Time to capsule?

Time to capsule?

Capsule image via  Pinterest/Modern French blog

H1 and I each have set monthly budgets for all our personal expenses – coffees, lunches, clothes, etc. Thanks to presently being a one-income family, those budgets are smaller than usual, and thanks to a few purchases earlier this year that were made to try to reduce my feelings of new-mum frumpiness, my budget in particular is seriously depleted for the next couple of months.

Of course, budgets don’t always align with desires. All the autumn and winter clothes are coming into stores and I want most of them – this despite having a wardrobe full of really nice clothes. I haven’t even worn most of them for a couple of years, being pregnant last year and all.  But looking at them doesn’t excite me, or make me feel any less frumpy (yes, it’s still a thing. More on that later). I also have a few constraints in place. Budget, of course, but I’m also still breastfeeding four times a day, so anything I wear needs to work with that. And sadly clichéd as it is, I have a small baby, so everything I wear needs to be easily washable. Dryclean-only clothes don’t make sense for me right now.

All of which makes me feel that a capsule could be the answer to my problems ("problems", that is. Trust me, I know).

Everybody knows the basic idea behind a capsule, so I won't offend you by recapping that. In my case, I've found inspiration through the well-dressed Caroline of Un-Fancy, and her dedication towards capsules – which is less a literal dedication and more of a soft approach towards an undoubtedly good idea. She suggests 37 pieces for three months, excluding underwear, pyjamas and workout gear. And she uses the capsule itself, along with the experience over those months, to identify true gaps in her wardrobe and then – and only then – buys to fill those gaps.

Image via  Un-Fancy

Image via Un-Fancy

All of this sounds pretty reasonable to me. I'm only going to do two months though, as we're away for most of June in the northern hemisphere (e.g. completely different weather). Due to this I'm probably going to allow myself fewer than 37 pieces. But otherwise, it's on. April and May will be experimental capsule months, with no buying anything new. No clothes, no accessories, no shoes, no jewellery...time will see whether this makes me feel more or less frumpy. Hopefully the latter, obviously, but at the very least it will be an interesting experience!

Decorating the nursery

I'm not saying this is why H1 and I had a baby, but decorating the nursery was absolutely one of our favourite parts of getting ready for Amelie's arrival. We had constraints of course – both the fairly standard financial ones and the additional ones of being in a rental and not knowing whether we were having a boy or a girl. Constraints often just make it more fun, though, and I'm inclined to believe they worked in our favour. We spend a lot of time in there with Amelie, playing, reading and listening to music, and we all enjoy that time – it's a really nice place to be.

We started with the cot, looking all over for ones we liked before settling on an IKEA one. Before we chose this one, we were on the verge of buying a Stokke one that converted from bassinet to cot to toddler bed. It was gorgeous and really quite expensive. We were okay with that – it would have been one of our big ticket items and we would have had to save elsewhere – until we realised we have two houses, which means we needed two cots. Stokke was out, IKEA was in.

I had some pretty strong reservations initially about buying a cot from IKEA. It felt wrong to cheap out on the baby's bed, and I was really concerned about safety. Looking into it, however, set my mind at ease about safety. We don't actually have an IKEA in New Zealand, but you can buy some stuff from third-party distributors. For this reason, not many Kiwis buy IKEA cots. They do in England though, and after more than one visit to Mumsnet I decided it was our best choice – thankfully, because there are a lot of hideous cots out there. After the Stokke, this was the one I liked best, and once we finished decorating I decided I liked it even more. It's so simple and goes perfectly with the rest of the room.

Change table and big chair/small sofa in background.

Change table and big chair/small sofa in background.

We already had a dresser in the nursery which would have to stay, so this helped us decide on some of the other furniture. I looked at a multitude of changing tables online, but they all also suffered from a general sense of hideousness, and – vitally – for the most part offered virtually no storage. I love our apartment but it has almost no built-in storage, so if a piece of furniture doesn't offer additional storage as well as fulfilling its core purpose, I'm very reluctant to allow it into my house. Knowing exactly what I wanted, but unable to find it anywhere, I turned to TradeMe and trawled for a few weeks, waiting for a nice dresser that was the right height to turn up. It eventually did. I purchased it for $25, convinced H1 it would look great once it was painted and the knobs were changed out, got him to do those things (I was pregnant, remember!) and now it's one of our favourite things in the room. I usually lack the patience to shop used anything, but I'm so glad I pushed through that this time. 

