Winter Solstice already!

Blessings to all this cheery day. I love Yule; it’s peak darkness, the heigh of the festive frenzy for me and the day on which I always aim to have everything sorted for the impending christmas and new year feasting and fun. ¬†I shall be shopping for groceries later today and then we can just rela-a-a-a-ax ūüôā It’s actually ridiculous quite how many attempts I’ve made to write a post; only to have the time slip by, then think of something else to write about, ¬†plan to add that in to the original post, only for the time to slip by again… ¬†and so on! ¬†So many things to chat about and they get lost in time so to get some routine in place for next year, I plan to set aside two specific time slots each week to write blog posts… ¬†We’ll see how that works out ! So, the first post was to be about my end of season 3 wardrobe round up and starting the next season on December 1st… yeh, I’m very aware it’s now the 21st ¬† I mentioned that I was so happy with the autumn one that I probably wouldn’t change much… and I didn’t. ¬†When I opened up my clothes trunk I discovered that I didn’t much like some of the clothes I had in there. ¬†I had ( what I previously thought was ) a lovely warm wool dress which I admit I held on to as it was partially made from yak wool ! ¬†I never even knew such a thing was in clothes. ¬†Anyway, the colour was a bit like porridge and not great on me – understatement ¬†– but the Teen’s calm and considered reaction to it went along the lines of ” Burn it, burn it now”. ¬†Ohhhh it was so soft soft, warm and snuggly and I briefly considered dyeing it… but I tend not to do that unless I’m guaranteed a good result. So it went on ebay, and now has new home and I had some money to buy something more suitable – yay! IMG_5307 ¬† And on that subject of dyeing; see that ticket ^ there, that’s from a fab (and too expensive to simply get rid of) pair of suede boots which I loved when I bought them… until I realised that their brown tone really didn’t go well with my new wardrobe odour schemes. ¬†A fine and fancy cobblers has opened up in the next village from me so I took them in to enquire if it was possible to dye them. ¬†They had them for about 2 weeks and I started to lose hope but eventually, after many coats and drying out in-between they were ready. The cheery man gave me a can of suede colour refresher and the price of the actually dyeing process and the can of spray was just ¬£20. ¬†Which, if you knew the original cost of the boots ( mumble mumble mumble pounds) is well worth the money. They’re now my favourite pair of throw-on boots and have been worn more in the last 3 weeks than in the previous 2 years of ownership. ¬†I very much agree with the little mantra on the ticket and it’s something I have always lived by. ¬†I am perfectly happy to buy cheap and/or pre-loved clothes, but I don’t buy cheap shoes. ¬†Feet often carry the weight of your entire body and if you use them to move about all day they deserve to be supported by a good sole and covered in quality material as well as a pretty design. Anyway, back to the wardrobe; ¬†I think I said the only pieces I hadn’t worn during the last season were 3 frocks. ¬†I decided that one was just wrong for the season – removed to another season – one was too clingy – ahem, still is – and I was wearing the other that week. ¬†The occasion I was wearing it for was a funeral. Not a formal drab funeral, but a memorial and farewell type funeral at which I was reading a eulogy so I chose this navy dress with small beige dots on. ¬†The bodice fit beautifully, the neckline was perfect and I’d previously altered the sleeves to a more flattering length, but when I out it on I still wasn’t overly happy with it. ¬†It just didn’t seem to hang right at the back but it was too late to come up with another outfit so I wore it and was perfectly comfortable. ¬†But after I’d washed it I decided that it seemed ‘right’ to let it go. I’m certainly not suggesting that it’s necessary to get rid of an item that’s been worn to a funeral, purely for that reason. Although I admit I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable with wearing clothes after… However, on this occasion it was the thing to do and I feel no shame in letting go a piece that I wasn’t completely happy with anyway. IMG_5438¬†^ That’s an outfit from the previous seasons which I’ve continued to wear as the temperatures have stayed fairly warm for the time of year. The shade of the cardi isn’t ideal for my colouring but with the scarf and wearing it open I can get away with it and the good fit along with the softness of cashmere is enough to make me stick with it for now, looks great with the boots too. Had either of my girls liked it I would have let it go to them, but neither of them were taken with the colour either