Monday, January 16, 2012

okay, so i might be a hoarder

As I was folding and putting away some laundry the other day, something dawned on me. I was shoving about four or five of my many folded t-shirts into the middle drawer of my dresser, trying desperately to cram them in so the darn thing would close, and I thought to myself, I have absolutely no idea what is at the bottom of this drawer. Keep in mind, this is a pretty shallow space. However, over time I had managed to layer and compress so many shirts in there that I no longer had any idea what was lying beneath. I mean, it could have been wads of cash or a family of tiny mammals and I'd be none the wiser.

Then, as I was thinking about the dresser, my mind drifted to the closet. And the dresser upstairs. And the closet upstairs. Each of these locales had accumulated some overstuffed collection of my clothes and the hilarious/sad part was that I pretty much rotated like twelve items of clothing over and over again and that was the extent of my wardrobe. I didn't even wear 75% of the things I had. Not anymore! I said to myself (But not out loud, because let's be honest, that would have been silly.) I decided it was finally time to rid myself of the old clothing I had been keeping from high school and college and narrow the old wardrobe down to something that was manageable and incapable of hiding the aforementioned family of small mammals.

Now I would love to say that this whole project stemmed from some new year's resolution to rid myself of all my worldly possessions or to shed the metaphorical skin of my former self, but in fact it began having nothing to do with either of those things. It was completely selfish. I simply wanted to have an idea of the full range of clothing I owned so I could dress better and not feel the need to just keep buying clothes when I had a closet full of perfectly cute items. (If we're being honest here.)

I do want to take a moment to explain myself a bit, though. I promise I am not some girl swimming in cash that's addicted to shopping and amasses oodles and oodles of clothing. (I've seen MTV's True Life: I'm Addicted to Shopping, and it is not a pretty sight.) In fact, it's quite the opposite. See, growing up my family didn't have a ton of money. In fact, we didn't have very much money at all and all my mom and stepdad ever wanted was to make sure the bills were paid and my brothers and I had a few creature comforts. Shopping was a rarity but when I did, it was with birthday or babysitting money and I would scour the sales or rifle through racks at TJMaxx. (As a result, I still feel that there is no better feeling of satisfaction than scoring an amazing deal. It's pretty much like my drug.) I also hated spending money because I never had a lot of it. But anyway, as a result of that upbringing, I feel this compulsive need to keep things. I don't want to give anything away because each item I have is something that I worked hard to buy and I want to stretch every last bit out of my clothes so I don't have to spend a fortune going shopping. As I've gotten older and made my own money, I've had to train myself on buying things that are of better quality even though they may be more expensive. It sounds bizarre to use that word trained, but it really is a mental barrier when you've grown up being so frugal. Anyway, the moral of the story is, this bountiful closet is only bountiful because I literally didn't give away a single thing for like six years. Not good.

So I began by separating things into piles: Goodwill, throw away, and my personal favorite, "this is still really cute but I know I'll never wear it so I'll let my little sister look through it before I donate it." (Yep, I wrote that in Sharpie on the garbage bag.) Even with my mission in mind, I still found myself fighting my uber-saver instincts as I worked my way through the closet. I would pull an item out and convince myself that there would surely be some miraculous occasion in the future that this coral polka-dotted skirt would be just perfect for. Or I'd think, What if I have a costume party in which a bubble gum pink cable knit sweater will be the piece de resistance to my suburban soccer mom costume? (These are ACTUAL thoughts I had.)

Right, like I said. Piles.

Jason walked in and almost had a HEART ATTACK.
Um yeah, so you can imagine the epic battle of self-discipline that ensued, but when it was all said and done, my closet was about half as full. Not to mention I had a full bag of things to throw away, a full bag of things to donate to Goodwill, and a whole heck of a lot to let my little sister rifle through. Everybody wins.

Despite my progress, I admit there are some things I still couldn't bring myself to give up. Like my collection of six white camisoles. What? Don't judge. They're all different lengths/fabrics/fits, plus one is off-white so I wear them under different things! (Crap. This is where you guys call the people over at Hoarders, isn't it? See, I knew it was coming. Should've kept the white camis thing to myself, huh?)

