Saturday, July 27, 2013

Minimalist Wardrobe

Now, this sh*ts hilarious. No, really... there is something severely awry when I feel entitled to blog about ANYTHING to do with style, fashion, or clothing. Yet, I feel like I do have something to share. While I don't claim to dress well, I think I can make the claim that I somehow now dress better after having carefully stripped my wardrobe down to the bare essentials.

Clothing was one of the first things to go in Oregon. I had way too many items that I didn't wear and wasn't willing to haul around anymore. Even worse, nothing went together anymore. It seems since I cut off my magical dreadlocks I've been floundering for a sense of personal style that is both professional, flexible, and expresses who I am.  To add to the mess, I never really have liked shopping, so what I did have was usually bought in an after-work hustle to find something... anything... fast. For example, if my black work pants ripped and needed to be replaced, that meant I would have to come home with the best pair I found that day regardless of how they fit, what they cost... and, sadly, if I even liked them.

A great deal of assistance was provided by reading Miss Minimalist by _____ . The things that rang truest to me were as fallows:

  • It is not everyone's calling in life to be a fashion model. It is just fine to dress nicely, even if you never turn heads with your "style."
  • Don't buy fantasy clothing. Are you a 1960's androgynous mod rocker? No? Maybe you don't need the striped pants and skinny tie then. 
  • It's not actually doing you any good to have it if you don't wear it.
I combined this with advice from one of  Tim Gun's books (give me a break, I was desperate... and I kinda love Tim Gun) and decided to focus on what works for me: a simple monochromatic wardrobe of basics that I can accessorize for different occasions. I took to polyvore and came up with this for inspiration:

Basic wardrobe

Basic wardrobe by kristin-muzzy featuring long pants

Of course, I couldn't just run out and make it happen right away, but over the last year I've slowly been building towards it. Here is what my actually closet includes:


1 kahkis (needs replacing)
1 pair of jeans
1 pair grey wool pants
1 pair black wool pants (needs replacing)
1 pair grey "scrubs" pants


Black Tanktop
V neck white Tshirt
V neck grey Tshirt (needs replacing)
V neck black Tshirt
Crewneck grey, sparkly Tshirt
"nice" crewneck white T shirt
"nice" crewneck black Tshirt
3/4 sleeve white Vneck
3/4 sleeve black Vneck

Sweaters/outer shirts:

Wool Vneck black sweater (light weight)
Teal/Blue wool cardigan (Hand knit- not going anywhere!)
Ferari red zip-up (Handy for hiking, but does not fit with anything else, will replace eventually)
Single button 3/4 sleeve "tux-style" coat, black
Button down over-shirt/coat, black


Red Troentorp clogs (casual)
Black leather Doc Marten Maryjanes (for work)
Black gladiator sandles
Hiking boots

*also some other items for sleeping, working out, and camping not included above

I learned I could live without several things. For one, I only have on pair of jeans. On weekdays, I change out of my work cloths and into athletic capris, so I really only wear jeans on the weekend. On top of this, one pair was always the favorite, so I never really wore more than one pair at a time anyway. When it really mattered, I always went for the favorite pair. The other pair only got worn once the favorites wore out... So why have them at all? That leaves three pairs of pants for work, meaning I have to re-wear or wash 2 pairs during the week, which is fine by me. I'm currently looking to replace the khakis with another pair that A) fit, and B) can work as my other casual pair of pants. Someday I will give up my last pair of scrubs... but for now they stay. I also learned to live without stylish or embellished shirts. I never did like prints, or ruffles, or pleats. I go for clean and monochromatic. If a style does come into season that I like, it's easier (and cheaper) to accessorize for the trend than to try work it into my actual clothing. Consider the following:

Black tee three ways

Black tee three ways by kristin-muzzy featuring slim fit jeans

Basic items can go from girly, to rocker, to business with ease. Not that I am after all of these looks, but it demonstrates the point of flexibility I'm trying to cultivate.  Truthfully, I don't have the variety of accessories to do different "looks," but I'm getting there. I haven't much more than a set of silver jewelry, a set of gold, and some random, favorite pieces I've collected through the years. I do, however, have a pretty good mix  of scarves to play with. I have been delaying buying accessories until I have a basis wardrobe first. Now that that is in place, I have started on the jewelry and accessories.

I'll probably never attain anything like the second photo, but looking at the first one, that seems doable. It's a method of dressing well that makes me feel competent and comfortable. You really can't mess it up... everything matches everything. That's what I need... a foolhardy set of clothing I don't have to think about and that meet my daily needs. Still, this can be adapted. Pick a few basic colors instead of black, white, and grey. Maybe you have a bohemian element to your pieces. This is just what seems to be working for me at this point in my life.... and it all fits in one rubber made ;).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

No Knead Bread

OK, so I really have been bad about blogging. Which stinks because now I'm almost done with my 3 months in central Illinois... and I really have no excuse. At the end of the day, it's me who loses, because I love the life I'm leading and want to have a record of it.

So this one is about homemade, fantastical, wonderful bread. Uber cheap, uber easy... and NO kneading. Unfortunately, I cannot provide a recipe for this one. I have neither tweaked it enough to call my own, nor is it common enough to consider it general knowledge for the sharing. This will come more as a book recommendation.

Since I travel and try to keep possessions to a minimum, a bread machine is absolutely out of the question. I have tried kneading bread before with bad results. While I could develop this skill, and I may try to do just that int he future, I didn't really see the point since I had heard about "No Knead Bread." I tried several variations found online, but eventually bought the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. 

The jist of it is:

  1. Mix up a batch ahead and let it rise on its own
  2. refrigerate until you need it, using time to replace kneading
  3. Cut off a piece
  4. let it rise for a bit
  5. bake it
So basically, you have to stir stuff together. Then, when you want bread, you tear off a piece, let it sit on the counter, then throw it in the oven. Its a miracle.

I currently make mostly white bread, whole wheat bread can be a bit trickier. I have made one whole wheat loaf before and it turned out a bit dense, but the taste was good and I will try again. My other little hint is to let the dough age a bit in the fridge, it gives a much better "sourdough" taste.

Pros: Excellent, crusty homemade bread that is easy to learn with little technique involved. Cheap and healthy with better results than store bread. Also, It's a great entry into bread baking that is pretty "no fail" and gives you the confidence to try other techniques as well.

The downfalls: They don't give measurements in weights, and I find measuring by weight is both easier and more accurate. Also, I am interested in sourdough starters and I'm not sure how I would use one with this. Equipment is minimal, they recommend a baking stone and a pan of water for steam, but I just use my dutch oven with the lid on for part of the baking time. This is how I learned to bake no-knead bread before buying the book; I ended up combining the methods. 

So look forward to more bread-related posts! Also, I encourage you to look up methods and recipes online or buy the book for a more thorough explanation of one method.

Oh, and the jam is the picture is a strawberry-blackberry Chia seed jam.... Epic fail folks. If anyone has a good chia seed jam they like, I'd love for you to share it. This one was not good.