Running inspired

God help me, I went for a run this morning.

look, I'm wearing running pants! WHO AM I EVEN??

I HATE running. I hate exercise in general.  The outdoors and I do not get along, unless I'm floating in water somewhere with a frozen boozy beverage awaiting me on the lanai. Those who know me (and let's face it, you're probably not reading this if you don't know me), know that I am not a fan of exertion.

And yet.  AND YET. I RAN.  

And I actually ran-ran, all the way to the end of my street (maybe 1/2 mile?), walked back up the hill a bit because let's not go too crazy here people, and then RAN AGAIN to the park and around the loop.  

Why, you ask?   My friend Kari posted this article from Runners World this am. And damn if Mirna Valerio's story isn't going to a light a fire a hell of a lot more than some bullshit thinspo on Pinterest. I will be following her blog, Fat Girl Running from now on, for damn sure. 

It's not just because I'm going to turn 40 this year, though that's part of it.  My family history of diabetes and weight struggles doesn't help my natural inclination to laze about.  I've struggled with my weight for pretty much my entire life, and my natural inclination is to gain weight, not lose it. While diet can control a lot of it for me, at almost-40 I'm far far less likely to subsist on sugar free jello, cool whip free, and popcorn, they way I did when I was at my skinniest.  

And the almost-40 part is actually a boon, because I am far more comfortable in my own skin than I ever was when I was younger. Despite always being outwardly relatively self-confident (except, ugh, teenage years), 20 years ago I would have been MORTIFIED to go out and exercise where people could SEE me.  Because yet another fat girl sweating in public, taking up space, daring to do what the THIN girls do.  (Not really, but you see the thought process). 

I still don't believe the platitude that "no, no one's watching you, really!"  because that's bullshit. Bullshit spread by the non-fat and parents of self conscious teenagers.  People ARE looking.  And yeah, some are judging.  It's one thing a big girl learns early: people watch the big girls, people judge the big girls, and people feel free to share their comments on you.

But the biggest difference is that now?  I got zero fucks to give y'all.  Want a show, looky loos? I GOT ONE RIGHT HERE. MY FACE VS. A BEET: CAN YOU SPOT THE DIFFERENCE?

I will say, a decent outfit helps. A decent outfit being not cocooning myself in heavy, stretched out shitty cotton.  I mean, a solid sports bra is a literal requirement, but the rest of the gear helps too. So now I had:

  • a good sports bra that comes in my size (F, by the way.  Good luck finding that at Sports Authority, fuckers.) I've since bought two, in case they discontinue it. I am paranoid. 
  • athletic leggings that weren't a vain attempt of let's-hide-the-big-girl-in-a-sack (P.S. Decent plus size workout wear options are few and far between. Don't even get me started on attempting to find tennis whites not in size XS. I'm damn lucky I have no ass and can fit into Athleta's XL pants).
  •  a pair of running sneakers that were wide enough not to make my feet get pins and needles after 15 minutes of torturing them. 

And the capper? It wasn't eleventy billion degrees and sweltering outside. 

I mean, it still took me over an hour to prep for what wound up being 40 minutes outside (I count my stopping for food after as well), cause I had to find my ipod, charge my ipod, fiddle with the playlist and delete some weird shit I'd put on there, sync my ipod, decide maybe to listen to a podcast instead?, download a bunch of podcasts, revise that plan, and tweak the playlist some more (I confused that Budapest song with Barcelona, and realized it just in time but couldn't think of Budapest, so was like, hm Euro city with a B.... Belfast? Belgrade?  Then I figured it out.).  Then which water bottle to bring?  (note: carrying a water bottle while running hurts my shoulders but I need to drink the water so I don't pass out and die on the curb.  Solutions, runner friends?)

Red! and Green! and cleavage!

Now I'm drinking green juice (what, I like celery and cucumber!), sweaty and gross after a run, outside, in SUNLIGHT. I'm even debating another tennis lesson.

Jesus, I don't even know who I am anymore.

to zip or not to zip?

To zip or not to zip?  That is not really an option. Thing thing will have a zipper come hell or high water. The question is WHICH zipper? 

So remember that sweater I made the biggest little this winter? The warm and cozy wool hoodie that I didn't finish until April, when it turned warm?

Whelp, I finally got the zipper choices for it, from zippersource.  (I am the only reason it took forever to get them, their shipping and customer service was and is great! custom length! many colors! I am just a slacker when it comes to ordering)

dun da-da-dun, I'm Super Contrasty!

