To capsule or not to capsule?

I have a love/hate relationship with capsule wardrobes.

In case you don’t know about the ever-popular capsule wardrobe, the concept is that you limit your wardrobe to a set number of pieces (usually under 40 or so, including shoes) and change it out seasonally. You don’t shop except for when you’re building your next seasonal wardrobe and need to fill some gaps; you end up with a closet full of only clothes you love and you don’t even miss the excess.

I started my first capsule with a fall wardrobe back in mid-August and just reached the end of my 3 months with it. I have so many positive things to say about the experience, and I am so incredibly glad I did it, but I don’t know if I’ll be doing it again for the winter. Part of my problem has to do with the climate where I live (Texas is indecisive, y’all), and part of it is just the concept of enforcing “rules” on myself when it comes to my clothes.

But, before I dive into talking about why I’m questioning a second go-round, let me tell you what was awesome about my capsule wardrobe: I didn’t miss my closet full of clothes. Not even once, not for a single second. Before I started this little project, I was a clothes hoarder. I never got rid of anything, I loved shopping for clothes, and I could not have enough. I would go through my closet a couple of times a year and donate a bunch of stuff, but it was still always stuffed to the brim. And in reality? I only wore about a quarter of it on a regular basis. Sometimes I would feel guilty and wear one of the less-loved pieces, but I always felt uncomfortable and not like myself because it wasn’t really something I loved. So, I decided to try out a low-commitment capsule for a season – I packed up a bunch of clothes, and whittled my wardrobe down to 47 pieces. It was shockingly easier than I thought it would be, and a few weeks in I ended up donating a whole bunch of stuff that I knew I didn’t need anymore.

Throughout the course of the three months I had my fall wardrobe, I can genuinely say I didn’t ever wish for any more than what I had in my closet. I didn’t think that was possible, but apparently it is. Ever since I cleared my closet, getting dressed in the morning is a breeze and I actually feel good in what I’m wearing every day. On top of that, I finally have a better sense of what I need and can make more thoughtful purchases based on what is missing in my closet and not just whatever strikes my fancy when I’m at the store.

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Emergency Plan

You may have heard the news about a giant fault line in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast that is well overdue for a massive earthquake. I happen to live in the pacific northwest (PNW), and this has now been on my mind for almost a year. At first I didn’t really think too much of it, but after the last news report came out and people really starting freaking out, I started thinking more practically about creating a family plan for what we will do in an emergency.

The first thing we decided to do was install a rain collection system on the side of our house. This was a pretty simple step and Mr. Cereal is handy, so it took an afternoon to get it all set up. He modified our gutter system to make sure it didn’t leak all over the place and he also fancied up the barrel a little by building a landing of sorts for it. This particular barrel holds 50 gallons, so we should be good for about two weeks if we ration the water properly. The recommended amount of water per person per day is 1 gallon, so we could presumably last about 12ish days.

The second item on our list was to stockpile some canned goods and a well stocked first aid kit. The canned goods are easy as we have a storage area in our garage where I stockpile anyway, but I upped it to ensure that I have enough food to last us at least one week out there. I also re-stock if anything gets used. The first aid kit is still a work in progress. I have a ton of actual injury supplies like gauze, band aids, tape, triple antibiotic cream, etc. Beyond the injury care items, we have emergency blankets, two lifestraws (personal water filters), a flashlight with extra batteries, a crank lantern, and a fire extinguisher. In the house we have plenty of blankets and clothes, but I also have an extra thick blanket in the car and an extra change of clothes for both of the kids. Not surprisingly, these items have already been used occasionally and then re-stocked.

The family supply list from the ready.gov site also recommends a number of other personal items that you may want to have handy as well like sanitary napkins, extra formula and diapers if you have an infant or young child, a compass, a tent, and some sort of money. We have all of these things as well with the exception of the flare gun, but not all in the same place.

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the action of thanksgiving

I read a book last year called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp that is centered around Christianity, but is applicable to everyone, religious or not. In the beginning of the book, the author reflects on her own childhood and subsequently how her life experience has taught her that there are sometimes horrible things that happen in life that are out of our control that become defining parts of our lives. Yes, the book is a bit intense, but it speaks on reality and has taught me the very valuable practice of true Thanksgiving.

The author then proceeds to share how through biblical study she realizes that the blessing always follows the act of thanksgiving. She decides to challenge herself to write a list of 1000 things that she notices that she is thankful for. Many of these things are very small like the iridescent glow of a bubble the sunlight lands on while she’s doing the dishes, and others are larger like her relationships with people.

After reading the book, I began to really take note of my daily environments and actively try to search for things that I am thankful for – like my daughter’s giggle when she blows a wooden train whistle, the feeling of holding both of my girls in my arms and watching Inside Out, the way my husband takes a moment to always kiss all three of us before leaving to work, a beautiful view I saw on my run, etc. I now keep a list of these things in my phone and when I am feeling down or have an off day, I take a look and realize how much I have.

