the 10×10 capsule challenge

I’ve become lax (for lack of a better word) with my capsule wardrobe. Since ‘summer’ has arrived in the UK – the one week in May when we have temperatures above 70’s degrees that constitutes summer – I switched out all my sweaters and pulled out my t-shirts….and then I hit a wall. My closet is full of long sleeved shirts, and inexplicably, button down long sleeve shirts. I didn’t think I wore button ups much but I have about 9 in there at the moment. The tricky part of this capsule is the varying degrees of weather, as I say at every capsule post.

It’s London. If the weather were predictable it’d be Arizona.

Today, currently, right this second, it’s 64 and sunny. But by 4 pm it’s supposed to be raining, and by 5:30 when I walk .50 miles one way to collect my child from the school bus, it’ll be really rainy and 50 degrees. So while I am wearing at skirt at present, I’ll likely be wearing jeans and wellies at pick up.

This morning’s walk to and from the bus at 7:30 was gorgeous though. I didn’t even really need a coat. {give me two minutes to appreciate not wearing a coat, something that I haven’t been able to do in about 8 months, I have yet in fact to put away my down coat, because I wore it only 2 weeks ago}

I was reading The Lovely Laura Life and she recently talked about her 10×10 challenge. Hmm, what’s that? It’s the idea of picking ten items from your closet and wearing ONLY those ten items for the next ten days {exceptions underwear, exercise clothes for actual exercising, pajamas, accessories like scarves}. 10×10. And I thought, why not?!

The Husband thinks I am nuts.

He’s probably right.

The point of the exercise is to challenge yourself to be creative, be unique, and find your fashion mojo. Those are my reasons anyway. The blog below gives a lot more elegant reasons on why to try the 10×10 challenge. Read all about 10×10 on Style This Life a blog I just discovered, but one that seems to be similar in vibe to myself. Fashion, capsule wardrobes, ethical shopping. I also like StyleBee but my internet does not like loading their site. at.all.

Here are my 10 picks from my Pinterest board (with links).

Gap Broken In Khakis/J Crew Perfect Shirt/7 For All Mankind Bootcut Jeans (thrifted)

J Crew Back Zip Stripe top/AG Jeans Denim skirt (similar shown)/J Crew Tretorn Sneakers

J Crew Red Boatneck top/White Stuff Sabine Denim Shirt Dress


I am missing one item because I haven’t completely decided on a second shoe option or adding another shirt option. I had planned to pick my Nike Flex sneakers since my foot is back in ‘freak out’ mode and I need to wear something supportive for all the walking I do on a daily basis {yay! city life}. I originally chose my new blue Converse* but after I saw the J Crew ones I think I’ll end up returning the chucks because the J Crew is more the style I wanted. (These will replace my once-white Converse tieless summer chucks.)

Today I am wearing the denim skirt and blue/white stripe 3/4 sleeve back-zip top. This may be the most crazy attempt at ‘fixing’ my closet yet, but it is interesting to see if I can actually stick with it. Now if I could just find a white background, a free hair and makeup artist, and someone to take the pictures, this blog would look a whole lot nicer. (that and go back to participating in social media) 

Find inspiration from the 20 piece summer capsule over at StyleBee and the 21 piece winter mini-capsule on  Style This Life.

Would you ever work from a capsule wardrobe? What do you think of the 10×10 Challenge?

*I know Converse are the worst things possible for feet. I have custom prescription inserts I move into all my shoes thanks to my never-ending 13 years ago foot surgery nerve damage saga. boo. makes those heels in my closet that I adore nothing but decorative.

**apologies for misspellings, random out of place words, or other errors in this post. it’s hard to concentrate when you have roofers with tools banging away a mere 20 feet from your kitchen windows

London, almost a month later

Well. When they tell you there’s a honeymoon period to things, they would be right. Living in London for the last 3 1/2 weeks has been a honeymoon period. But the last week or so, I’ve felt like flinging my flip-flops, or my champagne glass, or whatever it is a person on honeymoon would fling at London’s head.

I’ve had a few days of missing home. More like missing how easy things were at home. Need groceries? Get in the car and go to the store, hold and feel and touch the items you want to buy. See very clearly what you are buying and the size of it so you don’t end up with something labeled ‘pizza dough balls’ that end up being garlic bread rolls when you order online.

The online shopping I used to so love? Not so much anymore. It’s very hard to understand (for me) what I’m buying. I’m not a metric messiah, and we can forget trying to figure out a recipe in metric and grams to get it relate to tablespoons and cups. I miss my cookbooks. If I had it to do over again I would have put them in the air shipment. Like for real.

And t-shirts. I seem to have only packed 5. During a heat wave. In London.

You have to think very carefully every morning just how much laundry you can get done. The washers size isn’t the only limiting factor, but there is only one drying rack that everything must fit on. More than two loads and you’ll be hanging shirts over the dining room chairs and ironing board and every available surface (been there).

