Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Zombie Apocalypse...or Happy Halloween, Everybody!

Have I told you lately that I love Josh Whedon? No. Well, as far as I'm concerned this is the only good thing that's come out of this "let's-all-pretend-climate-change-doesn't-exist-and-it's-the-economy-that-determines-everything"-election.

Now, where's my "Josh Whedon For President"-button?

Happy Halloween Parkour Party Everyone!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Season Of The Witch

...or at least of squash, wood fires, knitting, long walks, of meditation and quieting. And, of course, some raucous dancing in honor of ghouls and spirits. All Hallow's Eve, Samhain, the season of sprites and ghosts is upon us again.

                                     80s Gunne Skirt-From Sister
                                       Vest-Gift from Kristiina
                               Top and belt- free from The Dump
                                            Boots-local thrift
                       Alder Cone Necklace-My Hubby bought it for me in Coloma
                                          Owl Brooch-thrifted
                                   Earrings-Found on the beach by C.

I've always been a little baffled by the American witches with their uniformly green skins, cone hats and warty noses, having grown up with Europe's variety of sorceresses, young, old, wicked, wise and interestingly enough, sometimes even beautiful.

It's easy to get inspired by witches in the in-between-seasons, early spring and fall, and now seems to be the perfect moment to fall (ha-ha-unfunny pun.) into the trance of Wise Womanhood, working on health, awareness, crafts and lots of learning. Time to hunker down. And hang out with cats, of course.

Which is just as well, because while you haven't seen me, I've traveled far and wide in our Swedish Gypsy Wagon (also known as a Volvo).

IMG_0496 IMG_0652 IMG_0655 IMG_0582 IMG_0713
We got two new ducks, but lost Dilly in the woods.
Some of my favorite Barter Loot, a beautiful old blanket and gifted hand-spun yarn.
Other favorite barter things: ceramic bowls and candleholders with candles already in them. One of the bowls has a pour spout for batter. Genius.
Our house is finally starting to come together, all the little and big pieces finding their places.
IMG_0706 IMG_0705 IMG_0701
More barter spoils and wild harvest. Peppers from an awesome Okanogan lady and Kinnikinnick for smoking herbs.
IMG_0703 IMG_0693
Seeds and edibles.
Fireside work. Or lazing.
IMG_0677 IMG_0727

How's your fall? I'm off to see what all my best girls have been up to while I was out in the world. Oh and more Barter Fair tales later this week. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

And my father's bride/ is tearing down the mountainside

First off: the title of this post has nothing to do with anything, except that it's a lyric from a song I'm listening to. So there. And second (and I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating): I'm honored that you, Dear Reader, are interested in this humble blog, because you are obviously a smart, thoughtful, awesomely feminist (not that it's up to me to label you), loving, caring woman (Dudes, if you're out there, comment and you'll get your kudos too;) and judging from your comments (and blogs) possess a killer aesthetic.

I wanted to respond to each of your well-worded, thought-out comments individually, and might still try to do that, because really, they rocked, but time is on short supply around here right now. So for the moment accept my sincerest thank you. (And Missa, you do win the award for the longest comment ever!) 
No. You're a tipi
                                     Skirt-Gift from Amber
                                     Top-Gift from Missa
                                     Vest-Local consignment
                                      Mocs-The Fair

It seems as though my tiny problem is somewhat universal, at least in the circles we're all running online. I can actually hear my husband going "Really? 'I have so many clothes and nothing to wear' is a common problem for women?" in a really sarcastic voice.
One common solution to this problem, is of course, culling, getting rid of things you haven't worn for a period of time you determine, a month, three months, a year. But as some of you pointed out, we've all experienced (well those of us who are vintage nuts anyway) purger's remorse in the past. In the frenzy of getting rid of stuff it is easy to cull pieces you'll later miss, or try to replace in vain.
(My current favorite necklace: a Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Star, with a regular star.)

A far more worrying aspect of the great clothes purge for me though is, that often it leads to purchasing new clothes. Not to replace the ones we freed our wardrobe of, or so we tell ourselves, but to complete and complement our new simpler closet. At least I feel like that would be the case for me.

