Happy Hour – Classic Margarita

When your warmest day since last October falls on a Taco Tuesday, there’s really only one choice for Happy Hour – MARGARITA!!

The sun in shining. I have chips and salsa, and all the necessary ingredients to make the classic cocktail. Including the salt for the rim of the glass.

And I specifically asked for salt.

(Bonus points if you know what movie that kind of references – it’s not a direct quote, hence the bonus points.

Margarita + Chips N Salsa + Lovely Weather =
Perfect Backyard Happy Hour
  • 3 oz tequila
  • 2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • Ice
  • Salt for rim

Pour liquid ingredients into cocktail shaker. Top with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into salted cocktail glass.

Salting the rim: My daughter asked how this magic came to be. She asked if I put lemon on the edge of the glass to get the salt to stick to it. So close. Since she had no idea and couldn’t put the logic together even after the zillions of baking and cooking projects we’ve done during self-quarantine, I’m assuming someone else out there would like the mystery solved and appreciate some instructions.

It’s water on the rim. And since we are in a world where we either don’t touch anything or wipe it down with antibacterial wipes before and after touching it, you can use a touch-less method by filling a shallow bowl with water, and another shallow bowl with kosher salt. Dip rim about 1/8 of an inch into the water, then in the salt, and ta-da! salted rim.

Be careful not to strain your drink on the salted rim prior to presentation. That will ruin the effect. And the effect is good. And while we like salt on the rim of the glass, we do NOT like salt IN the glass.

Enjoy your margs. And tell me if you specifically ask for salt or NO SALT. 😉

Cheers!

Happy Hour – Whiskey Fizz

Whiskey. What can we say about it?

Seems like there’s a whiskey for you regardless of what your price point, place in the world or general dispensation. I was looking at the liquor store through Instacart (yes, this is the reality right now… that the alcohol shall be purchased through an app and brought to my door), and saw ALL KINDS of whiskey. Irish, Kentucky, Canadian, Japanese. There was a peanut butter flavored one. There’s one called Redneck Riviera Whiskey. Seems like if you need to identify with your drink on a deeper level, you absolutely can.

For my Whiskey Fizz, Jack Daniels was in the cabinet. Thanks for being here today, Jack. It’s been a pleasure.

Whiskey Fizz
  • 3 oz blended or other whiskey
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice (fresh is best, trust me)
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz chilled club soda
  • Lemon wedge

In a cocktail shaker, shake whiskey, lemon juice and simple syrup with ice. Strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with club soda and stir gently. Squeeze lemon wedge over the drink, then drop it in.

I find that you can adjust the amount of club soda or whiskey to your liking. I prefer more flavor and less fizz, if you follow what I’m saying.

This is a refreshing drink. Great for a sunny day. Or a day when you need a reminder of the sun. See how I just made it appropriate for any day? I’m a wizard.

Let me know if you make this drink, like it or not. And if there’s a drink you’d like me to make, put my snarky spin on or critique, leave me a comment. I’m happy to oblige.

Happy Hour – Vodka Gimlet

Welcome to Happy Hour!

I had to rename my cocktail posts.

I committed to making a classic cocktail every day for 2 weeks. Why 2 weeks? Because that’s how long we were originally supposed to social distance and stay home. 2 weeks seemed reasonable – a commitment, but doable.

Truth be told, I had a feeling that it would be longer, but one day at a time, ya know?

I did my 2 weeks and took a little break. Breaks are good. Gives you time to rest and think about what just happened. Evaluate how to move forward.

And moving forward, there shall be HAPPY HOUR – where I make a drink, take a picture and post the recipe and all the little things I have to say when I get around to it. So probably not every day. Probably more often than every Thursday (because shelter-in-place and all… I have some time on my hands). It’s good to have something consistent to look forward to. But just not something you HAVE to do. It’s a fine line, and I’m riding it.

And before someone goes saying, “You could make all of your drinks and take all of your pictures on one day and then do the writing on another…”, think about those logistics. Who is drinking all that booze after I’ve made it? Certainly not me and my middle schooler. And no way it’s going down the drain. So, good thought, but… no. Happy Hour is gonna have to be a little more organic than that.

