I finally chose my 14 items for the 14 days of dressing in 14 item capsule wardrobe challenge. The weather is finally warming up, but I know how unpredictable it is. Since this is the weird could be spring, could be winter time of year I am not including winter necessaries—like coat, mittens, hats. My vintage Eddie Bauer hat is a year round staple. I can wear it in snowy weather and warmer weather alike. Even though it’s included in these photos, I’m not counting it as one of my 14 pieces.
My 14 piece capsule wardrobe:
1. Short sleeve, bird patterned, Peter Pan collar shirt. Thrifted.
2. Old JCrew tissue long sleeve tea in peachy pink.
3. Pink long sleeve boho shirt with woven design at neckline. Thrifted.
4. Beige short sleeved tunic t-shirt. Bought at a local shop several years ago.
5. Feminine lavender tunic top with sheer panel in back. Thrifted.
1. Grey skinny jeans from American Eagle. Clothing swap.
2. J Peterman 1930s-40s style linen overalls. Gifted long ago.
1. J Crew pink ballet wrap 3/4 sleeve cardigan. Thrifted.
2.Beige cowl neck boho sweater. Clothing swap.
3. Navy with pink and green flecks l.s. sweater. Thrifted.
4. Free People long wool beige duster. Thrifted long ago.
1. Brown with pink flowers silk scarf. Birthday gift from ten years ago.
2. Hoop earrings from Atonement Design (gifted by maker).
3. Brown ankle boots. I will swap these out with my red Hunter rain boots depending on the weather.
Are you joining me in this challenge? Remember to tag your Instagram posts with #14springcapsule
If you need tips for creating your own spring capsule wardrobe for this challenge (or in general) feel free to send me a message. I had my own system for choosing pieces. I’ll try to share that in my next post.
*Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.*
Does it still feel like February to anyone else? We are already one week into March, and I still can't quite believe it. It might have something to do with all the snow and lack of green-growing-things here in the Northeastern USA. I'll admit, I feel like I am behind on my goals for the month, but I have managed to notice something magical every single day. I've been participating in some daily activities to help with remaining present.
At the end of last month, I came up with a list of activities I wanted to do, (I suppose most people would call this a "Bucket List") so that March would seem a bit more bearable. Here are ten ideas (from my list) for helping you experience everyday enchantment this month. Enjoy!
Ten Tips for Making March Magical.
1. Record your dreams. I have kept a dream journal for many years now, but sometimes I forget to record my dreams in it. I have noticed that when I do record my dreams on a regular basis, I am rewarded with amazing and colorful dreams. The other night I gifted a friend a blue lace agate stone in my dream. When I woke up, I looked up the stone's symbolism and immediately decided to find this stone to give to my friend in real life. This is just one example of the ways in which remembering dreams can add a bit of mystery and magic to your daily life. If you want to start working with dreams more, I highly recommend the book Dream Tending.
2. Find your style muse. Every woman should have a style muse (or muses). Find some time when you can be alone to just dream and play. Browse through magazines, think about your favorite characters from films and books, look at Pinterest boards, and record your thoughts in your journal. You can be as whimsical as you want, truly anything goes. Listen to yourself and have fun with it! Choose someone fabulous! How about Mary Poppins, or Zelda from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, or Cher from Clueless, or Anne Shirley? What is it about this person, or character that you love the most? See if you can discover how they have inspired you throughout your life so far.
3. Play dressing up. Now that you have a style muse, see if you can add elements of their style to your own style. Spend the afternoon playing dressing up, as if you were a child.
4. Be present. Put your phone down, unplug and just be present. Take a few deep breaths, look around, and focus on something in your surroundings. See if you can spot your favorite color. Notice the way the sunlight streams in through the window, or the sound of rain on the rooftop. As I'm writing this, I paused to look around my room and listen to the sound of my bamboo windchimes. I'm appreciating the mellow sunlight today, the taste of freshly brewed coffee, the sound of pages turning as my son reads one of his favorite fairytales. At the end of the day, record the beautiful things you noticed, the highlights of your day, in your gratitude journal.
5. Keep a gratitude journal. I always feel so much better when I write in my gratitude journal daily. When I get out of the habit of recording the things I am grateful for, I tend not to notice or appreciate the little things as much.
6. Plant some seeds. Either purchase seeds to plant, or see if you can save seeds and get them to sprout. Once the seeds have sprouted, plant them in a small pot, or a paper egg carton, and place the pot in a window that gets the most natural light. I was thrilled that the lemon seeds I saved from a couple organic lemons had sprouted. Even better, as you plant the seeds, create an intention. I made a whole ritual out of planting these lemon seeds. I smudged, envisioned pure white light, held the seeds in the palm of my hand, poured my desires into the seeds, planted them, and visualized my desires manifesting as the seeds grow. This would be the perfect ritual to engage in on the spring equinox.