Too dull?

So which color do we like best? I purposefully chose a not-perfect-match for a bit of contrast, and I'm planning on facing the zip with  a ribbon more in the realm of the sweater than in the realm of the zip.

I'm torn: The red is a nice punch of contrasting color, but does it look too superhero? I like the slightly lighter blue, but is it too pale of a blue?

Should I--dare I say it--order a different color and put off the finishing of this sweater YET AGAIN?

I mean, who are we kidding, it's not like another week or two will really matter at this point. The kid isn't getting much wear out of it with this gross muggy humid weather.

the easiest way to organize a closet is totally fake

The easiest way to organize a closet is easy, a pain in your ass, and totally fake: Throw all your shit out. Voila! Pretty closet!

Let's face it, every post on Pinterest about closet organizing has a jam-packed closet as the "before" and a barely-anything in it closet as an "after."


THAT IS NOT A CLOSET FOR REAL PEOPLE.  Seriously, I do not have only 20 shirts in my closet and three dresses.  Organizational people are LYING TO YOU ALL with these pictures. Nearly every after picture I've seen puts a third of the stuff back into the closet, which looks great, but isn't how people actually live.

I mean, my current closet is big, and if I staged it like this, it would look ENORMOUS.  And I would have a pile of clothes on my bed bigger than my eldest child and no place to put them to keep my pristinely organized closet picture perfect.

Because, confession time: I am both a purger and a hoarder.  Maybe "completist" might be better descriptive than "hoarder," as (despite my occasional freak out to the contrary) I am not, in fact, living in filth and stacks everywhere. I come from a family where things were kept for years--decades even--because they were "perfectly good" but also never used.  And so I get rid of things.  But I do still regret throwing out 6 years worth of Martha Stewart Living Magazine several years ago, I have a complete collection of Cook's Illustrated magazines, I have a shit ton of yarn and fiber, and when I find I shirt I like, I buy it in every color I like. Because FUCK capsule wardrobes.  

So what, you may say, is the real way to organize a closet? 

By now, I'm sure everyone and their mother has heard of Marie Kondo's Life Changing Magic  of Tidying Up.  I know I'm not the first, or the thousandth, to blog about it.  I read through the book, and I liked some of what she said about keeping things that spark joy and ditching the things that don't (but you can pry my books from my cold, dead, hands).

 I have always folded items of clothing and "filed" them in drawers instead of stacks, as she describes--save the socks. I have opinions on socks: Socks should not be rolled together, they should ALWAYS have the cuff tucked together and folded inside so they don't come apart. I also have opinions on sheets, which is a whole 'nother post.  (Oh, and I don't anthropomorphize my things, because I am not a toddler.)

That said, much of what she has to say about closets and clothes  is kind of brilliant, at least for me.  Keep things you love--and I do think that useful everyday things fall into that category. While the random tank top might not itself spark joy in you, the outfit it completes might.  And the random tank top with the weird cut that just never sits right and has the itchy tag certainly does NOT spark joy so toss that shit. I also do not rotate clothes seasonally, because I am lucky enough to have a closet big enough to not have to, but also because so many of my clothes are 4-season pieces.  Dress + wool cardigan + heavy leggings + boots = winter outfit. Same dress + linen cardi + sandals = summer. 

And I love her mild mild debunking of other organizational tricks.  Because again, OPINIONS, I have them.  Do NOT get me started on that "trick" of hanging your hangers backwards to see how frequently you wear something. It's ridiculous and completely disregards the need for special occasion clothing and sentimental favorites. If you love something and it's a sentimental favorite, why on earth would you throw it out? Just to make space? Why is space more important than sentiment, or memories? Get rid of the shit that is "perfectly good" and never used if you want space. And face it people, no one wants to go shopping for an outfit for a funeral when the need comes up. No one. 

And so I cleaned out my closet, somewhat following her suggestions, somewhat following my own.  Three and a half giant garbage bags later (delivered to a friend, and anything she doesn't want is off to donations), it's tidy! and by no means is it a pinterest after picture, but it's so much better. I still have a shit ton of stuff crammed in there, and I still have multiple black t-shirts--now all filed in a single row though.  