Not only do I now know exactly all the items I owned, but I managed to consolidate my four clothing locations in the house (downstairs closet, bedroom dresser, guest room dresser, guest room closet) into two and a quarter locations: guest room closet, bedroom dresser, and my two stacks of workout clothes on a shelf in the downstairs closet. Yes, that's right ladies, I surrendered my real estate in our bedroom closet to my boyfriend's ever growing collection of daily t-shirts BUT I assure you it's all well within my carefully plotted strategy. Having the entire upstairs closet sans whining about how much room my sixteen scarves (see right: not an exaggeration) take up is worth the trade. Plus, I got WAY too much satisfaction out of creating an entire system for where things are located - a Dewey Decimal System of clothing items if you will. Behold my glorious spectrum below:

Okay, so I agree, not that impressive at a glance. BUT underneath that exterior layer of seemingly haphazard hangers is a carefully crafted system with purpose and precision. (Holy alliterations, Batman!) In case you care, here's the breakdown. From left to right we have: business attire (the smallest piece of the pie), day dresses (think brunch), night dresses (think weddings/cocktail attire), a section I will just called "black" (which could mean anything from t-shirts to sweaters to dressy tops), t-shirts, summer tops, coverups (read: dresses too short or thin to be worn sans swimsuit underneath), long sleeve shirts and sweaters (thank goodness Florida only requires a few of these), and then the rest is pretty much cardigans and blazers/jackets! Voila - my masterpiece!

One fun (slash-enlightening-slash-slightly-embarrassing) thing about organizing things this way is that it becomes painfully obvious just how predictable your style is. Apparently in order for me to buy clothing it must fit within at least one of the following categories: cotton t-shirts, cardigans, brightly colored tops and... well, just black. These items make up 90% of my wardrobe. Who knew? (Probably everyone who sees me on a semi-regular basis.)

I also made a new promise to myself. From now on, every time I want to go shopping, I will donate or give up the same amount of items I come home with. I think my wardrobe is at a very manageable size right now and this will ensure it doesn't get out of control again. This may be one of those self-made promises that I live to regret, but I really think it's the best thing for me. In case you haven't gathered this about me, I'm one of those people that is all but paralyzed by choices, and if I have less choices in my wardrobe, I think dressing myself will actually become more fun.

So I hope to update you all in a few months to see if I've actually been able to keep up with my promise - I'm counting on all of you to keep me accountable! I also challenge those of you reading out there to do the same in your closets and share some of your tricks to keeping yourself organized and clutter-free! Do you have any self-made promises like mine that keep your wardrobe manageable?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

copycraft: faux ceramic magnets

Alright you ravenous craftaholics, get excited... the time has finally come for you to get your fix! It's the first craft post of the year! Woohoo! Alright! LOUD EXCLAMATIONS OF EXCITEMENT!

Okay, so before I get ahead of myself, I have to admit to you, I cheated a little. It's actually a craft project I completed back around the beginning of December (hence the Christmas theme) and it sat in my iPhoto/brain/post queue for about a month and a half. BUT I'm thinking it was just a bit timid about making its blog debut. So now that the New Year has come and gone, it's feeling a bit more bold and courageous, and has resolved to finally join the ranks with its copycraft comrades. (Because craft projects have New Year's resolutions too, right? Right.)

Anyhooter, this is one of those projects that is SUPER easy and can be done for any occasion or holiday. In fact, I think it could even be a fantastic project if any of you out there have kids because it's a fun way to create a trinket using their artwork. 

As with any of my half-way decent projects, it all began with a little inspiration from Pinterest. A while ago I pinned these Pantone color chip magnets and thought they were awesome and adorable. 

I was pleasantly surprised when I clicked through to the tutorial on one of my favorite blogs, How About Orange, and saw that the steps were so easy. 

When it came time to recreate the project, I didn't have any Pantone chips on hand so instead I decided I'd come up with my own holiday design and use that. (As it turns out, that's the beauty of this project - whatever you can think up and draw, you can create a set of magnets for it!) I cut these little rectangles out from book board I had on hand (basically just thick cardboard you can buy at your craft store), and then using a Sharpie and my Prismacolor markers I made a fun little mosaic pattern using three different shades of red or green. 

(Fun fact: I actually got the inspiration for the pattern from a fun necklace I found on Pinterest as well! I'm telling you guys, it has been a godsend for my creativity.) Can you see the resemblance... eh... eh... ? 

Once you have your design drawn out, all you have to do is go back over with a thick coat of Paper Glaze. Now, I'm sure you could probably use something else like Modge Podge, but the original tutorial recommended a specific brand of this gluey substance called "Paper Glaze" and since I'm a big fat scaredy cat when it comes to following tutorials or recipes or directions or anything really, I decided to stick to what it explicitly told me to use. These pictures should give you an idea of just how thick the layer was, but you can definitely tell it takes on a raised layer effect. 

