What I Learned From Spring Capsule Wardrobe Challenge.
I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that it is almost April. Earlier this month, I started a 14 day capsule wardrobe challenge. The purpose of this challenge was for me to figure out which pieces of clothing I might need to replace, or add to my spring capsule wardrobe, and to see how my style has evolved.
I plunged right in on March 14th, fully intent on dressing in 14 pieces of clothing for this early spring capsule wardrobe challenge. Around day 4 or 5, I could already tell I made some poor choices, and by day 6 I caught my son's cold I'd been fighting off for well over three weeks. Let's just say, this challenge was a major fail on my part!
I promised I would do a wrap-up post to share what I learned from my spring capsule wardrobe challenge, so even though I wasn't able to complete it, here are my thoughts about it anyway.
It's okay to fail!
Sometimes we aren't able to complete what we set out to do, or we end up with unexpected results. This is OKAY. Don't beat yourself up if you don't excel at something. I could have kept going with this challenge, even after I got sick, but I decided it was more important to just rest and listen to my body.
Take time to play!
I learned that too much structure stifles me. I need room for play! It was an interesting experience, limiting myself to such a small number of clothing, and while I will most definitely continue to curate my version of a capsule wardrobe, I need to have more variety. I love to dress up! Ever since I was a small child, I have enjoyed dressing up. When I limit myself to just a few pieces of clothing (and accessories) I lose that sense of childlike wonder and fun!
Don't stray from your personal style!
I kept seeing these gorgeous, cohesive capsule wardrobes on Pinterest and Instagram, and I think I let this influence how I decided to go about curating this spring capsule wardrobe for the challenge. Obviously, I didn't buy anything for the challenge. The point was to use what I already had in my wardrobe, so that I could determine what I still needed and what I might be ready to let go of. Also, I should mention that I have purchased more tailored clothing over the past few years, partly because I was in grad school at the time and wanted to look more "professional." Some of these items will remain in my capsule wardrobe, but I learned that many of them just aren't my style. I didn't include any of these items in my 14 day spring capsule wardrobe challenge, so that I could determine how I really felt about them. I did not miss them one little bit!
Embrace your femininity!
I used to love wearing skirts and dresses. I stopped wearing them when I was in grad school, and I kind of got our of the habit of wearing them. I didn't think to include any in my 14 day challenge, and I wish I had. The weather began to warm up during my spring capsule wardrobe challenge, and I found myself wishing I could twirl in a long skirt. When I curate my spring capsule wardrobe next week, I will add plenty of dresses and skirts. You may not be a skirts and dresses kind of gal, but I sincerely believe that every woman should wear feminine clothing from time to time. There's just something so magical, empowering, and freeing about skirts and dresses. I even believe boys and men need to wear skirts and dresses too, but that's a whole other story for another time.
I'm glad I participated in this challenge, even though I didn't complete it. In the end, it helped me accomplish what I was hoping. I feel confident about curating my spring capsule wardrobe, but I know I won't feel guilty about adding in more items than usual. After a long, dreary winter, I am ready to play. How do I play? By dressing up, of course!
Did you participate in this spring capsule wardrobe challenge too? Share what you learned in the comments, or connect with me on Instagram.
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8 Tips For Choosing The Right Clothes For Your Spring Capsule Wardrobe: What I'm Learning From My #14springcapsule Challenge.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you I will receive a small commission if you decide to click through on affiliate links and make a purchase.
I'm on day 5 of my spring capsule wardrobe challenge and I'm already questioning my choices! The 14 pieces I chose for this 14 days of dressing in a capsule wardrobe challenge are proving to be hard to mix and match when the weather keeps jumping around. I knew the weather is unpredictable this time of year, and that this capsule wardrobe challenge would be difficult because of the back and forth from warm sixty degree sunny weather to freak'n cold and snowy, but I wasn't expecting it to be THIS hard! So, I sat down and jotted down some thoughts about my process so far and what I have learned.