I tried things on, and tossed a bunch, I refolded the chaos that had crept in, using  a number of the container store's clear drawer organizer boxes--which I already had, and are fantastic, by the by.  I used some of the post-it sticky label tape and a sharpie to label things that were not clear when folded neatly, like "camisoles" vs. "layering tanks" vs. "short sleeve layers".  I did not color code the labels, despite my inclination to, because the colored sharpies were downstairs and that would require moving myself. 

 I'm pretty pleased with the labeling solution, myself. And I extended it to the hanging things. Because I have many leggings, and could never figure out which neatly folded legging was which and where the fuck was the really lightweight capri legging goddamnit!, I decided to group them by category and hang them, labeling the hangers.  So now there are hangers with a label tape tag of "full length black leggings",  "short black leggings", "exercise leggings", "pant-like leggings", "second tier leggings", etc.  

Of course, I ignored Marie Kondo's suggestion of hanging everything in length order rising to the right, because that's silly.  A. I'm a lefty.  B. the right hand side of my full-length hanging section is partially hidden, so NO. C. By length doesn't work for the way I wear clothes. Category is way better but has it's own hidden problems.

I still am not quite sure the best way to organize the many dresses I own.  I'm leaning more toward use: tunics/dresses too short to wear without leggings, day dresses, slightly fancier day dresses, fancy dresses, formal dresses. But then where do the maxis go? I have some that are more day dressy, some that are more slightly fancier day dressy.  Do I put in each category, or do I pull into a separate section--day maxi vs formal maxi? 

Am I a super nerd to for thinking things through this far? Don't answer that.

Laundry 202, the handwashening

Let's talk handwashing people! And drying things to be handwashed!  And I will give you my diatribe against woolite, while we're at it.  

Basics first: What to handwash?  

Welp, handknits, sweaters, fancy things that tell you to handwash on the label, many things labeled just "dry clean" (which is different from "dry clean only"), items with embellishments, bras, fancy undies, slips, etc.  Essentially, anything you're worried you'd trash in the washer or the dryer. 

So what do you need to handwash? A sink or tub or basin of some kind (a tub trug works really well for this kind of thing if your sink is wee).  Water, der.  Soap of some kind.  A towel or two. A flat space to lay things to dry.

So soap.  SOAP.  Note I say soap, not detergent?  They are two different things, and while both are useful, one is more useful than others. 

I may be the only person in the world who doesn't like tide.  I dunno what it is, I can't deal with the smell, or the packaging, or what.  I'm an All Free and Clear kind of girl and that's what it is. I just can't with the overpowering smell of shitty laundry perfumes.  

UNLESS we're talking handwashing stuff, in which case my tastes run toward ALL THE SCENTED PRODUCTS! Maybe because only some of the clothes fall into the handwashing category? Or because it's more tactile, washing something by hand and I therefore don't mind it when I wind up smelling like Mandarin Bergamot Cedar whatevers during the process?  Or maybe because the scents for handwashing stuff are WAY BETTER than the shitty Proctor and Gamble mass smells? (yeah, I KNOW most of the products I'm suggesting you use are probably in fact, subsidiaries of P&G or someone else. Don't care. They still smell better.)  Basically, I'm a fragrance snob.  I own it. (Don't get me started on perfumes--I have SO MANY.)

And herein lies my diatribe against Woolite.  THEY ARE RIPPING YOU OFF, FOLKS. It's watered down regular laundry detergent. They add water and jack up the cost, and claim it won't fade your darks or whatever.  I call bullshit.  It's still watered down tide in a smaller bottle and a tiny cap for measuring.  It doesn't rinse out well, like many laundry detergents, especially if you use their (overly large) recommended amount.  And in handwashing, not rinsing out well is even more of a pain in the ass.

Listen, I don't have anything against using detergent for handwashes. It can be the best tool for the job.  But if you're going to get dinged in the wallet to buy something that you already have on hand, just go for the better smelling, better formulated slightly fancier handwashing stuff. You're going to use less of it than you would the woolite, so the price comes out in the wash (see what I did there?).  And if you want to save money, there are lots of other options that aren't woolite that are cheaper and better for handwashing.  

And here's the thing about price. Some of the fancy soap brands are great for handwashing, so long as you like the scent.  Because that, really, is what you're paying for, the smell and the packaging.  If you don't like how the fancy brand smells, DON'T BUY IT, it's not worth it.  If you don't want to or can't shell out the cash for them, DON'T BUY THEM.  There are so many other cheaper options, don't pay for shit you don't want or need or can't afford.  

