Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mapping things out

Once again, Sherry and Katie are hosting the Pinterest Challenge, this time along with Sarah and Carmel. The whole point to the challenge is to motivate you take a look at your pins and actually use them for inspiration to do something, you know, besides just pinning. Every time I've joined in challenge in the past, I've really been glad for the extra motivation to do some fun DIY. So far I've made a fun painting for my brother, a new headboard for the master bedroom, and some neat personalized letter art.

This time, instead of inspiring me to do a project, the Challenge is inspiring me to share a project that I finished a few weeks ago. We've actually been really busy with all kinds of DIY projects around our house in the past couple of months that I've been meaning to blog about, so hopefully this will get me kick-started on blogging all changes that have been afoot here.

This project was inspired by this pin, which I actually pinned during the Pinterest Challenges last fall.

Emily at According to Boyle decoupaged this chair with maps, and I thought it was a really cool way to revamp a tired piece of furniture. The piece of furniture I had which was desperately in need of a revamp wasn't a chair. It was this particle board TV cabinet that my husband has had since his childhood.  When I was  pondering what piece of furniture I had that I could cover with maps, it immediately sprang to mind.
Ancient and ugly, but still useful particle board cabinet
Probably most people would just have disposed of this beauty, but I hate throwing out things that are still useable, and I figured it would be a great place for my computer tower and printer.  Earlier this year when I got a new car, I spent a whole lot of time with my insurance agent. In addition to the good interest rate on my car loan, I got a couple of  "free" atlases out of the deal. James thought "Great, one for each car." I thought "Perfect, just what I need for that furniture decoupage project I pinned."  Who needs an atlas in their car when we've got GPS?

Since I didn't have blogging on my brain when I worked on this project, I didn't take any "during" pictures. You'll have to use your imaginations. I decided not to cover every square inch of the cabinet in maps. I wanted to give some places for the eye to rest, since the cabinet is a lot more flat map surface than a chair. So first I cleaned off the cabinet and spray painted the parts I wasn't planning on covering with maps. I happened to have this spray paint on hand already.  It's kind of a khaki color, and it conveniently matched the maps really well.  I painted the inside of the cabinet, the trim, and the lovely plastic "brass" handles, as well as the exposed screw heads on the cabinet. It should have taken only one can of spray paint, but I foolishly tried to spray the backing board as well. It soaked up the paint like crazy, and never did cover evenly.  I had to buy another can of paint to finish the other areas. Since spray paint didn't cover the backing board well at all, I ended up decoupaging it, too. That wasn't part of my original plan, and it added to the project time, but it looks pretty cute.

The particle board cabinet with the doors open, now painted and decoupaged with maps

Believe it or not, I waited until morning to take the pictures so I'd have natural light. #wasteoftime It's very windy and cloudy outside, thanks to Sandy. Even with all the lights on I had to use the flash.  That's a pretty small thing to worry about, though. We're barely being brushed by the edge of the storm here. I'm thinking of and praying for those affected by the hurricane.

Once the cabinet was painted and dried, I started the decoupage work. Actually, that might have been a few weeks later.  This project was in the works for quite a while.  I started with the doors, since I figured they'd be a focal point. This project could have gone much more quickly if I had just cut up the maps and randomly decoupaged them, but I decided to "fussy cut" in order to highlight places that are special to my husband and me. I even decoupaged our native cities onto each of the handles.  The whole process was pretty simple. I just cut up the maps, re-arranged the pieces until I liked the lay-out, and Mod-podged them on. I gave it a few coats of Mod-Podge to make sure things were well sealed. It would probably be smart to give it a final seal with some poly-acrylic, but I don't really expect this piece to be subject to hard wear. Plus it would be easy to fix any dings by slapping on another piece of map.

Shows the revamped cabinet with the doors closed.

The doors took a few hours to do. I probably watched couple discs worth of TV episodes while I did them. That sapped my Mod-Podging strength for a while. It was probably a month before I worked on the rest of the cabinet. The cabinet body was three movies worth of work, if I recall correctly. This was an easy, almost free project, but it was not quick.  All in all I'm really pleased with how this project turned out. Instead of an eyesore that we kept tucked in the closet, I think the cabinet a now quirky piece for our office/library. As a bonus, my printer is no longer on the floor with cords snaking all around the room.