hmmm… IMG_5439 This is another set I like wearing; black skinny jeans, black slightly fitted cardi with a bright pink top underneath to cheer it up. The scarf is black and white check rather than the grey it appears to be and ¬†does a great job of distracting the eye from my somewhat generous generous curves as well as elevating ¬†a few items of clothing to an ‘outfit’. ¬†I’m a great believer in the power of scarves, they add interest and tend to either lie flat against clothes or create some texture around the neckline. I used to try long statement type necklaces to pull an outfit together but found they’d just bounce against my boobs when I walked which just emphasises rather than detracts from their abundance! IMG_5462 I used the same scarf in a more casual way when wearing bf jeans and a loose jumper. Quite a lot of different colours going on here and I was a bit unsure when I first wore it. ¬†I’d originally tried it with a plain black scarf which hangs down but then it felt a bit too heavy and didn’t sit right as the jumper neckline is wide so needs a lighter scarf that sort of sits more like a collar and the colours felt a bit ‘two by two’ / ‘matchy matchy.’ ¬†I LOVE those shoes and really dont wear them too often. ¬†The reason being that in spite of sturdy construction – solid platform wedge sole with absolute no flexibility and a bugger to drive in – they are suede all over ¬†and those flowers are embroidered and I am so scared of damaging them so they can’t be worn again. ¬†I almost tip toe about in them. ¬†I’m not precious about most things but if I really love an item I will wear it carefully in order to prolong its life with me! IMG_5443 Above is another regularly worn work outfit. It’s a casual work place which is great as suits and buttoned up shirt collars really don’t look good on me. ¬†So, a plain black top, the ubiquitous black skinny jeans and new favourite boots topped off with a cheery red cardi and lightweight black / white owl print scarf. ¬†I suppose I could have worn this scarf with that jeans and jumper… not sure, I’ll have to try it out another time, see if I like it. So, I have 35 main items in Season 4. ¬†This includes my 5 coats: long smart black wool coat, long smart pink wool coat, short black wool jacket, short brown tweedish jacket and black leather biker jacket. I’ve not yet worn either of the long coats, it hasn’t felt cold enough yet. My 35 doesn’t include foot wear – 2 pairs of wellies, ¬†2 long black boots; 1 smart leather, 1 more casual fur lined wedge sole suede ( NOT ugg-ly boots ) 1 long brown riding style boots and the newly dyed black ankle boots, the pretty black ankle strap shoes & red patent heels. Nor does my 35 incorporate scarves : 3 wonderfully warm pashmina style in black, winter white and red, ¬†the 2 black/white ones pictured above, 2 pink ones, navy spotty one, or the thick snuggly yet rarely worn wool ones in pink or sage green – gifts that may not last be one this season… I dont include underwear, hosiery, pyjamas or leggings either, or vest tops worn under other things for added warmth/ layering, I have 5 of these. Nor do I include sloppy T or yoga pants worn for exercising. My 2 pairs of leather gloves and my 2 wool hats aren’t included either, nor are my 2 pairs of comfy/ warm/slouchy sweatpants which don’t leave the house – ever! Party/occasion frocks still don’t count either. So, what exactly does my 35 include then ? IMG_5032¬†Err no! My 35 is made up : 5 x coats¬†: as mentioned above 6 trousers/ jeans:¬†2 pairs of black skinny jeans, 1 x indigo smart ¬†jeans, 1 x faded, slightly distressed boyfriend jeans, 1 x red jeans. 1 x dark undistinguishable brownish, reddish colour which I’m dyeing black. Cant have too many pairs of black skinny jeans! 10 tops : 2 x black tops, 2 x red tops, 2 x grey tops, 2 x stripe tops, 1 x pink top, 1 x white top 2 dresses : 1 x black wool dress, 1 x navy jersey dress – still too clingy… 1 skirt : pink -purple tweed style – carried over from last year. Teen detests it, I’m undecided…. 5 cardigans : 3 x cashmere – black, red, mouseish brown, 1 x long cream aran, 1 x long navy 6 jumpers : 2 x pink jumpers ¬†(1 smart, 1 slouch) 2 x black jumpers (1 cute bow neck, 1 v neck) ¬†1 x navy slouch, 1 x red So, I still have far more items overall than I truly need. I estimate I’ll be shedding between 3 and 5 items by the end of the season and I already got rid of 5 before narrowing it down to the ones above. Interestingly, I’ve found ¬†that now that I’m dressing for my real life – work, riding, shopping, family and occasional social forays, as opposed to my fantasy life – wild nights dancing, weekends in country hotels, Paris in springtime, weekend city breaks, tea at The Ritz, tropical holidays, torrid steamy afternoons, Breakfast At Tiffany’s ¬†etc… I need a lot less!