I came up with 8 Tips For Choosing the Right Clothes For Your Spring Capsule Wardrobe. Part of the reason why I decided to challenge myself with the 14 days of dressing in 14 items capsule wardrobe challenge is to gain some clarity as to which items I still love, what works for me, what I need to change, and which pieces I may need to acquire in order to REALLY feel good about my seasonal capsule wardrobe. I hope these tips help you choose the items for your spring capsule wardrobe. I'm planning on following them too, when I'm ready to curate my spring capsule wardrobe. Let's hope that winter will disappear soon, so that spring may return in all her glory and we can actually wear spring clothes without having to swathe ourselves in fifteen layers of winter woolens to stay warm!
8 Tips For Choosing The Right Clothes For Your Spring Capsule Wardrobe.
1. Know your STYLE IDENTITY and SEASON. Whether you are a fan of Kibbe types, David Zyla's seasonal archetypes, or the classic "Color Me Beautiful" system, it's extremely helpful to have an idea of what works for your body type. I'm talking about lines, shapes, textures, colors. Most women have an intuitive knowledge of what suits us best, so if you are just starting out on your style journey--trust your intuition, your sixth beauty sense. My style identity Pinterest board is here if you want to take a peek for inspiration, or just out of curiosity. I highly recommend either cutting styles you like out of magazines or starting a Pinterest board where you pin the styles that call to you. If you don't know your color season or image archetype(s), Pinterest is a great resource for helping you along that journey.
2. Read "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up." This book, more than any other has been such a source of inspiration to me. It's helped me to find the things that ACTUALLY spark joy for me and to know when to part with the rest. The process she has outlined in this gem of a book for sorting through clothing (and properly storing clothing) was so useful! Another book I am keen to add to my library, that I keep hearing amazing things about is "The Curated Closet." I would recommend starting with this book if you are just beginning your journey towards slow living and capsule wardrobe curation.
3. Follow Marie Kondo's advice (from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) and get all of your clothes and put them in one pile on the floor. When I say all, I mean ALL. Anything that's in storage, bring it out. If you live in a place with four distinct seasons (like me) you may need to create a seasonal capsule wardrobe rather than have a capsule wardrobe that works all year long. Even though I curate my capsule wardrobe at the start of each season, I tend to keep articles of clothing that can be worn all year round. For example: under layers like camisoles can be worn in the summer and in the winter. If you are curating a spring season capsule wardrobe, go ahead and sort through all of your clothes using Marie Kondo's method. Pack away anything that is out of season (like heavy winter coats). Try to only keep in season items in your wardrobe. I personally use a clothing rack for hanging most of my in-season clothes. I also have baskets on a shelf for storing lingerie, socks, sweaters, and items that should be folded.
***TIP*** If you are just starting out and are feeling a bit lost, rather than attempt to curate a capsule wardrobe now, I'd recommend returning your clothes to your closet. Every time you wear an outfit, either put it at the back of your closet, or turn the hanger around the opposite way from how you usually position it. After one-two months check your closet to see which items you wore the most. Keep those and think really hard about what to do with the rest. If they are items you might need for special/every once in awhile events go ahead and keep them, otherwise GIVE THEM AWAY!****
4. Now that you have sorted through your clothes, decide on a color palette and TRY TO CREATE AS MANY OUTFITS AS POSSIBLE USING THE CLOTHES YOU WANT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR CAPSULE. This tip was mentioned by theminimalistwardrobe.com in her post. This is what I neglected to do when I choose my 14 pieces for my 14 day capsule wardrobe challenge! Major hand to forehead moment on my part!!! Hence, the reason I am writing this post. This is where knowing your color season really comes in handy. Most people recommend using mostly neutrals for your capsule wardrobe, with just two or three at most other colors to add interest. While this system works for those who need a more conventional style for work, or for those who look best in classic styles, this might not be the best option for EVERYONE. Again, know your STYLE IDENTITY. Then you can choose a color palette that fits YOU.
