Sunday, May 24, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Capsule Wardrobe Failure . . . or Success?

As I stood in our closet several weeks ago, once again trying to figure out what I wanted to wear, I knew it was time for a change. The closet was jam-packed with clothes, yet I couldn't find anything I felt like wearing. I grabbed a favorite pair of capris and a t-shirt, and decided it was time to act.

I've seen several mentions of a Capsule Wardrobe on the Internet over the past few years, so I did a little research for INSPIRATION. I even pulled out a notebook and jotted down some notes and why I wanted to give it a try.

I knew there was no way I would cull my clothes down to the recommended 37 pieces, or even down to 50, but I was excited to try something new.

I pulled all my pants (jeans, capris, shorts, slacks) out of the closet and set to work. I started with 28 pairs.

When I was finished, I hung 13 back in the closet, placed 9 in the pile to donate, and put 6 aside to save (because they are just slightly too small). I was feeling pretty good about having cut the amount of pants in half. This photo looks similar to the one above, but if you look closely you'll see there are a lot less hangars in that same space.

Next I pulled out all my shirts . . . all 87 of them!

I piled them all up on the bed, with the colors that I had chosen for my Capsule Wardrobe on the left and the remaining colors on the right.

Things were going pretty smoothly as I choose which items to return to the closet, which ones were destined for the donation box, and which ones I would put in the storage box to save (mostly winter-type shirts).

However, when I got to the pile on the right, the colors I was going to omit from my wardrobe to make my Capsule Wardrobe . . . I just couldn't do it. How could I go an entire season without a red shirt, or blue, or orange, or purple, or even brown for that matter? This was the point that I knew I would never reduce my clothing down to a true Capsule Wardrobe. Total failure!

Or was it? I kept going and sorted the remaining shirts, hanging only 52 of the original 87 back in the closet.

You might have noticed that the hangars are backwards on the bar. This is the trick I'm using to help me see which items I'm actually wearing, and which ones I consistently pass over. In a few months, I'll see which hangars and still backwards and evaluate whether those items still deserve space in the closet!

I took a break at this point because it was midnight. However, Saturday morning I decided to continue going through everything in the closet despite the fact that I wasn't creating a Capsule Wardrobe. I pulled out all my jackets, then my dresses and skirts. Here's a look at the end of the closet before I pulled anything out.

That shoe storage unit on the right was full of gloves and scarves and such. I completely removed it and kept only the few pair of gloves we actually use, along with a couple of scarves and headbands. The rest of it went in the donation box. Now the end of the closet looks like this.

Just for FUN as I was working, I kept a tally of items and notes in my notebook.

I even pulled out all my shoes and sorted them the same way, except these were either keep or donate, nothing for the storage box. These are just my sandals and tennis shoes . . . I did put quite a few pairs in the donate pile!

While I was working on Saturday, Robbie was hanging out in the recliner in the bedroom visiting and encouraging me. He mentioned that he needed to do the same thing with all his clothes. (Yippee!) So, I started the whole process over once my stuff was back in the closet. Pulled out his pants, sorted, re-hung the keepers. . . then his shirts, etc.  We even sorted through his collection of ties!

Each time I removed a section of clothing, I dusted and cleaned that space in the closet. At the end of the day (yes, it took all day), the closet looked and felt so refreshing. And we had over 120 items to take to donate at our local community outreach.

We ended up with one large tote each of clothes to store, ones that are winter clothes (which we won't need until at least November) and a few that almost fit. We'll go through these items again sometime in early fall.

So, although at first I felt like this Capsule Wardrobe experiment was a failure, I realize that it was actually a huge success because we did cull our wardrobe down by about forty percent! And since all the hangars were backwards at the end of the day, we now have a way to tell if we really are wearing all the items we kept. Total success!

What do you think - failure or success?

Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Finding INSPIRATION

I know that Pinterest has become a place to collect and organize INSPIRATION, however I really don't pin! I did set up a Pinterest account, but the only time I scroll through a Pinterest board is when I occasionally click a link from someone's blog post. From this limited exposure, I know that Pinterest could become very addictive and time-consuming. I much prefer to get out and about for an INSPIRATION outing!

