Doing This Was *SO* Worth It

So this is a thing I did…

Kondo'd drawer

I was getting sick of having to dump out my dresser drawers every couple of months to re-fold the jumbled hot mess they inevitably became. Where is that damn black turtleneck?? <riffle riffle ruffle> Don’t I have a purple long sleeved Tee in here somewhere?? <ruffle toss riffle> Why won’t this drawer close properly?? <grunt urgh %^&$>

I’m quite late to the hype party but Marie Kondo’s bestselling book from 2014 on tidying up describes a way to fold your clothes so they’ll stand up in neat rows like this. (If you’re a cynic like me, you can skip the part about caressing the garment to communicate your gratitude and affection to it.) I decided to give the method a try and it has actually made getting dressed in the morning SO. MUCH. EASIER.

I can see all my clothes at a glance! Folding laundry takes a little extra time, but that tiny bit of extra time is paying off in sanity dividends.

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You can use shoe boxes or other dividers as I have above, but I found it’s really not necessary, particularly if you have enough clothes to fill the drawer — they will hold each other up nicely.

Besides making my mornings easier, this new arrangement also forces me to consider what’s in the drawer before I add something new to it. If there isn’t enough room, then I have to choose something to donate in order to make room. I used to just shove new things into drawers until they were all bursting at the seams, and I’d forget I owned half the things that were in there.

Another bonus: the clothes have less wrinkles in them now. Smoothing out the garment before folding into these neat little bundles helps. As does not having a drawer full of rumpled up messes. 😉

Kondo'd drawers

How do you organize your clothes? Any good tips for closets?

 

With a Little Help From My Friends

Last week I did something pretty far out of my comfort zone, and discovered something delightful in the process. At first glance it seems like it’s got nothing to do with sewing or making, but stick with me for a moment…

I’m a *somewhat* athletic person, but I don’t like to go to gyms or work out in the traditional sense. I keep in passable shape by playing volleyball every week and riding my bike in the summer. I joined a new volleyball team back in January and hooked up with five new teammates that I hadn’t met before. They are all very athletic and super-fit; I think volleyball for them is what they do on their days off from more serious workouts. You know that joke about what do you call someone who hangs around with a bunch of musicians? (The drummer.) Well, on this volleyball team I’m the person who hangs around with a bunch of very fit athletes. (The mascot, maybe?) 😛

My team and I goofing around in the obstacle course

My team and I goofing around in the obstacle course

We all hit it off even though we’d never met before — these folks are great people! — and we’ve become friends, doing things together outside of volleyball like going out dancing. Last week one of my teammates suggested we all try out this new gym which has a big obstacle course and other challenging things like rope climbing, slack lines, and a couple of giant sloped walls you have to take a run at and see if you can haul yourself up to the top. And I was all like:

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A million reasons Why Not went through my head, not the least of which was that I was likely going to die or break a leg or at the very least humiliate myself. Also I wouldn’t be able to knit while doing this particular activity, so, like, pffft. But I ended up going anyway, caving into the peer pressure…such a terrible influence these people are, just wanting to do awful healthy things that are fun and keep them in shape! Sheesh. Whatever happened to just getting drunk in the park while eating 3 bags of Doritos and then setting fire to neighbourhood garbage cans?? 😉

When I arrived I had that same feeling of dread I used to get in grade 7 gym class. My volleyball mates were all stoked, while I was wondering why the hell I agreed to this.

They say a dose of humility is good for you, and I got a good one taking a run up that giant wall and missing the top ledge. The face plant is bad enough but then you have to endure the looong slide to the bottom, also on your face. lol. Cartoonish music along the lines of ‘wah wah waaaah’ automatically goes through your head. (Here’s a link with a picture of the wall in question so you can picture what I mean.)

Despite lacking the upper body strength required to get through some of the sections of the obstacle course — I found I started to enjoy myself. I made my way through the course slowly but surely with my friends cheering me on and giving me various boosts and pushes as needed. These folks could easily have been disdainful of my inferior fitness level but they weren’t, and I was grateful.

At one point I faced a steeply-sloped wall that I had to get over by hauling myself up a rope. I pulled as hard as I could, straining with every ounce of strength I had (so, like, not much) and *almost* made it to the top. I didn’t have the strength for the last push, despite my friends shouting at me from the top that I could do it. Just as I was about to let go of the rope, my friends reached down and grabbed my arms, and I found myself being hauled up onto the platform.