Now after you let them dry overnight, you can see that the glaze takes on a kind of glassy, ceramic look. (Even more-so in person - the pictures don't quite give the effect its due justice.) Once they're dry, you're supposed to simply attach the magnet back and voila! You're done! 

However, despite my meticulous adherence to the tutorial, I still encountered a problem. When my Paper Glaze dried, apparently my layers were so thick that when it covered the black areas it ended up looking a bit cloudy. I think honestly I may have just been a bit too liberal with the pouring on of the glaze, so next time I would probably go over in thinner layers and just do a few of them over time. 

Either way though, I was not about to let this project get scrapped. My solution was to simply go over the black areas with a Sharpie. The permanent marker actually glided quite nicely over the glossy surface of the glaze and I think having the black on top makes it really pop off the slightly muted pattern under the glaze. I don't know, you be the judge, but I think it was a bit of a happy accident. 

I really love the way they turned out, and they brought some lovely holiday cheer to our fridge over the holidays. (Please don't be alarmed, we have since cleared off our fridge so there is much less on it. For a while it started to take on a life of its own...) Anyway, now that Christmas is over, I have the urge to do this project again, but I want your help! 

If there is anyone reading this that's interested in getting a set of three magnets, PLEASE leave a comment below with what you'd like and I will make them and mail them to you for FREE! I really just want a reason to create things and do something with them other than keep them around my house. If you have a favorite set of quotes or sayings, or maybe you just want a pretty pattern or design, I can do whatever you want! I think as a set of three they would be really cute as a monogram too for yourself or maybe for a random gift to send to a friend. Of course, if no one wants a set, that's cool too (except for the fact that it will CRUSH MY SOUL). So please, comment away! 

Hope you enjoyed the post and maybe I'll have some magnets to make this weekend that I can show you in a future post!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

tales from the first two months of freedom

I'm alive! I swear! I know some of you were beginning to wonder if I had literally fallen off the face of the planet. And you know what? It kinda feel like I have.

Things have been a bit of a whirlwind since Thanksgiving and I simply haven't had a chance to take a step back and breathe, much less breathe AND share the craziness with you all. That being said, it's a new year and I wasn't about to let a week of it go by without dusting off the old blog. (I literally picture like a creaky old machine that's getting slightly less creaky with each letter I type... just to give you the visual that's inside my head.) 

A ton has happened in the past two months and I want to share it with the few of you that will still be readers after this extended hiatus of mine (also, selfishly, it's kind of a fun time in my life and I'd like to look back and remember what was going on.) I apologize in advance if this post ends up a long one. I figure you all are used to my long-windedness by now. It's mah styyyle. 

Let's begin with the obvious and most relevant topic of discussion in my life ... my new job! Words can honestly not express how much this one decision has changed my day-to-day life. You have heard me say it before, but I have VERY high standards of happiness. These standards are the reason that I've made decisions that have led me here, working for a company that I am so deeply personally invested in. When I was working at the two jobs I had previously, I always had this intangible, elusive feeling that is hard to describe, but it was this feeling of being... without purpose. Every day I felt as if I was spinning my wheels, working so hard to accomplish tasks and meet goals and excede expectations, but it was all in the name of what? Someone else's business. Someone else's purpose. 

IWearYourShirt isn't just a business, it's the reason Jason and I met. It's the thing that inspired me to follow my heart and dream big (which I still continue to do and believe that my future has incredible things in store.) The thing I'm trying to get at is that this business is woven into the fabric of my life so tightly, that now the hours and hours I pour into it feel less like I'm on someone else's hamster wheel, and feel more like I'm building something that I'm a part of. That every day I'm molding it and contributing to what it will become. And that is the coolest thing in the world. 

Now that being said, I will tell you it has been no walk in the park. I thought that the hardest thing about working from home would be the lack of accountability. Would I seriously be able to get up every morning and get working, knowing that my "commute" merely involved walking upstairs and "my boss" didn't care what time I moseyed into "the office?" (Yeah... that last one was just because I wanted to make the air quotes obnoxious. Mission: accomplished.) Well interestingly enough, my motivation wasn't the biggest challenge. On the contrary, the hardest part is actually walking away. 

Going back to what I said earlier about being invested, during the day in my head I know that if I just spend one more hour working or if I stay up until 2 instead of going to bed at midnight, I'll be ahead of the game and it will directly benefit us and the business. This is a dangerous notion, I've found. I can easily work a 12-15 hour day and not bat an eyelash. But that's not exactly healthy, is it? (Um... my caffeine-addicted instincts say no.) Still, it's the most I've ever wanted to work in my life, which is saying something. I just look forward to finding a sense of balance in it all. 

