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March 2015
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May 2015

April 2015

I'm doing a finishing school

I love to buy yarn and I love to plan projects. The thing I'm not great at is finishing a project before making a start on the next one. So every now and again I have a finishing school where I dig out those half finished projects and get them done.

In November 2014 as I started to think about my Journal your Christmas project I looked at my craft area and knew that I couldn't work in such a tip. I set about clearing it all up and got rid of loads of stash that I knew I would never use. I also redesigned my IKEA expedit shelves so I would have space to include some yarn storage.

Roll on April 2015 and I have 6 IKEA Drona boxes ready to pack away my yarn. Last Saturday I got all my yarn baskets out of their various hiding places and set about sorting and packing and rewinding balls of yarn.

Sinishing school and yarn sort out

Although most of my yarn is bought with a project in mind I do have some random balls of yarn that were either in a sale or I just liked the look of it and thought it would be good for a shawl or other 'guage not relevant' project.

I found some lovely treasures in my clear up and also realised that I have way too many project bags! Which is possibly why I have too many projects on the go at once. My darling husband counted 18 baskets/bags for projects. YIKES!!

It's bad habit to start a new project before finishing the current one but sometimes there is a time sensitive deadline, like Christmas or birthdays!

And then I forget to go back to the project I left and it sits quietly in a basket or bag waiting for the urge to pick it up again.

So like I said, it's time for a big finishing school! And the first project to be finished is this shawl.

Shawl pink crochet

The yarn is Araucania Botany Lace, 100% extra fine marino, hand dyed in Chile. I bought mine from Knit Knacks in Hitchin, and although quite a pricy yarn, it is well worth it! The skein is 100g with 410m so it goes a long way. It's a bit stretchy/bouncy and a little odd to work with, although you soon get used to it. It also comes in a great range of colours!

Shawl pink crochet close up

I blocked the shawl to open up the lace pattern and you can see how lovely it turned out. The South Bay Shawl is available free from lion Brand (you need to sign up though), or there is a slightly adapted version which is available on Ravelry. Links to both and pictures showing the first 8 rows of each can be found here. The options for colourways on this shawl are endless and i'm looking to do another one soon. Um actually make that, I am looking to do another one when I have finished Finishing School!!

Too much yarn, too little time!

Ciao xx

Those final mouthfuls - Elephant Part 3

In part three of eating my elephant one mouthful at a time I embarked on the biggest of my Get Organised projects.

When I started my 'close to home' job last August I supervised the installation of new hanging rails into our built in wardrobe. It's one of those too skinny to hang clothes from right to left types that I used to store handbags, rollerblades, and a very out of date first aid kit. It does however have an 'overhang' on the front so we could install rails that ran from back to front and although this isn't ideal as you can only see one item of clothing at a time, it did give me some essential wardrobe space.

Capsule work clothes

As I was moving from a very casual work place to a business dress office I wanted to have a separate work wardrobe so I didn't have to hunt through weekend clothes to find something to wear each day. As a Miss Organised 'wannabe' I set out my clothes the night before.

Caspule wardrobe outfit for work

I put up some pretty hooks on the inside of the door to hang jewellery.

Capsule jewellery

I have lived with these separate wardrobes for about 6 months now and it works for me. Dressing for work is easy and as I start at 7.30am I don't want to be dilly dallying about!

In a way this was part of a bigger wardrobe plan that had been an idea seed for years but hadn't been something I felt I could achieve so it stayed in the back of my mind.

The 'seed' well and truely planted itself when we booked a long weekend (5 days) trip to Barcelona for June this year. We're traveling easyjet with carry on luggage and I went into melt down at the very thought of packing light AND having clothes that transform from day to night!
What I needed was a holiday capsule and what I set out to accomplish was a minimalist capsule wardrobe. Yes, I not only wanted an efficient suitcase but an efficient wardrobe too.

I spent some weeks on Pinterest and the world wide web researching this fairly old idea that is being talked about on lots of blogs right now. I read some very interesting articles by normal people who have done this with huge success and love the idea of having fewer clothes to choose from each day. I wonder if one would blog the failed capsule wardrobe story?