I had a significant moment just then. Getting pulled up by my friends was a treat both physically and emotionally. I realized what a great feeling it is to know that you can do things you didn’t think you could do with friends to support and help you. And how great it is to have those friends. I felt like I had accomplished something but more importantly I was reminded how crucial a great support network is, and how lucky I am that I have several of them, in many aspects of my life.

The reason I tell you this long story is because the next day I had a look at your comments on my last post Is There a Pill for This?? in which I was moaning about having sewing block. Honestly, I got a similar feeling reading your suggestions, your expressions of commiseration, and your best wishes for getting over the hump (or over the wall, as the case may be). What a privilege and pleasure it is to have a network of generous people willing to take the time to wish me well. And while sewing block isn’t, of course, the worst thing that could happen to someone by a very long shot, your supportive comments mean a lot to me, my dear sewing friends! You’ve given me just the hand up I needed. (But I still know better than to promise that I’m going to finish sewing something anytime soon! 😉 )

Alright, this post is starting to sound like one of those awful inspirational posters that make me want to poke my own cynical eyes out, so I’ll stop. But seriously, I appreciate that you take time to read this blog and I am very grateful to have you as a support network. And here’s an inspirational poster that’s more my speed, and seems pretty relevant to me and my sewing hobby. Can you relate? 😀

Ineptitude: if you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly

Saturated Fat & Saturated Colour

I have way too many shared aesthetic tastes with my 13-year-old niece, and as a 40-something-year-old woman I probably should be worried about that. But I’m not worried about our most recent shared interest: we’re both delighted with the colouring books we got for Christmas!

Color Me Calm floral mandala

In addition to subsisting on nothing but saturated fats for the last few days, I have been spending all of my down-time spreading saturated colour on the pages of my new colouring books. What joy!

From Colours of Anna Karenina

My husband and #UnsungSewingBlogHero gave me one called “Color Me CALM”.

Color Me Calm

“Are you telling me I need to calm down????” I screamed upon opening it.

“Um, no?” he replied meekly.

Just kidding. No screaming took place. Sewzilla knows a perfectly chosen gift when she sees one and accepted it with excitement and gratitude. Besides, it turns out it’s cheaper than medication. 😉

Color Me Calm mandala

Hope you were able to enjoy some rest, relaxation, and the joy of creativity over the holidays!

Snowflakes from Colours of Anna Karenina: A Colouring Book Love Story

I’ve Always Liked You

I’ve often wondered why my blog didn’t have “like” buttons in the comments section, and assumed it was because of the theme template I’d chosen. I’ve just discovered I’M AN IDIOT and THERE’S ALWAYS BEEN LIKE BUTTONS and all I needed to do was TURN THEM ON.

Gah!

So now they’re on, and I’m liking away at your comments. But you should know that I have ALWAYS liked you and your comments. Only now I can say so definitively with a click of my shiny new Like Button.

Yay!

I like you cuz you're frivolous like me.

Wardrobe Detox: Well THIS is embarrassing

Recently I was thinking how great it would be if I could figure out a way to fit another wardrobe storage unit into my small bedroom. Then I could organize my clothes and actually find something to wear in the morning!– I thought naively. Lucky for me, as I was surfing the sewing blogosphere, the Wardrobe Architect crossed in front of my face just in time. It made me realize I didn’t need more storage for my clothes, what I needed was to detox my wardrobe: pare it back to a more manageable size, and make sure it contains only clothes that make me feel and look great.

Just part of the pile of clothes I’m getting rid of. Not pictured: shoes, purses, more clothes. Yikes.

Just part of the pile of clothes I’m getting rid of. Not pictured: shoes, purses, more clothes. Yikes.

So here are two embarrassing facts to come out of this detox:

  1. I pulled over 65 garments that I just don’t love enough or wear enough out of my closet and dresser for the give-away pile. Over sixty-five! It’s embarrassing to me that I could pull that many articles of clothing out of my wardrobe and still have plenty of pieces left to keep me well dressed all year round.
  2. Prior to the detox I had two drawers just for socks. JUST. FOR. SOCKS. In my defense, they weren’t two LARGE drawers, and granted, in this climate one does need a variety of socks for a huge range of weather conditions, but two drawers full was just plain insane. Just the socks I got rid of would have been enough to keep my feet clothed for more than 2 weeks without doing laundry. Why on earth would someone need so many socks?? After detox: just one drawer for socks.