When living in a flat, even with a small balcony and faux grass patch your dog won’t pee on, you will be a slave to the 3-4 daily walks in the park, rain, shine or otherwise. I have to say that think about how much exercise I’m getting! wears off after about two weeks. I’ve given up caring whether I walk the dog in my pjs with a sloppy ponytail and no makeup.

If you heard stories of a monster walking in Hyde Park around 7 am, don’t panic, it was only me.

I miss my yard, where I just had to open the door and the dog went out, and that was that. 

There are definitely things I would do differently if we could do it again. I still have NAUGHT interest in driving here. Never. Ever. But living in a quieter area, on a quieter less touristy street where no hoards of teenagers walk around yelling, and no tour busses idle during your morning coffee would definitely be nice. So would neighbors on the floor below who don’t like pop music every afternoon at 4.

The Tube is nuts and hot and busy, but it doesn’t bother me. The buses are the same but I don’t mind it. We’ve been to the ZSL Zoo, the British Museum, the British Library. We’ve walked around the area of Tower of London, crossed London Bridge (or whatever it is actually called), gone to the movies, explored shops and found a few foodie favorites.

Right now, London and I are in a love/hate relationship. I hope soon enough it’ll turn into a love/slightly dislike relationship. Probably once my bed arrives next month and I can stop sleeping on a mattress that’s the equivalent of sleeping on plywood.

That would be nice.

Recognizing an American

Interesting perspective on American’s. Watch this (all the way, don’t give up halfway through like I was tempted to do).

You start to get offended, right? (if you’re American that is). But the things is, a lot of what they say is true, it is the semi-typical American. They say nice things too, at the end, which kind of makes up for it.

I’m wondering what people will think of me and who I am. I want to blend as much as possible.


A moment in the woods


I often forget just how beautiful it is where I live. Sure, every time I leave my house I’m confronted by the mountains, like Mt. Si, and down around the bend are the Snoqualmie Falls. And they are beautiful. But I’ve grown accustomed to them, the same way most people probably do by the places they live.


Today that changed. On the way to the grocery store, I was stuck behind a slow moving truck, and I really didn’t feel like spending the next ten minutes following it. I decided to make a right turn, down a mostly unfamiliar road, knowing that eventually it would lead me to the road I needed. It turned out to be a wonderful thing because I ended up driving past a beautiful spot of woods, nestled in amongst the road and the river and the railroad tracks.


It was so beautiful that after skipping down the path to grab some pictures with my phone, I decided to run back home (Cheerio’s to be purchased be damned), and grab my big camera. It’s a spot I might have to visit again because I never did get off the auto setting since time had ticked away and there wasn’t much of it left. The light was just about right though. It kind of felt like a magical moment.



The Road Not Taken – by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

What road have you chosen?

An open letter to my children

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Dear Children,

Happy Saturday! Aren’t you lucky you survived another week?! Aren’t I lucky I survived another week! Here’s the thing, it’s Saturday morning. I haven’t even had time to decide if I’m going to need another cup of coffee (it’s looking very likely at this point), but I’ve already had to ‘suggest’ several times that you leave each other alone.

Teen Boy, stop telling your little sister what to do, and how to do it. If she doesn’t know how to play whatever wii game she’s playing, let her figure it out on her own. We will all be much happier for it.

Chick, I get that you are only almost-nine, and for you that’s the trial of the century because your older brother Has Already Done Everything. Stop telling me that he’s better, smarter, more-awesome than you are. You know it’s not true and you are driving me Up The Wall saying it, and whinging, and crying over it.

A temporary single mother can only take so much.

I get that your dad is currently living thousands of miles away in London (I so wish we could reverse roles for a few weeks), and that we are moving thousands of miles away in two months (again), and that is scary/anxiety-filling/not-what-YOU-want, but it Is Happening. So figure out How-To-Deal-With-It. Because you are all making me nuts. Certifiably crazy cakes with your spring fever. Three cups of coffee on a good day, and a bottle of wine with binging on tv kind of crazy.

Please children, just chill, get along, don’t talk to each other, clean up after yourselves, don’t give me That Face when I ask you to do something, and above all Play Nicely.

Or mummy will go off the rails. I promise.

Much love and Kisses,


You’re going to want more

“We’re not bad people. But we did a bad thing.”

So goes the tagline to Netflix’s latest (and personally, I think, the greatest even better than House of Cards that I raved about here) original program. Bloodline. If you haven’t seen it, then I feel sincerely sorry for you. It is the story of a family struggling to deal with the sudden reappearance of the black sheep eldest child, Danny, a sorry, drugged out, shiftless, no holds barred creepy, black sheep. Four siblings (and a hidden secret about a sibling), two parents, and a beautiful inn on the Key’s Island of Islamorada. Which has now surged to the top of my ‘must travel to’ list. It is a real place, but I’d be more than hesitant to visit in the dark, you might just come across Danny, and no one wants that.