7. Turn on some music! I tend to forget to listen to music, but lately I have been making an effort to listen to some of my favorite music throughout the day. Music is MAGICAL. It instantly lifts my spirits and helps me to stay present and grounded. I've been listening to Kurt Vile these days, but also Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Darlingside.
8. Move your body! Try to engage in some kind of physical activity that you enjoy. There is magic in being so focused on nurturing your body through exercise. When I dance, do yoga, or hike in the woods behind my house, I feel more alive.
9. Learn a new hobby, or dedicate time to improving your skills in a certain area. I learned how to finger-knit a couple years ago when I knew I was going to homeschool my son in the Waldorf Steiner tradition. This bit of handwork is so very satisfying. I love the tactile quality of the materials, and the magic of creating something tangible. Handwork and crafts may not be your jam though. Choose something you are passionate about it and court it like a love-struck person pursuing their love.
10. Read amazing books, or listen to audiobooks. Choose something joyful and inspiring. My recent favorites are Romancing the Ordinary by Sarah Ban Breathnach and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Both books are inspiring me to live a creative, mindful life, and to experience the magic in the ordinary.
If you enjoyed these ten tips, you might appreciate my free Enchanted April guide. If you sign up for this free guide, you will receive a list of quotes and daily journal activities to help inspire you throughout the month of April. Signup below, or by visiting my home page.
Are there zero waste shops in Ithaca, NY? A guide for shopping responsibly in a city that's supposed to be green.
(Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase).
When I first moved to Ithaca, NY around thirteen years ago, I was impressed by the amount of eco-conscious people in this small college town. Ithaca has a reputation for attracting hippie liberals, so naturally it seems like there should be at least one zero waste shop here, right? Well, there aren't any zero waste shops such as one might find in New York City and other places, but there are some specialty shops that are mostly zero waste. There are also ample options for those of you interested in supporting shops that are at least low waste. I have compiled a list of some of the best shops serving those who follow a simple living, zero waste lifestyle. Each recommendation is ranked on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being extremely wasteful and ten generating the least amount of waste possible. I have also listed categories of shops, with recommended shops under each category. For this reason, some shops might appear in more than one category.
GUIDE TO ZERO WASTE SHOPPING IN ITHACA, NY.
ZERO WASTE GROCERY OPTIONS:
1. GreenStar Natural Foods Market. GreenStar seems to be the favorite shopping place of the eco-conscious consumers here in Ithaca. It has a wonderful selection of organic and local produce, bulk items, health food items, and natural beauty items. GreenStar encourages people to bring their own bags. They offer paper bags, cardboard boxes, and non-plastic bags made from some sort of plant material. They do, however, stock products which come in plastic containers, and their made-in-deli items are also packaged in plastic. They try to offer low waste options, such as having actual plates, glasses, silverware, and bamboo utensils in their seating area to encourage customers to eat their meals in store rather than packaging in plastic to take away. They also have an amazing selection of bulk items. I haven't noticed many people bringing their own containers for the bulk items, though. Most people seem to use the provided paper (or even plastic) bags provided next to the bulk section. Zero Waste Ranking: 7 out of 10.
2. Brookton's Market. This adorable, rural shop isn't technically in Ithaca (it's in Brooktondale), but it's still in the general Ithaca area. This is by far my favorite shop/market. They don't have a huge selection, but what they have is always nicely presented. There are no plastic shopping baskets. Instead, there are actual wicker baskets in the produce aisle. They also offer delicious sandwiches, soups, salads, an amazing selection of tea and coffee, and they recently added a bar, so you can sit down with your pint of beer. It reminds me of some of my favorite pubs in England, as it really is a gathering place for the local community. It's the perfect low waste country store/café/market. Zero Waste Ranking: 7 out of 10.
3. P&C Grocery. This grocery definitely generates much more waste than either Brookton's Market or GreenStar, but they have been improving recently. They have started stocking many more locally grown produce, and even grains grown by local farms. They don't have many bulk items, but they do have a deli where you can request to use your own jars and containers for the items. You have to be careful at the checkout. They try to sneak in plastic bags, even when you bring your own bags. I'm constantly having to remind them that I don't want anything in plastic bags. They do stock some natural beauty items, including a selection of products by a local brand--packaged in glass and paper. Zero Waste ranking: 4 out of 10.
