Thursday, June 28, 2012

Crocs. *shudder*

Let the self-loathing begin. I swore, SWORE, on a stack of fashion bibles that I would NEVER, EVER own or wear Crocs. In fact, I think I belong to a group on Facebook entitled "I don't care how comfortable they are, you look like an idiot in your Crocs". It was my declaration against Crocs in my life. A public declaration.
Proof you should never say never. One of the things I'm looking forward to purchasing (aside from some colourful Yoga Jeans) is a pair of Crocs. Fuck. I feel like I'm betraying myself. That being said, I'm definitely going to buy one of those nice pairs that look like Mary-Janes. Or should I buy these: A-Leigh wedges (jesus, they even bear my name now. why? WHY?!?!?!). I think I'm going with these ones or their open-heeled cousin because if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it cute.
So here's my rationalization (I feel like that should perhaps be the new title of this blog - Leigh's Rationalized purchases), Crocs were in fact created for gardening. That was their original purpose. I spend the majority of my time in the garden, farming. I loathe wearing sneakers unless I have to, besides when they get wet in the field its terrible. if I go barefoot, I end up with too many rock-related or thistle related injuries and flip flops are ok, but they get stuck in the mud in a suction-cuppy, unreliable sort of way. Finally, slimy-wet Birks are horrifying. So you can see my dilemma.
How do I know Crocs are the perfect solution to my problem? (*hits head against wall*) Because my mum brought hers out for when she helps in the garden and I used them in a pinch (though not without thinking and re-thinking about it). Anyway, I put them on and then (to my horror) I realized the glory of the Croc. They are lightweight, comfortable, sturdy in the garden and they even have little comfort bumps on the sole - its like a little foot massage!!!
Even though I'm super enthusiastic about them for my purposes (gardening), I still feel a sense of derision at the people who insist on wearing Crocs year-round and with those stupid charms in them (who ever thought they were a good idea? do you really need your crocs to smile at people?!?). Really, is that necessary? But, who knows in 6 months I maybe right in there with the worst of them. I highly doubt it though. I will limit my croc-wearing to farming-related activities only. I hope...
Just so you know, I'm less than a week away from the end. I feel excited about it, but also feel like this period has been long enough to break the habit without breaking my spirit.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Almost there...

So I officially entered a grey-area in my quest back in March (I can't believe its JUNE!!!) when I went to NYC and made special purchasing exceptions. I mean, really, NYC - I have no regrets. But other than that trip I've slipped quite nicely into a not-buying pattern. Its kind of become second nature and now I actually think about money on spend on everything, not just my garb.
I have missed my Yoga Jeans though, among other things. I've been making do with what I call my mom jeans (which makes me shudder). Its not that they are mom-jeans perse, its just that they are jeans that I feel are altogether too sensible and slightly ill-fitting. Too big, too long in the crotch etc. Not the kind of fit that one experiences with high-end designer jeans. Of which, I'm a big fan. You might recall my Yoga Jean post from earlier in the year. Some designer things are over-rated - like the ever-ghastly Ed Hardy anythings, but Yoga Jeans are not. I'm also a big fan of iT Jeans. These are things worth spending money on.
A couple weeks ago, I was able to close the Masters chapter of my life by "walking the stage" at convocation. The driving force behind this was my mum, but I'm really happy that I did it. Despite the fact I was stuck between two girls who knew each other and insisted on talking over me/through me or whatever through the ceremony on the stage for all to see (decorum is dead apparently), I enjoyed taking that time to celebrate me. So did the people I love. It was to my great delight when my partner surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of long stem roses (no baby's breath - ick) and a gift certificate to my favourite store: The Loop. When he gave it to me, I said "Only a month to go and I can use it". He quickly reminded me that not only was his gift appreciated, it was also genius! A gift certificate constituted guilt-free shopping because he had already spent the money and it was a gift. See the grey-area here. If I really wanted to ascetic about this, I could have waited. But lets be honest, I survived NYC without too much shopping...I definitely took my loop hole (pun intended).
This weekend, I celebrated me in a different way. We hired our friend to work the market for us and I took some time to go shopping. How glorious. Suffice to say, I replaced my long-mourned yoga jeans - good bye mom jeans - and bought some beautiful sundresses.
This experience made me realize how much this journey has made me grateful for what I have. I left the store with my purchases and felt truly spoiled and grateful. What would have been a run-of-the-mill shopping experience at previous points was totally satisfying to me. To appreciate the things I have is something that I've learned. Also, that I truly appreciate the people I have in my life, not just the things. This seems more important, no?
I have less than a month until the six months is up. I feel like the date will probably pass without me realizing. The absolute best thing to come from all of this is that I have changed my consumptive habits, which was the goal. I still like to buy stuff and I like a good outfit - that's just part of me - but now I feel in control of these things and I feel like I've removed myself from the constant want/need conveyor battle that our economic system wants us to be on. If I need or want something I can get it, but I won't want and therefore justify a need every second day. It makes my Type A personality smile to be in control of it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Things my hens have taught me...

