Happy Easter and Happy Royal Wedding!
Roy Strong says that every ten years you should do something completely new....Hmmm..
(Now there's a man who knows about stuff. He was in charge of one of the biggest collections of stuff in the world. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has over four and a half million artefacts. I see he is donating his entire personal archive to the Bodleian Library Oxford and his clothes to the V&A.... Nice one Sir Roy!)
I do occasionally think 'What will I do when everything is sorted?'
The american comedian George Carlin says the whole meaning of life is finding somewhere to put your stuff!
He describes looking down from a plane at all the houses, which are really just 'piles of stuff with a cover on' and with garages added on to fill with stuff, and sheds for more stuff, and storage companies with your stuff, and the stuff you take with you when you travel, and that you carry in a bag, and keep in your pockets....
I'm beginning to wonder if the reason I have embarked on such a major sort is that I am ready to make some changes, perhaps big changes, and am clearing my mind as well as my physical space to think more clearly about what it is I want to do....simply live perhaps and not be so encumbered by 'stuff' ?
I'm still paring down my possessions!
I'm doing that thing of contemplating each one for a moment and seeing what kind of feelings come up (see 14 Nov 2010). Pausing, in other words. Giving the business of dealing with my 'stuff' the attention it needs to make good decisions.
This really works for me. But it does take time....
..I am sans camera at the moment - I do miss it - will illustrate yesterday's post soon..
Colour co-ordinating gets a bad press sometimes - it can be viewed as a trivial obsession or as pretentious, but the way I see it is as 'easy on the eye'. Using colours which harmonise with each other creates calm and harmony in your surroundings.
Here's a fun idea that gives a room a co-ordinated look instantly, and it's free!
Decide on an accent colour for your kitchen - let's say the curtains are green. Next time you come back with the shopping you leave out all the green things - so the green apples go in the bowl along with the green grapes. The green beans and cabbage sit out on a basket on the countertop with the green pepper. The red pepper and the other veg and fruit go in the fridge or in a cupboard. The green wahing up liquid stays out, and next time you buy washing up cloths you get green ones. Hang up the tea towels with green on them. Find a green hand towel and green soap. (You could dye a bundle of old towels and tea towels green.) Spare carrier bags all go into the green one which you hang on the doorhandle. A big bunch of branches from any green shrub or tree, a pot of basil or parsley, some green postcards/greetings cards/pictures from a magazine can be blu tacked to the wall.
Basically, if it's green leave it on show, if it's not green put it in a cupboard....et voila! Step back and admire.
It works in any room in the house. Easy on the eye - harmony and calm....
I was talking with a friend about what to do with those clothes which bring back memories of happy occasions.
If you have plenty of room in your wardrobe then of course it's fine to keep them there, but if you don't?
If you know you won't actually wear them again but still want to keep them, I think you treat them as memorabilia rather than as clothes, and put them somewhere other than in the wardrobe.
They could go in a box or second wardrobe to be brought out and looked at occasionally. Or you could make a decorative feature of them - hung on the wall, or on a pretty hanger on the back of the bedroom door or the front of the wardrobe door, or, my own preferred option, they could be photographed - on you, or on a hanger - this certainly takes up less space!
If you like keeping things this way click here for Gretchen Rubin on organising keepsakes (it's just not for me - more boxes in the loft?!)
I went shopping for a dressing gown and a watch, and came back with a winter coat and a week-end bag.
This is called 'shopping with an open mind' ! (I had a school friend whose Mum went out for a loaf and came back with a piano....)
Being a careful shopper, knowing what you need and knowing what suits you, means you don't make impulse buys, but when the right things turn up at an unexpected time, you go for it!
Since I decided to apply brain to the whole business of clothes, I've spent less and wasted less than ever before, and I enjoy my clothes more too. It's been so worth the effort.
It's simpler to get dressed, simpler to shop, simpler to do this annual sort out....
How are you faring with your wardrobe sort? I know at least one person who has cleared out her underwear drawer....
Shoes, oh coloured shoes!
I do tend to keep old ones....What for? Well because I loved them of course. (Note the past tense.) I went out on my first date wearing lace up school shoes. My Mum promised me a new pair of gunmetal, pointy toed slingbacks with a kitten heel 'but not his week' she said, and my heart sank into my black lace-ups....(he did ask me out again though - a lesson there..?)
