Reflecting on a year of blogging
So, it hasn't quite been a year yet. But it is December, and it is time to think about and plan next year (as well as time to do christmas shopping haha).
I started this blog with the intention to write weekly and do projects from the Book of Doing. That lasted about the first quarter of the year. I also did several DIY posts during that time. Then came summer, and I only posted 2 or 3 times all summer. Fall brought a new focus and weekly positing again. I started the letters from the basement series and did many home projects.
In the midst of all this I also began an Etsy store.
I am finding the purpose of this blog changes with what I use my free time for. I am also finding that writing about my projects takes time away from the projects themselves.
I enjoy having a record of what I've been doing. But I'm not sure how much value my stories are to others.
I want to keep blogging, but I'm not sure it is the best use of my time or if its getting in the way of my other projects. To do this blog well I'd need to devote even more time to it.
It is nice to have consistently blogged this year. I'll continue to reflect and decide what this space will look like next year.
What are you reflecting on this month?
The last two years we have made it a tradition to go Black Friday shopping with a group of friends and family. We have gotten some good presents (mostly movies and clothes), and it has definitely been fun to spend a few hours shopping all together (while we buy presents for everyone who is with us). However I also feel repulsed by the amount of money I dropped both of those Fridays.
Black Friday in general has been reaching a peak lately. The earlier earlier earlier trend finally pushed shopping all the way onto Thursday afternoon. There has been much debate about this, and much frowning. This year one retailer is breaking the chain. Know who I'm talking about?
REI. In a perfect move for it's brand is are encouraging outdoors-ing in stead of shopping. I highly approve. We will shop for Christmas (or spend time making presents), but not at the expense of precious holiday time.
As it happens Nate and I will be outside on Black Friday this year. Not entirely on purpose and certainly not all day. It was an coincidental family decision that I am quite glad of. I don't want to do Christmas as commercially and as high spending as we have the last two years.
I'm not sure what my approach to Black Friday will be in the future. I don't know if I will stay away entirely, or if I will make a list and make sure not to deviate. But I am glad that I have a year to reflect and think on it, as well as a year to do without it all together. High five REI, we got this.
How are you doing holidays this year?
Wool Dryer Ball Review
You may remember in the fall post a few weeks ago I mentioned I made some wool dryer balls.
I am all about simplification, and lately trying to throw away less. Wool dryer balls fit in both those categories, and I had all the materials at home, so of course I jumped right on board.
After using them however. I have retreated to the fence. The first load I washed with them was shockingly un-soft. I can't say I noticed much of a difference when wearing, but I noticed during folding. I was too scared to wash my pajamas without a regular dryer sheet. And I discovered Nathan has been cheating. So I will put an update on this post if I manage to suffer through many repeated uses. However here are my initial reactions.
Supposed Effects of Dryer Balls
Experienced Effects of Dryer Balls
The benefits are marginal.
I can't say dryer balls don't make clothes softer, but I can say my clothes are nowhere near as soft as with regular dryer sheets.
I never really expected drying time to be effected, but it would have been nice bonus.
The dryer sounds don't effect me, since the dryer is in the basement, but depending on the location of your dryer, I could see it being irritating.
Overall, I'm thinking dryer balls might not be worth it. I haven't given up yet, but I'm not as committed as I started out. I'm not sure I really care enough to eliminate dryer sheets. Especially since I also use them for dusting.
What to Consider
Have you used dryer balls? What was your experience?
Fall is finally here. Last week the air here in Portland got chilly. I have been pretending it was fall, while continuing to wear sandals since September. All of us overcast dwelling people have been complaining that it is time for the sun and its heat to GO. Thankfully the clouds have asserted their dominance at last and are giving us crisp air, cold sunshine, and rain! What am I going to do with all this crisp fall energy? I have a list:
This year in my thoughts on seasons I perused a book and discovered there are things that you plant in fall! The one I am most excited about is garlic. But I also plan to sprinkle some wildflower seeds about.
This is the first year we have our own garden space at home (woohoo yard!). Harvest is past, and I have even collected seeds, and stashed them away for next year. but our garden is not yet dead (though I want it to be). I am taking a look at lasagna gardening for next year, but might have to leave a little bit un-lasagna for the garlic.
I use garlic every day in almost everything. We usually buy giant jars of minced garlic, but the idea of hanging braids of garlic we've grown ourselves is too enticing to pass up.
Move Plants Inside
Last year I forgot to bring my potted babies inside, so this year I moved them in early. They will miss the fresh air and the rain, but I'm glad of their company by my desk. Definitely bring them in before first frost though.
As you saw from the Starting a Capsule Wardrobe post I am also wanting to spend my time inside simplifying our house.
Bea Johnson is still inspiring me to find reusable options and get rid of clutter so I don't have to spend my time maintaining it.
My project this weekend was some wool dryer balls (no more dryer sheets). It was simple and I happened to have everything I needed already, so that made it easy. I made mine out of wool yarn and wool roving since that is what I had. I used synthetic yarn for the cores so as to make the wool go farther. There are many tutorials online, I looked at this and this.
