Blog :: 11-2013

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Out with the Old, and in with the....Old!

I attended a fantastic clothing swap at a friend's house the other night.  If you have never been to, or organized, a clothing swap, you really must!  It's an excuse to get out of the house for the evening, to guiltlessly rid yourself of clothing that you never wear, and, occasionally, find some real gems to beef up your wardrobe, all while sipping a glass of wine and hanging around in your skivvies with your girlfriends - trying on clothes.  There is also something to the timing of a pre-holiday swap - it's fun to obtain some new threads (for free) during the holiday season when you are generally shopping for everyone else.  Of course, there's also the whole reduce, reuse, recycle angle which feels so much better than the post-mall vaguely guilty and empty feeling many of us have experienced.

From what I understand, there are many ways to orchestrate a clothing swap, but the ones I have been to are generally the same format.  Everyone brings a large bag of clothing along to the event, as well as food or drink to share.  We spend some time sorting clothing into categories (not by size, just by type of clothing).  Then we have at it!  The host generally has a couple of full length mirrors hanging around to allow you to make informed decisions; not to mention that you are surrounded by people who can give you an honest opinion about whether or not to toss the item in question back in the pile.  Hopefully, you have a friend with you who knows what you like and sends things your way if they happen upon them.  At the end of the night, whatever hasn't been claimed is brought by some lovely volunteer to an organization of their choosing who would benefit from nice clothes in good condition

Generally, 50-70% of what you take home, you actually make good use of! (Insert headless selfie to show the adorbs scarf and J.Jill sweater I scored on Tuesday night!)

.Photo on 11-21-13 at 3.07 PM

However, certain items tend to make the swap circuit.  I did happen to notice that a skirt I had brought to an earlier clothing swap had resurfaced this past Tuesday.  It's always funny when that happens!

I think the next great idea should involve swapping tchotchkes and other home-related items!  Stay tuned for more on that topic.  Or, invite me if you have one!


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Get Organized!

Throughout my childhood, and especially in high school, my mother referred to my bedroom as a "pig sty".  My parents bought and sold real estate as a side business with some frequency - we moved every 2-3 years.  This included fixing up older homes, living in them and then selling them, as well as buying land and building houses to suit our needs (and then selling them).  My family got into the groove of moving, which was actually fun since we didn't have to change school systems.  The last house we lived in before I went off to college was one that we had built.  My parents let us each choose our bedroom colors, so of course I chose purple, my sister pink and my brother light blue (I walked in when it was under construction and overheard the contractors describing our combined color choices as "vomitous")... but I digress.  The state of my bedroom was a source of ongoing frustration for my mother, though it didn't bother me one bit to live amongst the disarray.  She must have asked me to clean my room at least 10 times per week.  One time, in exasperation she said to me "your room is a reflection on how you live your life!!"  I poo-pooed this notion at the time, but it must have made an impression because I haven't forgotten it.

I have slowly, over the years, come to the realization that keeping ones' belongings and household organized is extremely important.  This becomes more challenging when you combine your household with a partner and/or children.  It is incumbent upon us as parent's to teach our children to be organized as well.  Knowing where things are, and where they belong, cuts down on chaos and and allows the day to go by more smoothly.  Since I am clearly challenged in the area of home organization, I decided to interview the expert.  Local Renaissance woman Heidi Robinson is my go-to home home organization guru.

Heidi maintains that the key to success with organizing is to have systems in place that are customized for you.  Many of the clients she works with run into the same challenges: they feel guilty about getting rid of things, they purchase bins and folders in an effort to become more organized, but this often leads to people having a large collection of nice containers, but they are no more organized for having purchased them.  Her clients inevitably feel "overwhelmed by stuff".  Heidi works with people to help them meet their goals, whatever those may be - downsizing, de-cluttering, reorganizing or even preparing for a move.  She helps them create simple systems.  These systems allow them to be able to put their fingers on things they need at a moment's notice, have permission to get rid of things that they don't need, and manage the flow of "stuff" into their lives/homes.  She encourages people to remember that upkeep is important!  Files must be gone through 1-2 times per year in order to purge the items that are superfluous.  Heidi is a great resource, and well worth the investment in her fees (which are tailored to fit the job).    Heidi can be reached at 413-219-7433 or




You are Really Starting to BUG Me!!

We live in Northampton for many reasons, one of which is that we love to experience the changes in season.  Every year, when I pull out my Winter clothes, for awhile I feel as if I have a whole new wardrobe that I had forgotten about.  It's very exciting, especially when I pull out the forgotten items that I had purchased or obtained at a clothing swap the year before.  I was not so thrilled, however, to find that a number of favorite clothes from my closet and cedar chest had gaping moth holes in them!

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Adding insult to injury, I then took one of my favorite merino wool wrap sweaters to Main Street Cleaners in Northampton to have it cleaned.  I was informed that cleaning the item (for $11.75!!) would likely turn up underlying holes because what I thought was a bit of lint on the sleeves was not lint but was, in fact, moth webs!  Eeeeek!

Last Winter, I did notice that we had an infestation of closet moths.  After doing some online research, I froze all of our sweaters, and then cleaned them.  I nestled cedar blocks inside of all my sweaters, and stored the ones that I rarely wear in my cedar chest.  I thought we were in the clear.... Apparently I was wrong.  It turns out that I was missing a few steps.  According to the owners of Main St Cleaners, the best defense is to clean (dry clean) your wool, linen and silk items when you are done using them for the season, and to store them in airtight containers in between seasons.  According to a more recent online search, even that protocol is a bit *lite*... It seems that in order to get rid of closet moths, you need to clear your calendar for a few days and put all else on hold.  Sort of like trying to rid your family of lice.  See the recommended steps below...

1.  Set out moth traps in your closet.

2.  Wash your clothes (someone in the garment industry once told me that many items marked "dry clean only" do not, in fact, need to be dry cleaned... use your discretion.  Merino wool does, cashmere does not.  Some silk and linen does not.  Use a gentle detergent on the gentle cycle or hand wash).  ALSO wash everything else in your closets to be be thorough (linens, towels, etc)...  because you have nothing better to do with your time, of course : ).  Food on clothes attracts moths.

3.  Empty and clean out your closets.  Use vinegar and water and soapy water to wipe down all surfaces, then vacuum well.

4.  Brush clothing made from wool, fur or feathers after each use to loosen any food residue that may attract moths.

5.  A source I read online suggests dry cleaning before storing for the season.  This is an expensive proposition and I, personally, might skip it.  But I'm the one with the giant moth holes in my clothes so you might want to think twice before doing as I do.

6.  Store your clothes in an airtight container.  Hang wool coats in garment bags.

7.  Here's a good one -- keep your closet well ventilated and cool!

8.  Air out your clothing frequently.

Good luck everyone!  I hope your clothes fare better than mine have.




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