Purposeful January


OK, made it to the end of January! I didn’t quite post every single day, but I only skipped a couple, and I got a lot accomplished.


As I look back through my sketchbook/journal this month, I see projects and ideas, but I also see that I was thinking more about how I spend my time. I journaled a lot about what is most important and what is not, and it’s made the days seem richer – less filler, more substance. I’ve had some successes, but I’ve had some misses, too.


Like reading. I’ve been reading much more with the kids since I’ve set aside a specific time to do it. It’s been great. They love it for many reasons – books, obviously, but also, squeezing both of them in the rocking chair with me is conducive to silly play between them, good-natured swats and head rubs and hugs, which fills my heart. (We need those moments to remember when the days aren’t so Norman-Rockwell-perfect.)


But reading just for me has been almost nil, mostly because I spend my evenings typing away on blog posts. But I love that too, so I don’t feel like I’m really missing out. I do hope to have a little more time for fun just-for-me reading. (And, no, I’m  not going to finish my book club pick this month. But I’m going to finish it sometime.)


And meditation. Oy. I just keep forgetting. I’ve remembered a handful of times, and I loved it, but it’s not happening every day yet. And when I sketched out a calendar of posts for this month, one of my topics was purposeful exercise. Didn’t see that post? Ahem, moving on.


And cleaning out my workspace by the end of January? That didn’t happen either. When I post a project almost every day, the workspace gets more and more disheveled. (I just walked out to the garage and took this photo. It’s rough, I know! I don’t candy coat it.) I need to think about how I really want to use the space and plan it out thoughfully.


But there have been some successes. Like keeping the countertop clear. It’s vastly improved this month. I see something on it, and I quickly file it away or find its “home”. Keeping that space clear helps my mind stay clearer, too.


Meal planning has been very successful, which has caused me to use my glorified to-do list daily, which has caused an overall better structure to my days.

And working on my leftover “to-do” projects from last year clears out more of my workspace and my brain. It just feels so good to get things finished. (Don’t worry, there are more of these projects to come. I’ll never be truly finished.)

So, I haven’t completely made-over my life. But what has changed is my attitude about it. I keep coming back to “practice“. I look at my list of “misses”, and I really don’t see them as fails but, as a friend commented to me, opportunities to “practice for a better outcome”, to work toward becoming a little more excellent. There’s so much grace in it – it’s so freeing to me.

OK, so, I’m going to take a few days off. Tomorrow is the big Bunco fundraiser, so it’s going to be a busy, wild, fun, busy, crazy, busy day. Then I think the weekend will include squeezing in a nap (maybe TWO!) and just relaxing. (Or maybe I’ll win big at Bunco and spend a day at a spa!)

See you next week!



This post is part of a 31 Day series about improving my days by being more PURPOSEFUL.

You can read more about it here. You can find all the posts in this series here.

DIY · purposeful · Style · Thrifts

Tea Dyed Dress – Part Two

Click here to read about Part One of this project.

So here’s where we left off yesterday. I tea dyed this dress, and I loved the resulting colors. I did not, however, love the shape of the dress. The neckline/shoulder-draping was just not right.


I thought I could cut the draping apart and create sleeves out of it. When I had the dress on, and I pinched the fabric around my arm to create a pseudo-sleeve, it looked cute. I cut and pinned the fabric to create a sleeve and sewed the seam closed.


Um, yeah. Didn’t work. Couldn’t get the “sleeve” over my shoulder, so I ripped it apart. Now the lace was cut, and I couldn’t figure out how to piece it back together.


So I just chopped the lace part off. You can see there’s still an opening from my sleeve attempt. I pinned and sewed the pieces together. Maybe I will add a flower or something later to cover it up.


I stared at the dress hanging on my armoire for a while. I was stumped.


So, like I learned back when I did The Thrift Project, I just started with what I knew I could do and figured it would just come to me along the way. I pinned the raw edges under the lace in the neckline/shoulder-draping and ironed it.

As I was doing this, I kept hearing strange “plunk” sounds. It took me a few minutes to realize it was fruit dropping onto my kitchen window. We have a “lovely” Bradford pear tree in front of our house. “Lovely” in quotation marks because the Bradford pears that were planted on our street are fruit bearing. This means that in the winter, hundreds, nay, thousands of little squishy cherry-sized pears drop down onto our driveway and car. This year must be a good Bradford pear year, because they are EVERYWHERE. You’ll know it’s me around town we you see a car covered in these little fruits. We wash our car AT LEAST once a week, but you couldn’t tell. It’s out of control. And now, apparently, our house is going to match.