My favourites? Audrey elegant, coloured plimsolls, jellies with sparkles, soft leather sandals. I've photographed them for fun and will get rid, finally, of the old ones I know I'll never wear again.
I've just realised that great shoes and a good haircut are the two things that do it for me! What, fashion wise, does it for you? do share....
The underwear drawer is where one must be ruthless! Is it grey? Baggy? Past it? Never worn? OUT! No hesitation. Same with tights and socks, and how many pairs do I need anyway?
Nightwear, dressing gowns - I'm so fond of that worn out old tartan one though....
Make note to have a nice shopping expedition. Line the drawer with scented paper. Fresh start here, pretend it's my birthday..
..I find it really hard to be ruthless or extravagant!! is this some kind of personality disorder I wonder, and is there a cure?
(Favourite fashion book - the Kate Hogg edition is years old but somehow doesn't date.)
An odd assortment is what's left after I've selected my favourite clothes from the wardrobe. A few things I just never seem to wear - do you have some of these? I bring them out, try them on, but somehow they always go back on the hanger. I ask myself why? Here are some of the answers I came up with:
I just don't suit cardigans no matter how nice the fabric. Buttoned, unbuttoned, draped around shoulders, whatever way I try to wear a cardigan I look frumpish. So why do I have two, just taking up space?
Acrylic - why do I ever buy acrylic? Because the style was good, the colour was good, BUT it only looked good for a few wearings before it started to 'bobble' and I HATE bobbly fabric! Give/throw it away! Same with top which is a little too big - it was the right colour, a nice drape, a little bit different and a bargain to boot - but I'm not planning to get any bigger - so why did I buy it?
And fleece.. I just don't like the feel of it. But it's so handy/washable/uncrushable/cosy/lightweight I might keep it for now.
Trousers which were a favourite for a long long time - too long - now the fabric is so tired they look good for only about half an hour after I put them on - wipe away a tear and put them in the recycle bin.
A beautiful classic coat - I haven't worn it for years. But it is lovely quality, timeless, warm, hmmm, don't know. I've just realised it's a town coat - I don't wear it now because I live in the country. Also, if I'm really honest it's a little bit neat....
I got rid of twelve items. So much more space
I'm not going to berate myself for my mistakes, or for having too much or not having enough. I'm just going to put back the things I'm really happy in and give away the rest.
This should be easier than last year. It's interesting to note that i never missed any of the items I got rid of then...
I'm planning to take a few hours and take out everything from the wardrobe, and put it on the bed. I'll clean the space - vacuum and wipe down with a lavender scented cleaner.
The plan is to take each item, starting with my favourites, apply brain and ask myself
a) do I love it?
b) do I need it?
c) does it give me good energy/no energy/neutral energy?
d) when did I last wear it?
I'm going to take my time over this, have a coffee and a think now and then, a glass of wine perhaps. The aim is, when all my favourites (which fit and don't need repaired or cleaned) are hanging there, to look for the common denominator - what is it about these things that makes them favourites?
That will define my preferred style - what really works for me. Choosing once you get to the shops is a worse dilemma than choosing food in the supermarket - too much choice!
It turns out my favourites are simple shapes, self coloured in 'my colours' - navy, colourful greys, raspberry, fuchsia, purples and blues. (see Simply Stylish 7 July 2010) long sleeved, nice quality fabrics, mainly cotton, linen, wool. Well made, plain, unadorned but hopefully not boring...
Another look over them to see if any of them are getting a bit worn out - stretched necklines, baggy knees, thinning fabric etc and make a note to look for replacements if needed.
....next, a look at the rest..
Before I start on the wardrobe sort, I will wash everything in the wash basket and iron everything in the ironing pile, collect the items hanging in the downstairs cupboard and at the back door, and get the out of season box from the loft.
It's a big job, but it's only done this thoroughly once a year, and in a few days time I will have a wardrobe full of things that fit, things I love, and things that are ready to wear! Yay!
I'll also pamper my gardening hands, fingernails and toenails, eyebrows and whatever else needs a bit of attention. It's important to make this a pleasurable experience, and feeling well groomed helps.
I'll make a hairdresser appointment, and an optician appointment.
Join me in a makeover? Just for fun? Doreen? Laura? Anyone else?
....am getting ready to look objectively at every single item of clothing I own..nice notebook at the ready..