If you want to see all the other Pinterest Challenge projects, check them out at:

Young House Love
Bower Power
Our Fifth House
The Ugly Duckling House

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Church Groundbreaking

Exciting things have been happening at my church this month. Four weeks ago we had the groundbreaking ceremony for our new building, and this week the construction began.

His Grace Bishop Anthony of Toledo presided over the service. Here you can see the foundation stone being laid:

This longer video includes the foundation stone being laid and extends on to show the site being sprinkled with holy water and prayers for foundation of the church.

If you have heavy-equipment loving children, they may enjoy seeing this video of the beginning of construction this week.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cover Up

I've got another one of my incremental improvements to the master bedroom to share. We got a new duvet cover, thanks to a Crate and Barrel gift card from an aunt and uncle. The pattern is called Lindsey. It's no longer available, because we actually got it quite a while ago. It took me a long time to get it on the bed, because it didn't fit the down comforter. Our comforter is a queen/full size, and the duvet cover was a queen size. There is no standardization for these things, and the cover was way too big, so I needed to do a little work on it before we could use it.
You can see the naked down comforter in this picture from last year.  But mostly I'm showing this picture because I like to compare the before/after pictures. I think it's fun to see the progress we've made in the room since then. :-)
In January, (You know, back when we could use a down comforter, unlike right now with the 100ºF weather we're having.) I re-tailored the duvet to fit our comforter. I am not a particularly experienced or accomplished sewist, so I wanted to make this task as easy for myself as I could. A duvet cover is basically a giant pillow case for your blanket.  Three sides are sewn shut and one end is open with some kind of closure, in this case, buttons. The buttons on mine don't go end to end, but are inset with a placket. I decided to just cut off the end of the duvet cover opposite the buttons, and re-hem it.  I just left the sides a bit wider than my comforter, rather than have to sew any more seams. I liked the additional width it gave the comforter, anyway. Here's a diagram to show what I did. It is not to scale.
The grey box is the comforter. The blue box is the duvet cover, and the dashed line shows where I cut it.  After I cut that part off, all I should have needed to do was sew up a new seam for that end. I wanted it to be well finished so that it would hold up to use and washing, so I decided to do a French seam, which I learned from this tutorial. But just sewing up the seam would have been too easy, right?

I've had duvet covers before, and I know that the comforter has a tendency to slide around inside and get bunched up, especially if the cover's too big. I solved that problem by adding tabs with buttonholes inside each of the four corners of the cover. The cream colored rectangles on the diagram indicate the tabs. It turned out to be easier to do than I expected. I cut four rectangles from some cream colored fabric, folded them in half, and sewed the sides closed. I turned them inside out and then added buttonholes. Here's one of the rectangles and what the tabs looked like before the buttonholes.
I had never done buttonholes with my sewing machine before, but I just followed the directions in the sewing machine manual. It was pretty cool to see how it worked. You can see the buttonhole foot in the picture above. Two of the tabs I just sewed into my seam, like the one below.
The other end of the cover with the buttons had a serged edge. (I don't have a serger, so I couldn't do the same kind of finishing, and I think the French seam is nicer anyway.) I picked apart enough of the serged edge to insert my tabs, and then sewed the edge shut again. That part was kind of a pain, but I didn't want the stitching for the tabs to be visible from the outside.  Here you can see the picked apart serging. I pinned my tabs between the two edges of the fabric I'm holding apart here, and then I sewed them shut again.
I just straight stitched across the tabs, though it's a bit hard to tell that in the picture below. This is one of the tabs inserted into the serged edge. Here it is buttoned to the comforter. The tabs and buttons have worked out really well. The comforter stays put inside the duvet cover, despite the cover being a bit wide
I really like the cover a lot, too. I think it pulls together the greens, blues and browns we have have going on in our room pretty well. It has both the green from the headboard and the darker blue from the wall. One would almost think I had chosen the headboard fabric and wall colors based on the the duvet cover, but I just lucked out in finding one that was a good match.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