5. Make a list of any upcoming events, types of outfits you are required to wear (such as work uniforms or outfits that adhere to a dress code), outfits you tend to wear on days off, etc. Write down EVERYTHING. It's important to plan. This was also an oversight on my part when I was planning my 14 day capsule wardrobe. I failed to take into consideration the fact that I need old clothes when I engage in homeschool activities with my kid (like baking bread on Mondays and painting on Thursdays), that I wear yoga pants often because I actually do yoga every day, etc. Think about YOUR LIFESTYLE. A capsule wardrobe isn't just for business professionals. It can make getting dressed every day so much easier for everyone. It also helps you feel positive about yourself when you are dressing in clothes you actually love and that express your style identity. If that means wearing yoga pants almost every day, so be it, as long as that is authentic for you.
6. Choose a number. Not everyone is in agreement about how many items should be included in a capsule wardrobe. Think about what it realistic and doable for YOU. Don't try to follow anyone else's system, unless you feel like you need that added structure (if you are just starting on your capsule wardrobe journey as an example). Last season, I limited myself to 35 items (that included my mittens, scarves, coat, winter boots, and jewelry). Although I felt pretty good about what I was wearing, I also felt like some of the fun and joy of creating outfits was missing.
I LOVE clothes. Dressing up has always been one of my very favorite things in the world. I'm trying to be a conscious consumer who advocates for slow fashion, but does this mean I shouldn't do what brings me joy? Sometimes, shopping at thrift stores and vintage clothing shops and acquiring new items is something that I need to do in order to feel authentically ME.
I'm not going to limit myself to a set number of clothing this time around, but I am still going to make sure that everything I include in my capsule wardrobe goes with everything else. I'm not going to buy new (or new OLD) clothing just to be buying something, but I will give a lot of thought to what items I need to fill out my wardrobe and spark that sense of childlike joy and wonder in me. Then, I will look for those items and will choose to purchase them from sustainable/ethical/slow fashion brands, OR (more likely) purchase secondhand (which really is the most sustainable option).
I feel like my number will be around 45, but who knows? It could be more, could be less. Think about what is realistic for you, and don't feel guilty if you end up with more items than most people think appropriate to be considered a "capsule wardrobe."
7. Add fun, just in case items. Are there items you haven't worn, but keep thinking you will wear one day? Do you smile and feel happy every time you see those particular items? My tip: add them to your capsule wardrobe. Force yourself to wear them. If they don't feel right, go ahead and pass them on to someone who will appreciate them. Chances are you love those items for a reason. Maybe they remind you of your child self, or a dear friend, or bring back memories of a certain place you visited on a wonderful holiday. If you genuinely love them and feel happy wearing them (if only every once in awhile) go ahead and keep them. For years I had this kaftan type of shirt that a friend whose family was from India gave to me long ago. She was actually my older sibling's friend who gave me the shirt when I was a gawky adolescent. She had such amazing style and the shirt always made me think of her. The color wasn't my best color, but I always felt happy whenever I wore that shirt. I literally had this shirt for twenty years, until it fell apart! It wasn't exactly my style, or color, but I kept it for so long because of the amazing memories and how I felt every time I did wear it.
8. This last tip is for those of you who might be struggling with finding your unique style, or feeling good about your spring capsule wardrobe. It could also be just for fun for those of you who feel pretty happy with your seasonal capsule wardrobe. Look through old photographs. Think about who you were when you were a kid. That was when you were most authentically YOU! Try to reconnect with your child self. She may have a thing or two to share with you! Also make note of the outfits your past selves wore that looked AMAZING. What was it about those styles that you liked? Are there elements you can add to your current look? You probably don't want to recreate the entire look, or you could look completely dated, but try to add some elements from those FABULOUS OUTFITS to your current look to keep it fresh and keep you feeling INSPIRED.
So, those are my 8 tips for choosing the right clothes for your spring capsule wardrobe. I'd love to hear about your journey towards curating a seasonal capsule wardrobe. Which items are you most excited to add to your spring capsule wardrobe? Let me know in the comments, or shoot me a message on Instagram.
You might want to read my blog post about Creating a Spring Capsule Wardrobe so you can participate in the 14 day challenge. The 14 items I chose for the 14 day challenge are here.
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.
"There is nothing in life that can't be solved by a cup of tea with a friend."