I have been busy finishing, photographing, framing, and listing sizes, titles and prices for these new (all but the last one)paintings to be delivered to Juno Gallery on Friday. I've also been writing an 'artist's statement'.. I quite enjoy the challenge of putting words to the images....
'In these oil paintings I am exploring colour, and in particular the interaction of one colour with another
within the painting . My recent work has been described as both 'optimistic' and 'poetic' - I hope you will
My starting point is the effect you get at dusk, that luminous quality of light on the garden, particularly in
high summer when my garden is bursting with colourful flowers. Known as the Puskinje effect, the garden looks
as though it is lit from within. Bonnard called it 'l'heure bleu'.
I want to capture and evoke the magic of it, or the 'enchanted moments of heightened perception' to borrow
a phrase from Kenneth Clark.'
For more information see www.fredawaldapfel.squarespace.com and www.junogallery.com .
There is always surplus from a thriving garden and I sell plants in a small way at the end of the drive. I've met a lot of nice people and plant enthusiasts this way, though most often the plants go and the money appears in the honesty pot without me seeing anyone.
People ask if the money gets stolen. The answer is no. People are honest. In 6 or 7 years, only once did money get taken and the thief kindly put the lid back on the jar and left it at the edge of the road! - I guess they needed the £1.40 more than I did.
I've just put out the first plants of the season. They are getting a bit rain battered - but I think of Tammy in drought stricken Oklahoma, and am grateful....
'Spend your time doing inexpensive and free things instead of shopping.' suggests minimalist Leo Babatua (25 Mar).
This reminds me of 'poor week'.
We used to have what we called poor week at the end of some months when money was particularly tight. It sounds awful, but in fact it was often fun (we were never without the necessities - poor is a relative term!) But we'd announce 'OK it's poor week, what can we do that's fun and doesn't cost anything?' And the girls would come up with ideas - we'd go to the park and picnic and make things and plant seeds and fly kites or do jigsaws, go to the library and visit anything that was free, and put up a tent in the garden and....
We'd avoid the supermarket and dig deep in the back of cupboards and the freezer inventing meals and strange sandwiches from whatever was there. We'd make soup and bake bread and scones and, everyone's favourite, bramble and apple sponge pudding, and make popcorn, and homemade lemonade and (the girls like to remind me of this) we once picked nettles from the hedgerows, wearing rubber gloves, to put in nettle quiche - disappointingly, it didn't taste of anything, but I'm sure it was good for us! There was quite a bit of grumbling about that one (I think they were afraid their friends would see them) but on the whole we had a lot of fun on poor week, and ate rather well.
I think the Pick And Choose was invented one really poor week, the day before pay day - we just put everything that was left in the cupboard, fridge, vegetable basket and the fruit bowl onto the table - it was the oddest mix, but beautifully arranged on our best dishes, with napkins and a candle. We told the girls to help themselves to a 'Pick And Choose'. They thought it was really special and it became a favourite kind of meal! I really don't think they knew that it was created from sheer desperation....
I'm listening to my soundscape. Since it takes just 30 seconds, and brings me so beautifully into the present moment, I've decided it's a lovely way to start the day. Thank you Pia Jane Bijkerk.
The tide has turned so there is the rhythmic hsch hsch of the waves coming in, the high pitched sounds of a large flock of siskins feeding in the garden, and the odd cry of a gull or two. A crackle from the fire and the clack of a doorhandle as a door blows open in the draught from the open window, and I hear a door close from a neighbour's house. From the kitchen there's the sound of gently bubbling water from a pan with my egg in it.
Have you read the novel Grace Notes by Bernard MacLaverty? I loved the way everyday sounds were woven into the story of the main character, Catherine, who is a composer. A lovely read. I read it first for the story, and again for the sound details.
Here is the china teaset I couldn't resist when I took books to Oxfam (see 16 and 17 Dec 2010).
I said then I was just 'hiring' it from Oxfam. I've used it twice, the rest of the time it's been taking up space I need in a box on the studio floor, so it's time for it to go back and find another rescuer, and for Oxfam to get another £4.99! (The decanter has already gone back, I've still got the delicate glass.)
I could have some fun with hiring from Oxfam....
How sentimental we get about stuff....it's very pretty though, isn't it? Remember those essays we had to write in primary school -The Story of a Penny ? I wonder what the story of this china is?