4. Wegmans. I'm still shocked and overwhelmed every time I find myself in Wegmans. This grocery is enormous! I try to avoid it as much as possible, but they do have the best selection of products, including a decent bulk section (well sections, as they are scattered throughout the store). If you bring your own containers, and choose items from their natural foods and beauty section, it is possible to get through the store without picking up too many items packaged in wasteful plastic. Zero Waste ranking: 5 out of 10.
5. Ithaca Farmer's Market. This is by far the best option during the warm seasons. I believe there is a winter Saturday market in the Space across from GreenStar, and the rest of year it is possible to shop at the Farmer's Market most days. I believe there is a market on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Check the website for the various locations and times. I absolutely love shopping at the farmer's market. Most people know to bring their own bags, so there is very little waste. The food vendors provide compostable containers, but you can also bring your own container. I have even seen people bringing their own plate, or bowl. You could even purchase a beautiful, handmade clay bowl and then use it right away when you visit one of the food vendors. One of my recommendations for amazing, wholesome food is Marco Mamas. Zero Waste ranking: 10 out of 10! The best!
Zero Waste Clothing:
Mama Goose. This is a fantastic hshop for mama and child items. They carry secondhand children's toys and clothes, as well as some new items by eco-friendly brands. They also have a selection o maternity clothing and products for mamas. I also love buying my soap from them. They stock two zero waste soap brands, one is made locally and the other is Sappo Hill. I love Sappo Hill jasmine soap and even use it as a shampoo bar from time to time. I tend to buy most of my son's clothes from this shop, and have even found some amazing clothing from the maternity section, like my tweed coat I wear during the autumn and winter months (you can't even tell it's meant to be a maternity coat). This shop gets a Zero Waste ranking of 8 out of 10.
Plato's Closet. This is hands down the best secondhand clothing shop in Ithaca (for men's and women's clothing). They only stock items which look practically new, and I have often found items that are still new with tags. It's mostly name brand clothing, such as Free People. I find it's a great option when you want clothing that is well made, but don't feel comfortable buying new items and supporting fast fashion. It really is a wonderful way of supporting slow fashion. If you can't afford eco-conscious and ethical brands, try to shop secondhand shops and look for quality items. Zero Waste ranking: 7 out of 10.
Petrune. This is a wonderful vintage clothing shop, but they also have new items that are inspired by past-times. They can be a bit pricey, but I have found some amazing and affordable vintage items in this shop. Zero Waste ranking: 8 out of 10.
Jillian's Drawers. This is such a fantastic mother and child shop. They are a staple in the Ithaca community. Besides offering secondhand items and new, sustainable items, Jillian's Drawers had a community room for classes and events. The clothing in this shop is mostly for kids 4 and under, and for mamas, but what they do have is excellent. I can also recommend their cloth diaper service. I participated in this program when my kid was a baby, and it was fantastic. The staff are friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. It's one of my favorite shops ever. I rank them 9 out of 10 in zero waste.
Household items and furniture:
Mimi's Attic. This shop is located in the same building as Mama Goose, and is considered its sister store. They carry beautiful household items- from furniture, to linen towels, to adorable succulents. They also offer pickup and delivery, so if you have lots of items you want to sell or buy it's worth it to look into this option to save you the hassle of renting a van. Zero Waste ranking: 8 out of 10.
Found. Do you love antiques? This is the best antique store in Ithaca. It has amazing furniture, household items, and even jewelry. I'd recommend allowing enough time to browse, because it is a bit overwhelming. It's absolutely packed with amazing antiques. Zero Waste ranking: 8 out of 10.
East Hill Antiques. This is such a charming, little antique shop. It doesn't have a lot of furniture, but it has lots of household items, curiosities, plants, and even some vintage clothing. Zero Waste ranking: 8 out of 10.
Natural beauty products.
Green Star is my go-to place for natural beauty and wellness products. Their beauty and wellness department is fairly low waste, as they offer shampoo and other products in bulk--encouraging customers to bring their own containers. They have a great selection of zero waste soaps, local products in glass jars, natural makeup, and other items. I rank them as 9 out of 10 in zero waste.
Bramble. I absolutely love this shop. They offer herbal medicine consultations as well as stocking bulk herbs and products made by local herbalists. It's a great shop if you are looking to make your own products, but also wonderful if you want really amazing pre-made items too. I would rank them 10 out of 10 in zero waste.
If you live in Ithaca, or are traveling through, I hope you will choose to support some of these shops. Some of them are more zero waste friendly than others, but each of them offers at least some zero waste options. If you can think of any I need to add to the list, let me know. I'll update this post as I discover new shops.