Everyday is special. Give something to the people around you.

If you think your menstrual cycle is getting you down? Chickens have 8 eggs working their way to formation & laying on the go all the time. I imagine it's a conveyor belt.

I now really understand colloquialisms like: pecking order, what it means when someone says "don't lay an egg", shake your tail feather (it's actually very cute), chickens always come home to roost, don't count your eggs before their hatched (in our case graded - damn cracks!)

Play and work hard outside.

Eat well, plentifully, from the stuff that is found around you.

Stay close to your flock.

Don't be afraid to try something new, your flock might follow.

A little back scratch feels good.

Bathe regularly.

You can trust your mom. Period.

If some jackass predator is around - let your people know, they'll make you safe.

Eat your veggies!

Drink plenty of water.

An ample posterior is pretty darn cute.

Screefing can be a means of sustenance.

Whatever happened yesterday, today - you just keep on going.

Even small creatures are significant contributors.

Monday, May 7, 2012

What is this really about?!

I've been thinking a lot about what this blog is really about. Mostly, as you may have noticed, I've been writing about the ins and outs of my journey towards a less consumptive life - especially as it pertains to my clothing and wardrobe. I've also posted a lot about various pieces of clothing, town and home/work clothing, and public perception of clothing as its connected to identity.
But, what is it really about? What is the tie that binds? Is it just some girl mindlessly discussing her outfits? Sometimes, I guess it is.
For me this blog has become a record of experiences about clothing, consumption and body image. More importantly though its helped me to transition into full-time farm life. Much of how we cover our bodies is connected to our lifestyle, our interests and ultimately what is relevant for us. Many of these things have shifted for me over the last year or two with the loss of my job, relocation to the farm and making the farm my/our full-time living to support our family. There's also that part, I'm a parent now (which is still weird to say). I'm no longer a single entity with a beloved dog - I'm a partner, a step-mom, part of my own little family (beloved dog too!). I'm helping to create this life for us and our kids. Despite the fact that I still love a good pair of shoes and a cute outfit, these other things trump that for me most days. Which is not to say my life wasn't full before, because it was, but now its filled with different things. I think its incredible that love and family can shift the agenda before your very eyes.
This blog has also helped me to focus on the things I like to do that doesn't involve textile procurement. Things like cooking, writing, cross-stitching and gardening. I've been on a steep greenhouse gardening learning curve, but everyday instead of killing my plants, they grow. Last week my little sprouts went out into the field. By tabling these consumptive interests and habits to some back-burner in my mind, I've been able to work on skill-development. To focus on doing things instead of buying things. Instead of shopping most days or coveting some cute something; I water my plants, I feed my chickens, I run with my dog, I play in the kitchen (you should taste my homemade aioli and mayo!). All these things fill my day with new adventures and most of the time a comfy T-shirt, one of my many vests and some form of comfy pants is all I need. Those pretty things in my closet are there, ready for those times I take them out on the town and we have more fun than we did before. I appreciate the things I have, but mostly I appreciate the people I know, the things I do and feeling good about the way I get there.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hideous, tent-like gold raincoat & other lovelies