Vodka Gimlet
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 2 oz Rose’s lime juice (the signature ingredient)

Add ingredients to mixing glass with ice. Stir. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Ok… the instructions say to chill your cocktail glass. The likelihood that you’re going to do this is low. While a chilled glass may add an additional measure of enjoyment to your experienced, do not let the lack of chilling deter or delay your happy hour. EVER. A room temperature glass will do. I won’t tell if you don’t.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Happy Hour today, been inspired to try something new, and may you return for more Happy Hours to come.

Classic Cocktail Series Day 14: Cosmopolitan

2 weeks. 2 weeks of a different cocktail every day – well except for the day when I. JUST. COULD. NOT. and I poured a glass of wine. And the day I did bourbon on the rocks. But that was at least good bourbon. ANYWAY…

The Cosmopolitan- I think I’ve had one in my life at a bar once because I was like, “I want something fancy!” Not sure what made me classify it as fancy. I mean, I guess it is fancier than being able to pour wine in a glass.

I was surprised by how much I liked this drink. I don’t love a lot of citrus in a drink. But these proportions and good vodka make my mouth happy.

Cosmopolitan
  • 3 oz vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1 1/2 oz cranberry juice
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • Lime or orange wedge for garnish.

Add liquid ingredients to shaker, top with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into glass. Garnish with lime or orange wedge.

Classic Cocktail Series Day 13: Irish Mule

I love all the mules. It’s the ginger beer.

And I have copper mugs. If you’re trying to get the cost per use down on your copper mugs, make ALL the mules. At least that’s my strategy.

The Irish Mule is made with Irish Whiskey (Jameson). And mint. Mint makes it extra tasty and gives it that fun green color you equate with St. Patrick’s Day. And who doesn’t love St. Patrick’s Day? I’m Chi-rish, so you know I’m down.

If you’re generally not a mule fan because of the lime, decrease the amount of lime juice or omit it altogether- of course you don’t have a mule then, but I won’t tell.

Irish Mule
  • 3 oz Irish Whiskey (I used Jameson)
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 3 oz ginger beer
  • Lime wheel and mint sprig for garnish
  • Ice

Muddle mint leaves. Add whiskey and lime juice to mug. Stir. Add ice. Top with ginger beer. Add sprig of mint and lime wheel for garnish.

I actually like how this tastes about 15 min later when the mint has had a chance to permeate the drink. Mmmmmm… minty.

If you try this, let me know what you think. And if you have a favorite mule that’s a variation of the traditional Moscow Mule, let me know – I’d love to try it!

Classic Cocktail Series Day 10: Sangria Mule

Yes, I know the Sangria Mule is not a classic cocktail. Yes, I know I haven’t exhausted the classics yet. However, the blackberries in my refrigerator need to be eaten and the red wine needs to be used up, so this is happening.

And given our current set of circumstances, we are using what we have and we won’t be wasting anything – not a single blackberry, and certainly not wine… the very thought!

I’ll start by saying I don’t gravitate toward tequila drinks. But this… this I could gravitate toward.

And it’s pretty. I like pretty.

Sangria Mule

Makes one cocktail

  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce red wine (I use Pinot Noir), chilled
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 4 ounces ginger beer, chilled
  • blackberries and lime slices for garnish
  • fresh mint leaf for garnish (optional)

Fill glass 1/2 full with ice. Add tequila, wine and lime juice. Stir gently. Top with ginger beer. Add blackberries, lime and mint for garnish.

It’s good, people. You can sip this, close your eyes and envision yourself on a beach in Mexico with the sunshine and the waves and the heat. See… you can travel anytime with the right drink.

Now, go make yourself one and turn on a tropical beach screensaver. Play some island music. Enjoy your little escape.

Classic Cocktail Series Day 9: Tom Collins

It was SUNNY today. And I wanted something that tasted like sunshine for today’s cocktail.

Since lemon juice flavors a Tom Collins, it seemed appropriate. It’s like grown up lemonade… less sugar, more tart, and trust me, the sunshine is not far behind.