Danny has a secret, he hates his family. They shunned him (in his mind) after the death of Sarah, the fifth Rayburn sibling. He’s back, and he wants retribution for the wrongs his siblings and parents have done to him. But someone gets hurt, someone dies, someone gets blackmailed, someone lies, cheats, steals, gets beaten up, robbed, and that’s just the first three episodes.

The story is full of secrets, half truths, hidden agenda’s, tempers – lots of tempers, and more than a few expletives. The ‘f’ word features very prominently, so if you don’t like language, then this isn’t the show for you. I have debated counting the number of times they say it in one episode, but I’m not sure I’d be able to count that high. Normally language like that is a huge factor in me pushing the stop button and moving on. But this show…it’s epically good. Intrigue. Suspense. Creepiness. Storyline. Bloodline.

It draws you in and you just can’t stop. One episode becomes one more, and one more, and one more….and before you know it you’ve downed the entire series in two days, you haven’t slept, showered, and you have no idea if your children are still alive.

It’s That Good.

I’ve watched it twice over, and I’m thinking it couldn’t hurt to watch it again. Just one more time. Or once more after that. After all, Season 2 is one whole long year away….

Let’s live simply

There are many things that I would like to do, and one of them is to live simply. That can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. About a year ago I stumbled upon the blog Gone With The Wynns, and I became completely fascinated. Here was a couple in their thirties, along with their two cats, living the nomadic lifestyle. Their house is an rv, all their possessions travel with them, and if they want to they can park themselves in Florida or Alaska.

It seems like a dream to me. The caveat is that they have careers that allow them to work from anywhere (very important to a nomadic life), and they don’t have children. There are plenty of people with children who are nomads though in this exact same way, I’ve even visited blogs where one family just had a baby to add to their family of five.

I can’t imagine doing that long term with kids, and I know for us traveling year round with kids is not even a remote possibility. It isn’t something that my family would be willing to consider. And I’m sure after about a month, I’d probably be calling uncle trapped in 75 square with an 8 and 12 year old. But after the children have gone off to college? Yeah, maybe.

So simplifying to the point of living in an rv isn’t an option for us. But what about simply living smaller and smarter? The Tiny House movement is fascinating to me. It’s ten balls of crazy and awesome all in one. A true Tiny House is usually defined by being on wheels and under 100 square feet, which is not realistic for us either. There are ways to downsize and simplify though, and that’s what I want to focus on doing.

Moving to London in a few (okay 5 ish) months is going to help me towards that goal. We live in a big 3,300 square foot suburban home. Their are 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, two living rooms and a formal dining room. Do we need so much space? No, we don’t. Like I learned, and really connected with, in this video – a Tedx Talk by ManvsDebt – I don’t need all this crap. Even though we just upsized less than a year ago (and boy is hindsight a royal pain in the ass), I’m realizing that with this move to London, where we will be forced to most definitely live with less, and in less, and that it is a wonderful thing. Sure, my house is very pretty, and big, and impressive. But it doesn’t really feel anymore like a home than the last place that was 600 square feet smaller. And obviously had we had any inkling that just six months after buying this house we’d be offered a job in London, we would not have moved. We thought this would be the last stop until the kids went off to college, and then we’d sell up, move downtown, and enjoy condo living, just the two of us.

We’ve had to debate whether to sell or keep this house and rent it out, and we are torn. Selling it means we will definitely be losing money we invested when we bought it. But selling means no more connection to something we really aren’t sure we want. We still own a home in Kentucky, and through some wonderful stroke of luck, we have kept the same renters for the last four years, and really feel like we won the tenant lottery. They’ve lived in that house longer than we did. Would we love to sell that house? Absolutely. Is that even remotely possible in the incredibly depressed KY economy? No, it’s not really realistic unless we pay to walk away from it. We make no money, in fact we lose out about $400 a year between paying for pest services and the HOA. All we want it to break even and walk away without spending more than $5.

Let’s live simply.

When we move to London, we do not plan to get a car (let alone the American two we have now), we will live in a smaller space, forcing us to really think about what comes with us, what will go to storage (because some things simply will go to storage), and what will just be set free to be enjoyed by someone else. I know a true Tiny House is not for us. I also know that a huge house like we have now is not for us. It has to be somewhere in the middle. Living in London will let us see what we really can live without. I’m hoping this will be a very good thing. I’m ready to let go of things. I’ve been practicing letting go of things I no longer wear (you have to start somewhere right?) I use services like to sell my old clothes, and Goodwill for things that need to be donated. Since we moved into this house last May, we have done an incredible job of getting rid of things. I think that has led me to see that we didn’t need so much space to begin with. We simply needed a space that functioned the way we wanted, and we didn’t have that. I know now that going bigger isn’t the way to get the function I was looking for. Because with that function (better living room space which is truly where we all live), I ended up with a lot of space we don’t use, we don’t need, and simply can’t even think how to use. (I have many kitchen cupboards that don’t have more than one item in them.)

