2018 Make Nine

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Remember when I declared in front of the entire Internet and God that I was going to sew nine new items in 2017? Welp. I didn't make one garment last year. And I'm OK with that.

Like many of my creative endeavors, I take a while to think about the meaning and process behind the project long before I ever pick up a tool or supply. My creative thoughts linger and they build on each other in layers and waves. Instead of fighting it, I can embrace it for what it is and... move forward anyway. There is value in every step of the creative process, even when that step requires little to no action at all.

I love that this project is called "a gentle challenge for makers" because it is a constant goal of mine to fully embrace the gentleness of the handmade arts. More importantly, I aim to be gentle with myself when my creative goals don't always match up with reality. I'm still very much a novice when it comes to garment sewing, but I love that this project somehow encourages curiosity and exploration without a crippling level of expectation. It's exciting and freeing all at the same time.

OK. So, on to my 2018 Make Nine picks!

  1. Darling Ranges Dress by Megan Nielsen (photo inspiration). A staple dress for sure.
  2. Zinnia Skirt by Colette Patterns (photo inspiration). This was included in last year's roundup, but I still love it and think about it often. Also, I'm loving that lace top in the photo!
  3. Ludlow Scarf by Brooklyn Tweed. Obviously.
  4. Virginia Leggings by Megan Nielsen (photo inspiration). I need a full-length version in black and grey, but I'm also living for these cropped pants in the photo. It's the perfect workout staple, but I really can't wait to bust this pattern out in late November to make some Christmas leggings!
  5. Blackwood Cardigan by Helen's Closet (photo inspiration). Yellow, always and forever.
  6. Esteem Dress by Cali Faye (photo inspiration). To be honest, this dress is a little sexier than my comfort level usually permits, but I immediately fell in love with the inspiration photo when I first laid eyes on it and have been literally daydreaming about it off and on for at least two years.
  7. Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline Studio (photo inspiration by @ebonyh). The perfect sweater. I want one in grey, oatmeal, and something speckled.
  8. Lander Pants by True Bias (photo inspiration by @sewliberated). Stylish and easy. Perfect!
  9. Kalle Shirtdress by Closet Case Patterns (photo inspiration). The shirtdress of my dreams.

What's interesting to me, is that all of my picks last year were more inspirational than practical. This year, my picks feel like I'm well on my way to building a capsule wardrobe. All of them, with the exception of the scarf, are things I could see myself wearing on any given day. They are things I want to make just because I love them, but also what I love most is that they feel so "me".

My 2018 Planner and Achieving Planner Peace

Full disclosure: this blog post contains affiliate links and links to products in my shop.

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Ah, 2018. It feels so good to greet a new year. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I am very happy to leave 2017 behind. It was rough. Also, 2017 can kick rocks.

Desperate for a fresh start, I began working on my 2018 planner in early December, finished it in record time, and couldn't wait to "move in". In fact, I couldn't help myself and carried it around for the last week and a half of December. This is the happiest I've ever been with a planner. 2018 already feels so much better. I'm not sure how or why. It just does.

This time last year, I wrote a post about my 2017 planner. A lot has changed, but much of how I think about planning has stayed the same. Last year, I focused more on the "why" and "how" of my planning process. This time, I'd like to share the main components: the "what", if you will.

Planner Binder

This year, I went with the Webster's Pages A5 Color Crush Planner in Sedona. It's a beautiful, well-made, and cost-effective (Hurry! It's still on sale!) option to all the other planner binders out there. In looking for a new binder, I wanted exactly three things:

  1. It had to be made of vegan leather (or at least made from no animal products).
  2. It had to come with an epoxy-coated decorative snap cover (as opposed to the plain silver, gold, or brass circle snap options). I don't know why this was so important to me, but it was, and so I honored that.
  3. I wanted a planner with a wallet-like setup on the inside cover, preferably with an added window pocket.

This planner met all three of my "requirements", and I couldn't be happier with it! Every time I pull it out of my bag, it's like I forget how beautiful it is and fall in love with it all over again.

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Inspo Images

I talked about my inspirational images last year, and I'm sticking with the exact same setup except with new images. I love the general trends I'm starting to see from year-to-year. Last year was all about fun, creativity, and a better quality of life. This year is all about work, determination, and (hopefully!) big achievements. I love that each collection of images tells a story about what I needed most at that particular time in my life. I should collect them and make a mini book as the years go by.