I enjoy outings that allow me to seek INSPIRATION away from the computer, get me out of my normal routine, provide opportunities to practice photography, spark creative ideas, and help me find beauty and FUN in the world around me. Last year I especially enjoyed a morning at the Oscar de la Renta Five Decades of Style exhibit, and a few years ago Robbie and I spent a FUN and inspirational day at Eisenhower State Park. My friend Ellyn and I had several outings a couple of years ago - we toured the Dallas Blooms at the Arboretum, visited a park and grocery store, and enjoyed the exhibits at the Dallas Museum of Art.

When Cheri and I visited the Frisco Mercantile recently, it was also an outing filled with INSPIRATION. Along with all those signs, we found lots of creative ideas.

My favorite items were these letters cut from Reader's Digest Condensed books.

I also liked these wreaths, although (as Cheri pointed out) they look like a ton of work to create.

I think a smaller version of this Texas string art would be great as a scrapbook layout embellishment.

I'm collecting ideas for creating decorative trees, so these cloth covered cones caught my eye.

And, finally, the pressed flower arrangements preserved in this old window frame created a beautiful piece of art.

Do you enjoy INSPIRATION outings? Please share ideas for other outings in the comments! I'm hoping to get out for regular outings again beginning next month.

Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Green Bean Bundles

Over the past few years, I've shared several of my best recipes and the stories that go along with them. Grandma's Pecan Pie and Magic Cookie Bars are two of my favorites. I have a set of 6x6 scrapbooks that hold the recipes that we deem "scrap-worthy." The recipe I'm sharing today resides in the Side Dishes category, and, although it reads From the Kitchen of Melissa Gross, I've never actually made this dish. (However, I created quite a few of these 6x6 scrapped cards to share in a recipe swap, thus the addition of my name.)

Robbie is the one who always makes this yummy side dish. We first had these green bean bundles at a friend's home during our first year or two of marriage, and Robbie immediately asked for the recipe. Since then he's made them for various special occasions (and sometimes "just because") - they are delicious and also look very fancy displayed in a pretty dish. Enjoy!

Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Not Really A Camera Review

Cate's prompt for today on her challenge to blog every day in May is to "review your camera." Honestly, I like all three of the cameras I currently use -  the Canon PowerShot SD870IS 8MP Digital Camera (our first digital camera, 8 years old now, small & easy to slip in a purse or pocket), the Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR Camera (a gift we gave ourselves for Christmas in 2011 before our 10th Anniversary cruise), and my Apple iPhone 4S (yes, it's probably time to upgrade soon).  I'm not really an expert in photography and continue to have the goal of learning to use all the features on the DSLR; however, I like to take lots of photos and scrap them with our stories and memories. I'm not sure that I could properly explain the difference in these cameras as my main criteria for which one to use depends on what I feel like toting around or (in the case of my iPhone) which one I happen to have with me when I want to snap a photo.

So, rather than a camera review today, I thought I'd share a few layouts I completed with photos (all taken with my iPhone) from Scrapbook Expo 2015 back in February. I created a pocket on this first layout to hold the tickets from the crops and class I attended.

Next I scrapped the photo collage I created with pictures of INSPIRATION on the show floor as well as the crop area.

And finally I used a map and some photos of the Gaylord Texas to tell the story of why Susie brought me a Coca-Cola.

How many cameras do you currently use? Would you be able to give a good review of them?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - Craft Room Photos

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you will have seen photos of me scrapping away in my craft room. Some of you may even remember when I transformed the extra guestroom into my craft room a few years ago. Obviously this is one of my favorite places to be. However, it's not just the paper crafting supplies and the time I enjoy creating in this room that make it special. I've also filled this room with things that I love, things that make me smile as I look around, things that inspire me, things that remind me of friends and family, of times past and present. I hope these things will bring a smile your way today!

Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blog Every Day In May - From The Archives (Sister)

Today I'm sharing a post from the archives here at Daily Life - Bits & Pieces. This is one of the posts that I'm most proud of because of the writing. I'd wanted to tell the story of my aunt, Sister, for some time, and Sian's Storytelling Sundays were the perfect push to get the words down on paper. When I clicked the Publish button on that post, I was a little nervous, wondering if I'd used the right words to share a very personal story that would honor a part of my family history. However, when comments from my blog readers began appearing, I knew that (at least that time) I had gotten it just right.

You can see the layout I created to go along with the story in my original post from August 7, 2011. At that time, I did not have many photos of Sister. However, now that Mama is scrapbooking and scanning many of her older photos, I have quite a few in my digital collection. Today I'm sharing my original journaling along with photos of Sister throughout her lifetime.

Sister was only 44 years old when she died.  The state school called early that Sunday morning to say she was gone.  I remember hearing Mama’s heart wrenching sobs coming from her and Daddy’s bedroom.  After years of taking care of her three daughters and Sister, Mama had decided to place Sister in the state school just 2 years earlier.

Evelyn Mae was born in 1942 in Mississippi. She was the sixth child of Tinie and Clora; however she was the first girl (who lived), and so everyone called her Sister. She was my aunt, my Mama’s older sister. In 1942, most women would have put Sister away in a nursing home or state school, but not my Grandma – she loved and cared for Sister until 1971 when the Lord took Grandma home.
Sister was born with mental retardation and physical disfigurements which included lobster claw hand deformities and a cleft lip & palate (my parents were able to have the cleft lip & palate fixed sometime in the late 70s). While Sister’s body grew to adult size over the years, her mental state remained that of an 18-month-old baby throughout her life.  She wore diapers from the day she was born until the day she died and never developed the capacity to walk.  She did, however, learn to crawl and pull herself up in a chair, she learned to show emotions by laughing, smiling, crying, and screaming, and she learned to say “Mama.”
I remember that sometime after Grandma died, Grandpa came to live with us – Mama, Daddy, me & my two sisters.  Mama had us three girls, ages 5, 3, and 1, plus Grandpa (who would often pass out unexpectantly) to care for, so Sister was placed in a nursing home nearby.  Mama went to visit her often, making sure she was cared for, but after Grandpa died in 1973, Sister came to live with us. (Over the years, we did have help from my aunt & uncle who took turns keeping Sister, too.)
The day Mama brought her home, she had a sore on her foot that was rotting her skin and muscle away. The nursing home had tied Sister to her rocking chair, which was tied to the doorknob in her room – these measures designed to keep Sister from crawling around and “bothering” other people in the home.  Sister didn’t know she was bothering other people any more than a baby would; she loved people.
My freshman year of high school, Sister went to the state home. I wish I could tell you that it was difficult for me without her there, but honestly as a teenager I was relieved that we would no longer have to endure the stares of strangers when we went shopping or to Astroworld or when my parents brought her to see me act in my high school’s theatre production of Guys & Dolls and she yelled out when she saw me. I no longer had to worry that I would need to change a diaper if Mama was sick (even though this was a very rare occurrence anyway). I wouldn’t have to give her a wide birth when she was angry and slapping everything within reach.
I didn’t realize at the time that I would also no longer hear her laughter, loud & uninhibited as only a young child can laugh. I didn’t realize I would no longer be able to sit in her lap and let her pat my head as if I was her baby doll. I didn’t realize the guilt Mama would feel for making the decision to place her in the state school. I didn’t realize how much resilience I had learned from all those years of people staring at us. I didn’t realize how I would regret not having appreciated the sacrifice Mama made, first taking care of Sister with three young daughters, then placing Sister in the state school so she could be there for her teenage daughters.
I hold a teaching certificate, a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree. I’ve traveled around the world. Yet I don’t believe I’ve ever done anything that rivals what Grandma and Mama did, taking care of Sister for 44 years.

Today I'm linking up with Cate and her challenge to blog every day in May.