We have a lot of things going on this summer. We're hoping that won't keep us from getting a few projects done around the house, but we will be spending quite a bit of time on the road and out and about. This past weekend we took a very quick trip up to Chicago to meet up with my best friend from college. She lives in D.C. and was in Chicago for her sister's medical school graduation.  Despite the fact that James and I have lived in Indiana or Illinois for the nearly 9 years we've been married, we had never taken a trip to Chicago together. We had fun this weekend playing tourist and catching up with my friend. We would resolve to go back soon, except we already have reservations to go back with my family in July for my brother's 30th birthday. Funny how that works out.

We had a room with a fantastic view. We spent quite a bit of time on Navy Pier. They have fireworks every Wednesday and Saturday night in the summer. (My phone wasn't charged for that.) They also have a free Stained Glass museum. We took a short boat tour on Lake Michigan, and ate at a few yummy restaurants. But mostly my old roomie and I talked each other's ear off while James tagged along. I've just started using Instagram, so I enjoyed the chance to play around with the app (My user name is verduresarah).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spring Things

2010 notwithstanding, Lent and the Paschal season just don't seem to lend themselves to blogging for me. Maybe next winter I should write some posts and schedule them so I don't fall off the face of the internet during that very full time of the year. But perhaps you can just expect me to go on hiatus, and know that I'll likely show up again in June, we'll see. :) So what have I been up to? A lot of the same things as last year.
  • Once again, I took some weekend trips to see friends and family. The second week in Lent, I headed down to Evansville for a surprise 65th birthday party for one of my aunts. I got my own surprise on my way back from church when my car (the one we bought less than a year ago) was totaled in a hit and run accident. Thankfully, although I was quite shaken up, I came out of it with only a small scratch on one arm and sore muscles. 
  • Once again, we found ourselves unexpectedly in the market for a new car. After doing some research and looking at some used ones, we decided to buy a truly new car, not just new to us. My first ever. We realized that since we didn't have a trade-in to consider, a low-mileage compact used car like the one we had was actually pretty comparable in price to a new one, once you figured in the warranty. So we bought a new Hyundai Accent. It's green. It suits me down to the ground.
  • Once again, we journeyed through Lent and Holy Week to the Feast of Feasts. And as always, I was slightly sad to see Ascension come along, bringing the end of singing Christ is Risen. And so, I say to you all: Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen! 
  • Once again, I celebrated my birthday. 34 on Friday the 13th, but not just any Friday the 13th. It fell on Holy Friday. Somehow that always seems to be the case when my birthday falls on a Friday. With a birthday like that, I just consider it a moveable feast and celebrate during Bright Week. Actually this year I kind of dragged it out. We spent a weekend with my parents a few weeks later and celebrated with two Cincinnati favorites, dinner at the Grand Finale one night and Graeter's ice cream the next. Yummmm...
  • Once again, I attended the Evergreen International Conference the last week in April. Last year I very much enjoyed traveling to Georgia for the conference. This year it was a bit closer to home, in Indianapolis. Not quite as much of an adventure, but it led James and me to play tourist in our hometown that week, which was fun. 
  • Once again, I have been delighted by fresh vegetables with the start of the summer farmer's market season. 
  • Once again, I've found a word game to play on my phone. This spring I've thrown over Word Feud in favor of Scramble with Friends. If you play, my user name is SarahinIndy. If you don't play, and you like Boggle, and need another time suck in your life, you can download the app for Android phones or iPhones. I think you can play it on Facebook as well.  
  • Once again, we enjoyed some time with family over Memorial Day weekend. This year we stayed home, working and playing around the house, but my brother stopped in on his way back from a business trip in St. Louis. 
  • Once again, we have spent some time working in the yard. Just a lot of clean-up so far, though. I have yet to get anything planted! Although the last month has been sorely lacking in precipitation, which doesn't bode well for the summer. Maybe I'll wait and plant some things in the fall.
  • Once again, I squeezed in a few other things here and there...
  • And continued to attempt to live a Christian life, again, with mixed success.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Printable Letter Art