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

I am going to spend the next few months reducing, and recycling a lot of things. I’m hoping that the items we send to storage will be few (we know items like grandma’s china, my wedding dress, and some appliances have to go to storage. It’s not logical, or useful to take them with us.) When we move back to the US (if indeed we do after our two years, or maybe we continue on to somewhere else), I want our experience in London to have taught us to live with less. To live simpler. To just be.

Could you say no?

Today on Facebook, that axis of a time-suck, a friend of mine posted the fantastic news that her daughter got into University of Notre Dame. She is a wonderful young woman, and it is truly an amazing accomplishment. Any parent would be off their head proud of a child like that.

Heck, I’ve only met her a few times and I feel proud of her! She’s an accomplished athlete, and an honor student, and a great person to boot.

I took a moment and thought about what that would be like, to have my own child reach such an amazing goal. It was a good moment…until I thought about how much that has to be costing. Even if she received scholarships (which I’m sure she did for athletics or academics, or likely both), I looked up the tuition.

Flabbergasted is one word that comes to mind.

Tuition, room & board, fees, books, etc. clocks in at $62,461 for one year at (non-ivy league) University of Notre Dame. I don’t even know how you go about paying for one year let alone paying for 4 (provided she doesn’t pick a 5 year program, or worse pre-med or law).

But how on earth could you tell your child no? Sure, you could tell them they can’t even apply to such a costly school, but that feels like you’d be a crusher of their soul. I know this family has a history with UND (I can’t remember if one of her parents went there but they are huge UND people). So I imagine they knew exactly what they were getting into.

My son doesn’t quite have UND dreams (at least not yet, he’s only in the 8th grade, but we did attend the high school college fair in October…that was eye-opening). I think, as he’s already said, he’d want to stay closer to home (which as of a few months from now will be in England for the next two years, and who knows beyond that?) He thinks he wants to go into engineering, probably mechanical or something. There are so many different types I can’t even name them all. But he is heavily interested in science and math, and thankfully, excels at both.

If he came to me and said he wanted to go to an aeronautical school for example (one of the brochures we picked up at the school fair), or MIT, that’s an exceptionally large chunk of change he would need for his education. And could I tell him no?

Probably not. I don’t know how we would pay for it (and I would say we are upper middle class), but even I balk at $50,000 a year for college. That’s like buying a BMW 5 series every year for 4 years, or a vacation home. It’s a hard task being a parent when you have a child who is definitely going to have dreams. But looking at the picture my friend posted of her daughter holding her acceptance packet from UND, how on earth could a parent deny a child that kind of excitement, accomplishment, and one-of-a-kind moment?

I know I’ll be smiling right along with my child when the moment comes, even if my mind is swimming with how on earth to pay for it.

In the meantime


A few weeks ago, I found out something interesting. Something very interesting, which of course I’m not allowed to really share…just yet anyway. But last night, after much discussion, we did let the kids in our little secret. I was tempted to tell them they were getting a new brother or sister. I’m pretty sure I would be the only one that would find that funny though (incidentally, a new kiddo? Not Gonna Happen. Ever.)

The hard part about this information is keeping it to myself. I can be very good at secrets, and also terrible at them. The Thing (as I’m calling it), is of mega-awesomesauce proportions, if it happens.

I would love for it to happen.

in the meantime

The Boy and I are going to see Mockingjay Part 1 this afternoon. We are both Hunger Games junkies, having read the books multiple times and watched the movies, multiple times. An internet friend went to the marathon showing of all three movies, which sounds cool – especially since I never saw the first one in the theater – but seven hours in a theater? Even for me who can down an entire half of a season of White Collar in one day, that’s a long time. Still, maybe next year when number four comes out. I sincerely hope the movie lives up to expectation. The last one was good, but not as much as I had hoped it would be. There was something missing from the pre-arena part of the movie. Not enough Peeta. I am firmly in camp Peeta, I’ve never been a big Gale fan. (too much macho. Peeta is a sensitive soul, who thinks about others and therefore balances Katniss nicely.)

I am also reading Diary of Anne Frank with the Boy, since that is what his English class is reading. He could use a little ‘kick’ to get his homework going. For such a genius of a kid, he really despises English class. Which works out since it’s the one area of school where I was awesome. I read Tolstoy the way other people read Nicholas Sparks novels; with pure joy.

So the Boy will be doing his homework with mom from now on. Go English loving literature obsessed me.

The weather here is so dreary (when isn’t Seattle weather dreary?), I just have to keep telling myself it could be worse. We could live in Buffalo.