Nobody notices, truly they dont !

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So, this is the last week of my¬† Season 3 – Autumn wardrobe and I’m in two¬† minds about the swapping process which I’ll start this weekend.¬† I know I have spent quite a bit on updating and creating my new style and colours, but I can honestly say that I’ve never enjoyed wearing my clothes so much, nor found it so damn simple.

Not once have I stood before the clothes rail and failed to find two or 3 pieces to put together to create an outfit.¬† I may have decided that my first choice didn’t quite work for me, and consequently tweaked either top, scarf or shoes, but there has ALWAYS been something I can find.

On the other hand… I admit there is some excitement and anticipation around the prospect of opening up the trunk to see what’s inside the winter pile, although, I’m so happy with my current stuff that I could happily just swap in some warmer items.

I have purchased a few more pieces where I noticed gaps and just last week I bought 4 new tank tops to wear next Spring and Summer.¬† Huh ‘next’ ?¬†I hear you say. Yes indeed you read that right, I’m buying stuff for next spring and summer.¬† I already knew what would need replacing at the end of last summer – white and navy tank tops – and I came by a 20% off card for H&M so it seemed like an ideal opportunity to stock up. I really like their organic cotton tops; so soft, smooth, perfect width straps and a long length too.¬†But still, that’s very forward thinking, to buy pieces some 6 months ahead, I hear you murmur with some disbelief.¬† True indeed,¬† but I have a good reason for being so organized :

Season 4 – Winter is the final one in this series of my version of projects333 and having spent almost a year assessing what suits and fits me best; in terms of cut and style as well as colour, ¬†I wonder if I’m now in a position to go a whole year without buying any new clothes ?

Yes, I said “go a whole year without buying any new clothes”. And I’m not even a tiny bit drunk – I’m stone cold sober and very serious. ¬†You see, the thing is I’ve realised just how many clothes I have, even though I’ve halved my wardrobe and also – this is amazing – that I still don’t really need all them. ¬†There are only 3 items from my original selection that I haven’t worn and they’re all dresses. The black tunic dress feels too good for work and yet I’ve chosen to wear other things when not at work. ¬†The lovely blue jersey wrap dress is a bit too curve-hugging at the moment and as for my navy tea dress with camel polka dots … I’ll be wearing that this Friday.

During a conversation with a lovely cheery friend, she said how funny she found it when people wear an outfit one day, then a new outfit the next day and then the, following one they put the first day’s outfit on again, as if to make out the first outfit had been washed in between wearings ! ¬†Now, I admit I have done this myself, not so much to pretend it’s been washed and pressed, but more to give the fabric a chance to air and rest and also for a bit of variety, as if it’s somehow wrong to wear the same thing twice. ¬†I used to be very obsessive about washing all my clothes after just one wear, I think it’s a hangover from the days when I used to smoke and would be so conscious of the smell – even though I would only ever smoke at the bottom of the garden.

So, the next week at work I observed what people wore and it seemed to me that the women would have a different outfit each day, but more often than not, the men would wear at least one item 2 days running, and some of the guys who work on site every day and don’t meet with clients tended to wear the same pair of jeans or hoodie every day, although they would wear a fresh shirt or T shirt each day.

Having created a seasonal wardrobe that I like, feel comfortable and confident in wearing, the last thing I want is to have to replace those items each year as I’ve worn them out by constant washing and ironing so I thought I’d have a go at wearing one item very day at work. ¬†For my experiment I chose a pair of black skinny jeans as my staple and I wore them to work every single day for a week. ¬†I alternated black and tan boots and various tops and cardi’s with scarves or jewellery to add a bit of variety and colour.

I would hang them up when I got home from work, but put them on again the next day. ¬†I swear not a single person commented or probably even realised I was wearing the same jeans every day. Not my colleagues and not even my Teen who sees me stand in front of the mirror every morning ! I work Monday to Thursday so didn’t have to wear them for 5 days in a row, but still, I’d proved the point; nobody notices.

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On the Friday, I went in to London to meet with the same friend who’d originally put the idea in my head. ¬†It was a lovely trip back to my youth as we met in Camden, where I spent much of my youth. The Great Gear Market has been renamed, the Carnaevaron Castle was nowhere to be seen and it’s probably a bit more glamorous and far less scruffy than when I used to go to buy studded belts and buckled boots, bootleg Clash tapes and just hang out, but it still has that same vibe, the orange juice man is still there and I still love it.