Once I got started, the only difficulty I encountered was resolving to get rid of those pieces that I had really loved at the time I bought them. Even if I hadn’t worn them for years or they didn’t really suit me, I’d still remember that feeling of spotting that amazing print, or getting a great deal, or how that geometric pattern and colour combination got me so excited, and it would make me feel like I couldn’t possibly get rid of this thing. I also had pangs about clothes I had received compliments on or had worn for a special occasion. But I was ruthless, sticking to some of the principles that I’d really always known but that reading the Wardrobe Architect brought into stark relief for me:

  • if you don’t feel great in it, get rid of it
  • if it’s not a style that suits you, get rid of it (WA’s section on understanding sillhouettes was really helpful on this one)
  • if you haven’t worn it in forever, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to wear it again, so get rid of it

Embarrassing fact #3: You’d think I would have loved every item of clothing I bought at least at the time I bought it — I mean, why would a sane person buy something if they don’t love it? — but sadly that’s not the case. These are some of the reasons I seem to buy things that I don’t love. Maybe you can relate to these:

  1. Sometimes I go shopping to relieve anxiety or stress, in which case I often make poor buying decisions, because it feels better to complete the mission (i.e. buy something) than to leave empty-handed, even if it’s not a good choice.
  2. Sometimes I’m on the hunt for a particular thing that I think I need — let’s say a black long-sleeved tee — and eventually I’ll settle for buying one where the neckline is a little too deep or it rides up around the tops of the sleeves but I buy it anyway just to get that thing crossed off my list.
  3. Sometimes I buy something just because it’s on sale and seems like a great deal. (In my defense I believe this might actually be genetic — my parents are both chronic bargain hunters who never buy anything if it’s not on sale and will drive across town to save 20 cents on cheese!)

    Lovely silk dress. Original price: $140. Bought at a second-hand shop in a shi-shi NYC neighbourhood for $20. Bargain? Nope. Waist is too high, it needs a belt that I don't have, and the colour isn't great for me.

    Lovely silk dress. Original price: $140. Bought it with the tags still on at a second-hand shop in a shi-shi NYC neighbourhood for $20. Bargain? Nope. Waist is too high for my liking, it needs a belt that I don’t have, and the colour isn’t great for me.

  4. Worst of all, I sometimes buy things to make up for a previous poor buying choice. Example: a year or two ago I bought a pair of jeans with a pinky-coral and navy paisley print on them, but I had very little that I could actually wear with them. So, I decided I ‘needed’ a coral T-shirt, so I bought one, and for cooler weather a lightweight cardigan that matched would be ‘needed’, so I bought one of those, and then it turned out the coral t-shirt was shitty quality because I had done that thing where I bought one that didn’t quite fit the bill anyway just to get it off my list, so I bought a navy t-shirt instead, and really I don’t like the neckline of that navy t-shirt after all…. I have been trying to make those fucking jeans work by buying more things ever since. Cripes.

    The offending jeans in question.

    The offending jeans in question.

Yes, I’m a basket case. But I’d like to think I’m now a reformed basket case. New questions I must ask myself when shopping:

  1. Is this truly a style that suits me and I feel good in? (Avoid buying styles I admire on others but aren’t really my thing. Avoid buying things that maybe have one great feature about them like a fantastic colour but something else about it isn’t quite right for me.)
  2. Do I already have something in my wardrobe I can wear with this? Or will buying this one thing necessitate buying a bunch of other things in order to build an outfit?
  3. Am I heading to the cash with this in my hand just because it’s on sale?
  4. Do I really need another damn brightly coloured and/or busy-patterned article of clothing, fercrissake? (It’s important for me to swear at myself on this question to really make sure I’m following it. A closet stuffed with a riot of colours and patterns does not make for easy dressing each morning, trust me. At some point in my life I seem to have forgotten how elegant and easy black, neutrals, and solid colours can be.)

I also have new rules about choosing knitting and sewing patterns, as well as selecting fabric and yarn, but I’ll save those for another post.