Positive Affirmations

Last year, I read a book called What Mama Couldn't Tell Us About Love, and something the authors stressed was the power of positive affirmations. The idea is that reading certain phrases over and over has the ability to retrain our psyche to let go of deeply rooted negative self-talk and replace it with words to soothe the soul and spirit. It sounds very woo-woo, but it's actually an effective and therapeutic practice. I started out printing phrases on paper and taping them to my wall, but after I moved, I decided to create a more portable system. In my planner, on the back of each inspirational image is a positive affirmation. I chose the top eight that felt the most needed, important, and real.

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Get To Work Book

I tried the Get To Work Book in Spring 2016 with the unbound 7x9" version (discontinued) and again with the new A5 size (sold out) for the latter half of 2017. There is something about the A5 size that just clicked for me, and I'm thrilled to be using it again for 2018! I love the minimalist design and workhorse weekly pages that keep my task- and time-oriented plans in check. It's my favorite monthly/weekly planner out of anything I've ever used, including ones I designed myself... for myself!

Last year, I talked about my desire to keep monthly and weekly pages separate. Now, each monthly tab is interspersed throughout the weeks, and I took away the page marker that would allow me to flip directly to the current week. Now that I flip to the month first, I am constantly looking ahead at the entire month while bearing in mind anything that may be coming up in the next few weeks. In the past, when I would flip directly to the current week, my monthly layout was almost always forgotten. This is working so much better for me now.

Just a quick note: If you like to use erasable pens like Muji or Frixion on your planning pages, the Get To Work Book may not be the planner for you. I didn't have any problems using erasable pens with my 2017 version, but the 2018 print run seems to be erasing away with the pen ink! I still use my Muji pen because I love the flexibility it gives, and I don't erase often. However, this definitely may be a deal breaker for some of my planner pals out there!

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Business Receipt Envelopes

For the current month, I have an A7 envelope (in the color persimmon) where I punched holes and secured it with washi tape. This is where I'm keeping my business receipts for the month and will refer back to them for easy bookkeeping and accounting. When the month is over, I'll either empty the envelope and place it behind the next month's tab, or use a new envelope while filing the old one away for reference. Either way, I'm loving having a separate place to corral receipts while still keeping them neatly tucked away but in easy reach.

Plant-Based Meal Planner and Shopping List

I've been playing around with a process/layout for meal planning and grocery shopping for a few years (before and after becoming vegan), and I finally came up with just the right insert! I can now get in and out of the grocery store in record time, and I hardly ever forget the things I need (a huge problem beforehand). I'll be talking more about this and my planning process surrounding meal planning in a separate post, but for now, you can find these inserts in my shop!

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Bits & Pieces

Behind the monthly and weekly inserts are my Russell + Hazel mini tabs (cut down and hole-punched to fit the A5 size). Behind these tabs, I put lined notebook paper, extra project breakdown pages and graph paper that came with the Get To Work Book, and PDF documents of important papers printed at A5 size (or 69%).

I used my We R Memory Keepers Cinch to punch all of the holes in my inserts (including the Get To Workbook pages), because it is heavy-duty, handles multiple sheets of paper at a time, and cuts through paper like a dream! If you do not want to invest in the Cinch, I've heard great things about The Planner Punch Board as well as the Filofax Punch.

Planner Peace

I know there is some debate as to whether planner peace exists, but never have I been as happy with a planner setup as I am with this one. Ever since elementary school (yes, I was that child) I've tried nearly ever planner style, size, and design known to man. Each year, I have made tweaks and changes to improve my systematic approach to setting and achieving goals. This year, I finally got it right. I'm just SO HAPPY with my entire workflow when it comes to planning, and I am no longer experiencing planner envy. I'm happy with what I have. That feels so good to type! It's a perfect example of how when you stick with something (even when you're frustrated and completely convinced it's not working), it just gets better every year. I love that as I learn more about myself, I can better determine what I need in every area of my life. I can't wait to see what improvements I come up with for next year's planner!

Most importantly, I hope 2018 brings you every good thing under the sun, and I wish you a lifetime of happy planning. Thanks for reading!


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#The100DayProject: 100 Days of Recipes

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I love creative projects. There's something about the extended course of a creative practice that brings out the best in me. Joy. Ingenuity. A pep in my step. A lightness in my heart. In undergrad, I had an incredibly wise, brilliant, and eccentric design professor who used to walk around the studio yelling, "Get the corn out of your system!!" Meaning, your best ideas won't come until you get the junk out first. You have to work for it. Creativity cures corn.