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We had tea and cake, wine and then pizza and wine, we walked a lot Рover 15,000 steps that day and we managed to fit in lots of lovely chat and laughter.  I noticed my cheery friend was wearing a lovely dress, one with some serious credentials Рhaving been spotted in a style book we perused when she visited me. We talked of how much happier she is with a smaller amount of clothes, how getting dressed is easier and how fewer options means more freedom to spend time doing what we want, rather than in front of a wardrobe. Me,  I just wore my stripe top, beloved jacket and those black skinny jeans again.

 

 

 

And the great 100 year anniversary

However many documentaries, exhibitions or films I see, the horrors of the first World War never fail to chill and appall me. I’m bewildered and uncomprehending as to how so many brave men, women and animals gave their lives, in such dreadful conditions.

When I was a child that War seemed so long ago … and although now it is of course some 30 odd years further back in time, it seems not quite so long ago. ¬†That I suppose, is what ageing does to a person, the realisation that human years are so very short when compared to the history of the world itself. History and time itself appear quite fluid depending on where you are on your own timeline.

My Teen is quite a sensitive and imaginative soul and I’m keen for her to experience moments in history when I can, so on Remembrance Sunday we, along with about a million other people, headed to The Tower of London to pay our respects to the fallen, to gaze upon all those poppies and feel so very lucky to be alive and free in the glorious sunshine.

And it was a truly glorious autumn day; bright sunshine, clear blue sky and a bracing walk along the South bank towards the Tower on the other side of the river.

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I love Tower Bridge, it’s such an imposing and elegant structure, instantly recognisable however it’s depicted.

IMG_5262¬† I’d love to live in one of those towers ¬†IMG_5264

As we slowly inched across the bridge it became apparent just how many people were also visiting, we moved forwards one shuffling step at a time. Finally as we approached  the end of the bridge we were able to pause to view the scene from above the moat, at that height it was like a river of blood.

We were able to stop for a while, to pause in our own lives and to think of all those who gave theirs. ¬†To see all those poppies, knowing that each one of them represented a lost life was overwhelming and the most humbling experience. It was impossible to even begin to count them; I simply tried to think of all the people and those they’d left behind, ¬†fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, brothers, sisters… just too many people.

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People who can never be replaced, never be repaid, and who never returned to their loved ones.

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Some months ago I bought one of those poppies and when it arrives I shall admire it, cherish it and one day pass it on so that each year someone in my family can touch it gently and think of those who fell; for our freedom.

We shall remember them

eta :

I started this post within an hour of returning home from our day in London but was interrupted by a phone call where I learned the sad news of the death of a relative. In spite of the significance of Remembrance Day I felt it inappropriate to post this at that time, out of respect for her and the rest of the family.

Happy 100th Grannette

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My beloved Gran would be 100 years old today. ¬†Sadly, she passed on when she was 97 and until she got to about 96 I was convinced she’d make it 100. During that final year however, she became very frail and very tired so although I mourned her and still miss her she did have a long, healthy and happy life.

Always slim and stylish, she took care of herself and loved her family. She was unfailingly gracious and elegant, kind and such good fun.  I spent many happy summer holidays staying with her and my wonderful Gramps.  She taught me to skip, play badminton and monopoly and could complete any crossword, but was a stickler for abiding by the rules of scrabble Рher dictionary never far away!

She was a wonderful cook, preserver and hostess. The daughter of a tailor and a talented dressmaker / seamstress, the only thing she didn’t manage to do was teach me to knit. ¬†My aunt is compiling a family history and when we last visited I took some photos of Gran’s needlework books, from 1928 when she would have been 14, the samples are still in remarkable condition, loved and cherished by us all.

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There is so much joy in seeing these, particularly as my own Teen – now just 15 – is taking the modern day equivalent of needlework; ‘Textiles’. ¬†She loves it and I know how enthusiastic and interested Gran would be to see the punk rock corset Teen is making from faux leather, tartan and chains !

I’m not sure she has quite the skills that were required back in 1914, but I love the thought of her work becoming a part of the family scrap books in the future. ¬†I should probably learn to knit, just so that something of mine will be included !

I love this picture below, my Grandmother, Grandfather and Great Grandmother, all looking so very happy and full of joy and life.

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Never mind all the wealth and possessions that people strive to accumulate; none of that really matters if you have good health, enough to live on and people to love and who love you in return. ¬†It makes me sad in some ways to see this photo and not be able to reach out and touch these people; that they can’t see the family line and lives continuing. ¬†It feels strange that whilst I wasn’t there to see this happy moment in time when it was happening, that I never even met my Great Grandmother, yet I can look on her now with such affection. After all, if she hadn’t existed, then nor would I, or indeed my own children.

