There are Two Ways to be Rich

I bought this print years ago and had it tucked away in a drawer – waiting for the day I could afford to have it framed. Professional framing is not something that is in my budget right now but oh how nice it would be. In the time since passed it has lost some of its aesthetic appeal (so many typefaces!) but the message speaks more to me now than it did years ago. 

I decided, after a couple of weeks of moping in the lead up to pay day (coupled with a rather fat bill from the US taxman…grrrr), that I needed an attitude adjustment. Our financial situation is unlikely to drastically change in the near future and so my attitude towards it must. Rich is a relative term and I can’t help but feel equal parts frustrated and humiliated when I lament our low bank balances while still able to fill our fridge, drive our car and pay our bills. And so herein lies the need for a change of perspective.

There are two ways to be rich: earn more or want less. A new house motto. 

An entrepreneurial nature coupled with a fondness of babies lead to me a lucrative babysitting career early on. Chasing toddlers and reading bedtime stories fuelled my teenage spending habits. It afforded me new outfits, foreign adventures, college trips and much more in between. I saved and budgeted where needs be – but I had no true expenses beyond clothing myself. Almost all of my spending was discretionary now that I think about it. 

Thankfully those years of earning and saving and spending within my means prepared me for the sudden thrust into the world of full on adult responsibility. But being prepared doesn’t mean its all fun and games. I wander aimlessly through aisles, running my fingers through racks of soft cottons and linens. I eye up cute baby shoes and squish wooly cardigans – wishing I could just take it to the till without a second thought or hit that ‘purchase’ button without hesitation. Part of the frustration lies in that I can’t wear anything I want to. I am so frustrated with this body for doing its job so well. I am tired and grumpy and swollen and so unbelievably ready for it to be over. I want to lie on my front and sleep without needing to pee every ninety minutes. 

And then I look into my fridge full of food, my freezer of meals prepared and tucked away, I feel the warmth of the room when I walk in from work and I relish in the heat of the shower as it hits my skin at a pressure more desirable than most and I know that I have more than enough. My baby kicks and wriggles and jives inside me and I know that I am fortunate. I don’t have to climb into a boat and risk my life because my home has become unbearably dangerous. I don’t have to starve or worry about where my next meal will come from. I have clean clothes, a dishwasher, a place to sleep and a person to figure out all this adult shit alongside. 

The extraneous stuff can wait. I will earn and grow and achieve more than I know possible at this point in time. I will one day sleep on my stomach again. It will be worth it.

Learning to want less is not about being mean or cheap or a martyr. It’s simply a shift in focus, a minor attitude adjustment and a leaning towards creativity in place of consumerism. I think for the most part I am up for the challenge. 

How to Knit a Hat.

While it’s warm and sunny in California at the moment (I know, I know, I’m so annoying, I’ll shut up about the weather, I promise) I know that for most of you the weather is pretty dire right now. In fact my snapchat and whatsapp were full of pretty, albeit, short lived snowy scenes a couple of days ago. This hat is the perfect project for a cosy wintery evening in—in fact I secretly wish it was cold so I would have an excuse to get knitting.

My lovely friend Claire has been making hats all winter long and I have been keeping track of her beautiful creations on instagram and facebook. When I asked her if she’d like to share her method she kindly agreed! So without further ado I present to you “How to Knit a Hat!” steps by Claire, silly little illustrations by me. If you make one please let us know, we would love to see ;) 


These are the materials you’ll need. Yarn, circular knitting needles (I use size 10), cardboard donuts, and a stitch marker (I just use a ring). 

1. Cast on 48 stitches. (If you don’t know how to do this, click here). 
 

2. Knit 3 inches of rib. Rib is usually one knit stitch, one purl stitch…but for this pattern I double it so I knit 2 and purl 2. It's abbreviated to k2, p2.
 

3. Knit stockinette stitch for 6 inches, abbreviated to k48. Then start to decrease slowly by knitting two stitches then knitting two stitches together, knit one row, knit one stitch knit two together, knit one row, knit two stitches together, knit one row then knit two together till you only have 6 stitches left then cast off, this is abbreviated to K2, k2tog. K36. K1, k2tog. K24. K2tog. K12. K2tog. CO. As we are knitting in a round using a stitch marker allows you to know when you have progressed from one row to the next. Click here for more information on how to use a stitch marker. 
 

4. This is what your hat should look like from above once you’ve cast off. 

5. To make your pom pom hold the donuts together and wrap with yarn until it’s thick and you can’t see any more cardboard.