Non-woolite options for handwashing:

  • Caldrea, fancy smelling (I like mandarin vetiver), mild plant based detergents.  It's a bit pricey, but I've been using the same medium sized bottle of their laundry detergent to hand wash for over six years, and I'm not even halfway through the damn thing. Not a bad price performer all told.
  • The Laundress, another fancy smelling, pricey line of plant based detergents.  Again, thinking of long term price performance, it's great.  One bottle will last you ages.  Also, I cannot say enough about their wash and stain bar for spot treating and washing bras.  FAN-fucking-TASTIC. Again, I've had mine for about 5 years, and I still have about 3/4 of it left. 
  • Mrs. Myers Clean Day, fancy smelling, slightly cheaper and becoming more widely available at Target and grocery stores.  I love their counter spray, and their laundry stuff is great for handwashing. Try their lavender scent for woolens. Use either their laundry detergent or their dish soap, both will be fine.
  • Dr. Bronners, pure soap, not detergent, great for handwashing, and bonus reading material from the batshit label.  They say to use it for everything, and you totally can! But don't, for the love of god, brush your teeth with it, no matter what your hippie friends at burning man say.  It's disgusting.  Great for handwashing though!
  • Charlie's Laundry Soap.  The sworn-by-cloth diaper-users best laundry soap out there.  I personally have never used it, but I know many who do. There are many other brands like this, often marketed to the cloth diaperers, that would work well for handwashing. 
  • Wool washes, like Soak or Kookaburra  These are designed specifically as no-rinse wool washes for the handknitter (which essentially means they're super watered down, low or no sudsing detergent), but they are fantastic for delicates as well. Note that Kookaburra contains lanolin, which is great for wools, but I am meh on it for clothes in general. 
  • Dish soap, I like Dawn, personally.  But you pick your brand.  They are fantastic surfacents that are designed to lift oils and dirt.  Many a fiber person uses Dawn to wash raw wool from the sheep.  I used Dawn to wash wool and cashmere for YEARS. 
  • Shampoo.  YOUR shampoo (unless you are No-poo, or wash with conditioner only or something very very specific).  Smells good, you already have it, and it lifts oils and dirt.  Animal fibers like wool are hair, so why not use shampoo for them?
  • Laundry bar soap, like Fels-Naptha or Zote. No fancy smells, but damn if they aren't cheap, effective, and time-tested (the fancy Laundress bar linked to above is a pricier, fancy smelling, smaller version of these bars).  They're in your grocery store, you just may need to look on the bottom shelves for them.  Also, they are fantastic for spot treating stains on your regular laundry. 

Okay, so you've picked your soap.  Awesome. Let's run through how to wash a sweater or two, since those are the pickiest in terms of technique.

  1. First, fill your sink, tub, basin or whatever with warm water.  I like warm because it'll help lift the dirt, and won't freeze my hands when I'm lifting the sweater in and out of the water.  But wait! you say, won't I shrink my sweater or felt it or fuck it up if I wash it in warm?  Well, no, probably not.  Felting and shrinking happen with temperature change, agitation and soap.  We are not going to change the temp or agitate the item.  So it'll be fine.  Now, dyes may run with warmer water, so if your item has more than one color, stick to the cooler end of the water temp. 
  2. So anyway, fill your sink, and add a tiny bit of your chosen soap. I mean TINY. Swish it gently with your hand to distribute, and then lower your item into the water, pressing down gently to submerge it (wool wants to float, so you really have to shove it down to get it fully soaked). Swish once or twice, and then go leave it alone for 15 or 20 minutes.  If you used a no-rinse woolwash like Soak, skip to step 4.
  3. Come back, drain the water, leaving your item in the sink while it drains.  Fill the sink back up with the same temp water, and squish the clean water through a bit.  Let sit another 10 minutes. Drain. Repeat if necessary to get all the soap out.
  4. Press the item against the walls of the sink to get more water out. DON'T WRING IT.  Just press or squeeze.  Lift your item out with two hands, supporting the whole thing so no sleeve is just dangling there stretching out from the weight of the water.  Lay it on flat on a towel. Roll up the towel with the item inside, and step on the towel/item jelly roll to get as much of the water out.  
  5. Unroll, and  put the item on another towel (if you have one) on a flat surface to dry. As you're laying it out on the new towel, gently nudge it back into shape.  Make sure the shoulder seams and side seams are aligned, straighten and pat the sleeves into place, nudge the ribbing at the hem and cuffs in a bit. We have a heating vent in the floor that is fantastic for laying things out flat to dry, so long as you have a high tolerance for the cats sitting on it.  The hot air won't bother anything or shrink it, because unlike a dryer, there is no tumbling involved (again, heat + agitation is shrinking).

