Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Project 333

Now that I have officially dropped a size, I've begun to think about what I'm going to wear. I have to admit that I have lived in jeans, sweats, tennis shoes and oversize t-shirts for the last 10 years or so. When we moved from Austin to Arkansas, I was so thrilled not to have to dress up so much (Austin is trendy and more upscale whereas most of Arkansas is laid back to the point of being fashionless). Add to this that we began to homechurch and no longer needed to dress up on Sundays and I became a fashion disaster. Now being overweight, I was already well on my way. Add to that, I prefer comfort over fashion every time and you can see what a poor state I was in.
I pretty much looked like a big rectangle or refrigerator-shape. I also love shopping thrift stores which means I have a big hodge podge of clothing. Even more since I tried to resale on Ebay (I didn't make enough for the amount of work involved). Now I'm ready to pick up the pace a bit since more clothes are fitting. Only two big considerations: I have no money to spend on clothes right now and I hope to be down another size by the end of December. I began by thinking about the colors I would like to wear and putting them in seasons:

  • Fall= Eggplant (purples), Burnt Orange as an accent;

  • Winter=Blacks, Blues (Navy), Reds (deep garnet), Greys (silver) as accents;

  • Spring= Pinks, Beige and whites;

  • Summer= White, turquoise (aqua), bright orange and lime green as accents.

Next, I found a printable for Project 333. I had never heard of this before so I looked it up Basically started as an experiment in living with less, it has helped a lot of women determine what they really need as far as clothing and many say it has helped them not only pare down but determine what their true "style" is. Participants chose 33 items for their wardrobe to wear for 3 months. The rest is packed up or donated. After reading some of the comments, I thought this might be a way for me to determine what I really need in my closet, but it wasn't enough for me to start.

I began to google "basic wardrobe for stay at home mom", the lists were pretty much the same but still didn't help me until I found On this site there is a download that shows how to make 80 outfits from 12 pcs of clothing. Using this as my guide I went through my clothes and picked my "Basic 3" - a pair of jeans (naturally), a pair of black jeans (straight leg), and a white button down shirt.

For my first capsule- I chose a purple turtleneck, a black skirt and a black sweater

Capsule #2 - a grey pencil skirt, a black glitter sweater and a black blazer with velvet trim

Capsule #3- Black lace skirt, Purple/black print blouse, Red velvet jean-style jacket (I was surprised to find the red and purple went so well together-Red hat ladies already knew this)

To this I added a black t, a purple T, a red T, a black V-neck T, a white v-neck T, black camisole, Big red sweater, big navy blue sweater, a little black dress, a red jumper, a blue/black holiday blouse, a holiday sweater, a crochet skirt set

I'm working on accessories: I have a green crochet poncho, an orange scarf, a glittery scarf, 3 purses: orange, black, silver. Shoes: black boots, silver flats, black pumps, brown half-boots and my tennis shoes

I haven't gotten to jewelry yet and I don't have any belts that will work yet. I'm over the 33 items but I think I have limited shoes and purses and they should only count as one and because I live in the south with very wierd winter weather, I think I can justify having more outerwear. I also have a few tops that I wear in the winter as an underlayer so I didn't count these. I'll be spending the rest of the week, hemming and taking in some items- the point of this exercise was to come up with a workable basic wardrobe with what I had on hand and clean out what I can't use--I think I was pretty successful. I have a huge pile to donate and another to ebay, and a lot more room in my closet. I think after wearing these clothes for awhile I will have a better idea of what I really like wearing, and that will be a big help when I start putting together my Spring wardrobe because I hope to be close to my goal weight and will need all new clothes then.If you'd like to find out more about Project 333, you can find them on facebook.

October 2011: At Our House

Holly certainly is a beauty.

Got this 1960's McDonald high chair at a garage sale for $2.00. No Hannah, you cannot have it.

With all of our holidays this month school has been pretty hit and miss, we did take a field trip to the Conservation Center where we saw deer and wild turkey and many kinds of birds. It is a beautiful place, with great walking trails. We will definitely be going back soon. I saw this artwork on Pinterest. The kids wrote their names in cursive, cut them out and add the skull and limbs- very fun and cute!

