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Monthly Archives: September 2011

So here they are <insert drumroll> my 33!

  1. striped tank top
  2. black shortsleeve shirt
  3. aubergine shortsleeve shirt
  4. black shapewear top
  5. olive sweater
  6. maternity jeans
  7. jeans
  8. jeans
  9. darkblue skirt
  10. black wrap vest
  11. white cardigan
  12. beige cardigan
  13. black leggings
  14. olive leggings
  15. gold-coloured top
  16. olive top
  17. pink cami
  18. black cami
  19. black-red-cream flowery skirt
  20. black longsleeve blouse
  21. red longsleeve shirt
  22. red pencilskirt
  23. black narrow belt
  24. black dangling earrings
  25. pumps
  26. boots
  27. flats
  28. trenchcoat
  29. winter coat
  30. crochet cap
  31. green scarf
  32. black knit gloves
  33. green warm gloves

Disclaimer: as it is quite impossible to test size, comfort and fit for the upcoming 3 months at this pre-childbirth stage, I reserve the right to switch any items that for some reason I do not wear, for something else, if I haven’t worn that item yet.

Not counting towards my 33 items: wedding ring, glasses, one simple hair tie, sport clothes, underwear (except for the 2 leggings), bags (will only be using them very functionally these months such as for groceries and diapers), rain ‘suit’ (waterproof overcoat + pants — a pure necessity when you live in the Netherlands and do everything by bike).

A challenge that is very much related to Project 333, is 6 items or less: wear only 6 items for 1 month, excluding outer wear, sports wear, shoes, accessories, underwear, and uniforms.

So what happens if you look at 333 from the 6iol point of view? In 3 months, you could wear 3×6 = 18 pieces (in the unlikely case that you would switch your entire wardrobe each month), and then have 15 items left for outerwear, shoes, and accessories. So, 6 items or less is a bit more strict. The nice thing though, is that it is easier to prepare for one month, than for three, particularly with the holidays, but probably even more so in my post-pregnancy case. To make this whole planning thing easier, let’s take a month-by-month look.

October and December are relatively easy to determine clothes for. In October, I will probably be mostly at home, caring for the baby, and have a body that still seems like it is 6 months pregnant (that is at least what I read and heard). December is quite a different story. I may be one or more clothing sizes smaller by then (no idea how quickly or slowly that will go), and for the holidays, I will definitely need something dressy to wear.

October: Lots of baby and belly: Accommodate lots of baby puke and spittle.
The 6: 1 blue pregnancy jeans, 1 blue or black skirt, 3 tops (blue stripes? black?), 1 cardigan (white or black)
Augmented with: black leggings to combine with the skirt, black boots, and trench and scarf to go outside. Perhaps some shapewear tops — I heard that can be really nice when you innards are trying to reposition themselves in your post-preg belly.

December: Conference and Christmas dinners: Time to dress up.
The 6: red pencil skirt, black camisole, red long-sleeve shirt, black long-sleeve blouse (for the conference), black cardigan (for the dinners), jeans-to-buy (in whatever size I am around then — look for second hand? — to have at least one pair of jeans that fits me well)
Augmented with: black earrings, black narrow belt?, pantyhose/tights/(leggings) (depending on the weather), (black boots), black pumps, winter coat, mittens, (scarf), hat

That leaves us with November, which is a bit of a wild card. I will probably still be mostly at home with the baby, but there may be some parties (bday, graduation) I may go to if the baby allows…

November: Slowly getting back into action: Flexible clothing additions.
The 6: add some more separates, depending on whatever seems to fit me by then. The time to do some closet shopping! Some more dressy clothes would be nice for the birthday and graduation parties. The clothes planned for December may not fit yet, so perhaps just add a dressy top and some suitable accessories. Subtracting the item counts for October (10-12) and December (10-13), that leaves about 8-13 items that I could add when needed. Should be feasible! Or am I underestimating the baby puke?

Project 333 is one of those challenges that I listed before: wear only 33 items for 3 months. These items include clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes, but not your wedding ring, underwear, sleep wear, lounge wear, and workout clothes. The next start of Project 333 is October 1st.

During my pregnancy, I simply did not have that many pieces that fit anymore, especially towards the end. And I wasn’t willing to buy a whole new wardrobe just for those last couple of months. So I have already had an informal test run with a minimal wardrobe.