I've been blessed with many amazing female friends throughout my life. When I think about my dearest friends, my memories often involve sharing tea and conversation with them. I grew up in a family that acknowledged the ritual of teatime every afternoon. We started our day with a cup of tea, had tea breaks at 11 o'clock, afternoon tea at 4, and an evening cuppa as my dad read aloud to us.
Tea has always brought me comfort and a sense of stability. Besides drinking regular black tea, I was drawn to herbalism and the magical properties of various herbal tea blends from around the age of twelve. When I was a tiny child, I was obsessed with making potions. I suppose as I have gotten older, tea has become my grown-up potion of choice! I brew different blends depending on the moon phase and my intent.
Sometimes I share these tea potions with women in ritual (Red Tent Ceremonies, women's circles, even at swap parties). A few years ago I was fortunate to participate in a Japanese Tea Ceremony with women I am close with. There is just something so magical, comforting, and quietly powerful about tea! In honor of International Women's Day, I am sharing some of my favorite tea blends with ideas for how you can create your very own tea rituals.
"She would cure people in her neighborhood by going into her garden, plucking a couple of leaves, and brewing teas." --Selenis Leyva
MOON MILK: A delicious milky tea to be drunk before bedtime, when you need a good night's sleep, or wish to engage in Dream Tending activities. You can use your favorite milk as a base (almond, hazelnut, regular cow's milk) and add different herbs. I like lavender moon milk best of all, but there are lots of different recipes available. Here is one I like:
1 cup milk of choice
1 tbsp. dried lavender flowers
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp sweetener of choice
pinch of Himalayan pink salt
**1/2- 1 tsp healthy additions (such as reishi mushroom, ashwagandha, etc.) if desired.
Add the milk to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring milk to a simmer, then shut off hear and add in lavender. Allow to steep for a few minutes and then strain out the lavender. Pour into a blender and add the rest of the ingredients. Blend until frothy. Pour into your favorite mug.
RITUAL: After you have your tea, sit in a comfortable place and sip your moon milk. You can use this time to visualize the dreams you wish to have when you go to sleep. The more you work with your dreams, the more you can begin crafting the dream you want. If you wish to engage in a sleepy time ritual instead, just drink your moon milk, savoring each sip. Engage in deep breathing exercise and allow the stress to slip away.
MUGWORT SCRYING TEA
Here's a recipe for a tea you can drink with witchy, wild women friends before meeting in circle for a ritual which helps you boost your intuition.
1 tbsp mugwort leaves
1 tsp peppermint
1 tsp Melissa (lemon balm)
Brew the tea and let it steep for a few minutes. Drink the tea with your women before gazing into crystal balls, choosing tarot cards, or other ritual activities which help you tap into your intuition.
One of my fondest memories is of drinking chai in sturdy white mugs with friends at a festival. It was after midnight and we were shrouded in darkness except for the small bonfires we walked past. The chai tent had silk cushions on the ground and was lit by many candles in glass jars. I grew up making a particular chai recipe, thanks to a family friend from India, but this one experience helped me to see how magical the ritual of making chai can be. Since then, I have refined my recipe, and I drink this tea anytime I am feeling uninspired and run down. This tea helps to spark my passion and creativity. It's wonderful when drunk with close friends, or with a lover. Try to make it and serve it at a meetup with other creatives, like a writer's or painter's group.
fresh ginger root
milk of choice
sweetener of choice
Place the tea, cardamom, chopped ginger root, 1 to 2 cinnamon sticks in a pot and cover with water. Place on stove and let it come to a boil. Turn down to a lower heat and let simmer for an hour or two, adding water as needed. Strain into cups and add milk and sweetener to taste.
My son and I have been drinking Lavender London Fogs anytime we need that extra bit of comfort. It's the perfect tea to share with a friend who is going through a rough time. Best when drunk on a rainy day.
1 tbsp Earl Grey tea (or 2-3 teabags).
1 tsp lavender flowers
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
milk to taste
sweetener to taste
Place tea leaves and lavender in a pot and cover with water. Simmer for a few minutes. Strain tea into blender. Add desired milk and sweetener and blend until frothy.