Ah yes, my hideous, tent-like gold raincoat (even I don't dare model it for you). Purchased last fall at the second-hand store as a "work around the farm" windbreaker/raincoat. In the same excursion I purchased the following:
1 pair of woolen "old man" pants for fall/winter outside work
1 set of suspenders to keep said pants up
1 golden rain coat
1 beige/oatmeal (yeck) down-filled vest for around the house
1 plaid work shirt
I bought this stuff at the onset of winter in the recognition that while I have (admittedly) a lot of performance apparel-type stuff, I don't really have a lot of muck-about stuff (particular winter warmth) gear. I bought a lot of these things at the second-hand store after considering purchasing many of their new & fancy versions (ie - gore-tex this and thats). I decided that the best things to have for mucking about were things that I wouldn't mind parting with. This was the same philosophy that guided me in my first year of treeplanting, I didn't know what gear would work for me, so I brought a lot of second-hand/used clothing that could get trashed (and it did!!!). This decision, as I reflect upon it now, was kind of a precursor to this journey of no-purchasing (or minimal purchasing I suppose, its become).
So back to this whole, "stuff I could part with" concept. When I first bought all these items they were the kind of ugly, drab things that you find in the second-hand store (not the wonderful gems that have people gasping). I thought I could live without them because they weren't outstandingly beautiful or particularly fashionable (ok, not fashionable at all). But, now I barely go a day without wearing one or all of them. They are infinitely useful and are (as you may guess) more relevant to my everyday life that my designer what-nots. My back-up down vest for example is part of my daily uniform. Its beige, I burned/melted a hole in the front upon which i sewed a "Scottish Power" patch. I'm not Scottish, its just what we had around the house. I wear my back-up more than my fancy white brand name vest.

The white one, after all, is my town vest. My beige one is used for cooking, feeding chickens, running outside, working in the greenhouse and the occasional trip over to the in-laws or the village pub/corner store. My other favourite vest these days (apparently I have a thing for vests) is my black & purple circa 1995 fleece vest from high school because the beige one is getting a little too warm for some of the spring-like weather we've been having here, but for the morning chicken-feeding and/or work in the greenhouse or barn...its perfect! one of the best reasons for my affinity to the vest is that they keep your core toasty without all the bulk and they have zip pockets to keep all my crap in (usually my iPhone & lip balm). Also, when washing the dishes or cooking you don't end up with your sleeves in everything (like you do with a sweater), if you're wearing a vest. I guess the old adage, "don't judge a book by its cover" (although I totally do), applies to my less-then-enthusiastic attitude about my new essential garments. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My favourite F words

Feminism & Farming! This is a must-read, from Bitch magazine's blog.

Thanks to my good friend M for connecting me with this article about ecofeminism, farming and their twin anti-capitalist interests.
This is one of the best articles I've read in a very long time. I keep reading it over and over and feeling good about my choices. I thought about it in the greenhouse as i potted up sprouts and while I was gathering eggs from my laying hens today.
Sometimes a little external validation is a-okay!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


It's been awhile since I posted, but I haven't abandoned ship - I've been trying to figure out where to go from here. With the exception of my trip, I think my less-consumptive habits have become just that.
So this post I'm going to focus on the input and ideas (albeit paraphrased) of others.
One of my first pieces of encouragement in the form of an informative video came from D. The story of stuff was great - it went straight for my consumer conscious sensibilities and introduced me to the term "planned obsolescence". We often marvel, that our teeny village in the boreal forest had all the stuff that any farmer and farmer would need. One of those services was a cobbler - a person who fixes shoes once they're broken. Think about that - someone who fixes shoes, which means your shoes are able to be fixed and not just throw-aways. I remember commercial cobblers in the mall when I was a kid, but they are long gone. So are high-quality, locally-made products made by craft and tradespeople. It makes me sad really, to think that this sustainable lifestyle many of us are seeking was more easily attained (in one sense) when our communities were smaller. At least more logical - our modern societies are designed to be convenient for urban dwellers, the hubs, but not for rural living like they would have been when our society had more of an agrarian focus. Fewer choices of course, but isn't that one of the great myths of capitalism? Places like Wal Mart and shopping malls don't really give us choice, they just distract us from what is really important.
Second piece of advice came from J, who upon discovering my quest and my fall from grace in NYC comforted me by letting me know she'd have done the same thing. More eloquently put she said that she looks always purchases things as a memento of a trip and that to surround oneself with beautiful things does bring a certain level of pleasure, especially in the form of art.
N recently sent me a link on FB about an artist who's minimalist exhibit of the things she saved from her life as a statement about our so-called need for stuff.
So it seems that I'm in good company on my quest. Keep that advice coming - mindlessly purchasing has become such a huge part of all of our lives, in one way or another, the idea of not doing so is intriguing, in the least, for all of us.