I've heard about The 100 Day Project for at least the past three years, but I was never really interested. I always felt like I couldn't spare the time to work on an additional project when there were so many irons in the fire. This time, I feel like I kind of need it. The honest truth is that I am exhausted. Not physically. Not mentally. Not even emotionally. It's a form of discontentment, and I'm not entirely sure with what. So, I need to return to what I know. I need to be doing something for no other reason than because I genuinely enjoy it, so I can better understand what's missing.

At the time of writing, I have a list of 154 recipe ideas just waiting for me to... do something. I love recipe development, and writing one recipe per day is something I can reasonably handle. Naturally, the complexity of each will vary depending on the day. Most importantly, I'm just really excited to begin.

I have an idea of how I'd like to organize the recipes when I'm done, but that will come later. Right now, I'm writing. No cooking, baking, testing, or editing. Just writing.

So, starting tomorrow and over the next 100 days, I'll be working on 100 recipes. All plant-based. All made with my health needs in mind. Here's to getting rid of the corn and enjoying the process.

2017 Make Nine: A Handmade Wardrobe Project

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I am so so late to the Make Nine party! If you're not familiar with the concept (because I only learned about it a week ago), it's where sewists all over the web declare their handmade intentions for the year. It's a brilliant concept created by the lovely Rochelle at Home Row Fiber Co.

The truth is, I've been thinking about making my own clothes for a while, but every time I even halfway entertain the idea, I keep coming back to one thing: I don't have time for this. To be honest, I don't even have the skill level. BUT, I realized that I also don't have time to hop from store to store to find less than a handful of things I actually like only to discover that none of them fit well. Or to spend hours pouring over websites to finally make a purchase and then... surprise... it doesn't look half as good as it did online. The reality is that I can sew a simple pattern (including searching for and watching tutorial videos) in the same amount of time it takes me to drive to a shopping center, find parking, become disenchanted with everything, and return home exhausted (and with nothing).

First world problems, I know. I'm fully aware that if I have a choice about what to wear or how to spend my time, this usually means I'm doing just fine. I get that. But I'm also not kidding when I tell you that my wardrobe is...minimal. Like, "somebody please get this girl a gift card to Old Navy" kind of minimalism. When it comes to being human, fashion is my weakest subject.

And I'm going to be completely honest: sometimes I just really don't care about outfits. Not because I think it's silly or trivial, but mostly because I have a hard time when I'm taken at face value. Although, it's not lost on me that this is essentially what happens while building a platform online. What I'm trying to say is that I don't want someone to be attracted to me (romantically nor platonically) based on what I'm wearing. What about my mind? My heart? My borderline obsession with vegan cupcakes?? Anything but my clothes! My introverted soul craves more than that. Just to be clear, it's not like I'm walking around showerless and disheveled (I definitely am NOT). I know how to dress when I have/want to, I just don't really put any effort into my regular everyday wear.

But that ends now.

I want to wake up and get excited about getting dressed in the morning. I want my clothes to tell stories and hold memories. I want to remember how I felt when I first ran my hands over the fabric that would eventually become my favorite dress. I want to think about how I wore my first pair of self-made jeans during an exam and how it made me feel just a little bit more confident in myself and my abilities in general. I want to stop spending money on stuff that's "just OK" and "works for now". I want to wear what I love. If I'm going to put the time, money and energy into revamping my wardrobe, I'm going to do it for things that 1) I actually like, 2) were made to fit my body and current lifestyle, and 3) hold value... in more ways than one.

Fast fashion just isn't working for me anymore... for many reasons. This includes the social, health, and economic implications for the factory workers and entry-level employees in the industry. I won't pretend that adding a few handcrafted pieces to my closet will solve everything, and the reality is that I'll probably still buy a few items here and there. But I'm taking baby steps in the direction of the life I want to live. And that feels good.

So, without further ado, here are my make nine picks!