Once again, use what you have at home as far as ingredients. I once had a friend that made Vodka Collins and Whiskey Collins – taste preferences (and they were tasty). I’m sure those will show up in future posts. You’ll see I garnished mine with an orange and a lime. It’s what’s here. And it’s colorful. I’m all about the sunshine today – literal and figurative.

Tom Collins
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz chilled club soda
  • Lemon Slice (I used orange and lime)
  • Maraschino cherry (I omitted this)

Pour the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup into an ice filled glass. Top with soda and stir gently (don’t want to lose all that fizz). Add garnishes.

Here’s to future sunny days, friends. Cheers!

Classic Cocktail Series Day 8: The Sidecar

Well, we find ourselves in interesting times.

Interesting, indeed.

I don’t know about you, but when the history books write about us hoarding toilet paper and social distancing, I’m gonna be like, “Yeah. Well, check my blog. I drank. And I drank some good stuff.”

Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme. I literally made one cocktail a night. It was good. And that was all. Sometimes I shared with my husband. Sometimes.

And truth be told, I started this on my first night of “social distancing”. OMG – my predictive text fills in “social distancing” now. That’s messed up. Anyway… the evening of March 16, 2020 was the first night of my classic cocktail making. I figured, I have the booze, I have the time, and I have the internet. It’s the only responsible thing to do. I’ll add in all of those days later, but right now, it’s day 8.

And Day 8 is The Sidecar.

If you don’t like citrus, this is NOT for you. Lemon juice and Cointreau put this drink solidly in the citrus category.

I’ve read many variations on this recipe. It calls for congac or brandy. If you don’t have that, then bourbon. Apparently brown liquor is in the ingredient list.

I used bourbon because I don’t have brandy. And I can’t say I recommend doing that. I firmly believe that if you don’t know what you’re doing, you should stick strictly to the instructions. HOWEVER, these are interesting times, and that trumps (and I VERY much hesitate to use that word, but it’s what the English language affords me) having the perfect ingredients. We use what we have, so bourbon (my fav) it is. But I do fear I’ve adulterated my bourbon, and the recipe. So unfortunate.

Sidecar

Ingredients: 1 1/2 oz congac (or brandy) (or bourbon), 3/4 oz Cointreau, 3/4 oz lemon juice, ice, lemon peel

Pour all liquid ingredients and ice into cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously. Strain into cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel over top of glass and place in glass.

That said, it’s a fun little cocktail. I’d love to don a “fit n’ flair“ fruit printed cocktail dress and have all my friends over and serve them sidecars from a perfectly shaped glass from my sideboard. Maybe when these interesting times are a memory.

I’ll be sharing Classic Cocktails days 1-7 as the spirit(s) move(s) me. People, there’s a lot going on from day to day. I have children e-learning, a doggo that suddenly thinks we’re here for her undivided attention, laundry piling up, stresses I didn’t know existed mounting. There’s a lot to process. I’m sure you more than understand. You, as they say, “get it”. Stay sane and well, my people.

Mom Guilt: End of Summer Edition

Summer is winding down – some of you have already sent your kids back to school. My big kids go back after Labor Day, so we have a week left of summer fun. But guess what… end of summer panic is creeping in and has me wondering if we did enough this summer. We made two lists at the beginning of the summer of rainy day and sunny day activities. Did we do the things on our lists? Did we go to the park enough? Did they read enough and practice enough math to avoid the “summer slide”?

summer activity list, summer bucket list, mommy blog, mom guilt, stay at home mom, chicago blogger
we do this every summer to help us when we’re out of ideas

At the same time I’m trying to savor summer with my kids and pack every last fun thing into our remaining days, I’M SO DONE WITH SUMMER. The fighting over who gets to use the red blanket to build their fort in the basement, or whose turn it is with the only working train for our train track, or who is supposed to brush their teeth first, or whose turn it is to open the car door, or the constant pushing and shoving and crying when they don’t get their way – it’s all SUPER OLD. They clearly need to go back to school and be among civilization so they can have the mirror held up to their crazy behavior and have someone else tell them IT’S NOT OK. (BTW, all you teachers out there, THANK YOU for being that “someone else” – you have a way of making our children listen and believe what you say that we parents simply do not!)

