Sunday, July 27, 2014

Old Fashioned Wifery: Mend Your Clothes

I didn't disappear, I promise! I've been illish. I've been absent due to fatigue, sleepiness and lethargy. I felt like I had the flu without the pain. It was all very strange. I had enough energy to fulfill my husband's shmoozing commitments, and that was about it. Otherwise it was a lot of laying on my couch and binge watching "Roseanne" on YouTube. Needless to say all blog work and blog reading went by the wayside, and I now have over 100 blog entries in my feed to read. It's good to know that no else was feeling illish!

I'm much better now, and I'm excited to move forward in the Vintage Domesticity Series. Not a moment too soon since July is almost over. How did that happen? By late next month football will be on, and pumpkin beer will be available. Can you believe it??

vintage mending

3. Mend Your Clothes.
My third reflection on vintage domesticity is on mending your own clothes. I have a very long history of mending my own clothes though not conventionally. 

I didn't grow up in a way that most in the first world would consider comfortable. I was safe, fed and had plenty of fun, but I didn't experience the same sort of consumerism that my friends and family seemed to enjoy with normalcy. About 90% of my clothes and shoes were hand-me-downs or second hand while the remaining 10% were as cheap as possible. Looking back on my childhood I feel grateful that my parents could provide me with clothes, but at the time I felt very sorry for myself. When you're young and unable to express yourself in a way that seems easy to everyone else it can feel really frustrating and oppressive.

Everything changed in my mid-teens when I discovered the poor girl slash Desperately Seeking Susan slash Pretty in Pink fashion of the 1980s. This opened up an entire world of possibilities in terms of what could be done with clothing.

The concept of reconstruction was a game changer.

I started "mending" the holes in my clothes with safety pins - not because they were cool, but because they were all I had. People started telling me how cool my pins were, and they eventually became my signature. People would give me their random safety pins because they knew I would put them to use. With my safety pins and dedication to reconstruction, I was able to create a look for myself that I loved and could maintain.

Sometimes I cut old stockings and made gloves out of them.

I didn't look like everyone else, and that was ok by me. I was able to satiate the teenage need to rebel while accepting my circumstances. I felt more confident in who I was: A poor kid. 

I'm no longer a poor kid, but my attitude towards clothing hasn't changed much. I still buy second hand when I can, but now it's in an effort to reduce waste. I still mend my clothes, but no longer with safety pins. 

vintage mending

Properly caring for your clothes saves you money, reduces waste and ensures that you'll be able to keep your favorite pieces for a long time. The internet is an invaluable resource if you're new to clothing care! We just don't learn these skills anymore unless we seek them out. Here are a few great resources to get you started:

T-Shirt Reconstruction
I love love love reconstructing t-shirts. I've done each of the following by hand with great results.
With a little love and care your clothes can be kept for years and years - despite what you paid for them!

vintage mending

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Old Fashioned Wifery: Give a Little (Reform the Habit to Keep)

2. Give a Little (Reform the Habit to Keep) 
My second reflection on vintage domesticity is actually an admissionI'm kind of a jerk with selfish tendencies.


It was hard to admit this to myself, and it's double hard putting it online. Who wants to admit they're human?

I'm not a religious person, but at my Opa's funeral in May the paster said something that really stuck with me. He talked about Takers, Keepers and Givers. Takers steal, Keepers look out for themselves, and Givers give what they can. This sentiment can apply to actual belongings, or even matters of the heart.

It occurred to me that I've been living my life as a Keeper. I mind my own business, keep to myself, and don't actively give anything to anyone. Well, I do give sometimes. Here's me giving Antigone a chin rub.

I'm a regular saint when it comes to my cats. 

So what does all of this have to do with vintage living?

Hobbies that once brought people together are transitioning more and more to online platforms, and I believe that this is turning us into a society of Keepers. Friendships and communities built online are wonderful and real, but it's a lot easier to ignore or forget someone's cry when you can't hear them. I'm not suggesting that we get offline, but I do feel like giving yourself to others requires a little more active effort than it used to.

Today I'm working on opening my heart, and sharing what it has to give. I'm recognizing the subtle ways that I put myself first, and asking if it's really necessary. These are my first steps on a journey to a more Giving life. A process that will likely take years, decades or eons. I'm starting small, and focussing on my community and family. I'm:
  • Sending cards when I can.
  • Reaching out to those I've let slip through my fingers. 
  • Not auto-piloting "No thanks!" when there's an opportunity to give a little spare change to charity. This is a habit going back to broke school days, and is no longer necessary. 
  • Actively practicing patience above judgement. Key word is practicing. I'm practicing how to do it. The affirmation "I replace my anger with compassion and understanding." is said a lot around here!
  • Not staying silent when someone says something hurtful to someone I love. Specifically when the person being hurtful is someone I also love. I'm trying to be a courageous ally instead of "courageously" sighing real loud, rolling my eyes and walking out of the room. This has been the hardest one yet.
You may be thinking: "You're not a great humanitarian, Hannah. It's called being a decent human being."

Well sure, but consider how much happier we'd all be if more people stepped out of their comfort zones to actively attempt decency. Doesn't it feel like there's just a lot of passive existing going on out there? 

< | * * * | >

My goal is to one day not see myself as a Keeper. How do you step out of your own space to Give?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Homemade Basil Surface Cleaner

This Homemade Basil Surface Cleaner is a really easy Summertime staple in our home. I've spoken before about our occasional overflow of the herband this is a lifesaver in avoiding waste.

The 3 ingredients in this cleaner - basil, vinegar and water - are about as natural as it comes. I make variations throughout the year which keeps me from having to buy chemical laden sprays. 

While known for its wonderful bacteria killing qualities, some may find the smell of vinegar a little off-putting. A few minutes after use that smell will fade, and you'll be left with the faint scent of basil. There's no need to worry about your kitchen forever smelling of vinegar!

You can put the strained vinegar and water (Step 6) in any squirt bottle you have lying around, but if you're interested in the elegance of a glass bottle I explain how to do that cheaply in the instructions. Happy cleaning!

Homemade Basil and Vinegar Surface Cleaner
Makes enough infused vinegar for 2 16oz batches of cleaner
  • Fresh basil, at least 2 loose cups
  • 1 Large empty glass jar and lid (a little larger than 16oz)
  • {If Making the Glass Bottle}
    • 1 16oz glass bottle of white vinegar
    • 1 spray nozzle from an old empty cleaner or spray bottle
  • {If Using Your Own Bottle}
    • 16 oz white vinegar
    • 1 empty 16oz spray bottle
  • 8oz water
1. Stuff the fresh basil into the empty glass jar. Pour your 16oz of white vinegar over the basil. Close the jar and place it in the fridge for at least two weeks to infuse.


2. Completely remove the label from the white vinegar bottle.
3. Wash the bottle thoroughly and put it away until the infused vinegar is ready. 


4. Place a fine strainer over a clean bowl. Strain the infused vinegar into the bowl, and discard the basil. 
5. Pour 8 oz of the prepared vinegar into another jar and store in a cool dark place for later use.
6. Combine the remaining 8 oz of the vinegar with 8 oz of water. Carefully pour this mixture into your vinegar bottle. Screw the spray nozzle onto the bottle and marvel at your new cleaner.
7. Use as you would any kitchen surface cleaner.