And I'm sure some of you are wondering, how's it going dating the boss? ("Dating the boss." That sounds so much more scandalous and less submissive than "working for the boyfriend," right?) I'd be lying if I said we've been able to keep things completely separate. In my perfect world we'd interact like any other work relationship and then we'd walk downstairs from the office, quit talking shop and we'd be like any other couple. But it's not a perfect world. There are times when we drive each other nuts or when we add tone to things we don't need to or times where we'll be at meals and we are both completely fixated on something related to the business and we have to stop ourselves. Believe me, I've had to learn how to take criticism better (and not immediately assume because Jason doesn't like my idea that OUR RELATIONSHIP IS OVER. That's my dramatic blogging voice, more commonly known as caps lock.) But even with the drawbacks, it has a ton more advantages. We have so much fun working together in our home office upstairs and it definitely helps to feed off of each other's energy. It's fun to be able to brainstorm and problem-solve together, and I think it helps our relationship that at the end of the day we each know exactly what frame of mind the other person is in because we were there beside each other all day.

Other awesome perks that I have to take a moment to boast about (forgive me, please, but gosh darnit it's my blog and I feel compelled to share my life's awesomeness with you):
  • Working from absolutely anywhere my heart desires. We took a trip to West Palm Beach for some sponsors, and that picture above was my desk for four days. (Did I mention it was 72 degrees in December?) 
  • Doing really awesome stuff I would never have the opportunity to do, like broadcasting live from the middle of a herd of rhinoceros. Umm.. amazing. 
  • Working with a crew of the funniest, most creative people I've had the pleasure of ever meeting. 
  • Sunday nights are no longer filled with dread. No matter how much you love your job, if you commute to a "regular, 9-to-5 job" you know the feeling I'm talking about. That feeling inside you that says, Crap! I have to wake up tomorrow and go to work!... I don't have that anymore and it's an unbelievable feeling!
Speaking of that last one, I have to take a second to share an aside with you that came up in a conversation with a close friend of mine. We were talking about work and I was telling her how strange it is to not have this feeling anymore, and here's what I realized: 

Most people live their lives in a series of starts and stops. You get up and go to work and do what you have to do, and it's only until you come home that your life really picks up and begins again. Before you know it, months pass and you wonder, what have I really done to "live" lately? Now on the other hand, let's say you have a job that completely consumes your life. That's typically seen as a bad thing. "Your work is your whole life" you hear people say. And that's true. But what I've realized is that when your life is your work, and your work is your life, you never have that feeling of leaving it to pick back up where your life last left off. Instead you're in a state of perpetual living. Now I understand if that's a little mumbo-jumbo-y for you guys, but it's a realization that was pretty awesome for me and it's why I feel like this job has given me the gift of being present in my own life. (This theory is contingent upon the fact that you actually like your work, of course.) 

Something else I've noticed is that when you make a change like this in your life, you can't expect everyone to understand why you made it. Lucky for me, I have a super supportive family that (a) just wants me to be happy, (b) knows that when I make my mind up about something, there's no use is stopping me because I'm going to do it anyway, and (c) I'm an incredibly self-aware person and I make decisions knowing exactly what is best for me. However, I went through a tough time with some of my close friends who simply did not think that this was a good move for me. And that has been the hardest part. I never thought that in an effort to be happier I would have to sacrifice friendships. That just seems absurd. But I do understand that not everyone in this world thinks like me or has the same desires that I do, and therefore it's hard to understand a move like this not being in my frame of mind. 

I also recognize that Jason and I have a very unconventional life that may be hard to comprehend. We're quite a few number of years apart in age, we began our relationship under circumstances that were complicated to say the least (a story for another day), we moved in together after only dating for six months (and have been happily coexisting for over a year now, thank you!), he began a business based around wearing t-shirts of all things, we have a ton of friends that we've made online through the business that we'll likely never meet in real life, and he hosts a daily internet TV show for pete's sake! I get it... it's weird! But it is the friends that I sit down with and they say "I expected nothing less than this craziness for your life" that are the ones that truly know me and see how happy I am. 

I never could have dreamed of this life two years ago, but every day is an adventure and I wouldn't have it any other way. Thanks to all of you for caring enough to follow along. As you know, this blog is a weird hybrid of crafts that I make and random tales of my life, so whether you're here for one or the other (or both!), I just want to say thank you! I'll be back soon with new posts and hopefully I won't ever have to go two months without posting again. Hope your 2012 is off to a fantastic start!