And then with those thoughts I’m thrown into the abyss of mom guilt. How on earth could I be so negative about these people I love to the moon and back and smother with kisses at bed time? Don’t I stay home, forsaking a paycheck and, let’s face it, life among adults, to be with them? The mini-humans I would LITERALLY die for – these people who CAME FROM MY BODY?! 

Oh, Mom Guilt, you need to GO AWAY. Everyone needs a break. Everyone needs some quiet. Everyone needs some peace. And right now I’m part of that everyone. But how can I kick you to the curb, Mom Guilt? How can I convince you that I’ve done enough, I am enough, and you have no place here?

I know… I will make a list! 

Wait… Didn’t a list set off my end of summer panic? Whatever. I’m going with it. 

Below is a list of what we did this summer. I’ve typed this all out for the same reason I make an “all done” list instead of a “to do” list. Because somehow our memories are short and we tend to focus on the things that remain undone rather than the things we accomplished. Here goes…

  1.  On the last day of preschool (which was about 2 weeks before the end of school for my big kids), we attended the Preschool Celebration followed by the Preschool Picnic. Tiny (the youngest) and I went out for a celebratory lunch of pancakes. 
    preschool, memory book, mom guilt, precious moments, growing up, chicago blogger, mommy blog
    going through the preschool memory book
  2. Tiny and I rode the train and had lunch with Daddy while he was at work (and the big kids were STILL at school). There was also a trip to the Disney store, which resulted in Star Wars pjs for the boy and Elsa and Anna shoes for the girls. (Thank you Twice-Upon-A-Year-Sale!)
  3.  Tiny and I rode the train (we like the train) to have lunch (we also like lunch) with my cousin who works outside the Loop. 10 extra minutes on the train and walking 4 blocks proved to be more than Tiny was willing to handle, so that part was suuuuuuuper fun. There was playing at the park for her and coffee for me and time with our cousin and lunch (obviously), so, worth it.
  4. We all road tripped to a family wedding, got ourselves all dressed up for the occasion, too! We played with “The Cousins”, took turns on Mimi and Papa’s super swing in the back yard and swam in the pool.
    dressed up, mommy blog, mom guilt, target, targetstyle, banana republic, stella dot
    all dressed up
  5. We went to Peanut’s (the middle child) Kindergarten Celebration, then took her out to lunch (also for pancakes – we LOVE pancakes). 
    mommy blog, mom guilt, family, kids, chicago blogger, kindergarten
    peanut hasn’t willingly smiled in a picture since she was 3 – why would her kindergarten celebration be any different?
  6. On Bubby’s (the oldest) last day of school, we played at the park, signed up for the library’s summer reading challenge, and celebrated the beginning of summer with a sleepover where everyone slept in the girls room and switched beds.
    sleepover in the girls room – it really is the little things
  7. Went to the zoo AND nature museum in one day (a word of advice – pace yourselves)! We spent most of our time in the Farm part of the zoo, met up with our cousin Ryan, then made sure we saw everyone’s favorite animals (zebra and giraffe),  checked out the nature museum, then made the long rush hour drive home. 
    lincoln park zoo, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt, tractor, john deere
    yes, the zoo has a tractor, and it took me forever to get them out of it
  8. Attended not one, not two, not three, but FOUR birthday parties. What can I say? We like to celebrate!
  9. Girls attended Drama Camp (FYI: they need no lessons in dramatics – just how to channel the drama for good) and everyone did a couple days at Day Camp before we…
  10. Road tripped to visit Mimi and Papa over the weekend and week of the 4th of July. While there we:
  • Had lots of fun at the family fish fry, complete with swimming and playing with cousins, being teased by Great Grandpa (we call him Grandpa Nix-Nux which I think is translated “Grandpa Troublemaker”), and fireworks.
    it isn’t summer without sparklers
  • Took a trip in Papa’s boat to Kelley’s Island, rode around the Island in a golf cart, saw the Glacial Grooves, and ate dinner on the Island, then boat ride back in time to see more fireworks with the cousins.
    little mariners
    glacial grooves, glacier grooves, northwest ohio, kelleys island, mommy blog, mom guilt,
    glacial grooves
  • Visited African Safari (you drive on a path and feed animals that come up to your car window) – people, I have only 3 words for this experience – WATER BUFFALO SLIME.
    african safari, northwest ohio, mommy blog, mom guilt, chicago blogger
    on Bubby’s face you’ll find the look of excitement mixed with a dash of fear
  • Swam in Mimi and Papa’s pool almost every day. And some days our beloved cousins were able to join us.
  • Saw Finding Dory at the drive-in (first drive-in experience for the kids).
    drive in movie, finding dory, mommy blog, mom guilt, chicago blog, northwest ohio
    chillin before movie time
  • Mimi took the big kids to the Science Museum. This was the ONLY thing Bubby wanted to do during our visit – he loves him some mad science.
  • And if weren’t swimming or running around town, there was fishing in the neighbor’s pond, riding bikes, catching fireflies, swinging, sliding, going on “nature walks” through the pine trees, coloring with sidewalk chalk, digging in the sand box and playing in the tree house. 
    i almost fell over from all the cuteness

