Day 31: Reflect

To me, some of the appeal of a vintage lifestyle is a bit of a slower pace. Life in the days of old was not necessarily easy, but it was simple. There was a sense of order. There was a rhythm of work and rest. And the rest was sweet, because the work was hard.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Just taking a little bit of time at the end of the day to think about what went well, what I would do differently and where I’m headed.

And this is what it comes down to:  I’m not living the life I want to. I’m too busy. Our family is way too busy.

Take this past week. My birthday was Wednesday, but we didn’t get around to eating the birthday cake I made until Friday afternoon – yikes! It was all fun stuff, but it was just way too much. And I have one of those fancy-schmancy new cell phones that’s still in the box because I can’t find one hour to set it up. (We had to upgrade as the only place I could get a signal in our house on my old phone was near the coffee maker – and even that was spotty!)

This week is lighter, but not by much.

I need to take some of my own advice and learn how to slow down. To say no. To do less…so I can enjoy the life I’ve been given more.

This month marks one year of blogging. I started this blog as a way to journal my attempts to simplify and prioritize. Ironically, my very first post was on being overwhelmed. One year later, it feels like I’m still in the same place.

Something has to change…so I’m going to take a break from blogging for a while.

I may be back from time to time if I have a fabulous new recipe or a thrifty decorating idea that is too good not to pass along. And I do have some things to share from a women’s retreat I attended. It was about rest and what the Bible has to say about it. It was really good, but I need to find the time to apply what I learned.

I’m even going to take a break from reading blogs as well. The question I’ve been pondering for some time is this, “Do I want to live my life, or do I want to blog about it?”

And that is a question only I can answer after lots of reflection.

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This is the last post in a month-long series entitled, “31 Days of Vintage Living in a Modern World.”

Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 9:48 am  Comments (2)  
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Day 30: Do something you loved as a child

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Think back to when you were a kid. What did you like to do?

I read an article once that suggested a way to relax was to do something you loved as a child. For example, if you loved to ride your bike, the author suggested that you dust it off and take it out for a spin to relieve some stress. If you loved art, grab some colored pencils or paint and a blank canvas and get to work creating your own masterpiece.

For me, I loved to color and dance (my mother enrolled me in dance class at a young age; I vividly remember my first recital at age four).

I was inside a lot. My parents were always working:  my mother ran an adult foster care home out of our house and I almost never remember her sitting down. My papa worked in a factory an hour away, and then he helped her in the evening.

After a while I got really good at finding things to do to keep me busy. Coloring was a great solution. Maybe that’s why I love to paint today, although now my canvas is a beat up old piece of furniture!

So now that I’ve rambled a bit and given you some time to think, let’s go back to my original question.

What did you like to do as a kid?

Play at the park? roller skate? go on a swing? Maybe you could do that again sometime. If you don’t have children, could you spend some time with a niece or a nephew?

Sometimes being with a kid can make you feel like you were a kid again. And that can be a great way to escape, relax and have some fun.

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We’ll wrap up this month-long series tomorrow. If you missed a post, you can find them all here.

Published in: on October 30, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Day 29: Make something with your hands

Sorry this post is up late today…it’s been a crazy busy week!

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Our hands are pretty amazing when you stop to think about it.

We can do so many things with them. We can write a note, push a child on a swing, prepare a meal, mend a teddy bear or encourage someone with our touch.

No matter what you choose to do today, make something with your hands. And then give thanks to God for the ability to do so.

Published in: on October 29, 2011 at 4:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Day 28: Reach out to others

It seems like these days we don’t have a lot of time to reach out to others. We’re so busy trying to keep up with the needs of our own families that there just doesn’t seem to be much time left for developing friendships.

I know I’m guilty of that.

So…here are a few ideas on how to reach out to others:

  • Write a note of encouragement (a real handwritten note with that stuff called paper and a pen)
  • Bake (or buy) cookies and take them to someone in need
  • Grab a friend and go for a walk
  • Chat with a neighbor like you have all the time in the world
  • Call someone you haven’t talked to in a long while just to say “hi”
I’m sure there are many, many other ways but at least it’s a start. I’m going to pick one to do within the next few days. Won’t you join me?
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There are only a few days left in our series. Check out the rest of the posts here.
Published in: on October 28, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (3)  
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Day 27: Repair, not replace

Back in the day, there were basically two options when something you owned no longer worked:

  • fix it yourself
  • have someone else fix it

Notice that in both cases the item was repaired. Conventional wisdom of the day was not, “Toss it and buy another.”