We have two houses up for sale - the Dennard house and the Clarksville house. We have some lookers but no offer yet. We are praying for a sale soon.
My mom came for a visit. It was a short but good time. We found a couple of houses to look at when her's sells. We also took a trip to the flea market. I found a valance for my kitchen window for $4.00 and some glassware which will be making its debut in December on my decorating blog.

Reuben is spending the week with us, so Mom could have a break. With four of us it is often a handful, but we love having him here. We took him trick-or-treating. We have a neighborhood here that still does it like when I was a child. Hundreds of people come and walk the streets, it was so much fun! Reuben liked the little kids best and as far as the costumes, he just stared.

We ended the month with a stomach virus-a 24 hr one- however it has left me feeling drained and weak. Reuben picked it up at the day care he was at, so naturally we all got it. Hope to be back in the pink soon--next month: Thanksgiving!!

A Happy Hooker

Yes, I've finally given into temptation and am learning to crochet-  Actually, I've made a few crochet items before, but only learned enough to finish the project I was working on and honestly- they could have been better---so, I got a book from the library and I am working through the workshops-

The book is Rowan presesnts Crochet Workshoop, the complete course for the Beginner to Intermediate Crocheter, by Emma seddon & Sharon Brant- Here are my first projects:

These dishcloths aren't the projects from the book- I substituted these because I wanted a smaller project and I needed the dishcloths- These are workshop 2 projects- I forgot to put the coasters from workshop 1 in the photo-oops!  I learned to change colors, add a crocheted edging and join pieces together-

My next project is in increasing stitches so I am crocheting a banner- I'm really pleased that my stitches seem to be much more even than my earlier attempts

See the suitcase in the photo? I am recycling it into my Crochet Project box- I bought it at a thrift store for $1 and some change- It is already in the process of receiving a new liner- It will hold my crochet tools and current project work- I will be blogging about it on my other blog The Life Embellished

Book Review: These is my Words: the Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881-1901

I just finished this book last night and still have so much of it going through my head- I like love stories set in historical settings ( I'm a history buff) and this one didn't disappoint- It is written in a diary form from the perspective of Sarah Prine, 18 yrs old in 1881- I loved Sarah's strength, wit and common sense as she faces a world filled with trials and sorrows- At times, she is larger-than-life and at others "I feel her pain", meaning I've had those same feelings-  I found her character to be an inspiration- But, I have to say, I am totally smitten with Captain Jack Elliot!!!  I immediately thought of the actor Sam Elliot and was pleased to find that the author Nancy E Turner was thinking of him too-

Captain Elliot is a man's man- If you could roll every good thing and put them in one man it would be him-  I love that Ms Turner has characters that have ideals that they are trying to live up to, trying to better themselves and contribute something to their world-

As I was reading about the Wagon Train trip, I  was reminded of the game my children play, "Oregon Trail", pioneers beset by sickness, indians, weather, lack of food, and sometimes bad advice- you're a winner if you are still alive at the end--

I went to the author's website,, and was surprised that there are two sequals- Sarah's Quilt and The Star Garden- I will have to read these soon- Here's what other's have to say-

Our First Geocaching Trip

"Tell me again what we going to do.. and why?"  (for the 3rd time) The "why" was easy..."because I said so." Being the mom of 4 (3 teens), I know sometimes you have to pull out the 'big gun'.  This was one of those times. 
We needed to get out, take a break from the familiar. Okay, I needed a break. Everyone else wanted to stay with their computers, cell phones and ipods.  All week I'd been telling the husband that we need to do something, make some memories with our children.  When I started googling geocaching, it sounded like fun, a modern day treasure hunt. This is right up my alley-as an avid, second-hand shopper, I aready knew the thrill of the hunt. Here was a hunt that would only cost us gas (I packed sandwich fixings for a picnic lunch).
Still the natives were balking and though their looks were threatening, they finally piled into the car.

In my research, I wrote down the coordinates for about 50 geocaches. (Okay, looking back I was extremely over-optomistic)  We left the house 3 hours later than I had scheduled. I could knock off a few of the caches at the end of the list. They were mostly hikes and we'd probably be tired by then anyway.