Now, that right there seems like a full summer, doesn’t it?! But, my friends, that’s only the first half! After we got home we:

  1. Returned to two full days a week at Day Camp (so mom could grocery shop in silence and clean the house uninterrupted – so glamorous, I know).
  2. Attended Camp Creativity at our local Michael’s. (BTW, this is a great option for your little crafters, and inexpensive!)
  3. Attended a week of VBS. The kids LOVED it and I got 3 hours every morning to get some things done. We call that a win-win.
  4. More days of Day Camp – they ran around, played with their friends, made crafts, and ran some more. Bubby said he was getting good at basketball, which isn’t something he can practice at our house, so that’s awesome.
  5. Took a trip downtown to play in the Millennium Park Crown Fountain, see The Bean, then have dinner with Daddy.
    crown fountain, millennium park, chicago, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt, summer
    waiting for the face fountain to “spit” at them
    cloudgate, the bean, chicago, chicagoblogger, mommy blog, mom guilt
    at the bean
    selfie, funny boy, the bean, cloudgate, chicago, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt
    bubby laying under the bean for a selfie – he clearly thinks he’s hilarious
  6. Dad and Bubby went to Starved Rock State Park with the Cub Scouts (tent camping, hiking, swimming, games, etc.) while the girls and I spent the weekend at my cousin’s and visited the Chicago Riverwalk, the McCormick Bridgehouse Museum (you can see the gears that raise and lower the bridges!), ate gelato, went to the Disney Store, ate pizza (because, Chicago) – the next day had brunch, Doodle’s Donuts (they have donuts that come with a frosting packet so kids can decorate their own donut – so cute! I had a maple bacon one – because DUH.) then rode the train home. FYI – this was all done on the HOTTEST weekend of the summer.
    mccormick bridgehouse museum, chicago river, chicago, chicagoblogger, chitown, chicago riverwalk, riverwalk, mommy blog, mom guilt
    the gears that do all the work on the chicago bridges!
  7. doodles donuts, doodle, donut, doughnut, chicago, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt
    doodling on her donut
    mommy blog, chicago blogger, mom guilt
    so hot waiting for the train, so bummed the fun is over
  8. Went to the beach no less than 5 times. My kids can dig in the sand for hours on end. It’s pretty much the best thing ever.
    hours upon hours spent digging in the sand
  9. Dad took the kids to the pool one day without mom – much fun was had by all.
  10. Got in all our annual physicals, saw the optometrist (turns out Peanut needs glasses to read), dentist and hair cut appointments.
    peanut sporting her new glasses
  11. Went to the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. Spent most of the time at the Tinker Lab. As you can see, SAFETY FIRST!
    chicago childrens museum, safety first, chicago blog, mommy blogger, mom guilt
    real tools, real objective to make something that rolls, real imaginations at work
  12. Attended an authentic Chicago Block Party. And no block party is complete without a visit from the fire truck, a bounce house, bike riding and dancing in the street. 
    chicago blogger, chicago block party, mommy blog, mom guilt, fire truck
    back of fire truck photo op
  13. Celebrated a friend’s birthday at Six Flags Great America. If you talk to my kids, you’d think this is the only thing they did this summer because it’s the only thing they talk about. I mean, what’s better than going upside down on a roller coaster for the first time?! 
    can’t you see the excitement on that face?! and that’s just about riding the carousel!
  14. Saw The Secret Life of Pets – cute, silly, and a nice break from the heat and humidity.
  15. Took a little trip to Maggie Daley Park. 
    she found herself a perch and watched the activity
  16. And in between all of that there were play dates, park visits, bike riding, fort building, movies almost every night, reading (my big kids read over 3000 minutes each this summer – thank you Chicago Public Library for making my kids want to win a Kindle Fire enough to have something to report EVERY WEEK), jumping on our trampoline, “swimming” in our inflatable pool, coloring, crafts, trips to Target complete with a Monster Cookie, visits from friends, popsicles, building with Legos, folding paper airplanes, scavenger hunts around the neighborhood, countless games of checkers, Candy Land, and the Matching Game (why is it that my 4 year old SLAYS me at that game?!), light saber fights, and MANY viewings of Zootopia (among other movies). 
    blueberry pie ice cream in a waffle bowl dipped in chocolate then covered in sprinkles – YUM