6. Cut the wool between the two donuts all the way round, and tie off tightly using a length of wool.

7. Sew the pom pom to the top of your hat and voila!

Here are some things Claire suggested you could do while knitting your hat: 

  • Imagine the alpaca the wool came from. 
  • Watch a box set while making the hat (she watched all the animal planet documentaries narrated by the hero that is David Attenborough)
  • Eat snacks to keep you going (she had a pack of jelly tots). 

Less But Better: Babaà

Before I left for San Francisco I bought myself something I had been admiring, contemplating and coveting for quite some time. Babaà is a company that I firmly believe in. Babaà makes beautiful, sustainable, high quality knitwear for children and women. Marta is the kind of business woman I one day hope to become, working for something she believes in with a deep sense of reality and grace. Her instagram always brings a smile to my face.

This jumper, No.4 in Ash is my first but certainly not my last purchase from Babaá. It is so cosy, falls beautifully and I know will last a lifetime. I won’t be putting an embargo on all purchases for 2015 but it is my firmest intention to continue to buy less and buy better in all areas of my life. 

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This last picture startled me a bit when I first saw it…I got such an intense flashback to my mother when I was a child. She had this big wooly grey jumper that she wore all the time and my same curly hair and I can’t help but see herself in me whenever I wear this jumper. Which I hope she’ll agree is just a bonus. 

 

Photos taken by R at Alamo Square Park. 

Climbing San Francisco Hills.

The hills here are no joke. Last Monday morning the first thing I felt in that semi-conscious state between slumber and waking was my calves…they ached after a Sunday spent walking and walking and walking. 

I left my Converse at home because a few too many rainy days with a sodden left foot confirmed for me that they did, indeed, leak. And then I took another couple of pairs of shoes out because at the eleventh hour I realised my bag was considerably overweight. And so I find myself exceptionally limited come time to put on my shoes and run out the door.

There’s suede lace ups that are less pale pink and more dirty grey, a brown pair of vintage oxford-y types and my cream and flourescent pink kind of saddle shoes (not for everyday where as you can imagine). I also brought a pair of runners—which if you know me at all know that I will only wear with leggings and only if legitimate exercise is involved, I don’t do “yoga casual”—one pair of low heeled ‘interview shoes’ and one pair of heels for going out or dressing up in.

As you can tell my shoe closet is currently teetering towards the dressier side of the scales, which if you are from California (from what I can tell anyway) is unusual. It seems that most people here dress down, yoga pants, leggings, jeans and flip flops, tracksuit bottoms, converse, vans…you know really, casual. 

I am enjoying the minimalism of knowing I only have one, maybe two choices of shoes for the day but my feet (combined with the walking and the hills) are not particularly enjoying the actual choices I have. So I am on the lookout for something comfortable, casual-but-not-too-casual and not crazy expensive. I’m thinking maybe Vans. But I don’t know. I particularly like the look of these two styles from Madewell. What do you think?

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Just to be clear…there’s no way I’ll be buying both. I think I prefer the suede but the tartan would be more practical maybe? Decisions! Frivolous decisions! 

Less But Better: Petria Lenehan

I have succumbed and purchased a few essentials. The no-buying experiment taught me a lot but a girl can’t survive in a single pair of jeans and ratty t-shirts, especially when she’s got to go to work. I have adopted the buy less, buy better mentality and this beautiful shirt fits ever so neatly into that category. I’d like to think that my money means something. I try not to be flippant with it and am beginning to really question the why and the how and the what of my purchases. I work hard to earn it and therefore try to spend it supporting someone else who’s working equally (or often moreso, as the case may be) hard. 

This shirt is by Irish designer Petria Lenehen and it is beautiful. I felt so beautiful wearing it and managed not to spill a drop of food near it (a serious achievement for me). When I tried it on at the sample sale in Scout I knew that I could not leave without it. I felt the same way about the Irish Linen Duster coat but I had to let that one go (one can’t move to San Francisco and buy new coats in the same few months).

I was once helping Petria and her husband out on a photoshoot for her former shop, Dolls. As we organised the clothes we chatted and I remember remarking how incredible it must be to own clothes like this. I think I uttered something along the lines of ‘I couldn’t ever afford this dress.’ Petria was quick to kindly retort ‘yet, you can’t afford it yet, but someday.’ She was right and here I am, someday. 

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This shirt is crisp and sharp. It’s loose and a little androgynous. It goes really well with my grey jeans. The peter pan collar is the kind I’m constantly on the hunt for (and rarely find, except in vintage). I feel more like a grown up just for owning it. I know it will stand the test of time. It marks the beginning of my new, more considered, less wasteful wardrobe. For that, and many other reasons, I love it.