Instead, you took good care of what you had and chose to repair, rather than replace, the item when needed.

Today, things aren’t really made to last any more and I think that is sad.

If the faucet was leaking, (usually the husband) would get out a wrench and make it stop.

If your shoes were looking shabby, you took them to a repair shop where they were polished and reheeled.

No matter what broke or no longer worked, it was fixed, whether it was a vacuum cleaner or a fence.

Both of my parents (grandparents) were born around the Great Depression. My papa was born in 1925 and my mom was born in 1932. Needless to say, they both knew how to make the most of what they had and didn’t throw anything that could possibly have another use away.

I’d like to bring just a little bit of that mentality back en vogue, wherever it makes sense.

Though sometimes when it gets really, really busy, I have to admit we use paper plates!

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Just four days left in our series, can you believe it?

Published in: on October 27, 2011 at 8:51 am  Comments (1)  
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Day 26: Mind your manners

Pssst…it’s my birthday today…which means I only have 364 more days left to honestly say I’m thirty-something!

(sigh)

We started this series with a few overall principles on vintage living. Then we got more specific, talking about family, home and our personal style. For the last few posts this month, I wanted to talk about some big and small ways we can apply some of those principles to our everyday life.

And that brings me to today’s topic:  manners.

Is it just me or does it seem like people today don’t have good manners?

In our very hectic, rush-rush-rush, go-go-go modern world, sometimes we get so busy and so focused in our own little worlds that we can completely forget to use our manners. This makes me sad.

I’m talking simple old-fashioned common courtesy, such as:

  • saying “please” and “thank you”
  • not interrupting when someone is speaking
  • being respectful
  • writing a handwritten thank you note after you’ve received a gift
  • before you open a closed door, knocking first
  • holding a door open for another person
  • saying “excuse me” when you accidentally bump into someone
  • offering to help (and then doing so cheerfully), and the infamous…
  • “if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all”

These are simple things, for sure, but they go a long way in getting along with others and living a peaceful life.

I was always taught to be polite even if someone else is rude to me. That can definitely be tough, but it’s still the right thing to do.

If I’m in the checkout line with 147 items in my cart and I notice that the person behind me is holding only a gallon a milk, I offer to let that person go first. Sometimes the person will look at me with the funniest expression. But you know what? Maybe that person will do the same for someone else down the line…

Yes, I readily admit that I’m old-fashioned. But, if I get called old-fashioned when I’m trying to be polite to others and teaching my sons to do the same?

Well, I’ll simply smile and say, “Thank you.”

Published in: on October 26, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  

Day 25: Dress up for your ordinary day

When you look through old black and white photos, what do you notice?

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For me, I notice that both men and women tended to dress much more formally than we do today.

Look at June Cleaver, cooking in a nice dress and pearls. Cary Grant looking dapper as always. The ever-so-stylish Audrey Hepburn as Holly Go-Lightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The quintessential Jackie Onassis who looks so elegant and pulled-together in a short-sleeved blouse and white ankle-length pants – it took me a moment to notice that she wasn’t even wearing shoes! And of course, how could I forget the Ricardos and the Mertzs in one of my all-time favorite shows, I Love Lucy.

Now, please don’t think I’m suggesting that we wear a formal gown to the grocery store or our best set of pearls while cooking Hamburger Helper. I’m not. I realize that we live differently today than they did back then.

However, I think that we’ve gone a little too far the other way…a little too casual.

Even if we’re home all day with kids, we don’t have to live in sweatpants all day, every day.

My secret weapon:  accessories.