waiting for the bus to take us on an adventure
she learned to swing by herself this summer
chicago riverwalk, balloon animal, face paint, mom guilt, mommy blog, chicago blogger
stumbled upon this opportunity down at the riverwalk
lake michigan, you are our favorite
chicago public library, rahms readers, summer reading program, library, reading program, chicago, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt
we were told we were the first sibling group to complete the reading challenge at our branch – so a pic was necessary
this is probably the thing we did most this summer- back yard fun
So, Mom Guilt, you clearly have no place here. I have given (more like orchestrated) a fun and eventful summer full of new experiences and memories, and now that it is in black and white and SO MUCH LONGER than I thought it would be, there is no disputing what took place from the end of school until now.

Dearest readers, please know, I didn’t create this list for comparative reasons or as any kind of standard to measure yourself against (or for you to judge – positively or negatively) my efforts. I wrote it out for myself in an effort to combat my own Mom Guilt, and to see truly how much we’ve done. But I also put it out on the Internet for you to see that you can do something similar to encourage yourself and recount the fun things you and your kids have done this summer. It’s truly not the number of activities done that matter – it’s the memories made, skills gained and fun had that matters. 

Your list may be longer than mine. Or maybe it’s more exciting with international vacations or simulated skydiving. Good for you and your kids – I hope you had a blast! 

Maybe your list simply reads “Day Camp” – the one you meticulously chose for your children so they would be well cared for while you worked to provide for your family. Good for you, mama! You’re making the best choices for your kiddos.

Or maybe you created fun at home day in and day out because that’s what you were able to do this summer. I’m proud of you, mama. You made memories for you and your little tribe.

I hope you realize that my point is that it doesn’t matter what is on your list – how long the list or how exciting the activities or how similar every day seemed. Your intent is what matters – to give your children what you can with what you have. Maybe that was one weekend vacation. Maybe it was digging holes in the back yard to create mud puddles because that’s your child’s favorite thing ever. Maybe it was summer school or tutoring or many different therapies because you know your child needs that. Maybe it was lots of cuddles because right now, that’s all you have to give.

And, mama, I know you gave what you had, but YOU need to know you did. 

So, go on and make that list. Write down the events from this summer along with the memories and feelings that go with them. Use my list as a guide if you need to. Read them over with your kids, look through the pictures you took, and talk about the fun you had this summer. Watch your kids smile and listen to them laugh as they recount the memories of their childhood while you pat yourself on the back for ending the end of summer bickering for a good 20 minutes. 

Then be sure tell your Mom Guilt to move along, because she doesn’t belong among your best efforts and the love you have for your kids.

*This blog post includes links to information and attractions we visited – none are affiliate links. They are for informational purposes only. Photos were not perfectly edited because ain’t nobody got time for that during a summer like this.