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Annual Ornaments

I love Christmastime! And while some might argue that the most wonderful time of the year hasn’t quite arrived yet, our tree is up and ready! One of the reasons I was so looking forward to setting up our tree was because I was eager to add our annual ornaments and select new ones for this year. This annual tradition started the first Christmas Mr. Cowboy and I were married. We bought an ornament of a bride and groom and added it to our tree along with all the other sparkly and shiny “normal” ornaments. The year after that, we bought an ornament of a little house, signifying the first home we bought. Every year after that, we added a new ornament that symbolized something special from that year. I wrote the year on each ornament and our favorite part of decorating for Christmas quickly became pulling out these special ornaments and remembering each special year.


Our ornaments tell the story of our family…from the year of our wedding, to the addition of our sweet dog, to our first trip to New York City as a family of 3, we love the that you can see the highlights from our years together on our tree. The year Lil’ CB came home, our ornament was a family photo of the three of us. And this year, rightfully so, our ornament is a photo of our new family of four.

Once Lil’ CB was home, we began buying ornaments for him, too — choosing something that was especially memorable from that year for him or a milestone that he achieved. Initially, Mr. Cowboy and I chose his ornaments, but once he turned 4, he began very proudly choosing his own, and he’s got a nice little collection built up so far:

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My Nursing Must-Haves

Breastfeeding was probably the thing I knew least about when it came to parenting, and was the thing that gave me the most anxiety. When casually browsing online before Little Oats was born, I saw horror story after horror story about mangled nipples, terrible latches, tongue ties, low supply, and more. Then, there was the added pressure of sustaining a child on breastmilk – what if I couldn’t do it? Was I going to be a huge failure? Breastfeeding was something that I was extremely unfamiliar with; my sister and myself were formula fed for a number of reasons, and I hadn’t been around newborn babies or nursing mothers. Before Little Oats was born, I had nearly convinced myself to not even try, and just opt to formula feed from the beginning.

But then she arrived, and things went better than I could have expected. By about 4 weeks in, I couldn’t remember why breastfeeding had stressed me out; I had an extremely easy time with it, and I was incredibly grateful. When I got pregnant with Baby Oats, I didn’t give breastfeeding a second thought. I knew how to start, what to buy in preparation, and who to call if I needed help.

I know now that breastfeeding is incredibly difficult for some women, and that my journey was not necessarily typical. I’m grateful that things went so smoothly, both times. And now, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite things for breastfeeding; everything I’ve loved and needed over the last two years.

nursing must haves

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Putting our thankfulness on display

One of the things I really wanted to focus on this Thanksgiving season was acknowledging what we are grateful for and all of the wonderful things we have. Mr. Garland and I talked about just jotting down a quick list of what we’re thankful for, but I wanted to do something a little prettier. I had the idea to make a garland of everything we’re grateful for this year, and I love it so much that it’s definitely going to turn into a tradition!

DIY thankful leaf garland
First, I printed out these cute little leaf templates and handed them over to Jackson to color. I gave him a few fall-colored crayons and let him go to town. I had to fill in the areas that he missed (or where he just got bored), and then I spent an hour or so cutting them out. I tossed them in a bowl on the counter along with a sharpie, and Mr. Garland and I have spent the month grabbing a leaf and filling it out each morning.

DIY thankful leaf garland

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Zero Waste To-Go Kit: Mama Style

Let’s take a break from all the heavy emotional stuff and talk about something much more fun, green living! Zero Waste isn’t necessarily a new movement, but it’s been gaining popularity thanks to Bea Johnson and her advocation of her zero waste lifestyle. The basic principle is to generate zero waste flowing to the landfill; however far you choose to take that is up to your own personal interpretation. Some, like Bea, are able to produce only enough trash to fill one quart size mason jar a year. Yes, a year! I’m still floating somewhere in the middle, transitioning to the point where I don’t generate much garbage. I compost and recycle, and only fill up roughly one 20 gallon trash can each month. I’ve decided to push myself even further and cancel my trash service completely, striving to get down to a jar or so a month and using my parent’s can until I can eliminate my stream completely.

Today, my focus is on the to-go kit. One of the main principles of zero waste is to eliminate your consumption of single-use disposable plastics. It’s a misconception that we disdain all plastics; there are definitely some that are necessary for modern life and safety, such as hospital equipment and automobiles. It’s the disposable mindset and lifestyle of consumerism that is causing hefty damage to our planet. The Big Four are: water bottles, coffee cups, straws (and cutlery and drink lids), and shopping bags. So, what can we do to prevent ourselves from consuming these items? I put together a simple reusable “to-go kit” that makes sure I’m prepared (almost) every time we’re away from home to stem the tide of these seemingly endlessly supplied products.

My to-go kit includes:

Zero waste

1) Straws for fountain drinks (and also froyo!) | 2) Stainless steel tumblers | 3) Bamboo spoon/forks | 4) LunchBots Uno Stainless Steel Food Container for leftovers and the salad bar | 5) Eco LunchBox Oval container with dip canister

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