardrobe, but in reality I’m not a trendy or particularly adventurous dresser, so it wouldn’t make a difference what is in there. I’ll still keep going back to the same old tried and true jeans and t-shirt combos.
  • When you know exactly what you have in your wardrobe you don’t need to fear donating something that you’re keeping just in case. I have often found that I don’t like donating long sleeved tops because they are so useful for three out of four seasons of the year. The thing is, if I don’t like the top then I’m not going to wear it. Even if I get desperate and all my other stuff is in the wash. I’ll probably just wear one of my 6 shirts instead. Keeping stuff you hate wearing for “just in case” times in some kind of rationalised lunacy when you have, say, 264 other things you could wear. 
  • Also, you know, what do we wear clothes for? To keep warm and dry, or cool and modest, or whatever. Clothes don’t make us anything, other than dressed. Why do we give them so much of the space in our house, so much of our time purchasing / cleaning / maintaining them, so much of our budget? Humans are pretty ridiculous, right?

And on that note.

Mama xo

PS I’m keen to do a couple of months worth of photos of what I wear each day to see how the 20/80 rule actually pans out for me. I haven’t had a great track record with taking a photo a day, so we’ll see how I go with that. I will also not be uploading these as I go as I really have no desire to have a discussion surrounding my daily wardrobe choices. I’ll chuck them all together some how at the end to show you how it looks from a statistical perspective.