At the moment we are still waiting for the baby to arrive, but she should be here by the beginning of October (otherwise I’ll just start a few days later). It will be a tricky period, as my body will slowly be returning to some kind of new normal (nine months on, nine months off?), and there will probably be a lot of baby spit covering anything I will wear. But I think it can be done!

Things to consider:

  • How often do I wash my clothes? Preferably not more than once a week. But as said, I’ll probably go through my clothes rather quickly with the baby…
  • Closet shopping: as my body will still be changing, I don’t really want to buy too many new items. So I’ll have to get the most out of what I already have.
  • Clothes that flatter my body shape: probably slowly moving from pregnant apple in the direction of my original rectangle (according to the test on bodyshapefashionadvice, even with bigger boobs and hips, I’ll probably still be a rectangle). During this period, perhaps more important than my shape is to have clothes that will accommodate my changing body…
  • Clothes that flatter my colours: according to the chic fashonista, I am warm spring, which apparently means that I should stay away from most cold colours and yellows, and go for warm and bright. Considering what I currently have, I will probably go for black as a neutral, and red as main bright, for now.
  • Dressy clothes: I will officially not get back to work (from maternity leave) until after this challenge, but there will be some events that I will probably go to (a conference, a Christmas lunch, and of course our own Christmas dinner and there is New Year’s Eve).
  • Baby: Although I have three dresses that accommodate pretty much any size, it would probably be a good idea to switch to separates as quickly as possible, so I can simply change tops in case of baby puke or something related. And then I just need a lot of tops!

Over the last three days, I’ve decluttered at least 80 things, mostly given away, some thrown away. It was actually quite easy to get to 80. I donated a bunch of books to my sister, as well as bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel (see previous post), hair bands and clips, and some left-over kitchen items she might find useful. What I threw out was mostly paper (old notes and print-outs). Unfortunately, there is no visual improvement to our home. There is simply too much stuff!

So, a tip for the next purge: tackle a more prominent area that will quickly yield a big improvement. Preferably a surface that you look at and/or access multiple times a day.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been experimenting with more healthy, more natural, less wasteful bathroom alternatives. As a result, I actually need a lot less items than before, so time for some decluttering!

Shampoo and conditioner >> Water
First I tried pure olive oil soap for shampoo, followed by a rinse of apple vinegar. The soap still felt too aggressive, so then I tried simply salt. The vinegar worked very well, but the sour smell just isn’t very nice (though it definitely does not linger in your hair!). For the last month, I have been using the water only method (hot water, finish with cold water), and — to my total surprise — that works fine too! Note: this is definitely not only a thing for people with short hair, mine (standard European, light brown) is beyond shoulder length. Apparently if you do not use shampoo, you do not need conditioner to untangle your hair either?

Shower gel >> Water
Another surprising thing I learned just a couple of weeks ago, when at my child birth class, we were told that when your water breaks, you are allowed to take a shower, but you should not use soap, because that actually increases the risk of bacterial infection. Say what? I also know people who haven’t been using shower gel at all, because of sensitive skin. So had to try this as well, and so far, no problems at all.

Scrub >> Washing mitt
I used to not scrub at all, but then a couple of years ago a friend of mine recommended it to me as part of my wedding preparation skin care routine, and now I love it. I tried a couple of replacements (oatmeal, sugar and oil, salt) before finally finding the solution that seems to work best for me: a slightly rough washing mitt, soft enough for the face, but rough enough that it also works fine for the rest of the body.

Deodorant
In Italy I found Dove deodorant in a spray bottle (like perfume) instead of those pressurized containers. At the moment I’m using that. Looking for alternatives though.

Shaving >> Coconut oil >> Aleppo soap
I have a reusable razor, which seems to last for quite some time. Been trying some alternatives to shaving foam (soap, oil). At the moment I am using coconut oil, which is almost perfect. The only thing is that I seem to get a little less close to the skin with it? It does seem to be better for my skin in general though, it smells nice, and you really don’t need much, so a big pot will last a long time.
Update:  The Aleppo soap works great! It feels really nice on the skin, and you can get a good close shave. As it feels a lot less fatty, definitely recommended over coconut oil. Though I can imagine that when you shave a lot and have dry skin, the coconut can be nice sometimes.

Tooth paste
At the moment I use Parodontax, and one tube lasts for quite a long time. I think I use about 3 tubes a year? So I don’t worry too much about the waste, although it obviously is there, and could be improved upon. Note: you don’t need more than the size of a pea on your brush! Also, when you think your tube is empty, with some effort, you can probably get about 2 more weeks out of it.