I've been dressing in a capsule wardrobe for around two years now, and while I have enjoyed the challenge and have refined my style because of it, I have been struggling lately to feel pulled together. I've been working from home for the most part this winter, so there are days when I don't make an effort with my appearance--preferring to remain in comfortable yoga pants all day! (That's all too easy to do when I live like a hermit)
I have noticed a lot of capsule wardrobe challenges floating around on Instagram lately, such as the 10x10 capsule wardrobe challenge started by Style Bee and project 333 but none that fit with what I want to accomplish at the moment. It's too early in the season (still winter here in the Northeast folks) for me to switch to a spring capsule wardrobe, but because I grew up in warmer climates and think that it SHOULD be spring now, I am desperate to infuse a bit of spring fashion into my existing wardrobe. I know the weather here in so unpredictable, and who knows how long it will be before spring actually arrives, so I decided to attempt a 14 day challenge. Do you want to join me? Starting on March 14, for 14 days I will dress in a 14-piece capsule wardrobe. I am limiting myself to 14 pieces total (including jewelry and shoes, but not including my winter necessaries like heavy coat and hats and mittens). I will try to post a daily update in my Instagram story and will share a wrap-up post at the end of the challenge. Tag your posts with #14springcapsule so we can share our experiences.
I haven't chosen my 14 items for this 14 days of spring capsule wardrobe yet, but I'm having fun thinking about what I want to include. I'm drawn to softer colors lately--warm soft reds and corals, soft camel and beige, warm pink. The idea is to use items that I already own, and to use this challenge as a way for making note of what I may need to replace when it is time for me to curate my spring capsule wardrobe. I'm trying to wear items I love until they are worn out, and then to replace them with similar items by slow fashion brands. After two years of dressing this way, I have a better idea of which items I actually love. Now I can choose to spend more money on good quality items instead of constantly buying cheaper items that end up worn out super fast.
I listed some of my favorite slow fashion brands in this post if you want to know where I will be shopping for some of my spring items at the end of this challenge. I'm hoping I won't need to buy much for spring. It'll be good to sort through my wardrobe though, and to finally pack away the winter clothes I know I want to keep.
One of my main style inspirations lately is Cassidy of @life_simplified whose simple, effortless, earthy style is wonderful! I've also been curating boards on Pinterest, to help keep on track of my evolving style. My spring wardrobe one is here if you want to see my style inspirations.
I hope you join me in this March 2019 capsule wardrobe challenge of dressing in 14 items for 14 days. It starts on March 14, 2019, but if this challenge benefits you feel free to adapt it and start it at any time. I look forward to seeing your #14springcapsule posts.
How to not go crazy when winter drags on. A slow living guide for appreciating winter as we transition to spring—Caitlin Gemmell.
In my corner of the world, on the top of a hill in a cold Northern place, winter is still howling and raging. Many of you are posting beautiful springtime photos of snowdrops, crocuses, and even daffodils. I admit I was feeling a tad resentful, and unhappy to be living in such a harsh climate. I grew up in warm and mild climates (Southern England and Oklahoma), so it’s easy for me to compare the first 18 years of my life with the past decade or so of living in the Northeastern USA, and to feel wistful for warmer places that actually get springtime weather.
But then, on a warmer day, I walked in the wood surrounding my house and I felt so much gratitude for the beautiful nature in my own backyard. We may only get a month of spring weather at the most, before summer arrives in a frenzy, but I sure feel appreciative of this winter wonderland.
So while some of you are out there enjoying mild weather and the first flowers of the season, I am still curled up in my winter nest with plenty of hot tea, warm blankets, and good books. Hygge living for the win! I might still crave spring as intensely as Rapunzel’s mother craved that green of the same name, but I have found ways to cope—to slow down and appreciate these final two months of winter.
If you find yourself in the same boat, or are just curious about my slow living tips, read on!
•Immerse yourself in a good book. I’ve been reading Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy. I recently completed The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower. Both are set in medieval Russia and feature a Winter King. The winter scenes are so hauntingly beautiful. As I lose myself in these incredible fairytales, I find myself looking up at the snowy scene outside my own window. These books help me to appreciate winter again, if even just enough to make it bearable.
•Have an indoor picnic. Are you yearning for spring, but it’s still only 20 degrees Fahrenheit? How about creating an indoor picnic? My son and I did this today. I boiled some eggs, sliced some fruits and veggies, and made a thermos of tea. We spread our picnic blanket on the floor and had a lovely indoor picnic.