So these are the stories that I loved.....

This was the first post I read, by Elise of enJOY it and found a link at the bottom to a few more articles she had written. In fact I loved this blog so much, I added it to my Blogs I Love list!

And then I found Travelista and this Packing essentials for Summer article, which led to the Packing essentials for Summer: Outfit Options article. And I started to get my head around how to build outfits from a few essentials.

I read Project 333 blog, who even have a dress for less and capsule wardrobe course you can sign up to. And this lady who did project 333 and lived to tell the tale, photos and all!

And this how to create a capsule wardrobe article by Caroline Joy at Un-Fancy is just so inspiring and made me believe I could do this! She also puts together great outfits and weekend packing lists.

My diary entry from the 1st of April 2015 reads:

'Big task this weekend is to tackle the capsule wardrobe project. I am seriously fired up to do this and I need to start before I research it to death and then end up not doing it!'

That's my thing. Research to become an expert before I start anything. There must be a deep rooted fear of not wanting to fail or look like a fool. Where the hell did that come from?

Thankfully I did start and this is how it went.

2nd April - I took all the clothes out of my wardrobe and drawers (except underwear that I had sorted only a few weeks before and do NOT count as capsule items). Each item went into a keep/maybe or heavens no it must go category, and the it must go clothes went straight into a bin bag. The rest of the clothes I hung on the two spare room doors, making an effort to separate into Autumn/Winter (A/W) and Spring/Summer (S/S). Everything went on a hanger. I wanted to see if there was an obvious colour scheme and style so I needed to see the clothes as a whole and not have piles all over the place.

3rd April - First thing was to skim through the S/S door to make sure I didn't have anything there that would be better placed in the A/W wardrobes.
I also took out any clothes that I thought could sit in an all year basics capsule. Things like neutral t's, jeans, and pair of black trousers and a couple of cardi's


Capsule basics

Then I moved all the A/W clothes into the bedroom and used the cupboard doors to spread the clothes out.
The next bit was actually quite simple. I just separated the clothes into two piles. I love to layer clothes so something that looks like it wouldn't be suitable for winter will work in my world where I would then put 3 or 4 layers on top of it!


Capsule autumn


Capsule winter

I added some scarves and packed each capsule into a separate drawer.

11 April - Following a week of other chores taking priority I finally got around to sorting my S/S wardrobes. I did contemplate leaving them together but I had come this far it made sense to do it properly!
I discovered clothes that I liked but had not worn for ages and having lost a few pounds on my fast they fitted better and actually looked nice. This was a bonus and I set about splitting my S/S clothes into two capsules.

Spring........ (Photographed with the basics)

Capsule spring

Summer........ (Photographed with the basics)

Capsule summer

Only the Spring clothes are in my cupboard and it makes such a difference to open it and see what's hanging up rather than a squashed mash up!

Capsule spring in wardrobe

My summer clothes are folded in a drawer waiting to be integrated into the cupboard towards the end of May.

There are a few pieces that I still want to add to my wardrobe basics, like a denim shirt and casual light jacket.

I can see a pattern with style and colour and most of the clothes I threw out are colours that I rarely wear and don't go with more than one other thing. It's quite hard to be ruthless with your clothes and one piece of advise I did follow is keeping those items that just don't seem to fit into your wardrobe right now but you really really really don't want to get rid of. I only have a handful of these and they are in the spare room cupboard. If I don't think about or wear them in the next year, they too will go. I didn't count the items in my capsules, but I roughly have three bottoms, 4-5 tops and 2-3 cardi's or wraps. So i'm really not short of clothes if you multiply that by 4, plus the basics capsule.

I think getting the next capsule out the drawer will be quite exciting as those clothes will not have been seen for at least 7 months. It's like having a new wardrobe every three months!

It's early days but I know this new way of thinking about clothes is a winner! I'm working on photographing my clothes for my stylebook app so I can build outfits and i'm actually excited about clothes for possibly the first time in my life!

Oh joy!

Ciao xx

P.S. I know there is a lot of information in this post and if you want more detail please shout. I will also post each capsule (starting with summer) in more detail as I integrate it into my wardrobe.