I’ll endeavour to emulate my lovely Grannette; her calm and cheerful outlook, her appreciation of everything, her kindness, sense of humour, loyalty and dignity.

xx

 

 

Autumn half term – resting, reorganising and repurposing

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We’re just coming to the end of half term and this one has fallen in to the familiar pattern whereby I work for a couple of days leaving Teen to do as she pleases, followed by my having a few days off so that I can sort or arrange or re-order or clear out and then have some fun days out. ¬†Well, that’s always the plan, but the reality is more like we leap in to action the first couple of days and then crash … deciding to just stay home and gather ourselves.

There has been some glorious weather so we took ourselves off to Windsor Park, to wander, soak up the stunning autumn scenery, take some pictures and visit our bench. I love autumn so much, I love how the leaves show such vibrant colours, like a final flourish before going in to their winter retreat time, I love the misty mornings and the dark evenings, the smell of wood and smoke in the air.

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The paths were teeming with people; mothers with babies, cyclists, hikers, runners, dog walkers and large family groups all enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. Step away from the main routes though and there are wide open spaces and groves where not a soul can be seen, just the odd cyclist or waterside bench reader.  I made the decision that one day I shall spend some time alone there, with some books, and maybe some pencils.

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We tramped through wooded areas, across the grass, gathering leaves and cones as we went ( well, that was just me actually.  Teen was far too busy taking pictures of everything along the way )

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Having spent some time wandering about, we made our way to our bench and spent some quiet time there, enjoying the peace, space and our memories. I left a small offering to represent and remember loved ones who have passed on and those who are left behind.

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As the sun began to slide, the light was just stunning, the leaves were glowing, the water shimmered and sparkled and as the moon appeared I tried to capture both it and its reflection in the water, but the result were pretty rubbish so I shan’t share them here.

I’ll simply show you the water, the sky and the ripples on the water in the distance

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Which turned out to be a curious swan and her young entourage, gliding in fabulous formation

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Her regal glare made it quite clear that she was extremely disappointed we had nothing to offer them, so she turned her back and sailed away, swimming right over the reflection of the moon I was trying to capture!

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It was dusk as we left and I couldn’t resist taking one last picture of the Obelisk, the sun shape at the top next to the crescent moon in the sky, cheesy but pleasing to me !

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We were refreshed after our nature fix so the next day we drove to Guildford so that Teen could spend her birthday money and gift cards. It was a disappointing trip; grey and drizzly, the clothes shops offered nothing that she wanted, all eateries were full and steaming with damp people so after she’d used up the bookstore gift card ( at least that never fails) we decided to return to our home town for some food and having then quashed our hunger and boosted our morale we found not only clothes that she wanted but also the fabric and trimmings for her textiles project. I was rather out of pocket with parking fees having been a bit optimistic about the length of time I’d thought we’d spend in Guildford but redeemed myself by not actually wanting to buy a single time of clothing !

¬†Teen was impressed at how I could now admire things but not feel any pull to buy them; I could ¬†simply acknowledge that yes, those boots were gorgeous, but I do have a fairly similar and completely loved and often used pair at home. ¬†Instead, I merely treated myself to a couple of pairs of silver earrings, to replace ones that were broken. the one thing we didn’t manage to buy was a new school bag for her; she’s keen to have fun and fancy ones, which last about 6 weeks so I refuse. I’m keen for her to have less pretty and more robust ones which will last a year, so she refuses. ¬†It’s the thing we can never agree on and I usually end up compromising and paying out for something I know won’t last and earn its cost. ¬†It irks me and this time I refused to back down.

When we got home I was putting my new earrings away and in the corner of the room I spotted my lovely large grey leather bag which I wore all summer. I admit it was a bit too large. ¬†I thought about how I’m seeking to own less these days and that by having a large bag, means I’ll be likely to fill it and how with it’s two handles and long wide strap it would probably be ideal as a school bag… I held it awhile, the selfish part of me not wanting to let it go, wanting to keep hold of it ‘for the future’, knowing it would become ink stained and scuffed, littered with pencil shavings and sweet wrappers and that I’d never be able to use it again, ¬†I offered it to the Teen and hid my delight that she thought it worthy of being her school bag. ¬†It’s large enough to fit all her books, strong enough to withstand being dragged about and apparently stylish enough to be seen with too. ¬†Fabulous result really as it was a pre-loved one I’d bought from ebay for less than ¬£20 originally and it is now in third incarnation.