A new edition of the Pinterest challenge has brought me out of blog hibernation. The Pinterest challenge was dreamed up by Sherry at Young House Love and Katie at Bower Power, and this challenge is also hosted by Erin at the Great Indoors and Cassie at Hi Sugarplum. You can head over to any of their blogs to see all the fun Pinterest inspired projects that people are doing. I had so much fun with the last two challenges, that I was determined to try it again, despite the fact that I haven't had a free weekend in a few weeks. I pulled this together last night. I pinned this two or three months ago, because I thought it was a great idea for affordable, personal art to hang on your walls.

The idea came from the blog Full of Great Ideas, but the thing that made this a really fun and easy project was this image collection from Leo Reynolds. He has created collections with 100s of images of each letter of the alphabet (and numbers, too) that you can use for non-commercial purposes. To personalize this even more, you could take your own letter pictures, like Matushka Anna.

Last night, I stopped at Michaels, coupon in hand, and bought a frame. Then I had fun taking a look at all the options for the letters in my last name. I tried to keep the first rule of cataloging in mind as I did so. (Do not agonize.) I wanted a somewhat colorful collection with various styles of letters. I really like the results, and it was pretty quick and easy to do. I saved the images in the large size, since I wanted the printouts to be high quality. I cropped them to fit my frame, and then I just pasted them into a Word document to print them out. I printed a test sheet in grayscale fast quality to make sure the images would work with my frame. Once I was sure my images were the right size, I printed them on plain old printer paper, but I used the high quality print setting.

Once they were all printed, I cut them out, taped them to the mat, et voilà! I'm lucky, since it's pretty easy to find a frame with 6 slots. If you have a 3 or 4 letter last name, you'll have lots of options. If you're not so lucky to find a frame with the correct number of slots, you could have a mat custom cut, or design an image that doesn't need a mat. I'm really pleased with the way this turned out, and it's fun to know I can change up the letters any time I want. I plan to hang it in our entryway. I have a few ideas for dressing up that area, and now I'm excited to get going on it, so I can hang my new picture.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Quaking in my boots

Today is the last day of the challenge, and we were supposed to try something that scares us. Not something like sky-diving, but something like wearing neon, or, in my case, boots over jeans. When this trend started, I thought it looked fabulous on tall, willowy people, but I thought, "Oh, I could never wear that." I'm not tall or willowy. I'm 5'2" and curvy. When I bought this pair of skinny jeans last summer, I immediately tried them on with boots, you know, just to see. It made me feel like I was all hips and no legs. Fear of wearing something often relates pretty closely with body issues, doesn't it? I'm generally content with my figure. But I want to dress in a fashion that says neither 'I'm a frumpy librarian,' nor 'Hey, check out my curves!' It can be hard to know if I'm erring too far one way or the other, and boots over jeans made me feel like I was erring in both directions at once. Weird how we can have such an emotional reaction to clothes, isn't it?

I didn't wear this yesterday. I tried it on last night and had James take pictures. I'm wearing it today since Friday is jeans day at work. I'm actually really glad we took the picture before I had to wear it in public, because I feel much better about this look after seeing the photo than I did seeing it in the mirror. So once again the challenge has pushed me to wear something I wouldn't have otherwise, which I ended up liking. A big thanks to Kayla for hosting this shindig, because I've found it so valuable both times. Even though after two challenges, totaling a full month of outfit posts, I still feel ridiculously awkward getting my picture taken and posting it on the internet for any to see.

Sweater, the Limited. Jeans, thrifted (Ann Taylor). Boots, TJ Maxx. Necklace and earrings, made by my sister-in-law. Bracelets, made in Africa.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Penciled In

Today our mission, if we chose to accept it, was to create our own interpretation of this outfit:
Image source: J. Crew

This is part of the Open to Interpretation series that Kayla, our challenge host, does along with Amy and Erica. I did it once before. Since we just have to interpret the outfit, and not recreate it identically, this is not Mission: Impossible. It's actually pretty fun. You should take a look at all the variations on the theme. I had the wardrobe pieces to do a pretty close approximation this time. My thoughts with this inspiration pic were: OK, brown sweater, green pencil skirt. I can do that. Since my skirt has the white pattern, I decided to skip the white shirt under the sweater. Instead I opted to wear a black t-shirt. I wanted to incorporate the brown and black together element of the inspiration, and I hoped that layering black under the brown sweater would tie the two together the way the two-toned bag does.