This would of course be solved by another great over-stuffed closet remedy: the buying fast. The Great American Apparel Diet, or My Year Without Shopping, or something akin to these ideas. I'm always interested in these shopping bans when people do them, but have little doubt about my inability to complete one.
                                         Cardi-local consignment
                                 Top-a gift from Nicole (my very first!)
                         Pin-Northern California Women's Herbal Symposium

There have certainly been times in my life when I've done well with a very small wardrobe and bought nothing. The last two months before I got my visa to come to the US, for instance, I lived with three shirts, one dress, two cardigans, one coat, one scarf and one pair of shoes and bought almost nothing for the fear of overloading my already packed suitcases. It sucked, but I did it.
Barring such extreme circumstances though, I do better with a little self-deception. The way I quit smoking, for instance, was that I told myself that I was going to try to quit, but that I could smoke any time I wanted to. This, I felt, helped draw my focus away from how much I wanted to smoke and how miserable it was not be able to.  It worked.
So in that vain here are the solutions I've been implementing for fixing my wardrobe blues:

1. Shopping in my closet. Sometime I'll be ogling a piece of clothing in an image or a store, only to realize later that I already own something very similar. (This ought to give you some idea of how many clothes I really have.). So when I see something I like, I better damn well look through my own wardrobe first for it.

2. Wearing things I haven't for a while. There are a lot of pieces in my wardrobe that I love, but hardly ever wear. Actually putting them in use, makes me realize why they work or don't work. If they work, I should wear them, if they don't, I should pass them on. This aspect of the rules will involve some clothes culling for sure.

3. I can buy things, but better yet, I can not buy them.  I can buy stuff within the limits of my budget if I really want to, or I can spend the money on something else. Since it's not that much money, I figured the best way to make this a real draw would be if I decided to try to use as much of it as I could on some causes. You know, when there's things you want to support, but feel like you can't because it's not like you have extra money laying around? Now I do! Plus, frankly, there's no better way to curb my spending than knowing that every time I decide to drop twenty bucks on some frocks I'm not giving money to Mother Jones, Peaceful Uprising, or this totally amazing young woman. The guilt alone will keep me on the straight and narrow.

Oh, and one more thing: my clothes have to fit into my wardrobe, chest, shoe-rack, whatever. You'd think this would be a given, but no.
In the past week or so, I've been really trying to follow these ideas, pulling inspiration from a shops and images, but clothes from my own wardrobe. Each of the outfits pictured here has something I've not really worn for a while. All three tops have, for one reason, or another languished in the closet for far too long. Now that I've liberated them, they've each received at least two uses in the last week! The two first outfits are pretty much my current favorites.
                                    Top-Leah Goren on easy
                                      Skirt-gift from Missa
Remember when I said that I was drawn to a more simpler style these days? Yeah, apparently not so much, Miss Mocs, Mis-matched tops, and glittery skirts. Not so much.  Suppose I forgot to mention that I'm also really into not matching things, or even genres of clothing. And that this hair of mine makes everything a little bit grunge. Including this decidedly "That 70s Teacher-y dress", which also conveniently makes me look barefoot and pregnant. Which might be the reason it doesn't get a lot of wear. It all makes sense now.
I'm not pregnant, this is just my natural stance
Dress-Finnish Flea market

This, by the way is my new favorite photo spot. I love the rainbows it makes in the late afternoon light, something we've had unseasonably lot of lately. It's a record dry fall and we most of us feel a little weird about it, but global warming be damned it is nice not to need tights yet.
Rose bud sun light
Oh and fret not. I'm still working on it. Patience. 
Posture problems...
How's your Indian Summer, over-stuffed closet, wacky weather?

Monday, October 1, 2012


Originally, I was going to say something like "can we just talk clothes for a moment?", like this isn't some sort of semi-conscientious, anti-consumerits hippie blog. Because, to be totally honest, lately I've been thinking about clothes a lot more than usual. It seems that I'm facing a few continuously irritating, if minor problems, all relating to my wardrobe, and all somewhat contradictory to each other.

As I may have mentioned before, based on how I dress, people seem to think that I spend an inordinate amount of time on sartorial musings and dressing. Sadly, this is not the case.

The older I get, the more of my clothes pleasure seems to be vicarious. I like to look at them, enjoy their beauty, find others whose style I admire, but I'm having a harder and harder time to get really excited about actually wearing and buying things.

Vintage Womens White Babydoll Prairie Dress
This is not necessarily a bad thing. I already have a over-crowded wardrobe, full of delightfully clashing items, flowers upon flowers, pattern heaped on crazy pattern. If I were cut off the world now, I would be well-dressed, warm and floral-clad well into my 80s. This might actually be a small part of my current clothes dilemma(s): I don't have a lot of good, basic, simple clothes. I have things that other people might wear for a special occasion (if the special occasion was a hippie festival, a boho gallery opening, or ren-fair), or let's face it, a costume. 

The solution to this, appears not to be for me to go out and buy said, good, basic clothes. I don't wear them, I'm a chronic over-dresser. Maybe it's because I grew up in the theatre, maybe it's because I was Marie Antoinette in a past life, who knows. 