Lights from la case de cousin paul.

Lights from la case de cousin paul.

Amelie's playgym and sheepskin.

Amelie's playgym and sheepskin.

The last big item in the room is the big chair/small sofa. I didn't think we needed a chair in there initially but I'm so glad we got it. It's used every single day, when Amelie has her last feed before bed. We have the star light on, listen to classical music, and once she's done feeding, we have a short chat about what we've done that day before I put her down for the night. During the day we sit on it and read stories, and because it's nice and big, we'll be able to do this for many years to come. We got this from Mocka, who seem to be the go-to furniture store for people with children; I don't think I know anyone with kids who doesn't have at least one thing from Mocka in their house.

A small book collection (already about twice this size since this photo was taken!)

A small book collection (already about twice this size since this photo was taken!)

We finished the room with stick on decals (so good for renters!), gorgeous art from Carisse Enderwick, a good old classic NZ sheepskin from OnceIt, bedding from Nature Baby, fairy lights from la case de cousin paul (we picked these up in Montmartre some years ago and they've been with us to three different apartments and two different countries – some things never get old!) and toys and books from everywhere. I love this room – I think it's my favourite in our apartment, actually – and happily, Amelie seems to also.

Art from Carisse Enderwick.

Art from Carisse Enderwick.

Amelie's monkey, made by her  very clever grandmother . The toys have doubled also – there are two toyboxes now!

Amelie's monkey, made by her very clever grandmother. The toys have doubled also – there are two toyboxes now!

Little boxes

Oh, isn't it a dreadful thing to be sick? I've spent the last three days suffering from a cold – possibly the worst cold I've ever had, I think, although H1 suggests that I always feel this way when unwell. Regardless, it's awful, if probably not fatal. I hate hate hate feeling weak, slow and stupid…and when I have a cold, I feel weak, slow and stupid. All I can do is push through it. This isn't a good strategy for the impatient.

I slept pretty much all day Sunday and Monday, so they were taken care of in a great way, and readied myself to go to work yesterday morning, only to realise that that wasn't going to be a thing. After giving in and letting my boss know I went back to sleep (I know. Shocker) and woke feeling on the road to improvement, ready to spend an afternoon doing...

It occurred to me very quickly that I don't actually know what to do when a cold is rendering me useless. I tried to read and gave up on that quite quickly, watched some Parks and Recreation and tired of that quite quickly*, and ended up disgruntedly messing around on the internet – a highly enjoyable activity when it's a stolen 15 minutes, but boring and wasteful when you've got a whole afternoon and nothing better to get on with.

I ended up on Pinterest, that place where people design their ideal life, and ended up searching for, and pinning, numerous Eichler homes. If anything's going to cheer me up, it's looking at good design. I was back at work today and I suspect that's no coincidence.

Interior courtyard. Photo: Eichler for Sale 

Interior courtyard. Photo: Eichler for Sale 

My interest in Eichler homes was stirred up again on my most recent visit to California; our friends in Silicon Valley live in one and I am absolutely head over heels in love with their house. They're not fancy, they're not ridiculously sized and they were designed to be built in bulk – all not necessarily bad things. More often than not good things, in fact.

As someone who's fairly outspoken about bulk suburban housing, it may be a surprise that I love Eichler homes as much as I do. However, I'm only opposed to poorly designed bulk suburban housing thrown up in poorly considered areas, miles from anything existing. To me, that's the quickest way to a ghetto** there is.

I feel safe in saying that very little in the way of bulk suburban housing has been as well designed as Eichler homes in the 65 years (give or take) since they started going up in California. Of course, that's a matter of personal taste; possibly there's a whole cohort of people out there passionate about the faux Tuscan monstrosities*** of the late '90s that Auckland was briefly so fond of.

A matter of taste (good taste). Image: BuildDirect 

A matter of taste (good taste). Image: BuildDirect 

(But probably not.)