I don't think I would ever have put this outfit together if it weren't for the inspiration. Usually I play it safe and wear this skirt with a white or green top. So both Kayla's challenges have gotten me to try pairing this skirt with something I might not have otherwise. Nice to be expanding my options! I wore the ponytail to further match the inspiration picture. I did not skip earrings because of the picture, though. I am wearing pearl earrings, but unfortunately this picture turned out a bit blurry so you can't really tell. We took a few photos, but this was the best one.

It worked out well to have a dressy outfit for yesterday, since we had Evening Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Blessed feast to all!

Skirt, Ann Taylor Loft. Sweater, Kohls. T-shirt, thrifted. Shoes, Casual Corner. And it may be warmer than usual in Indy, but it's not bare legs warm. I'm wearing hose. Target, I think.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


The challenge for today was to dress up a coat. Ironically, the weather was unseasonably warm in Indianapolis yesterday. Thanks to the Super Bowl, you can read about our typical (cold, snowy) weather this time of year here. But we had a balmy high of 58°F, and an overnight low of 47°F. It felt like late March or even April rather than late January, so I did not bundle up in my usual woolens. Instead I wore this lightweight green jacket. I dressed it up by adding a couple of pins. I frequently wear a pin on my winter coat, but the two pin thing was new for me. I was amazed at how much harder it is to put two pins on than one. It took me a surprisingly long time to arrange them! I may or may not have accidentally pinned my coat to my shirt during the process. The dove is my current favorite. I bought it for my grandmother at James Avery when I was in college. My mom found it in her jewelry and gave it to me after my grandmother passed away. The other pin was attached to a Christmas gift, and it conveniently doubles as a Christmas tree ornament.

Here's the rest of my outfit, since there aren't nearly enough awkward pictures of me on the internet yet. But more importantly you can see more of the fun paisley lining of this coat. Also, I liked this outfit, to my surprise. It's the first time I've worn this sweater as a vest. Since I went to high school in the '90s, I kind of have a thing against vests, but I thought this turned out classic and preppy. And have I mentioned I like green?

Coat, hand-me-down. Vest, trouser jeans, shoes, all thrifted. Shirt, Eddie Bauer.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Color me happy

I love to wear bright colors, so the prompt to do so was a welcome one to me. My two favorite colors are green and coral. I went with coral today, since I've worn green for the past three prompts. I added this scarf, which was a Christmas gift. It's part of my effort to insert more pattern into my wardrobe. My Mom gave it to me, and I really love the colors in it. I've worn it several times now (every time I was going to be around a different group of people), but so far I've used it to brighten up brown sweaters. I liked changing it up by pairing it with the coral. I want to try it with my orange shirt, too. I also tied it differently today than I've been wearing it.

Sweater and scarf, gifts. (My mom said the scarf is from Charming Charlies) Trousers, Stein Mart. Shoes ?

Monday, January 30, 2012


Last week I joined in the challenge at the last minute, so I wore all my outfits on the day of the challenge. This week I decided to get ahead of the game, and I wore this to church yesterday. The prompt was to wear an outfit inspired by a decade or region. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling very inspired, so I think this is pretty blah. But it's also very me, since I usually just put together basic (often green) pieces with not much accessorizing.

Can you guess what I took as my inspiration? No? It's the '50s. A cardigan over a tucked in shirt, and a long, full, skirt are the fifties inspired elements. I went modern by wearing it with boots. This is also very me. I wear skirts with boots constantly in the winter. I love skirts, but I hate to be cold. Heels mean cold feet, so even though that would have been a stronger fifties look, I stuck with my boots and socks.