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  • Fen Dress by Fancy Tiger Crafts. An early favorite, I love everything about this dress. I envision it being an easy option to throw on before class or running errands, especially in the spring and summer months. The first time around, I plan on lengthening the bodice and skirt for a better fit. Next, I hope to extend the length again for a maxi dress! Photo credit.
  • Zinnia Skirt by Colette Patterns. Pretty much my dream skirt. I'm thinking I should make one in chambray and one in yellow ochre (my favorite color).
  • Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files. The thought of making my own jeans kind of terrifies me, but I think I'm up for the challenge. These Ginger jeans have received high marks from just about everyone who has tried them. Photo credit.
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  • Long sleeve cowl neck dress. This is actually a ready-to-wear dress, so I don't have a pattern. The company that sells it doesn't have the best customer reviews, so I wouldn't feel comfortable purchasing even if I wanted to. Since I don't have a pattern, I haven't the slightest idea how to make it. I just know that I love it! Apparently, my signature aesthetic is "anything that resembles a wearable blanket". I'm hoping once I gain more experience, I can piece together a few patterns to get the look I want. Photo credit.
  • Tamarack Jacket by Grainline Studio. I've seen this jacket quite a few times on Instagram. It's perfect for those cold-but-not-so-cold non-rainy days in the PNW. Photo credit.
  • Yuzu Raglan Coat by Waffle Patterns. I already have a winter coat, but it would be nice to switch it up every now and then. I really like the lines and architectural quality of this one.
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  • Oversized dress (source unknown). Another dress without a pattern. I found the photo online and instantly liked it. I'm thinking this could be another one where I piece together two patterns to get the desired look. We'll see. I envision myself wearing this on those quiet Saturdays where all I want to do is drink tea and make art or read a good book. Photo credit.
  • Ridge + Wedgwood Bundle by Straight Stitch Designs. I'm kind of cheating because this is a top and skirt bundled into one product. So, I'm actually doing a make ten! You know me... always the rebel. I love the pure easiness of this skirt and top. Perfect for meeting a friend for coffee or lunch and then roaming the halls of a beautiful museum!
  • Archer + Alder by Grainline Studio. This is actually a case where two patterns were already put together to get the desired effect. I've been looking for a loose-fit long sleeve shirtdress for at least a year. Sold! Photo credit.

I have no idea if I'll be able to complete nine (er, ten) items this year. That feels like a lot right now. But, even if I make one thing that's actually wearable, it's more than I made last year (I attempted a shirt that hasn't seen the light of day because... well... it needs "help").

Also, I picked a lot of dresses/skirts! That's really interesting to me considering I hardly ever buy them in store. I'm not sure where this strong desire for a closet full of dresses is coming from, but that's what I'm being drawn to, so I'm going with it!

Well, here we go! Wish me luck (because I'm definitely going to need it). And if you're embarking on your own handmade wardrobe project... I'd love to hear about it! Happy sewing!

DIY 2017 Planner

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Full disclosure: this blog post contain affiliate links.

Happy new year! I hope these first days of 2017 have been good to you. I'm slowly but surely getting back into the swing of things. Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite subjects of all time: planning! Yes, I know this topic has made many an eye glaze over, but I love this stuff! I always appreciate when bloggers walk through their planners, talk about what they're using, how they apply it to their lives, and why it works for them. So, I thought I'd do the same.

If it hasn't been made clear yet (partly because this site is relatively new and partly because I haven't really talked about it), one of the core missions behind this site is to foster the ideas, processes, and tools needed to design a life more nourishing than depleting. What does that mean? It means that if we don't find ways to consciously nourish our bodies, souls, and spirits (through lifestyle choices guided by our values) we'll end up giving more than we get. Which, of course, can translate to sickness, disease, clinical depression or even that general crummy feeling that seems to take up residence deep in our hearts. The smallest decision to secure peace in our lives can make a tremendous difference. 

THAT is why things, like making planners, cooking a well-made meal, or finding the courage to embark on that DIY project you've always wanted to try, is such a big deal. These things provide us with a creative outlet that's good for the soul but also an end product that facilitates a good life. It's a win-win situation that offers cumulative rewards. It's all pretty cool when you think about it.

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OK, so now that you know where I'm coming from, let's talk planners!

This year, I decided to go with an A5 ring binder that I made by hand. I have used other binders in the past (like Kikki K), but my main concern was cutting down on as much bulk as possible so that it would be easy to carry. I take my planner everywhere, so having something durable, yet light, was high on my list of "must-haves". I also wanted the freedom to add pages to a ring binder instead of being committed to a spiral-bound planner. I ended up cutting down two pieces of book board (with a cork-backed ruler and extra sharp box cutter) and binding then together with a piece of scrap quilter's fabric and adhesive. Classic bookbinding technique mandates the use of bookbinding cloth, but I have way too much quilter's cotton in my stash not to use it when I can. It worked out fine. The final dimensions were 7.25 x 9" with a 1.25" spine. I chose Rifle Paper Company's tapestry fabric for the cover and inner lining, and the 1" 6-ring binder mechanism was removed (with needle-nose pliers) from an old binder that I wasn't using. I punched two holes and secured the mechanism with two chicago screws.