The following day started with a dental check up – always enjoyable as not only did we not require any work to be done , but going there is almost like visiting friends; we ¬†always have a chat to catch up on news and children and how they’re doing; I realise why appointments always run late there !

In the afternoon Teen had a jumping clinic at her riding school and I watched – heart in my mouth for most of it ! She was exhilarated but tired after and soon after arriving home retreated to a bath and then bed. The next day she was immersed in tiredness, aches, pains, fevers and shivers so spent most of the day in bed while I set about my household tasks. ¬†She’s still not fully recovered so we haven’t been to see the poppies at The Tower of London, nor the final days of the exhibition at the local art gallery… ¬†and we haven’t been ice skating or to the cinema, but we’ve rested and I’ve been re-organising… but I’ll talk about that another time so until then here’s another pretty picture to enjoy

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x Lula x

What I actually need…

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… is just a glossy pair of lollipop red shoes which make every outfit look fab and my feet want to dance !

Ok, maybe a few more pieces than that, just for decency’s sake.

I absolutely loved challenging myself to purge my home of 100 items during September and once I’d achieved that, I immediately set myself another goal for October; to get rid of an item a day, or 31 items during the course of the month. I flung out about 10 items in the first few days and was utterly overjoyed. I’ve slowed down now though and barely gave the challenge a thought during the last week but was secretly delighted to hear from my eldest daughter, that after having been here and seen how few clothes I now have in my wardrobe, that she then spent a day clearing out her own enormous pile of clothes and has got rid of anything unloved or that doesnt’ fit. – Yay !

Obviously, I never suggested that she should do it ( I’ve been the parent of girls long enough to know that anything I suggest has the opposite effect !) I merely allowed her to look through my depleted clothes stash and casually mentioned how much easier getting dressed each day is now, how much lighter and simpler that area of my life feels. How I don’t have to think about it too much anymore, how much less time I spend washing, ironing and crying that ” I have nothing to wear” !

I’m now in Season 3 of my version of project333 now and whilst I’m excluding shoes, accessories and jewellery from that figure, the figure itself is arbitrary and while by some miracle I do happen to have 33 items in my wardrobe this time around, even now, half way through the season I realise that I probably have more pieces than I actually need.

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So, there above is my 33 and the colours really work for me; ¬†mainly black, navy, white, red a couple of grey pieces and a couple of coffee colured pieces too, which, while I’m not 100 per cent sure about the exact colour, do seem to work surprisingly well with quite a few others. One is a very well fitting ¬†and flattering tweed ish blazer which make me feel terribly jolly and as though I should have a shooting stick and a black labrador called Bunty. ¬†The other is a cashmere cardi so that rather has to earn its ¬†– ahem – original cost for a while … The items obscured in the plastic covers are my ‘fancy or dressy pieces’ for all seasons ( cocktail frock, wedding outfit, formal event, party etc.. which I just prefer to hang rather than fold in storage. And anyone who has managed to iron the creases out of a linen shift ¬†which was misguidedly worn for an event a 2 hour car journey away, ¬†will I’m sure, fully understand my reluctance to do anything other than hang it gently within its own space !

I started off this season in September with more summery stuff – capri trousers, lightweight cardi’s, short sleeve tops, but I have gradually replaced these with almost identical but more seasonally appropriate pieces,. Longer sleeves for the tops,. full length for the trousers and jeans, wool / cashmere rather than cotton for the knits. My feet are pretty much encase in boots ¬† I know that most project 333 ers don’t start their autumn changeover until October, but I prefer the gradual change during September and then I can break into my full ¬†heavy weight winter wardrobe in December and wear it through to February, and hopefully start swapping in the lighter weight stuff in March.

I dont tend to switch to my everyday handbag until October and this was one of those so-called investment pieces so I do really look onward to this event.  I think this is my third autumn / winter with this bag and I expect it to do me few more years still.

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Aside from being a gorgeous glossy patent leather with silvery coloured hardware, and a gorgeous interior lining, it is well structured and incredibly roomy; if necessary I can even fit my laptop in there. I don’t carry my laptop about, I just wanted to see if it would fit ! ¬†There’s room for a small make up bag, my 2 purses, a notebook, other book, a sandwich, picnic bar , ¬†mini umbrella, glasses case and sunglasses and a scarf. My only issue with this bag is that the phone holder ¬†is too small for my phone. ¬†However, it does work extremely well as a lipgloss and pen holder so I’ll forgive it.

If I’m out ¬†shopping for fun, ¬†or meeting a friend for coffee, lunch or some fun I tend to use this little self-gifted beauty instead.