Once I saw the picture I realized I should have added a short scarf à la Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday to jazz this up a little and carry the Fifties theme a little more strongly. Or layering the skirt to give it more fullness would have been a good idea, too. It may look blah, but it feels a bit decadent thanks to the fabrics. The skirt is velvet, and the cabled cardigan is a silk-cotton-cashmere blend. Even the shirt actually has some white, lacy looking embroidery, making the outfit a little more textured and layered looking in person than it came off in the blurry picture. I guess if I'm going to blog about my outfits, I should get more than one picture of them. :) Oh well, live and learn. I'm looking forward to bright colors and the OTI this week. I'm not so sure about the coat challenge or the last day, but I am sure the second week of the challenge will continue to be fun and educational.

Skirt, Target (old). Shirt, hand-me-down. Sweater, thrifted. Boots, probably Lazarus, which is now Macy's.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mixing it up

I never got around to posting this last night, but yesterday the prompt was to mix patterns. After the rest of the prompts this week, this one felt easy. In actuality, most of my clothing is solid, and that goes double for my winter clothes. So the fact is, I didn't have all that many options. I put this together pretty quickly. I really liked this outfit, but I didn't feel like I was stretching myself with it. I don't bat an eyelash at stripes with patterns now. :) It was fun seeing everyone else's pattern mixing. Quite the stripy group!

The 10 Day Winter Challenge is weekday gig, so I'll be back Monday with another outfit.

Sweater, The Limited. It was a gift several years ago. Striped shirt, jeans, shoes, thrifted.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Anything you can do...

The prompt today was to channel someone--to create an outfit inspired by the style of a person or fictional character. So far the challenges have gotten progressively harder for me every day. I was so stumped with this one! I kept trying to think of someone whose style I admire, but I couldn't seem to build an outfit from there. Finally, I stood in my closet and tried to think about whether any of my clothes reminded me of anyone. That took me in an unexpected direction. I decided to channel the sartorial style of Annie Oakley. She definitely a had style of her own, and she was one of the first female American celebrities, in the modern sense.

The reason I settled on Annie Oakley was I spotted this shirt. It was the fringe that made me think of her. The shirt was given to me by my grandmother when I was in college. I was completely befuddled by the gift, since it seemed totally outside the realm of my usual wardrobe. I couldn't imagine why she might have given me such a shirt. The only thing I could figure was that she gave it to me because of the Western look, since I went to college in Texas. She must have been on to something, though, since I still have it. I can't remember the last time I wore it, but I guess I have a sentimental attachment to it, so it hasn't ended up in the donate pile.
I was kind of nervous my outfit too costumey, but my husband actually liked it. An Annie Oakley look requires boots, and the shirt has all the shape of a potato sack, so it cried out for a belt. Thus, the same belt and boots as yesterday, totally different look. I added my twirly denim skirt, red tights, and I was ready to go. This was a pretty fun outfit to wear, and it was very comfortable and warm. Since James gave it the thumbs up, I may wear it again.

Shirt, gift. T-shirt & skirt, thrifted. Tights, another item I've had since high school (Express, I think. Can't believe they've lasted this long.). Boots, TJ Maxx, Belt, Kohls.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

I thought the challenge to embrace a trend was going to be really hard, since I am just not a trendy person. I like what I like, and I don't really worry about trends. Hey, I still wear clothes from high school!

And I read through Kayla's list of suggestions with mounting concern about my ability to meet the prompt. I rejected trend after trend basically because I owned no clothes that fit the bill. And nail polish wasn't going to happen. Fun fact: I don't mind toe nail polish, but I can't stand how it feels on my fingernails. My options seemed pretty limited.

But then at the bottom of the list was ”Tangerine.” And I thought, "Oh, yeah. Orange!” I knew all about the Pantone color of the year. And because I'm so in tune with the zeitgeist, I bought this orange shirt at a thrift store at the beginning of November, before the color was even announced. It's been in my special needs laundry pile ever since. So last night I gathered some other delicates and washed it.