The fast

This post has been quite tough to write. I wanted it to be full of positive messages with a real sense of achievement, instead I just couldn't muster any enthusiasm for it at all.

49 days is a long time. It's a long time to feel enthusisatic about food that you're loving but getting a little bored of.

I had a terrible cold mid fast and a square of chocolate would have lifted my spirits! In fact a block of cheese would have done the trick too. It's funny how anything forbidden is the only thing you want when you're feeling down. I also couldn't muster the energy to think of two meals, one for Stuart and one for me, or enjoy food that I couldn't really taste. It felt like a waste of time and I was well and truely fed up!
We also had a few meals out with friends where I had the choice of two things on the menu and everyone around me was eating burgers and steak. Gosh, I wanted to scream even though it was my choice to fast and I really ought to stop behaving like a child, lol.

After my cold had gone, I found a few new recipes to try and started to feel some of the enthusiasm return. But I still wanted to give up. The funny thing about putting your challenge out there is knowing that if you fail or give up you need to face up to it and although I don't really care if anyone thinks i've failed, I would still feel guilty, even though the only person I would let down is myself.

I wasn't going to give up.

Palm Sunday, which fell on Easter Sunday in the Western calendar, it is a day off from fasting. Last year I didn't know that. This year I took advantage of it. Did I need to have this break? Definitely! Did I enjoy the break? Absolutely!

The last week was the hardest. I was so close to the end, but nothing on my Pinterst fasting board appealed.
I was pretty bleak and on the Wednesday evening (with only 4 days sleeps left) when I was at my lowest I had beans on toast for dinner. I added some Moroccan spice to the pan of beans and heated them slowly and I toasted some nice M&S seeded loaf and I enjoyed each and every mouthful. There was nothing fancy about the meal. Just plain and simple.

It's funny what you think you know and plan at the start of a journey and what lessons you learn along the way. I didn't need terribly complex and interesting food during my fast. I just needed something simple and to remember why it was that I had started this fast in the first place.

It was about going without, getting back to basics and enjoying the simple things in life. I had forgotten that as I tried to keep myself interested. One of my favourite meals is roast vegetables with cous cous. I think I had it once over the whole 7 weeks. How stupid was that?

On the Sunday that I broke my fast I did vow, as I did in 2014 that I won't do it again. I will do Holy Week but not the full 7 weeks. A week and a half on and i'm thinking it wasn't that bad! I can manage to do it again. But lets leave this discussion until the weekend of 12/13 March 2016. Clean Monday is the 14th!

I wanted to share a recipe on this post as it was one of my late finds that is a real gem but be warned it is a butter overload so shouldn't be a weekly meal!

Garlic Mushroom Pasta! OMG it is YUMMY!!

Garlic mushroom pasta

(photo courtesy of the recipe site as I didn't photograph my version - probably because it was wolfed down so quickly!)

Happy days

Ciao xx 

A little late for this Easter

Week 5 of Great Schemers was a very pretty pastel theme that I thought would be great for an Easter decoration. It's a little late for this Easter but you could get the polystyrene eggs from your local craft store at a discount price so perfect to make ready for next year.

Crochet eggs close up

This was another fiddly project as I wanted the covers to be quite tight and the stitches close together so I used a 2.5mm and 3mm hook.

There are patterns out there in internet land but I found it easier to measure each row around the egg and decide how many stitches to increase and decrease with each row.
If anyone wants more guidance please ask in the comments and i'll do a step by step.

Crochet eggs

I just love this little nest of crochet eggs, and i'm tempted to make more to fill the jar up to the top!

Ciao xx

Eating an elephant - part 2

I'm not a fan of cleaning house although I do like to live in a clean house, so I often find myself getting into a bother with the dust and doing a blitz, usually 30 minutes before guests are due!

So I challenged myself to another little bite sized project as 2014 drew to a close.

I had a little look around the fabulous world wide web and came across a great site called Organise My House and more specifically this post on how to create a cleaning schedule.

I was hoping that there would just be a schedule that I could print off and follow but alas we are all different and so are our cleaning priorities. So I sat with trusty pen and paper and worked out what I could manage daily and what would keep the dust bunnies at bay.