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I use the inside cover for holding bits and pieces I pick up here and there as well as any reminders. For example, I clipped my eyeglass and contact prescription to the cover as a reminder to order new glasses. I tend not to forget things when they're visible every time I flip open the binder.

I also use a regular zip pouch to keep adhesive notes and a spare thank you card just in case I feel impressed to write a quick note in return for a kind deed. It's so much more convenient to have a card ready when you need it instead of constantly forgetting to pick up one at the store.

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Next, I have a small collage of inspirational images that serve as a form of "artistic direction". There are so many new personal and professional things I want to try this year, and since I'm such a visual person, I've found that having images in front of me to express those goals really help me stay on track. I tried this back in 2015, and within three months, everything represented in my images was accomplished! While I hardly think I can beat that time frame, I'm looking forward to the extra motivation it provides. The images are 2x2" squares tucked into a trimmed-down sheet protector.

The rest of my planner is broken down into five sections: 

  1. monthly calendar
  2. weekly calendar
  3. meal planner + shopping list
  4. budget + expense planner
  5. sketches + notes

Each section is partitioned by tab index dividers that were cut down to the A5 size. I like to keep my monthly and weekly inserts separate because I use them in two completely different ways. My monthly inserts (that were printed and cut from pre-designed A5 digital inserts) are used for big dates likes birthdays, deadlines, bills and events. My weekly inserts (printed and cut from the same pre-designed insert pack) are used for daily to-dos, appointments, assignments, class times, and errands.

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Here's a look at how I use the weekly spread. I'm using last year's schedule, because I figured it's probably not the wisest thing to plaster my exact whereabouts over the Internet. Not that anyone really cares, but I'll play it safe anyway. ;) 

When planning, almost everything in my life can be broken down by either time or task. For example, individual classes and appointments happen on specific days and at specific times. However, things, like returning library books or writing blog posts, are more task-oriented. It doesn't matter when I do them, as long as I get them done by the "deadline". For that reason, I need a weekly layout flexible enough to handle both types of commitments on any given day. And because I'm a student, no day looks the same, so I also need something that would give me room to plan according to the pace of each particular day. As you can see in my mock spread, I reserve space for the time-oriented items first, using each line to denote a 30-minute increment. From, there I fill in task-oriented items in the "morning" or "afternoon" spaces based on when I'm most likely to complete them. This has worked so much better for me than having a planner that was only designed with time slots or only designed with space for to-dos. Having both in one column allows me to make the most of my time and be smart about what I can reasonably accomplish on a given day.

Additionally, a weekly format helps me look ahead so I can keep track of exams, assignments, or projects. I often use that blank space at the bottom for notes, scribbles, and encouraging words.

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My meal plan and shopping lists are pretty self-explanatory. I designed these in InDesign and printed and cut them with my paper trimmer just like the other inserts. It was important to me to break up my shopping list according to the sections I most frequent in the grocery store (ie. produce, frozen), item category (ie. household, personal), or the type of purchase (ie. online vs in-store). Having a section specifically for online purchases helps me tackle those items during breaks in between class, so I'm not stuck without an item and having to wait the unexpected extra days for shipping. With the constant probability that I will be "distracted" by school or work, it's important for me to stay on top of the little things, and this definitely helps.

My budget and expense tracker, which I also designed, is really just a paper version of the cash envelope system. All of my purchases are broken down by category (ie. automobile, groceries, utilities, eating out, etc), and a certain amount of money is designated for each. When I have spent the designated amount for that group of purchases, I'm done. I find working with cash a bit cumbersome, and I know there are apps that do this for you, but again, I'm a visual and kinesthetic person through and through. I like writing it down for myself, crossing things off, and calculating by hand, because it helps me stay accountable and more present in my spending. 

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Last, but not least, I have a few pre-designed A5 blueprint pages behind the last tab for quick notes and easy sketching. All holes were punched with my Cinch bindery tool, although a regular or basic hole punch would work just fine too. All inserts were printed on eco-friendly 24 lb. copy paper.

Whew, that was a lot! If you made it this far... thanks for sticking with me!

Moral of the story? Take stock of your life and figure out what you most need to be successful in managing the big and small components of your day. Then, design (or purchase) a planner around those needs. It's important that your planner fits your life, not the other way around.

Happy planning!