What about you? How do you manage your wardrobe? Do you have rules for when you shop, and rules for when you’re purging your closet? Do you stick to them?

Spring Farm Babies!

If you live anywhere within several hundred kilometers of where I do (Toronto), I’m going to safely assume you, too, are ready to poke your own eyes out with a dull spoon if this damn winter doesn’t f%#k the f%#k off really soon. Until then, here’s a little vicarious treat to tide you over: spring farm babies! I recently returned from a volunteering trip to Honduras, Central America, where my students and I went to shoot video productions for the charitable organization El Hogar and volunteer on their agricultural school farm, and it was baby season on the farm. It’s good to know it’s spring somewhere!

Winter-weary people, I give you…BABY CHICKS!

Baby chicks!

Lots of baby chicks!

Baby chicks cozying up under the heat lamps.

I think this might be love.

I think this might be love.

I give you…BABY GOATS!

Baby goat!

Just a few days old.

Three-day-old baby goat jumping its way towards me and straight into my heart.

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More ridiculous jumping baby goat! So young it still has its umbilical cord attached.

Baby goat!

Baby goat snoozing in my lap! (Photo credit: Brooke Finkelstein)

anotherbabygoat

STAWPIT!

 

K, this one's not a baby but that Mona Lisa smile is pretty irresistible.

K, this one’s not a baby but that Mona Lisa smile is pretty irresistible.

I give you…BABY COW!

One day old and mom is already able to leave this kid unsupervised. Why can't human babies be this easy??

One day old and mom is already able to leave this kid unsupervised. Why can’t human babies be this easy??

calf

Lori patting baby calf

Happy birthday, baby! One day old! (Photo credit: Ashley Lewis)

PUPPIES!

Who is cuter? Tough call.

Who is cuter, the puppy or Brittany? Tough call! (Photo credit: Ashley Lewis)

Mikael figures it's time for this pup to learn to walk upright. :)

Mikael figures it’s time for this pup to learn to walk upright. 🙂

PIGLETS!

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Look at the tiny spotted one! Look at those noses! Squeeeeee!

piglets

A Family of Turkeys!

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Right, so baby turkeys win the booby-prize for least cute farm babies. But their father is rather handsome.

Unfortunately not all the farm babies were healthy. The little lamb below was born too early. One night about 10 o’clock a wolf came visiting the farm looking for a meal, and made one of a hen and some of her chicks pictured above, and scared the ewe below into early labour. In the morning, not realizing what had happened the night before, I came to the goat & sheep pen for a visit and the little lamb below was lying on its side, struggling, while its mother bleated piteously. The mother can’t feed it unless it can stand up on its own and reach her udder. We all thought the lamb would be dead very soon. I ran and got a towel to wrap it so it wouldn’t be cold in the cool air of 6 am. Miraculously, later in the day, I could see that the lamb was making incredible efforts to get itself up, and by late afternoon, it was standing! I never thought it would make it that far. I took the picture below using my zoom lens because I didn’t want to get anywhere near these two and risk disturbing the delicate feeding procedure they were trying to undertake. I went to bed that night worried, but optimistic that this lamb might just beat the odds.

sheep&lamb

Early the next morning things weren’t looking so good. The lamb was back on its side and weak. I helped a couple of the boys on the farm capture the ewe and lay her down on her side, and we gently force-fed the lamb with her teats. Unfortunately the lamb died right in my hands just a few moments later, and I’ll tell you what — it was super-traumatizing for this city-slicker. The mother was traumatized, too; she didn’t stop bleating for 2 days straight, maybe more — we had to leave to go home later that same day so I don’t know for sure. I try to make myself feel better by remembering that I did my best to make the lamb comfortable and happy in the few hours that it was alive on this earth.

And I focus on the happy, healthy goat babies that made me laugh and smile the whole time I was on the farm, and I am content. 🙂

goatlady1

I’ve never thought I could be so happy sitting around in piles of goat shit. 😀

‘Tis the Season for Split Personality (not to mention split pants seams)

Christmas_EatonCentre

Here’s a first world problem for you: do you find yourself torn between getting caught up in the ‘holiday spirit’ while feeling a bit icky about all the excess consumption? Of course you do; it’s inevitable this time of year. On one hand we want to honour this special occasion by decorating, baking & cooking, and giving gifts. On the other hand, this all takes so much time, energy, and money, and puts a strain on the earth’s resources as well as pressure on manufacturing economies to maximize profits on the backs of workers.