When I finished pinning (and shaking my fists at the tree), I used a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine to create a new hem of the neckline.


Then I used my good fabric scissors to cut the seam allowance really close to the zigzag stitches.


I tried it on. Better, but those shoulders are a little too poufy. And by poufy, I mean they stand straight up. Not finished yet.


I wondered if I could just tack that part of the neckline down, creating a sort of cap sleeve. I pinned each side to the front and back of the dress. Pinning just in front of my underarm while the garment is on my body proved to be a bit difficult. I definitely got a few pin pricks on this one.

I used a zigzag stitch again to just tack the fabric down – the length of the stitch is less than 1/2 inch.


Yes, much better.


This dress turned out better than I thought it would. The color is subtle and feminine, and now the shape of the dress is, too. Now, I’m ready for spring, and not just because spring means the bird will have returned, the rotten fruit will be eaten, and our car will be clean again.



This post is part of a 31 Day series about improving my days by being more PURPOSEFUL.

You can read more about it here. You can find all the posts in this series here.

DIY · purposeful · Style · Thrifts

Tea Dyed Dress – Part One


While not my original intent, this improving by being “purposeful” is really helping me get through my “to-do” pile. Yesterday, when I went in search of the navy prom dress to be refashioned, I saw several other things that I added to the pile last year. I could have just stuffed them back into their box, but instead, I thought of being purposeful, of choosing my projects intentionally, not just starting something new just because I saw it on Pinterest. So finishing my “to-do” pile before diving into new things seems purposeful to me.


I don’t know what it is about this dress, but I really like it – the lace panels and the simple scalloped trim, the simplicity of it.


But I don’t like the color. I actually bought it with the intention to dye it. Not some crazy bright color, I just wanted to try my hand at dying with tea to take away some of the brightness of the white. This isn’t my first rodeo – I’ve dyed several garments before, but this was different, and very easy. (There was no organized method to this – it was all trial-and-error.)


I started by boiling some water in a large pot on the stove. I forgot to measure, so later I figured out it was about 10 cups of water.


Then I added 8 tea bags. I let it steep for about 10 minutes.


I soaked the dress in cold water before dying it to help the tea soak in more.


I planned to dye the dress in the pot on the stove, but I quickly realized it wouldn’t be large enough, so I got out my dye pot. That’s right, many years ago, I thrifted this speckled enamelware pot for the sole purpose of dying things. (I’ve always been afraid of using dye in my washing machine, although I know it’s totally safe. I’m just a chicken.) When I looked at the size of the big pot, I realized I needed more water, so I boiled more in two other pots (4 cups and 2 cups). Then I decided to steep 4 more tea bags in 4 cups of water. See? Trial-and-error.


I put the dye pot on the floor, removed the tea bags from the pot, and added the tea and the water to the pot. (For those keeping track at home, it was approximately 20 cups of water and 12 tea bags.) I added the wet dress to the tea.


I stirred and stirred the dress and the tea to ensure even dying.


I left in in the dye bath about 45 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Then, Baby Girl got up from her nap, and then it was time to pick up The Boy from preschool, and I just left the dress in the pot on the floor for an additional hour (with no stirring) and hoped for the best.


When I finally got home, got lunch made, and got everyone settled, I transferred the dress to the sink to rinse. If you’ve ever used commercial dyes on the stove, you know rinsing out the dye is one of the hardest parts (constant stirring being the other). This was simple with tea dying. It rinsed easily, and the water ran clear quickly.


I put the dress in a bowl to carry it upstairs to the dryer. I read that you should use the dryer’s heat to set the dye before washing it.


I just love how the tea dyed the different materials in different ways to create a variety of shades.


And here she is, fresh from the dryer.


I’m thrilled with the color! It’s very subtle, but definitely not still white. It’s cute.


But there’s just something about the neckline/shoulder-draped fabric I don’t like. It’s almost a little costume-y. You know I love a good costume, but I can tell I’m probably not going to wear it like this. I was hoping this would be more of an everyday dress.

So, while the dye job was a huge success, I’m just not quite finished with this project. I’ll be back tomorrow with Part Two. Stay tuned!



This post is part of a 31 Day series about improving my days by being more PURPOSEFUL.

You can read more about it here. You can find all the posts in this series here.