Our first site was very familiar to us and 8 miles from the house.  I had noticed the old building before, but now thanks to I knew the history of the old building-a train station for a company that built wine barrels.  We spent about an hour here and never found the cache - a contact lens case. (have gone back since and still haven't found it).  Okay, we'll knock a few more sites off our list.  It was not a good start and the kids were already asking how many of these do we have to look for. I began to worry this would not turn into the kind of memory we were hoping to make.  Finally, unwillingly we left without our reward.
The next stop was listed as an easy PNG (Park and Grab).  Another familiar place, a roadside overlook, we had passed many times but never stopped at. The view was beautiful.  Just one problem--MUGGLES.!(Non-geocachers)  Fortunately after a few minutes they started packing up and left.  I already knew pretty much where the cache was, from the description on the website.  SUCCESS!!! It was only a key holder with a log, but you'd have thought we'd found a treasure chest.
We found this one in about 5 minutes but we spent about 40 minutes in the Rock Shop next door.  Still we made a new friend- the Rock Shop owner and bought a few items to remember our trip.

Next we visited the Drive-In theater we sometimes go to on weekend evenings.  Another Sucess! We found a traditional cache here- an ammo box with SWAG (tradeables).  We took a piece of film from an old movie that once played at the drive in and left a Superman glider. ( I raided our drawers and craft boxes for anything that would be a good tradeable the night before)

Now the kids are excited and its a good thing too, because the next two sites we find nothing accept photo opportunities.

We also found a 4-H friend who had graduated the year before.  His parents own a campground that was one of our cache sites.  Our trip also took us to a State Visitor Center near the State line where we picked up brochures for other places we'd like to visit.  We also visited 2 parks, 2 cemetaries and picked a cache along the highway.  We had a picnic at one of the parks, went swimming in the River not too far from our friend's campground and made it back in time to go to the drive-in.  A GREAT DAY!!! and some great memories.

Caution: I Brake for Geocaches

Our big family vacation for this summer got cancelled, so I began looking for something we could do near home to make some memories with our children.  Little did I know that I would find a new obsession hobby.

I'd heard about geocaching at a 4-H workshop, but had never actually tried it.  GPS, coordinates, GPX files--it all sounded so... technical.  So I didn't really look into it. That is until I found out there was treasure educational experience involved.  I liked the fact that there was treasure it was an outdoors activity; anything to get treasure the kids outside and away from video games and facebook.  We'd get fresh air and sunshine, explore new places and did I mention find treasure. 

 The cache part of Geocaching are containers placed somewhere on the planet, usually interesting places or places with a great view, history, or personal significance.  The containers can be as large as an ammo box, small as a film canister (micro) or tinier than your little finger (nano).  Some containers are camoflaged as something else- a fake log, fake rock, even fake dog poo.  These containers all contain a log sheet for finders to fill out with date and their geocaching name and sometimes a brief comment.  Larger containers may also contain treasure- trinkets for trade.  The rule is: if you take something out, put something in of equal value.  Mostly they contain dollar store type items, but sometimes there are other things like CDs, T- shirts, etc.

Another thing you may find in a cache is a Trackable.  These might be special Geocoins or items attached to a Travel Bug.  These trackables have a number on them that is logged onto a website as the item is moved from cache to cache. My favorite things to find in a cache are Pathtags.  Pathtags are coins that people have had made up with their "cache name". They are the size of a quarter and have a hole in them.  These are collectible and tradeable.

So how do you find these caches? First you need to get a GPS unit, we had an old one (5 yrs old) that we used on our first trip.  It didn't work all that great. So we bought a new one that didn't work much better. We returned that and got another that works pretty good.  Read what others are using, before you buy one- a good unit can make a big difference when your in the trees or trying to download GPX files.  We ended up with a unit that supports "paperless geocaching".  This is a must-have in my opinion.  It downloads files from computer and all the info is stored in the unit. (our first trip, I wrote all the coordinates out by hand, plus the hints, type of container we were looking for--but i left out a lot of info that would have helped) Also when it is stored on the unit. It will list those caches that are closest to your present location. Trust me this is worth the extra $s.