Cleaning schedule

I do fall off the cleaning wagon every now and again and some days I just don't feel like doing it but the great thing about doing small bits daily is that the rota just rolls around and what you missed earlier in the week comes around again at the end of the week.

As well as these small weekly jobs there are the 'as needed' jobs like emptying the bin and recycle tub and changing the spare beds. And some monthly jobs, like moving furniture to vacuum.

I wondered if I could manage without this list stuck to the pantry door, but no I can't, I need to see what jobs I have for the day and get the satisfaction of knowing they're done.

I am on the final leg of my latest get organised project which i'll share soon. This one has been tough but also such fun!

Ciao xx

Crochet bangles

This weeks theme over at Great Schemers was very spring like so I wanted to make something to add to my spring wardrobe.

I have collected quite a few silver bangles over the years to thought I would have a go at covering them with some cotton yarn.

Covered bangles

This is a great way to use up scraps of yarn!

Covered bangles 2

This project is a little fiddly as you try to hold the bangle steady and keep a good tension on the yarn but it doesn't take long to get into a good rhythm.

Covered bangles close up 2

From right to left:
The first three bangles are simple double crochet, with the first and third twisted in a spiral before joining the lst stitch to the first with a slip stitch. The second bangle I guess will twist a little when I put it on but I really squashed the stitches in so it's tightly packed and quite stiff.
The forth bangle is made using two silver bangles and alternating each double crochet between them (it was very tricky to get the hook between them as the yarn pulled the bangles together towards the end.
The fifth bangle is double crochet around two bangles together. This was much easier and I do like the chunkier look.

I'm going to be having a go at some more and it's so easy to simply cut the yarn off when you want to change the colour to match the season.

Ciao xx

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

When I moved jobs and changed working hours in August 2014 I decided it was time to get organised. This isn't the first time I had been down this road but this is the first time i've seen real results because i've taken a simple approach.

Saying that you want to be organised is a great first step, it's the second step that can be the problem. It's at this point that you need to be pretty clear about what bits of your life you want to change and making a list and setting some goals is a good approach to actually making it happen.

I knew from day one that the most important change for me was being organised in the kitchen. I wanted a menu plan and efficient way of doing my monthly grocery shop. I also knew that I wanted to put it into action pretty quickly.
And because there was no physical work involved it was a small project that was achieved with little fuss.

Another project I wanted to achieve was a declutter of the downstairs of our house. The goal was having it done in time for Christmas decorating.
This task threatened to fail before it even began as I looked around and felt totally overwhelmed by the enormity of what needed to be done. How on earth had we I managed to collect so much stuff?
Then I remembered that I would only succeed if I took one bite at a time, and I broke the job down into manageable chunks.

I love storage boxes and baskets and believe that there is a box or basket for every job. So I tackled one room at a time and threw out anything that was obviously not needed. For the things that were not so obvious, like the massive gift bag that contained my gift wrapping paraphernalia, I spent a little more time searching for storage that was best suited. I could then take some time deciding if I really needed the 17 000 little organza bags I had saved when I have never actually used one to 'wrap' a gift. I now have a wrapping RUB that holds everything I need for wrapping. And two more that are filled with DVDs.

I used this simple method of organising from room to room and before I knew it I had not only decluttered downstairs but I had done upstairs too! This unfortuantely is not the end of the decluttering story because in order to keep that uncluttered state you need to stop bringing anything else into the house. This is where I fail. If there is a space it needs to be filled!! So as I work on not bringing anything else into the house I find myself needing to do a little more decluttering.

I have two more get organised projects to share......check back soon.

Ciao xx

Boho style

I love Boho Style jewellery so when I saw this weeks Great Schemers theme I knew I had a necklace set that matched and could be Boho'd for summer.

Boho necklace

I used some cotton yarn to make the little tassle and attached it to one of the necklaces with a jump ring.

Boho necklace close up

With a bag of odd balls of yarn and embroidery thread I am all prepared to make lots more of these for the summer! What a fun way to upcycle all my old necklaces.

Ciao xx