REGULAR BLACK TEA
This is my everyday tea, but that doesn't make it any less special. I start my morning by filling the kettle. I place it on the stove to boil and go about making my tea. As I make my tea, I watch the birds at the kitchen window feeder. When I've made my tea, I sit down at the table and spend half an hour writing in my journal--completing my morning pages. Sometimes I make a full afternoon tea with sandwiches and scones too. Regular black tea is the best tea for afternoon tea, or a cream tea. No matter how you choose to include black tea in a ritual, just still your mind and be present. Enjoy every sip. Count your blessings.
your favorite black tea (I use PG Tips as my everyday tea in a mug kind of tea, but if I feel like making loose leaf tea in a pot I use TeaLeaves Co tea or Ithaca Coffee Company English Breakfast).
milk to taste
sugar to taste (I never put sugar in my tea).
I hope you enjoy these tea recipes and suggestions for tea rituals. See if you can connect with your women today, preferably over a cup of tea.
I'll leave you with some quotes about women that I love. Have a blessed day friends!
"A wise woman is never far from her teapot."
"Women are like teabags. We don't know our true strength until we are in hot water." --Eleanor Roosevelt.
"Women are going to form a chain, a greater sisterhood than the world has ever known." --Nellie L. McClung
"A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eyes and gives it a wink."
"A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform." --Diane Mariechild.
*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.
297! 297! That's the number of unread messages in the primary folder of my email. When I started my blogging and Instagram journey, I anticipated many hours of...well, connecting with others and writing. I didn't really give thought to how much of my time would be consumed by answering emails. How do you organize your emails, so that they don't get out of control? The thing is, the newsletters I subscribe to and really want to read often end up in the "promotions" folder of my Gmail account, while spam messages somehow find their way to my main messages folder. I do tend to delete these kinds of messages immediately, but as I was sick last week I rather got behind on checking emails. I've also reached that point where I'm receiving requests to review books by indie authors, and/or from publishers asking of my interest in reviewing soon-to-be-released books. I also receive offers to collaborate by brands (most WAY out of my areas of interest).
It's a new month, and I'm ready for a fresh start. I wish I could say I tackled all of those unread messages before February came to an end, but alas I did not. However, I'm determined to make this month flow a bit more easily. That requires more organization on my part.
So, first thing this morning (as I was drinking my morning tea and daydreaming about spring flowers), I decided one thing I could do to keep on top of things was to compile my March 2019 TBR list. There are some books I have committed to read and review this month, so naturally those made it to the list first. I thought it might be useful for you to read about my process for choosing my monthly tbr, and to share my own March 2019 reading list. This reading list and my explanations for why I chose these books, might serve as a guide for those of you hoping to compile a monthly tbr.
Oh, and as to all of those requests...I've decided that for now it's in my best interest to only respond to the ones I'm interested in. Once I get caught up, I'll try to go back and politely decline the offers that aren't the best fit for me. I welcome you to share any tips with me for organizing and responding to emails in a timely fashion, without getting overwhelmed. I'm all about simple living and embracing an Enchanted Simplicity lifestyle after all. I want to grow my business, but I also want to appreciate a slower lifestyle and spend time playing with my son and seeing the beauty and magic in the everyday.
My March 2019 Reading List:
I organized my list into categories. I know from experience that I tend to be a mood reader, so I wanted to include books I know I tend to enjoy re-reading this time of year, as well as some to consider in case I want to swap out some books. This gives me some flexibility, while still keeping me organized.
The books at the top of my list are the books which were gifted to me by the publishers. I am not obligated to read "The Guest Book" by Sarah Blake by a certain date, but I did feel like attempting to read it before it is released to the general public (publication date is May 7, 2019). The other gifted book is "The Beantown Girls" by Jane Healy. I collaborated with the lovely folks at Get Red PR on this one, so I am obligated to at least post about this book quite soon. It will be the first book I read this month.
I also ended up receiving an e-book from my library, which I had put on hold. That book is one I have been excited to read for so long. It is "Muse of Nightmares" by Laini Taylor. I loved "Strange The Dreamer" and can't wait to get started on this sequel.
"Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" is the book of the month for Maidens of Murder book club. I've been wanting to participate in this book club ever since I found out about it a few months back. I have read "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" but years ago. I look forward to re-reading this book. Agatha Christie will always be among my favorite authors.
I received "Letters to My Daughter" by Maya Angelou when I was a rep for Capsule Books. I loved my experience with Capsule Books, but unfortunately wasn't able to finish this book at that time. I want to read it from beginning to end this time.
I started reading "Big Magic" a couple months ago. I knew when I picked it up that I wasn't going to read it quickly. I enjoy non-fiction, but lately I want to devour fiction books and just want non-fiction to fill in the gaps. I enjoy reading this book at a leisurely pace, perhaps reading a few pages a night before bed. I might try to finish it this month, but very likely it will end up on my tbr for next month too!
The last few books are ones I have already read (many times), but might wish to re-read this month if I have time. If I feel uninspired by my current read and find myself in a reading slump, it usually works for me to re-read old favorites in order to find my rhythm once more. I've included these books for that reason.
The last book I shared isn't really a book, but a collection of books. I joined NetGalley a while back, and have a few galleys I need to catch up on. I tend to choose my next read according to my mood, which is why I didn't list individual books.
I failed to mention my book for @faesoftheforest book club. This month we are supposed to read "Daughter of the Forest." I hope to receive my library copy soon.
As far as organizing my monthly tbr, I tend to make a list and then put the physical books in a basket. My Kindle e-reader remains in that same basket, so I can easily access my e-books from NetGalley, and/or library loans.
My process for choosing books for my monthly tbr:
1. Write down all of the books I have committed to review by a certain date. Are there any coming up that month? Add these to the top of the list on another page.
2. I am a mood reader and tend to read seasonally as well. I also tend to re-read favorites according to season. For example: "I Capture the Castle" is one of my favorite books. I enjoy re-reading it every year, and usually in the spring since the book begins in that season. Add seasonal books and books I know I will re-read that month or season to my list.
3. Are there library books that are due back soon? Add those books to the list.
So tell me, how do you organize your monthly tbr? Are you a mood reader like me? Do you feel better if you make a list and stick with it? I'd love to know. Share with me in the comments or come find me on Instagram.
It's no secret that I love nature, magic, and folklore; so when I won a giveaway hosted by the lovely Karen of Flower & Fable, I was ecstatic. I've been following Karen's Instagram page for quite awhile now, and am constantly impressed by her brand and everything it stands for.
I once lived in England, and still consider the British countryside to be HOME. Flower & Fable is inspired by Karen's own home base in Wales. She uses real botanical flowers, which she lost wax cast in sterling silver. She includes folkore about each flower too. Mine is of a gorse blossom, one of my very favorite plants. I always adored these cheerful yellow flowers, especially in the springtime when pregnant ponies devour the pina colada scented blossoms.
I have been curating seasonal capsule wardrobes for a couple years now, so it is important to me that every item I add to my wardrobe should be meaningful to me. This is a necklace I know I will always cherish. For one, it reminds me of my ancestral home. Secondly, it is my exact style. It is simple, elegant, nature inspired. Thirdly, it is made by someone I admire, whose way of being present in nature is similar to my own.
I chose the smaller sized pendant on a chain, but Karen also offers earrings, larger pendants, and bracelets. She even offers child-sized jewelry. Everything is beautifully packaged in a sustainable way too. There was no wasteful packaging to deal with.
I highly recommend this brand, and plan on purchasing more items from Flower & Fable. They would make lovely gifts for all sorts of occasions, or just to treat yourself! I have my eye on the motherhood bangle!
My gorse necklace is one of my everyday staples now, and will be included in my spring capsule wardrobe and my summer capsule wardrobe. I absolutely love it. I adore that one of the symbolic meanings of gorse is INDEPENDENCE. This is so appropriate, as I am working towards crafting my own, unique life. I'm weaving my own fate! This gorse blossom necklace will be a constant reminder that I am my own authority. Thank you dear Karen for sending it my way. Flower & Fable can be found on Instagram www.instagram.com/flower_and_fable/ and on the web www.flowerandfable.co.uk/
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.
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