That's woolens, handknits, and the like. For other delicates, you can follow the exact same treatment for the washing.  Water, soap, let sit, water, let sit, drain and press out water and lay flat.  Blouses or shirts you may want to hang dry instead of laying flat, depending on the material.  If something has some weight to it when wet (or dry), don't hang it, as it'll stretch out of shape.  But a silk cami or slip? Go to town.

Bras and lady stuff, follow the same procedure, but you can get a bit more scrubbing action going on.  Bust out the soap bar and once the bra's wet, get in there and scrub with your hands a bit more if any places are really dirty.  Then let it sit, drain, rinse, and hang to dry. Don't stick your bras in the dryer, the heat degrades the elastic and wears them out quicker.

Questions, class?


laundry 201

I really should create a tag for "I was told to blog about this."  Because I was told to blog about this. 

And after last week's escapades with illnesses and kids and ugh it was just so gross all around you guys, yeah, laundry was DONE.

Here's the thing: I love Martha Stewart.  I also love ironing. (I know I'm weird, my mom doesn't get it either.)  I am also deeply deeply lazy, and insanely clumsy.  Thus, I know something about laundry.  I'm no Jolie Kerr, but I do all right. 

First off, you should already know the basics: separate darks  and lights, never machine wash bras, etc.  If you don't know this, well . . . . really? Come on, now you grown! This is laundry 201, not 101, yo. 

So, here's the starting points for Laundry 201: 

  • USE LESS SOAP.  The handy little measuring cups the detergent comes with? Bullshit. Use half that much.  Don't you think the manufacturers want you to buy more soap? Yes, yes they do.  Do you need that much per load? No, you 100% do NOT.  When you use that much soap (and really, it's detergent, not soap, but that's a whole other thing), it becomes hard to rinse out.  Harder still if you have hard water, in fact.  When you don't fully rinse out your detergent, it stays in your clothes and attracts dirt.  VICIOUS CYCLE, my friends. So use less, you'll be happier.


  • FABRIC SOFTENER IS THE DEVIL. It's the worst you guys. THE. WORST. Sure it smells nice (some of them), but it also is essentially oiling up your clothes. Both the kind you use in the washer and the dryer sheets. And what did I say about dirty clothes attracting more dirt? Yep.  And if you absolutely must use it, don't EVER use it on your towels--you'll add a layer of grease to them that's hard to wash out and they won't be as absorbent. You want soft clothes? Use white vinegar in the rinse. It won't smell, promise. 


  • BORAX IS YOUR FRIEND.  Stinky clothes? Gross stains? Biological issues or mold? Add a scoop of Borax to the wash.  It's a mineral that is an excellent laundry booster and zaps smells like you wouldn't believe. (And if you have ants, it'll kill the lil bastards without hurting you).  I find it better than vinegar and baking soda for stain and stink, and lord knows I love me some vinegar and baking soda.


  • SHAKE OUT YOUR CLOTHES. Spin cycles throw your clothes up against the walls of the washer. For the love of god, shake them out before throwing them in the dryer! If you don't, and just cram them in there (AHEM JBB), it's magical thinking to assume the dryer will take care of things for you. It won't.

I haven't even touched on hand washing clothes and how Woolite is also the devil. I'll get there.  I'll get there.

Man, I do like how this post makes it look like I don't have random yogurt smears on the shirt I'm wearing right now (thanks to the littles). 

I am done with winter

and so are my boots.


thanks annoying taxi for splattering me.

thanks annoying taxi for splattering me.

the salt stains on the shoes. So many salt stains. The solution is really easy, thankfully. First, brush off any loose dirt with a paper towel. Then, the magic:


yeah, giant bottle of vinegar, what what!

yeah, giant bottle of vinegar, what what!

white vinegar. Dab some on a rag or a paper towel, and go attack the salt stains. Let dry. Bam! Clean boots!

Vinegar is magic, i tells you.