• Treat yourself to a facial, herbal bath, or foot soak. The hot water is so soothing and comforting when it’s bitterly cold outside. If you add fresh, floral essential oils you can pretend it’s spring for a moment.
• If you have seasonal capsule wardrobes like me, try to pack away some of your winter clothes and get out just a few spring pieces that you can layer with your winter clothes. I added some spring floral scarves to my wardrobe and packed away my heavy winter plaid scarves. It’s a simple change, but one that helps me embrace the spring feeling even when it’s too cold to fully dress in spring clothes.
•Get a bouquet of flowers from your local grocery, or try planting indoor bulbs (like paper whites). It’s so helpful having green, growing things indoors.
• Make tea, chocolate, or coffee in your most beautiful, extravagant cup and sip it slowly. Be present. Enjoy every single sip.
•Grab a pair of binoculars, bundle up, and go on a nature observation walk. Record how many plants you can identify, birds you spot, other wildlife you come across. Perhaps you will even see the first signs of spring.
• Keep a gratitude journal. I’ll be posting on Instagram about a month long gratitude journal challenge for the month of March. Want to join in? Stay tuned for more info, or join my email list to be notified when this challenge begins.
When I was a teenager, I had a huge walk-in closet jam-packed with random clothing items and yet I felt like I had nothing to wear. Sound familiar? Although my family was already embracing a greener lifestyle by eating organic food and using eco-friendly cleaning products, we were far from being conscious consumers.
It wasn’t until my early twenties when I moved to a forward thinking college town in the Northeastern USA that I really examined my lifestyle and decided to CHOOSE a better way.
Fast forward ten(ish) years and I’ve learned a lot about eco-friendly slow fashion, zero waste living, and have refined my style so it suits ME rather than what the conventional world thinks a “mompreneur” should look like.
I’ve been on this journey for many years now, but I still have a long way to go. It was only earlier last year that I swapped my recycled plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one after all. 🙊
Here are some tips for finding your signature style and making healthy, responsible fashion choices. I’m also sharing some of my favorite slow fashion brands (not sponsored, just ones I personally love).
•Step one: find your style! When I was younger I tended to like a hodgepodge of different styles. My closest was a mess! Nothing went with anything else. It’s only been the past few years that I’ve really refined my style and discovered what works for me. I recommend using Pinterest to start tracking the styles you like. When you start noticing a pattern make note of the key words used to describe those similar styles that keep cropping up on your style board. I noticed I like certain colors, textures, fabrics, asymmetrical cuts. I’ve learned that my style is mostly a blend of ethereal faerie with earthy eco-chic and British countryside. See if you can come up with some keywords for your style.
•Don’t buy ANY new clothes for three months. I know this seems difficult, but it will help you to notice what clothes you wear again and again. At the end of the three months donate all of the items you didn’t wear (keep items you didn’t wear but might need at some point —wedding guest dresses as an example. Only keep one or two of these every once in awhile items).
•Now that you have only items you love in your closet, make a list of what you need to fill it in. Try to stick to a cohesive color palette to make life simpler.
•Try to buy what you need from secondhand stores, or through clothing swaps to reduce waste. If you must buy new items try purchasing from slow fashion/eco fashion brands. If you buy out of season you can usually find things on sale.
Here are a list of some of my favorite brands.
Easy Living Hats. Olivia’s eco-friendly handmade hats are some of my wardrobe staples. I have one in dusty blue and one in poppy red. These hats last for years and years and are so stylish! Choose well-made, stylish items over poorly made trendy items always!
Easy Living Hats can be found on Instagram
Another slow fashion advocate I admire is Haley of Atonement Design. I have partnered with Haley in the past, but this post is in no way sponsored. Her work is really amazing and I highly recommend her jewelry. I have my eye on one of her dresses for summertime. A percentage of proceeds are donated to help stop human trafficking. Fashion with a cause? Yes please!
Atonement Design is also on Instagram
Another eco-clothing company I admire is Christy Dawn. They make small batches of dresses using deadstock—the discarded leftover fabric from fashion houses.
Hands down, the best shoe company I’ve found is Nisolo. They are sustainably made, elegant, chic, earthy, and made to last.
I LIVED in a Gaia Conceptions skirt for years, until it began to fall apart. I absolutely love the earthy elegance of Gaia Conceptions designs, the eco-friendly hemp fabric, and low impact dyes.
I’ll share some more favorites in my next newsletter. In the meantime, do you have any tips you’d like to share for living a sustainable lifestyle? Share your #enchantedsimplicity posts on Instagram.
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