Being as it's cold here, I layered it with this cream colored sweater. I decided to wear it with this blue skirt, because thanks to my knowledge of the color wheel, I knew pairing the orange with its complementary color would play up its orangeness. And you can't tell in the picture, despite the fact that I forgot to zip my boots, but my tights have a chevron pattern. So I believe that's actually two trends in one outfit, even if chevrons are like, so totally 2011.

Shirt, thrifted. Sweater, hand-me-down. Skirt, Stein Mart. Belt, Kohls. Tights, Target. Boots, TJ Maxx

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Don't take my monochrome away

Today the prompt was monochrome: to wear clothes from only color family. We did this one in the summer, too, and both times it was super hard for me. Head to toe neutrals is not a look I feel like I can pull off, but I don't have any colored pants or skirts for winter at the moment. I do have this reddish brown skirt, so I went with maroon. I can't remember if I've ever worn this combination before, so I don't know if met my novel outfit criteria, but it was my only option that wasn't brown, blue, or black.
Since I thought I might have worn this before, I added jewelry, which I normally wouldn't bother with. Not sure I loved the jewelry I chose with this outfit, but at least it was different than what I would typically do. I've had both the jewelry and the shirt since high school (probably 16-18 years). The shirt is very comfortable and doesn't have to be ironed, so it's always been a favorite. Plus, I like the colors, and it's still in great shape. Go cotton velour! It was from American Eagle. I wonder if their stuff generally holds up this well? The skirt is a hand-me-down and probably from the late '70s, early '80s? I like how it flares at the bottom. The movement when I walk makes it fun to wear. All in all, I'd say this outfit gets a passing grade. I was satisfied with it, but not excited about it.

Skirt: vintage. Shirt, jewelry: vintage-ish. Boots: TJMaxx. Tank: thrifted.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Kayla over at Freckles in April is hosting another clothing challenge. This time it's only 10 days, not 21. Since the last time was so educational and inspiring to me, and 10 days doesn't seem too daunting, I thought I'd try it again. I hope it's not boring for people to see what I wear everyday, since I'm certainly no fashionista. For me it's kind of an interesting creative exercise. The 21 Day Challenge in August led me to introduce more stripes, scarves, and belts into my wardrobe, so we'll see what happens this time.

Today, the prompt was to wear layers. This was not outside my comfort zone at all. I frequently layer clothes but usually for practical reasons: warmth or modesty. I have a lot of go-to layered outfits, but my personal goal with this challenge is to combine my clothes in a novel way each day--to come up with an outfit I've never worn before.
Today I layered a short sleeved pale pink cashmere sweater with a long sleeved red tee. My guess is the sweater was once part of a twinset, but I got it at a thrift store (I actually bought it during the last challenge), and it is sadly divorced from its matching cardigan. I liked it with the red t-shirt, because I thought it was kind of a fun, modern look for the soft, sweet, vintage sweater. Plus it was bright and cheerful on this grey, gloomy day. The necklace I made for the statement jewelry prompt in the 21 Day Challenge, and I just remembered I wore it on the last day, too. I forgot about that! We could just pretend that I was intentionally bridging the two challenges, though. :)

Shirt, sweater, corduroys all thrifted. Necklace made by me. Shoes, from Kohls, forever ago.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Organizing a Purse

January tends to be a time when people have organization on their minds. People make resolutions to become more organized or to de-clutter. People are putting away Christmas decorations and trying to make space in their homes for the gifts they've received. Orthodox Christians generally are trying to get their houses ready to be blessed, which means every room must be presentable; no shoving things in one room and shutting the door. And since people tend to be spending a lot of time inside, it's natural to think about how to make our homes more pleasant and livable.

I'm no exception. I have a lot of plans for making my home more functional this year. I want to spend less time looking for things, less time shoving stuff back into closets, less time rearranging thing so they'll fit. I have plans for my laundry room, my closets, my kitchen, my bathrooms. But I decided to start small. I organized my purse.
I'm very fond of my purse for several reasons. Most importantly, it belonged to my cousin Alison, who departed this life a year ago at the age of 34 due to an infection complicated by type 1 diabetes. She was a kind, smart, funny, beautiful person, and I love carrying this reminder of her everywhere I go. Secondly, I like that it's green, my favorite color. (My family would probably call it my signature color.) Finally, I like that it's nice and deep and holds a lot of stuff.