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A lot smaller and lighter but still with enough room for a phone, purse, make up bag, sunglasses, umbrella and a light scarf. I get a lot of admiring glances and sometimes people approach to talk or ask about it, which is very cheery and always welcome.

My other bags aren’t quite as fancy, I have a brown satchel style bag which is great for slinging a couple of things in when I’m going somewhere more casual – riding for one – and a lovely red bag which I don’t use as often as I should. ¬†I don’t have a black bag at all, I keep looking at black clutch bags, but I’m not sure I’m quite minimalist enough yet so might wait to treat myself once I’ve mastered the art of NOT carrying round everything bar the kitchen sink !

Anyway, back to the clothes… I spent about ¬£200 updating and restocking my wardrobe for this season and all the new items will be used into winter and some for other seasons as well; so for what I actually got for that investment I’m really pleased and consider it excellent value for money. So here are my purchases :

1 x red stripe top, 1 x red silk tie neck top, 1 x ladybird print T, 1 x navy print top, 1 x plain white top, 1 x plain red T, 1 x navy jersey dress, 1 x black tunic shift dress, 1 x pair red jeans, 1 x pair high waist black jeans, 1 x pair high waist navy jeans, 1 x red cashmere cardi, 1 x cream wool aran style long cardi, 1 x navy cocoon style long cardi, 1 x red / white polka dot scarf and 1 x pair black suede brogues.

A pretty good haul for the money spent I reckon, achieved with a cunning combination of sales, online shopping using discount codes and the ‘brilliantly bargainous but sometimes a gamble’ online cornucopia that is ebay ! ¬†Mostly brand new items, some used but in excellent condition and all a whole bundle less than a trip to the shops would have been. High waisted jeans are a bit of revelation – although to be fair, pre-1990 they would just have been jeans. You remember – back in the days before a perfectly normal and healthy sized person had to with half starve themselves or get their hips liposuctioned in order to not look like a muffin in a pair of jeans with a rise so low and a zip so short it must have been made by fairies – sorry rant over … Anyway, yes ‘high waisted’ jeans are those wonderful things that enable anyone with curves to wear a pair of jeans with a fitted top, and look and feel ¬†FABULOUS. And, more importantly not¬†stand in front of a mirror and want to beat themselves up over the fact they are not a size zero, and do actually enjoy food. Eating food that is.

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I bought a pair of these high waist jeans in navy and was so delighted with how they felt (no need for a belt or constant hitching up) and looked while wearing a stretchy top which I was previously too self conscious to wear either with any degree of confidence or without a long cardi or coat that I immediately bought another pair in black and have been wearing them at least twice a week since. ¬†I’ve only tried the ones from Next, but let me assure you ladies,that not only did I buy the skinny fit ones, but I actually went down a size from my usual skinny fit jeans too. The Teen said how fab they looked too and although I’m not entirely convinced that my backside doesn’t appear so huge that it could be mistaken for China in a dim light, they’re so damn comfy I really don’t care!

So, my wardrobe is complete and (thank you Cheri for the brilliant picture) the spendy elves can get back to dealing with other far more important things ( like mobbing reindeer or helping the fairies sew tiny zips into jeans) Yay !

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Or rather, it was and then I realised that I don’t have a biker jacket and I really need ahem ¬†I mean want one. And¬†¬†although I wasn’t absolutely positive that I could carry it off, I was certain that I’d have a damn good try if I found the right one. So I set about searching for one that was perfect and amazingly I found one; perfect length, perfect fit, perfect colour, perfect amount of detail without looking too busy ,real leather so it will actually last longer than just this winter and perfect coloured zips too ( can’t abide brass or gold on buckles, bags or belts either – yes, I’m very particular ) . ¬†So, I thought hard and decided that it really wasn’t an essential item for my wardrobe project and I really couldn’t ¬†justify the spend out of my usual budget so if I really wanted this jacket I would have to spend the money from next years’ clothing fund. ¬†Hence next year’s clothing fund now has just ¬£122 in – boo hoo ūüė¶

But on the upside this is now mine and yes, I do carry it off,  and more to the point yes, it does indeed have the most awesome purply aubergine lining !

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Treading water

IMG_5030¬†See that duck sitting on the bank looking in ? ¬†Yeh, that’s me right now. That duck knows that it can jump in with the others and paddle about, but that body of water is still and it won’t lead anywhere different. It’s an inland waterway, it always joins with another waterway at the same place. ¬†So for now that duck is just watching and waiting for the right incentive before it jumps in and gets its feet wet !