Bake Pumpkin Seeds
I accomplished this over the weekend as well. We had friends over to carve pumpkins, but I just focused on getting and roasting those seeds. I have tried several flavor variations, but noting beats plain salt.
-Pre-Heat oven to 300
-Sort out and wash off your seeds
-Melt a half stick of butter and mix in salt ( 2-3 teaspoons, I just eyeball it)
Sea Salt is my favorite.
-Toss seeds in the butter and salt to coat
-Spread on baking sheet in one layer
-Bake 45 min
Make Christmas Presents
I have a tradition of making everyone a christmas ornament every year. I also enjoy making presents. The last few years my husband and I have most bought our presents, but this year we are focusing on making many of our gifts. We have made a batch of soap, and now we need to focus in on making what is left before December is here.
Fall is one of my favorite seasons. I really am so excited the crisp air is here. This is the time of year for walks and apple cinnamon tea. What are you doing this fall?
Starting a Capsule Wardrobe
Somewhat recently I heard about this thing called a capsule wardrobe. From the back of my mind a small voice said "Hey I like that idea!" (this is the same voice that's always muttering about how I have too much stuff).
I have always been very cheap. In all ways, but especially when it comes to clothes. I rarely spend more that $10 on an item ($20 for shoes). This means I basically shop the Target clearance rack (I mean the 50% off and 70% off racks) and Goodwill. I don't mind shopping at these places, I have found some really good things at Goodwill. And I love the styles Target sells.
I don't shop very intentionally however. If you read my last post, you know my husband and I are just baby budgeters. Up to this point we have sort of just binge shopped. We'd know we need some new clothes, so we'd go to goodwill or target and see what we could find cheap, that sort of matched what we were looking for. If I wanted something specific, I would wait and try to get it on sale, or just get it as cheaply as I could.
As I am getting older and wanting to look more put together I'm not entirely satisfied with my wardrobe, or the way I shop. I want to be more intentional with my clothing selections, and I want to have less clothes I never wear. I also think I am beginning to be ready for higher quality items. I am cautious of spending a lot on something I might not like in a year, but I have made a couple of investments and love them. So I'm going to proceed with caution.
Last week I listened to episode 89 of the Lively Show (yet another new podcast I've stumbled upon). In it Jess interviews Bea Johnson, who has radically shifted her whole lifestyle as well as simplifying her possessions. I love the ideas shared in this episode, and highly recommend listening to it.
That little voice in that back of my head got a lot louder, it put simplifying and capsule wardrobes together and with all the excited post-podcast energy I made it to my closet. (There are a few other things I want to implement in my life after listening to Bea's story, but maybe those will go in a future post).
So I googled capsule wardrobes and found Caroline's lovely site Un-Fancy she is not currently writing there, but it is still a tremendous resource. I read her definitions and how-to's, and then -gulp- took everything out of my closet, and pulled out my dresser drawers.
Caroline suggest taking everything out (just do it) and sorting into LOVE, maybe and goodbye piles, as well as setting aside things that are out of season. So I started putting back into the closet what is in season for fall/winter that I knew I was keeping. I sorted out all of my summer and spring items, and began to fill the goodwill bin with the things that little voice told me I rarely use.
I started with 108 items in what will be my trackable capsule categories.
What is NOT included:
sleepware, active wear, snow jacket & boots, underware, socks, accessories, work uniform shirts, accessories (scarves, bags), fancy clothes (slacks)
What IS included:
tops, bottoms, coats, shoes, dresses (everyday clothing)
So I had 108 tops, bottoms, coats, shoes, and dresses that were more or less for everyday outfits.
Of those I put 19 in the Goodwill bin, 29 into a bag for spring/summer, and 8 in the basement with spring/summer because I'm not ready to let go but I know they are uncomfortable/not my style.
That leaves me with 52 items upstairs in my closet and drawers. this is a little high for my ideal capsule, but I still feel like this is a good start.
TIP: I put all my hanging clothes in with the hangers backwards, when I wear something I will put it back the normal easier way. Then at the end of the season, anything with a backwards hanger HAS to go. This way I have a system for weeding out those clothes I am being stubborn about.
Caroline used a 37 item limit for her capsules, and by that standard my total original number of items is a little short of 3 seasons worth. And my current total of 52 includes fall and winter items (and is 22 items short of 2 Caroline seasons).
Before deciding to experiment with the capsule idea, I was trying to buy clothes with multi season functionality in mind. So a few of my fall staples, I use in the spring and summer as well. but I wanted to keep them out not put them away.
All of that to say I'm not sure what kind of capsule system I will develop. Maybe I will just have two capsules, maybe I'll find the difference between fall and winter, and expand into 3 or 4 small capsules. I have room for new items either way, and some ideas for what I want to save up for.
This current capsule is not organized or intentioned, I am not shopping for it now, I am just going to track where I am and what I wear and build from this point later.
Here is where I am starting:
My First Fall/Winter Capsule
I'm Sara. I live in Portland, Oregon. I have chickens. I love coffee AND tea, I make stained glass pendants in my basement, and I love adventures and new ways to live. I have an Etsy store as well.
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