Monday, 30 June 2014

The Great Closet Clean Out of 2014

It makes me crazy having a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear. I'm not the only one who has this problem, right? I get up every morning, stare at all my clothes, try on a half dozen outfits, and finally settle on something that's "good enough". As a way to start the summer off on the right note, I've decided to do a major purge of my closet.

I taped my rules to my full-length mirror so I would be forced to keep them in mind.

Because I like guiding questions (maybe it's the teacher in me), below are mine. I read (too) many articles about cleaning out a wardrobe and these are the ones that stuck with me.

1. Would I buy this now?
2. Does this fit?
3. Do I wear this? If no, why not?
4. Is this old/worn out?

I should give a bit of background. I'm not a clothes hoarder. In fact, I regularly purge my closet. However over the last two years I've lost some weight and gone down several clothing sizes. I've been trying to avoid buying a lot of new clothes as I'm still not at the size I want to be so I've been wearing a lot of clothes that are too big and don't fit properly. When it gets big to the point that it's falling off, I get rid of it but I've been limping along some items that should have gone a while ago.

Empty hangers mean I accomplished what I'd hoped: own less clothes.

To start the great closet clean out, I went through my closet, pulled out things that I knew had to go, and separated them into piles (for a friend, donate, trash). That was the easy part.

Next I went back through and was more selective; I tried on every piece that was still in my closet. Every. Piece. Well, except socks and undergarments. Most of the time, once I had a piece on I knew whether it should go back in the closet or into one of the piles. There were a few pieces that were challenging, but I was ruthless.

My pile for a friend was the biggest of the three piles leaving my house.
It's sad to me that I had so much clothes that I wasn't wearing. No wonder I could never find something that felt comfortable and looked good. Now comes the hard part - not filling it up again.

Shared at: The Crafty Blog Stalker, Fluster Buster, Ginger Snap Crafts, Sew Much Crafting, Clean and Scentsible, Someday Craft, The Happy Housie, Glitter, Glue and Paint, A Creative Princess, Artsy Fartsy Mama, The Happy Scraps, Diana Rambles, Natasha in Oz, Serenity You, Life on Lakeshore Drive, C.R.A.F.T., My Pinterventures, Echoes of Laughter, A Stroll Thru Life, Kathe With An E

Friday, 27 June 2014

Book Club and Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Carob Chip Squares. Again.

Why yes, you're right. I did have a post by this same name last month. We had our book club meeting last week and I decided to go with my new favourite cookie, which was the same one I made for book club last month. You can go here for the recipe.

Our novel this month was After Forever Ends by Melodie Ramone. This was only available on ebooks and I've decided I definitely prefer reading from a paper book. It was an interesting book. I don't know if I'd say I enjoyed it, but I also didn't not enjoy it. I'm kind of ambivalent towards it.

The squares were as delicious as I remembered and were all gone by the end of the evening. I gage my baking success by how well people they're received by people with no food issues, and I'd say these were a definite success.

Shared at: Natasha in Oz, Serenity You, Life on Lakeshore Drive, My Pinterventions, Lines Across, A Stroll Thru Life, Echoes of Laughter, Kathe With An E, The Crafty Blog Stalker, Someday Crafts, Glitter, Glue and Paint, A Creative Princess, Artsy Fartsy Mama, Diana Rambles, Belle of The Kitchen, Sew Much Crafting

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Fun and Fancy Dish Towels

Do you have any projects you've pinned that stick in your head? That was the case for me with these modern dish towels from Little Bit Funky. Ever since I saw them and pinned the link, I've been wanting to make them. I'm glad to say I can now cross them off my list. 

While I don't need any hand towels (thanks to my awesome grandma who has knit me lots) I do need some larger ones for the dog. We always keep one or two by the door but they're too small to be effective. When I saw these cute towels I thought they would be perfect and I paired them up with some leftover fabric from my living room curtains, kitchen curtains, pillows, table runner, bench, and fabric covered balls.

If you're looking for fantastic step-by-step instructions, head on over to Little Bit Funky to see hers. If you're more of a picture person, then this is the post for you.

One difference from the original tutorial to mine is that I didn't cut mine in half but instead used the whole towel. Our dog is a big dog, so she needs a big towel.

Another difference is the original called for ribbon but I didn't have any that matched my material so I decided to make my own straps. As you can see, I don't have fancy sewing gear. Who needs a rotary cutter or self-healing mat when have a yard stick?

As you can see, each towel turned out slightly different (perhaps because I didn't measure anything except the width) but I think they're all cute. I have one hung on the hook by the door all ready for when it's needed. Now to wait for some rain so we can see how well they really work.