I’m reading this book : ‘Your Money or Your Life’ and I’m having quite some moments of clarity about how I’m living now and how I could live in the future. ¬†I rent our home and I’ve realised that I’m not at all attached to the actual location – that’s just convenient – and I’m not attached to the actual place – it’s having that space to call ‘our home’ which is important to us. ¬†It’s the space where we store our belongings, where we clean ourselves and our clothes, where we invite family to spend time with us, where we come back to rest and relax at the end of the day. ¬†Except even that is difficult sometimes, we have very noisy neighbours and we do find it invasive at times.

What creates the cosy sense of ‘home’ is our possessions and how we have arranged them to suit us. ¬†I had very little money when I first moved here, and even fewer possessions. ¬†I made do with the kind gifts of furniture and cookware that other people passed on. I don’t remember feeling burdened by clutter, a lot of time then was spent with friends who didn’t care how little I had; they didn’t mind sitting out on the grass rather than on garden furniture. They didn’t turn their noses up when indoors we sat on beer crates and bean bags rather than a sofa and chairs. ¬†Yes, we were all a lot younger then and ¬†no, sadly I’m no longer in regular contact with those people and I wonder why and how, for so many years, I became a person who felt and believed that outward appearances was of such high value and an important ¬†means of displaying who I am ?

I kind of lost myself there for a while, I became too intent on acquiring ‘things’ which would show that I was keeping up with general expectations and standards for my stage in life and all that energy spent on exterior display hollowed me out. I wasted so much money and life energy on ‘keeping up’. I got in debt with that constant upgrading; clothes, furniture, kitchenware. ¬†But all of it new, shiny and cheap so not made to last nearly a lifetime as things used to be. When my Grandparents got married and set up home they saved up for the things they NEEDED. I don’t remember them changing their furniture or decor every couple of years, in fact, when they did upgrade something, it was a bit of an event. Because they had spent some time saving up for it and to finally have paid for it was a real sense of achievement.

So, how big a sense of achievement is it when a person refurnishes and decorates a room by means of a credit card ? Yes, there’s that initial pleasure, the joy and feeling of ‘ooh, new and shiny’ and then it’s continuous monthly repayments. ¬†so a person feels a bit bogged down and glum at having their disposable income curtailed by these repayments. It’s easy to see how a person could feel the need to cheer themselves up by acquiring something else new and shiny. Also on credit, probably. And so it goes on.

I admit I did this for quite some time. Not all of my debt was self-inflicted, but a lot of it was incurred by that sense of needing to constantly update, upgrade and renew.  To keep up appearances and expectations. I have seen younger loved ones fall in the same trap; inevitably making their lives so much harder when burdened by their sense of others peoples expectations, and then  feel trapped by having to pay for their acquisitions.

What I’m learning from this book is that not everything in my life is set in stone and that while I’m living a certain way now and have certain expenses which may seem permanent… in fact they’re not. ¬†Home is one of them. ¬†I’ve realised that when/if my youngest daughter leaves home, I won’t need this amount of space. I’ll be able to live somewhere smaller, with less demands on my life energy in terms of maintaining, heating and furnishing. I certainly won’t need a large garden, or even one at all, or to live near a school and therefore I won’t need to rent a garage to store my car in as there’s nowhere to park on the road.

I may not even need to own a car full time. ¬†Now that¬†was a huge revelation in itself. I currently need a car to get to and from work within certain time frames in order to simultaneously fulfil my (current) main roles in life as both an employee and a parent. ¬†Running, maintaining and – recent revelation – storing a car is currently eating approximately a seventh of my income. Each and every month. I spend more on saving for the maintenance and insurance of my car than I do on the fuel and abut the same amount on storage as i do on fuel. Admittedly, I can also store other things in the garage, but my insurance is less by it being garaged overnight … although it’s more for using it for commuting.

Yes, a smaller home where I could walk to a workplace would make a significant difference if I no longer needed those space and conveyance elements ! Obviously those elements won’t be changing much within the next 4-5 years, but this book is giving me much food for thought. I’ve not finished reading the book and once I have, I will need to do the actual exercises and work out how to make those changes.

So for now I’m sitting on the bank and watching what people around me are doing, but I’m aware that there are other waterways, which might suit me better so I’m not going to jump in and get my feet wet just following what everyone else is doing.

People may follow a broadly similar path through life and often in similar surroundings, but there are so many different ways of going about that journey.

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the ensuing debt.