Case in point, and my current dilemma: I’m hosting the whole family at my home for the holidays, and I’d like to make it “Christmas-y” for them, even thought it’s not something I usually spend too much time doing when it’s just my husband and I. I’m dithering over buying a tree for the first time ever (I usually just decorate a tiny potted evergreen I have in the house year-round), and I find myself considering buying decorations ranging from new holiday-themed cloth napkins to a seasonal door mat and seasonal throw pillows in the living room. Then I stop and think, ‘CRAZY!’. Money, resources, time, all put into a few tchotchkes that will only be used once a year. And I’ll have to find storage in my house for them the other 11 months! And yet, there’s the feeling of being the Grinch — why not just enjoy all the trappings of the season?

I was invited to a new year’s party last year at the home of a friend-of-a-family member, people I’d never met before and am unlikely to see again. They had a beautiful home, and every inch of it had been converted to Christmas decor. They had the biggest Christmas tree I’d ever seen. All the towels in the bathrooms and kitchen were Christmas towels. The handsoap was a special holiday scent. Frames containing family photos throughout the house were all Christmas-themed. Artwork on the walls were Christmas prints. Kleenex boxes were covered in Christmas images. Napkins, throws, pillows, candlesticks, you name it, all were part of the Christmas theme. It honestly made me feel a bit nauseous, despite trying not to judge what obviously was a source of pleasure, even a hobby, for the home owners. (Where do they put all this stuff the rest of the year, I kept wondering. You’d need a whole separate room for storage. And do they do this for other holidays throughout the year, too?)

What do you think? Do you go all out for the sheer pleasure of enjoying the holidays, or do you have smaller ways to enjoy the season without overdoing it? How do you balance the conflicting feelings — if you feel conflicted at all? I’m interested to know. In any case, I hope you are enjoying a happy and healthy holiday season, no matter how you do it. And may all your pants seams remain intact during holiday feasts. xo

Addendum, two days later: I caved, a bit. Went to local dollar store and hardware store and bought two strings of icicle lights, three Christmas stockings, gift bags and cookie tins. All made in China. But I somehow managed to resist the 10-foot, inflatable, light-up Santa-playing-hockey so give me some friggin’ credit, K? 😉

Glamourous Gowns and Garbage Bags!

I know you’re in a last-minute panic about making something to wear to a holiday party. (Or maybe you’re not, because, like me, your office party is a lunchtime pop-and-chip potluck and your husband’s company is too cheap to allow spouses to their holiday party. Woop woop.) But if you are, Woman’s Day magazine’s December 1977 issue (55¢) has the answer: sparkling party tents!

sparkling sack dresses!

Welcome! Just toss your keys in that big bowl over there, ladies!

More sparkling sack dresses!

In fact, you can make these with no sewing skills whatsoever. Just cut giant rectangles, fasten them around you randomly with small ties, and violà — instant party dress. Check out the line drawings of the patterns below!

Sparkling Sack Dresses - Complete with complex line drawings

Sparkling Sack Dresses – complete with complex line drawings

I think if you’re looking for a pattern for a “tunic”, and you find one with a line drawing that is literally a square, you might just want to keep looking.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a one-off party dress that can double as a trash bag for collecting empty bottles and cigarette butts at the end of the night, this could be the one.

THANK YOU Woman’s Day for this awesome laugh. I mean, just look at that guy in the bottom picture above. He honestly doesn’t care that this woman is dressed in a sparkling sack…he is ready to PARTY and he’s got the rose-coloured glasses and bow tie to prove it.

Lest you’re worried about how to accessorize these lovely garments, the same issue provides directions for making this lovely necklace — OUT OF PAPER CLIPS. “Paper clips are glued solid and strung on braided satin cord…”  I am screaming laughing.

This DIY paperclip necklace won't look at all like you glued a bunch of paperclips together.

This DIY paperclip necklace won’t look at all like you glued a bunch of paperclips together. Not at all.

Also thanks to my lovely neighbour who was chucking a whole stack of these old magazines and let me take them. Gold mine of memories of ads and products from my childhood.