**We are so thankful for the friends and family that included us in their summer plans and for their hospitality! 

Wardrobe Spring Cleaning: How to Edit without the Mental Anguish

Spring Cleaning is around the corner (end that sentence with the emoji of your choice – mine would be the face of grief mixed with disgust and turmoil). If you’re like the majority of people, you see this as an opportunity to get rid of the things in your home you no longer use or need. Easy peasy if we’re talking about old issues of magazines and expired pantry items, right?! But when it comes to the clothes in your closet that still have tags on them or the pieces you loved but haven’t worn in a while, the task becomes more difficult – ok, if we’re being honest, it becomes emotional and kind of impossible.  So let me help you break it down into easy, actionable and turmoil-free, steps that work for you either as you go or all in one shot. 

cluttered closet need wardrobe edit
When your clothes are this close together, it may be time to purge!
 All-at-Once: If you like to tackle a task and have it done in a day, this method is probably for you. Be prepared to make some decisions, get in touch with your feelings and free yourself of clothing that is dragging you down!

  1. Have a bag or box ready for trash and another for items to donate. 
  2. Take everything out of your closet and dresser drawers. You heard me. Everything. (I wasn’t kidding when I said this would take a day.) To make this process go quickly, don’t start sorting until everything is out of your closet and dressers.
  3. You will now take one item at a time and ask yourself this question: How does this item make me feel? If the answer is anything other than positive (for example: guilty, fat, pale, gross, irritated…) it needs to go in the trash or donate box. If the answer is positive (happy, pretty, powerful, optimistic…) ask yourself the next question – When was the last time I wore this? If it’s been over a year, figure out why. Does it need repair? Is it a special occasion item that you will use this year? Is it no longer in style, but it was one of your favorite things? You’ll need to be honest about wearing it again and decide if it’s time to let go.
  4. After all the questions have been asked, place the item in either the trash (stained, ripped, or otherwise inappropriate to donate), donate box, or back in your closet or dresser. 
  5. Repeat these steps for every item you own, and make sure the trashed clothing goes in the trash and the donate box makes it to the donation center. If you want to take the next step in using everything you kept, follow the directions in the As-You-Go section below!

As-You-Go: This is my personal favorite method. It takes no extra time, but it isn’t done in a day and takes a little more creativity. Your plan of action is to: 

  1. Commit to a minimum of 30 days of unique outfits created from the clothes you already own (no shopping retail – you’re shopping your closet!).
  2. Find your favorite way of keeping track of what you have already worn (my favorite is the fastest way by Hilary Rushford called the Ribbon and Record. Tie a ribbon (yarn, string, or actual ribbon) on the bar at the end of your closet and get a “record” (piece of paper or notebook) for each stack in your dresser. Everything you wear either goes behind the “ribbon” or under the “record”. Then try not to wear that item again during the 30 days. (Please note: I said TRY. I definitely wear my favorite jeans more than once a month – ok, week – but I could swap them out skirts on some of those days, for example.)  
  3. Choose your outfit the night before you wear it, including accessories (jewelry, shoes, bag, outerwear – ALL of it!). This ensures you have time to use your creativity, choose something unique and try it on together. Don’t skip trying it on – just because it looks good in your head doesn’t mean it will look good on your body – I speak from experience.  
    planning what to wear the night before makes for a less stressful morning
     
  4. At the end of 30 days (or longer for a more abundant wardrobe), assess what you didn’t wear. Ask yourself why – if the answer is remotely negative (I don’t like the color, it doesn’t fit right, etc.), take it out of your closet and donate it. You will seriously feel better when you do! Your brain won’t use up mental energy cataloging it as you pass over it every day, and you won’t spend any emotional energy on it (feeling guilty that you don’t wear it  because of the amount of money you paid, or having received it as a gift but it’s not your style). Taking those things out of your closet will free your mind, and after they’re gone, you won’t think about them any more! It’s truly amazing. 

If you’re looking for a little motivation, accountability and community during this venture, join my #springcleaningclosetremix under that hashtag on Instagram and on Facebook here. (It’s a closed group, so only the people in the group will see what you post, not all of your Facebook friends and family – unless you invite them to participate, which is totally welcome – the more the merrier!) You’ll be welcomed by a host of encouraging women, sharing their closet remix creations and what worked for them when cleaning out their closets. I’ll also be chiming in with stylist secrets, tips and tricks to remixing your wardrobe, finding/refining your style and shopping! The challenge begins March 1, so go join the group on Facebook and start outfit planning now!