Monday, 16 June 2014

My First 10k at the Calgary Marathon

It's time again for Runners Tell All at The Lady Okie and Sunshine by the Square Inch. This month's topic is My Proudest Running Moment. Given that this is my proudest running moment to date and I only posted about it last week, I'm cheating and using this post.

I did it! I ran the 10k at the Calgary Marathon! It was a very exciting event for me - my first time traveling for a race, my first time at a race expo, and my first time running a 10 (other than in training runs) - and I loved almost every second of it.

J and I drove to Calgary the day before the race and checked into our hotel, which was a few blocks from the Stampede Grounds, and then headed to the expo. We picked up our packages, checked out the gong (for PRs), and browsed the booths. 

We also listened to a short talk from John Stanton. He had lots of advice but my favourite thing he said was a story of two runners (I don't remember the names), one of whom finished really quickly and one of whom took a long time. The slower runner told the faster runner that she was amazed by his speed. The faster runner responded that he was amazed at the endurance of the slower runner. As a very slow runner, I love this way of thinking about it.

After the expo we did a little sightseeing, ate some supper, and then laid everything out to be ready for the next morning. 

I don't have any photos of before the run or the start line to share. We watched the 1/2, full, and ultra marathoners leave at 7 and then got in place for our 7:30 start. J was further ahead then me (because I'm not nearly as fast as he is) but I made a lovely friend while I was waiting. Chatting with her helped calm my nerves and we ran together for the first 3k.

I snapped a few pictures on my phone during the run but I don't know enough about Calgary or the route to know where they were. As you can see, it was a beautiful day for a run. The 4th kilometre hit me hard, making me doubt my ability to run the 10k and wonder why I'd signed up. Fortunately by the 6th I had found my groove again and was loving it.

There were people cheering along the route, which I loved and these two signs were my favourite. In case you can't read them, the first one says "You think you're tired? My arms are killing me". The second one says "If you haven't shit your pants yet, you've won". Brilliant. 

Time for an embarrassing story. Around the 9k mark I started getting emotional. I couldn't believe I'd actually done what I'd set out to do and was on track to meet my goal. The problem was that getting emotional was triggering my asthma and (because I'm a genius) my inhaler was in my suitcase at the hotel. I knew I needed to calm myself down or I was going to have an asthma attack so I started thinking about the one thing that always makes me happy: chicken wings. No word of a lie, I spent the last kilometre thinking about what I'd decided was going to be my treat that day. I kept going back and forth between whether I'd rather pick up wings before leaving the city or make them myself once I got home. Ridiculous, yes, but it worked.

My goal was to run the entire distance without having to stop and walk, and I'm pleased to say I did it. I didn't really care about my time. In fact, I slowed down to take a picture of the finish line as I was crossing.

Once I'd crossed the line (my official time was 1 hour 32 minutes), received my awesome medal, and made it through the crowd, I went to find J. Of course, he had finished quite a bit before me but was patiently waiting for me on the steps where we'd planned to meet.

P.S. I never did have my wings that day.

Shared at: Kathe With An E, The Crafty Blog Stalker, Fluster Buster, Ginger Snap Crafts, Serenity You, Life on Lakeshore Drive, C.R.A.F.T., A Stroll Thru Life, The Happy Scraps

Monday, 9 June 2014

Graduation Centerpieces, Year 2

Last week our school held a graduation ceremony for the seven young men who have earned their high school diploma this year. As I've mentioned before, I teach at an outreach school and the strength and resiliency of my students never ceases to amaze me. It was an honour to help them celebrate their special day.      

Just like last year, I was responsible for making the centrepieces. Did you know last year's centrepieces are one of my most viewed posts? This year I just tweaked some things instead of starting from scratch. Rather than redo a new tutorial, please see the one from last year for the list of supplies and a detailed tutorial.

The only new part of the centrepieces were the name and year skewers. I decided to use a Cricut and cut out some quatrefoils in various sizes. I layered them, white on red or red on white, and glued them together. Next I added stickers with the students' names on the larger ones and the year on the smaller ones. 

I was packing up the decorations after the graduation so I can reuse some pieces next year and notices I was short a couple. It turns out that two of the families took the centrepieces as souvenirs, which I took as a huge compliment. 

While I'm on the topic of graduation, I made a bulletin board that was very similar to the one from last year. I matted the students' grade photos with red paper, added names, and changed the numbers in the year.      

Shared at: Sugar Bee Crafts, Fluster Buster, Home Coming, Tiny Sidekick, Ginger Snap Crafts, Kathe With An E, The Crafty Blog Stalker, Serenity You, Life on Lakeshore Drive, C.R.A.F.T., A Stroll Thru Life