30% OFF SALE Secret Garden Floral Summer Dress VINTAGE
Because of this, many of the pieces I own are somewhat incompatible with my lifestyle. Not that gardening, crafting, cooking and harvesting have to be unstylish pursuits, but it does help if you can get pretty down and dirty. I definitely don't try to save my clothes from a ruff-and-tumble existence, but there's a limit to how crazy I'm willing to look pulling up beets. Needless to say that there are things in my closet I've worn only once, never, or perhaps once a year. 

Yet I continue to add new items to my wardrobe. And, instead of dreaming of something different, my eye is drawn to the same dear, old things time and time again. I certainly do not need another flowered dress, another soft cardigan, or awesome vest.

In some ways knowing what you love is an amazing thing. It's a sign of maturing tastes, of becoming yourself. But it can also feel like stagnation, sticking to safety rather than exploring. If clothing is a form of self-expression akin to journaling,  drawing comics, or arranging flowers, might sticking with what you love also be a lack of inspiration? 

When Missa recently posted on feeling comfortable in your clothes, I surprised myself by realizing that while yes, I basically love anything girly and feminine, prairie dresses and all, lately I've also been feeling the draw of a simpler style. 
1970s Young Edwardian Magical Animals Garden Folk Dress with Red Velvet Trim
In fact, I almost purchased the dress below from its seller on Etsy, after searching for fall clothes under "brown rust dress 70s", envisioning a simple necklace, tights and boots. Only to realize that "Wait! I have green and blue hair and I'd look like a mermaid on the first day of school."

70s SUN floral SUMMER dress jumper petite small size 4
Still, I felt stirred by a sudden onslaught of inspiration. Yes, I want to dress more plainly, with smaller touches of interesting details. I'm obsessed with the typical fall/winter colors suddenly, the browns and reds, the heather grays and mossy greens. Ideas appear of certain, perfect pieces, I feel like I need
CUSTOM Autumn Woodland Hat
A red and white polka-dot maxi skirt. White, crisp, school-like, impossible to keep clean, blouses. Everything night sky. 
Love Spell Vintage Gunnies Blouse

Dark is the Night Illustrated Locket Necklace
My initial response to such a flow of inspiration, of course, is to buy stuff. Surprised? Don't be. In spite my pronounced dislike of consumer culture, I'm actually the consummate acquirer of...well, things
Mini Crescent Moon Necklace- Handcut Modern Silver Crescent Moon Shape
Just because I don't shop in box stores, or even hipster boutiques, doesn't mean I don't buy a fair amount stuff each year. In fact, like many thrifters, I fear I buy more stuff than I would if I had to pay conventional prices (this in spite the fact that those prices are ridiculously low for manufactured goods). If I had to pay twelve bucks for each top I get, instead of a dollar, I'd get a lot fewer tops, for sure.  
Constellation necklace - night sky - stars - gold dipped - astrology print - gift set - zodiac - navy black gold white - charity
This also regardless of the fact that I actually have a rather strict budget. I count all my clothes-related purchased to the sum total of 365 dollars a year. That is, a dollar a day, which is what some people live on, so it should be plenty for everything: clothing, accessories, shoes, unmentionables...

I also count into that money stuff I thrift for swapping, because the end result is often, that I get more clothes. 
Seeing The Dark Side of the Moon Necklace- Large Hammered Crescent Moon Shape
Here's how it has spread throughout this year: I've spent 62 dollars of it on etsy, 85 dollars for a handmade dress and about 130 dollars on vintage and thrifting. That leaves me with about 88 dollars, which I'm probably going to blow at the Fair. 
Initially, before really thinking about it, I felt like I had done pretty well for myself this year, because mostly I thrifted things for swapping and not so much for me, found really good deals and had a little more restraint than usual. Still, looking at my closet, it seems as though there are endless new items. Where did they all come from?

Well, I've gotten bunch of things as gifts, bartered for a bunch, traded (labor and clothes) for credit at the local consignment store and gotten items for free from The Dump. There's a big chunk of birthday money that I was planning so spend on something above my usual purchase limit, as well.

I'm not a minimalist, nor aim to be one, but suddenly I feel like these contradictory clothes problems, the bulging wardrobe, the lack of inspiration, the desire for specific items, are all part of the same cycle.

That too much of a good thing may be just too much and not a good thing...

Which is why I felt like I needed to write this post. Often, I find that I get a special clarity from writing blog posts on personal issues that trouble me. Partly it's because writing one's thoughts down makes ideas more concrete and publishing them, putting them out into the world underscores that, but also because you guys are my sounding board for such musings.

So tell me, please, what do you wear and why? How much do you spend on clothes? Do you wear everything in your wardrobe regularly, or are you a collector? Do you feel guilty/confused about your clothes habit?

I have some ideas on how to remedy this situation, but suggestions are very welcome.

All the images are of accessories and items of clothing I've thought about blowing my 80 or so bucks on.