I don't know if I'll ever live in a house again. Time will tell. One thing's for sure, though, and that's if H1 and I ever get the chance to build our own place, the inspiration will be clear to see.

Image: Sabrina Huang

Image: Sabrina Huang

*Even though it's an absolutely excellent show.

**Ghetto meaning, in this instance, a dead neighbourhood, with no neighbourly life, amenities or walkability. Ghettos don't have to be poor areas.

***Possibly these are the same people who wouldn't refer to them as faux Tuscan monstrosities.

Being inspired

What inspires you? And (this may be a contentious point) do you think we put way too much value on inspiration?

I love that feeling of being inspired, motivated, driven, empowered, creative…call it what you like, for me it often boils down to one and the same thing. I don't feel it as often as I'd like to, but does that really matter? I'm really talking about professional and career inspiration here – I don't really focus on it or think about it too much when it comes to things like food, and fashion, or home decor, etc.

I mean, I do of course. It's called  Pinterest . Image:  Design Indulgences

I mean, I do of course. It's called Pinterest. Image: Design Indulgences

I do a whole lot of things to spark that inspiration – read blogs, go to meetups and conferences, hash things out with people who inspire me (I'm looking at you, H1!), do something different in my day, write lists (ah lists. Fantastic.) And sometimes I just force myself to get on with it anyway.

I feel like if I sit back and wait for the inspiration to strike, I'll be sitting a really long time – and even if I go searching for inspiration, I could still not be doing what I need to be doing. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do, even when the muse isn't singing (see: right now, for example). This may just be me, though! I like being busy and I like creating and I want everything, now now now (I know how Veruca Salt that sounds, and trust me, I try to tamp it down as much as I can).

The upside is that generally, I do get quite a bit done – and the busier I am, the more I get done, and the better that work tends to be…more inspired, you could even say. I don't think it's so much that I'm inspiring myself. More the 'do something new' I mentioned above, and not letting myself live in my own head too much. That's when the neurons fire in that awesome connecting way.

Anyway. I'm not sure why I'm thinking about this now. It may be because I just spent a week with the most inspirational and busiest person I know (I'm looking at you, H1!) But I am really curious, so do tell me what inspires you, and how important you think this actually is!

Through things and stuff and nonsense

It has FINALLY stopped raining. It has been raining constantly for two days now – not that long really, but on the other hand, it kind of is. Especially because when I say constant, I mean constant. I mean, how much water can possibly be up there?

I have no idea how I lived in the UK for as long as I did.

The rain was particularly unwelcome in my world, heralding as it did a streak of generally bad things happening. Work was stressful. I had to have a filling replaced. And so on, and so on…on a scale of problems from mediocre to real they were definitely hanging out down the mediocre end, but the grey skies magnified them, and the contrast of last week's beauty made them even uglier.

Auckland (last week, obviously).

Auckland (last week, obviously).

Because last week was a beautiful week, weather-wise and life-wise. My stuff finally arrived from America, four months after I did, and after a weekend of unpacking and tidying and countless loads of laundry*, my space** is feeling more like mine by the day.

Most of my stuff is still elsewhere; either just beginning its world travels to New Zealand, or hanging in New York with H1, because it's not just my stuff, it's ours. I am wildly relieved that what has arrived is here now, and having some art on the wall and a wider range of shoes in the cupboard and a whole heap more books on the shelf is amazing, but it is not the fix-all that I've been hoping for these last few months.

H1 told me that, and I told him he didn't understand because he was still in our beautiful Upper West Side apartment, surrounded by the beautiful stuff we chose and created and were gifted together. He told me that was almost harder, that he expected to see me every time he rounded a corner. I looked around my (at that stage) sterile flat and told him this was harder.

Stuff...

Stuff...

Stuff...

Stuff...

More important stuff.

More important stuff.

He's now in a new apartment and it's still hard; I've now got more familiarity around me and it's still hard. Most of our stuff is on a cargo boat somewhere in the Pacific. He likes his apartment and it feels like him; I like my space and it feels like me, but neither of us can wait until it feels like us again. And for that, quite honestly, the stuff won't make a damned bit of difference.

*Four months in a container does not make for pleasantly fragrant clothes.

**My room, but I'm saying space to try to sound a little more grown up.