The downside to the depth and capacity of my purse is that invariably what I need is at the very bottom. It leaves me digging around with my arm in it up to my elbow, or pulling out all the contents and piling them somewhere in order to find what I need. Very soon after I received the purse, I realized that constantly trying to find my keys in the depths of my bag wasn't going to work. I bought a carabiner (big clip) to put on my keyring, so I can clip it to the strap. It's one of the best organizational things I ever did. But you can see how sadly I was lacking order in my handbag. Here are its contents. Note that this picture is not staged in any way. I just pulled everything out and piled it on the ottoman.
In my experience, the main steps to organizing something are editing, categorizing, and containerizing. For me these steps are pretty fluid. Sometimes editing and categorizing might take place simultaneously, and depending on what you're organizing, either one might take place first. Editing is determining what needs to be kept and what doesn't belong in the area being organized. Categorizing is sorting the items and grouping like items together, and containerizing is storing the items so that they're accessible and will stay sorted. A good way to start the editing process is to sort everything into keep, discard, and store elsewhere piles.

This is my store elsewhere pile. It contains an eyeglass case, a pair of sunglasses, a clip, an emery board, and a lip gloss. I realized I don't take off my glasses when out and about, so I don't really need the eyeglass case. I'm now keeping prescription sunglasses in my car, for easy access when driving, so I don't really need to carry around the sunglasses. The clip was from a bag of snacks which have been consumed, and the lip gloss and emery board were duplicates. All of these have now been stored in an appropriate place other than my purse.
This is the discard pile. There are lots of receipts, an empty checkbook, expired coupons, assorted paper items.  Some could be recycled, some needed to be shredded, some had to be tossed.
The big wad of paper with the receipts actually wasn't in my purse. It's the stuffing from this purse insert, which was a key part of the containerizing process.

My extended family does a $10 random gift swap on Christmas, and this is the gift I received. I doubt I would have thought of buying something like this myself, but I really think it's going to help keep things accessible. Here's what I put in it: a pen, an eyeglass cleaning cloth, a little notebook, the printout from our most recent Bible study that I want to read over, two zipper pouches, and some mints. The pouches and notebook fit neatly in the main compartment, and the pen, mints, and eyeglass cleaner each fit into a designated pocket. 
The icon pouch contains my little prayer book. A friend of mine brought this pouch back from Greece a while back, and when she gave it to me, I immediately put my prayer book in it. Aside from my key clip this is really the only successful organizing effort I had previously instituted in my purse. The book had taken a beating from being knocked around with the other items.  I've had to reinforce it with book tape. The pouch protects it, and by keeping it from falling open, has made it easier to extract from my purse.

The peace sign pouch was given to me this Christmas by one of our God sons. I'd been thinking about making some zipper pouches for my handbag, so I was really pleased to get this pouch and the purse organizer for Christmas. I'm sure my purse got organized much faster than it would have if the project had required me to purchase supplies and get motivated to do some sewing! The contents of this pouch are an an example of categorizing and containerizing, I grouped like items together and then contained them so they'll stay together. I used this zipper pouch for grooming items. The comb and hair bands went in the side pocket, and I put lip gloss, chapstick, and an emery board in the main pocket.
Now you've seen all the contents of the purse organizer. Here are the other two items currently in my purse: my wallet and a small umbrella.  The wallet got cleaned out as well, and the loose change from my purse is now stowed in the zipper pocket of my wallet.
When I'm not at home, my phone goes in my purse as well, but as you may have guessed, I've been using it to take these pictures.  Typically I also keep a re-usable bag that folds into a pouch in my purse, but I believe I left it at my parents' house over the holidays.  Having now given a lot of thought to the contents of my purse, I think some hand lotion and a handkerchief or tissues would be useful to have.  There's room for a book, when needed, but usually I carry another bag with me to work for library materials, or I stow a book in my knitting bag. Do you have any purse organization tips?  Is there anything I don't have in mine which you consider a necessity?