Next you'll need to go to  There are over 4 million geocaches placed all over the world. A basic membership is free and all you need for your first trips.  But the premium membership is not expensive and well worth it for the added features.  You'll need a "cache name" for your account. This is the name you'll be known by in the geocaching world.  Some families choose a name like "TeamJones" , Our name is "ToadilyCool4Hs", that was the name of one of our clubs and since I have 4 children whose names all start with H and a lot of leftover frog stuff, its a good name.  The website is full of information and it is the place where you will log your finds. You can put in your zip code like i did and you'll be able to access a map showing the caches closest to you. Or along a trip route.

I have always loved historical novels. Jane Austen's Emma has been my favorite since I was 16.  During my 20's I loved what are called "bodice-rippers", especially those by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.  But as I grew in my spiritual faith, I gave up these books. Way too much sex for me.  I picked one up the other day and I have to wonder is it me or is every man in her books overly occupied by breasts. It was a shame really. The storyline was really good, but the explicitness ruined it for me.

I don't read too much fiction any more because my days are pretty busy.  About 2 years ago, I happened upon The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

at Target when I was looking for something interesting to read.  The writing was very good and the story sounded interesting. A Harvard graduate student doing research on aristocratic spies in the time of Napolean stumbles upon an unknown spy and a love story while finding her own love story too.  By the time I finished it I was hooked and so pleased to find the sequal, The Masque of the Black Tulip at my local bookstore.

This book has been my favorite of the series. These books are so well written that it is hard to believe "The Pink Carnation is the first novel written by Lauren Willig.  I love the language--it's the sort of writing I would aspire to.  There is a lot of humor in these as well as unforgettable characters.  The leading man in the Black Tulip is Miles Dorrington, one of my top favorites for the Carnation men; now also my daughter's favorite too.  I picture him as a Brandon Fraser kind of guy. But I digress...

Other books in the series are The Deception of the Emerald Ring, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine and the most recent (Feb 2010) The Betrayal of the Blood Lily.

There is a sex scene in each of the books but it is short about a page. Sorry if this offends but I tore out the page before letting my daughter read it. Personally I don't think the books needed this and it seems more out of merchandising concerns than necessary to the plot.  The most recent book, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily had 3 scenes I thought were a bit explicit. The most of any of the books.  I suppose because of the setting in India and this book seemed a bit darker. Although I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would, I am hoping this won't be a trend with future books in the series.  It is the richness of her writing, her humor and her relatable characters that keep me coming back to these books.   I am eagerly awaiting the October debut of the next installment.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The 333 Challenge and Capsule Wardrobe

Today, I am working on my 3 month, 33 item wardrobe plan. I want to have 4 wardrobe sets of about 33 items each. I'm using the capsule system and and it is working really well. The first step is to clear out what doesn't fit and isn't working. Then choose 2-3 neutral colors to become the base of your wardrobe and 1-2 colors for accents. Capsule #1 adds 3 pcs, capsule #2 adds 3 more and so on till you have 33 pieces. The rule is that each piece you add has to go with the other pieces. With 3 basic pieces, you have 3 outfits, add 3 more pieces and you have about 15 outfits, add 3 more pieces and yu have over 35 outfits (mixed, matched and layered).
The reason for 33 pieces is that I was inspired by the 333 project, a challenge to live with 33 pieces of clothing for 3 months. I have to say this has changed the way I look at my clothes and the way I shop. The benefits: Packing for travel is so easy. My closet has so much more room. When I shop I am looking for specific items in specific colors (a lot less impulse shopping). Thanks to Pinterest and some research on my body type, I know what styles I'm looking for. I don't mind splurging for a quality piece because I know it is going to work with what I already have. My jewelry and makeup are more streamlined too, I only keep out what works with my color scheme for that 3 months. Next year will be so easy because the work of putting together the capsules will be done and all I have to do is check fit and condition and shop for a few missing pieces. Best of all shopping is so much more fun because I can give myself permission to buy what I need - no guilt.
The hardest part is dealing with the variations in temperature in my neck of the woods. March-May the average temps range from 59-76 degrees and Sep-Nov from 81-58. Just a few days left on my first 3 months so I am reviewing what I've got and making notes for next year. I'm also going to put together what I have for my spring wardrobe and make a list of my needed items.
I really want to encourage you to take the 333 challenge, especially if you have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear like I did. I found Pinterest to be helpful in choosing styles and outfit sets that I like, a lot of the pins come from, so check it out. Let me know if you take the challenge or if you try the capsule wardrobe plan.