They are a great way to look stylish even when wearing a regular pair of jeans and a t-shirt:

  • put on one piece of jewelry – Personally, I have a thing for big chunky necklaces. I have a three strand necklace ($5 clearance from JC Penney) that I wear often with my favorite long-sleeve brown t-shirt ($2 at the end-of-season sale at a local thrift store). I get compliments on that necklace almost everywhere I go. It’s a simple way to dress up a plain tee and feel more pulled together – even when I’m sitting in the middle of a McDonald’s playland.
  • tie on a scarf – My other favorite thing to do is wear a scarf with a coordinating colorful t-shirt. For some extra sparkle, I’ve even placed a vintage pin (it’s the one shown on my blavatar that I got for $12 from a consignment shop) up high close to my neck. Here is a link to a cool video that shows 24 different ways to wear a scarf.
Oh, there is so much more that I have to say on this subject, but I’m out of time today…
  • cute flats, preferably in a color or a pattern, or boots
  • a casual jacket in corduroy or even denim
  • a cardigan with some definition around the waist
  • carry all of your stuff in a great bag in your favorite color
And the last step to feeling pulled together, even in jeans and a t-shirt?
Lipstick (wink wink) and a spritz of your favorite perfume. You’ll be ready for (almost) whatever your day throws at you.
Published in: on October 25, 2011 at 11:49 am  Comments (1)  
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Day 24: Window shop

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Here is an idea for you…sometime this week go shopping – window shopping, that is.

If you are a buy-it-on-impulse type of shopper (like I tend to be), then avoid temptation altogether and don’t even take your wallet with you!

You can get all sorts of great ideas for clothes just by looking. You may even find new ways to wear your old favorites. And all for free.

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New here? Thanks for stopping by. You can view all the posts in this series here.

Published in: on October 24, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Day 23: Use what you have

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When I was growing up, closets were small. We lived in a large home in a middle class neighborhood. It wasn’t large because we needed a ton of space, it was large because my mother (grandmother) ran an adult foster care home within our home. There was always a lot of drama and very little privacy, but I’ll save those stories for another post;)

The first house my husband and I bought was built in 1927. People back then didn’t have large closets. They didn’t need them because they didn’t have a lot of clothes.

And you know what? I’m convinced that having a small closet is the key to a great wardrobe.

Why? Because when you have a small closet, each item of clothing has to work otherwise it can’t stay. There simply isn’t any room for “someday I might wear this” or “when I lose those extra (cough) pounds…”.

If it doesn’t fit, isn’t my color or is just plain not in style anymore, I donate it.

When I was pregnant with twins, I had very few maternity clothes. Seriously. I had two skirts, three pairs of pants (including one pair of jeans), two dresses, a few tops and one sweater. I had even less as I started to grow out of my maternity clothes during the latter part of my pregnancy.

Wanna know something? I LOVED it.

I was careful to buy only things that could work with each other. All of the tops could go with all of the bottoms. For a different look, I would wear a plain sheath dress over a button down shirt and if I was cold, I’d put my sweater over that. I was able to make many different outfits from relatively few items and I had a lot of fun mixing and matching.

I would also add accessories to change the look or make it more interesting. A scarf, a big chunky necklace or some bold earrings and cute shoes could really change things up.

Having a small wardrobe forced me to be creative. Way more creative than when my closet was four times that size. I actually looked forward to getting dressed every morning.

So my point is this…you don’t have to have a lot of clothes in order to have a stylish wardrobe. But you do need to love and use what you do have.

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If you liked this post, I’ve written about how I never pay more than $5 for jeans, plus 11 tips to building a frugal wardrobe.

Published in: on October 23, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Day 22: Fix or mend something

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Often times, I will look in my closet and think, “I have nothing to wear!”, when that is simply not true.

When that happens, my first thought is, “I need to go shopping”, which isn’t always in my budget. Instead, I’m forced to look around and see a number of things that need to be mended, cleaned or otherwise repaired, such as:

  • all of the “hand wash cold, line dry” items patiently waiting to be washed
  • shoes that need to be reheeled, polished or fixed
  • my favorite handbag (or suitcase as my husband calls it) with a strap that needs to be restitched
  • a blouse that needs to be mended, a sweater with small hole or my favorite khakis that are missing a button
  • a leather belt that needs a new hole to be made
  • items that need to be drycleaned (at home with Dryel or at the drycleaner)
  • simple alterations
  • and my least favorite chore of all, the dreaded ironing basket
I would virtually have a new wardrobe if I did all those things. And if I did just one or two on that list, I would have lots more options in my closet that would feel “new” again.
Making good use of the items you already have in your closet is a great way to fight the urge to shop for new clothes and to make the most of your current wardrobe.
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See all posts in this series, Vintage Living in a Modern World
Published in: on October 22, 2011 at 9:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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