I did miss the nice smells from the shampoo etc while taking a shower, so I recently bought some essential oils (in glass bottles), to reclaim my relaxing shower experience. Current favorites: jasmin, and rose.

Trying at the moment:
Cotton swabs: Apparently using q-tips to clean inside your ears is dangerous! Try to just keep the outside ear clean with a washcloth. Use the oil method if more action is needed.

Some things to look into in the future:
Floss: Get a gum stimulator for interdental cleaning.
Deodorant: Try a crystal deodorant stone or other alternatives?
Toothbrush: Switch from plastic to a biodegradable tooth brush?
Mouth wash: Find some alternative that does not come in a plastic bottle? Perhaps I don’t really need it at all? Did have less caries since I started, but perhaps there are other reasons for that as well?
Menstrual pads: I do have a cup, which works quite nicely, but I don’t dare use it without any padding against potential leakage. I could sew some washable pads though.

I’ve been playing around a bit with the bread recipe. This bread has the right amount of fluffiness, and a more simple preparation. After all, if this is something that is going to be done on a weekly basis, efficiency is a good thing.

Ingredients preferment
1/4 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup flour

Preparation preferment — evening before (takes about 5 minutes of actual doing time)
Mix, cover bowl with wet towel, leave out at room temperature for at least 10 hours.
So if you do this at 8pm, you can continue with the rest of the steps at about 8 am the next day.

Ingredients 2 loaves
1 3/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
5 cups of flour — for a more healthy version, replace some cups of all-purpose flour with whole grain.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
the preferment

Preparation (actual doing time:  30 minutes maybe?)
If necessary, activate the yeast by mixing it with the warm water and a cup of flour.
Mix all ingredients together, and knead. Add a bit of flour while needing to make the dough easier to handle.
Let rise for at least 3 hours. Often I just forget about the dough, and continue when I do remember, and when the dough looks good.
Punch down the dough, roll it up, put it in an oiled bread form, seam down. Let it rise until almost the right height.
I used to make 2 loaves, but in the Netherlands bread is usually a bit more high and wide, so now we have a bigger bread form where I just put all of the dough in. The final texture of the bread is just as nice as with the smaller loaves!
Slash the top of the bread and wet it with a bit of water — At the moment I am experimenting with slashing the top already during the last rising. It seems to look a little bit nicer in the end.
If you like a harder crust, bake for 30 minutes at 230 degrees Celsius. We often go for a softer crust, baking a bit longer, at 190 degrees. When it’s done, get it out of the form and let it dry for a bit. We then slice up the bread and freeze it in, so we can conveniently use this bread for the rest of the week.

Even better white bread -- this picture is of an attempt where I still divided the dough into two loaves.

The verdict
With just a little over half an hour of work, the result is a nice fluffy bread, that lasts us for about a week. We went a long way from the bricks my husband refused to eat, to this. The final goal is to be able to make bread that makes us snort at the bread we would otherwise have bought at the supermarket. We’re not there yet, but getting closer!

About cost-effectiveness
For this bread we use:
€0,893   750 grams eco all-purpose flour (€1,19 per kilo)
€0,126   14 grams bruggeman instant yeast (€4,50 for 500 grams)
€0,085   10 grams sea salt  (€1,70 for 200 grams)
€0,071   15 ml olive oil (€4.75 per litre)
€0,001   450 ml warm water
€1,176   TOTAL

The bread we normally buy costs €1,19. So if we would include wages for the half hour of work, it is definitely not cheaper than store-bought. Though you could make it a lot cheaper by going for cheaper ingredients than these (the flour, the salt, and the oil). But what is nice to remember is that in this case, you do have full control over the ingredients. The bread from the store is not ‘eco’, and probably has some additives. A nice additional benefit is that your house will smell deliciously of freshly baked bread — yumm. And you cannot get your bread any more freshly-baked than this!

About waste
The olive oil comes in a glass bottle (recyclable), and I found a place in the city where you can get refills from large canisters. The water comes from the tap, and the flour in a paper bag (recyclable). The salt in a PE pot, so that should be downcyclable. The yeast is packaged in some kind of mix of plastic and aluminium I think, so that one is problematic. But instead of a plastic bag with each bread you buy, 500 grams of yeast is enough for 35 loaves of bread (large), and the salt lasts for 20. When this salt is gone, I’ll go get 1 kg packaging, so again a nice reduction in waste.