Lighter and Brighter Closet

During my weekly phone conversation with my maternal grandmother, Mimi, she told me how great it felt to have her closet de-cluttered. My sister and aunt had just recently been over to help Mimi clean out her closet and she was thrilled! Mimi has taught me about a million lessons without ever lecturing, and this one came just as simply. She said that when she tries an outfit on in the morning and then takes it off (for whatever reason), instead of hanging the clothes back up in her closet, she simply places them in a trash bag under the rack. If she does not retrieve the outfit within a few months, off it goes to her town’s library garage sale. If our closets were as settled and comfortable as Mimi’s, I imagine it would be easier to get ready for the day–lacking the stress of trying on outfits that we know we don’t want to wear. Has that ever happened to you? You try on a dress and inevitably you place it back on the hanger, like you did three weeks ago when you bought it for a new date because you end up wearing the little black dress that looks phenomenal! Imagine placing that new-date-dress in a box in the back corner of your closet (we can’t all be strong enough not to buy it in the first place, hey, you really liked the guy, and we’re working on it), to be forgotten until it is remembered and worn or driven off to the local clothes donation center. Voila!

Last summer I cleaned out my closet hoping to feel lighter and brighter. I kept the obvious little-black-dress (okay, I kept two), and other wardrobe staples, but the general rule I kept was that if I hadn’t worn it in a few months, I threw it out (in a box of clothes for a clothing swap party, or to donation). Our culture seems hung up on keeping things, the more things you have the more well-to-do you are. Lately I’ve found that simplifying my life cultivates much more wellness than any material object ever could.

In my freeing up mind space and closet space, I’ve noticed that I can get ready in under ten minutes! If all the clothes that hang in my closet are pieces of outfits that I know and love and wear often (mixing and matching as I please), then I am not trying on ten different outfits before I finally feel comfortable.

Is your life cluttered with things you no longer use? How do you de-clutter your life/closet? Do you have many outfits that traverse the glitter and grit world?

Photo credit

Annelise Jeske: Glitter & Grit

Among the row of mopeds all locked together the sidewalk of the lower Haight in San Francisco–there it was, teal with a purple leather seat and “love life” written in pink. Mopeds are highly personal and simply illustrate some aspect of their rider. Her’s is a beautiful two stroke machine.

Her chestnut bob hides under her white helmet. In her circle, teal, purple and pink are her colors. Her dapper style–freeing and unique to her–calls attention. She smiles warm and is eager to greet. She’s so cool.

I first met Annelise Jeske in the moped scene in San Francisco in 2009. Her moped was the coolest I’d seen, and her motorcycle is cooler. She belongs to the moped gang, the Creatures of the Loin, an extremely tight-knit and active group of fun kids riding their mopeds through the streets of San Francisco every Monday night and beyond.

Someone once said that you will know your friends in the first moments of meeting them better than you will ever know an acquaintance, and I felt an immediate connection with Annelise. Her spirit warms my heart and her illumination brightens the space around her. Annelise has an eye for beauty and a heart of delight.

When I first had the notion to interview Annelise for Glitter and Grit, I wrote a series of questions. I thought it was important to know what her relationship with her father is like (she’s “his shining star”), and to know how she feels about nature (“nature is God/Love/Truth/Beauty/That which connects us all”), and if she loves camping (she does). As I began thinking about the essence of Annelise as a girl of glitter and grit, it occurred to me how important it is to tell you why she is so remarkable. Annelise (known as Ansel in her Brooklyn, New York neighborhood) describes herself as creative, independent, and adventurous. She is the epitome of Glitter and Grit.

How did you get into mopeds?

“I was scared of them at first, but more than the bikes themselves, I was intimidated by the tight group of people who rode them–the moped culture.”

Eventually she got her own moped and became a part of that community. She says her boyfriend at the time never helped her work on her bike as much as she would have liked, but that it turned out to be a blessing. When they broke up, he sold his bikes and she kept working on hers. “Working on my bike (Maximillian, as I called him) became my hobby and pastime. I painted, customized, broke, and fixed him a hundred times. I poured my heart and self into it.

When it came to learning about mopeds, I always did things like this–watch someone do it once, do it while someone else watches you once, then do it on your own, then teach someone else how to do it.”

And soon, Annelise worked at the moped shop and “took a certain special pride in smashing the sexist prejudices of customers who would come in surprised to see a girl with mechanical knowledge. Girls have every right and ability to be mechanically inclined that boys do.”

She even has a road rash scar in the shape of a heart. This girl is glitter and grit!

“During those years that I was working on mopeds a lot, I found myself with dirty, greasy hands and fingernails. But this didn’t keep me from painting my fingernails when I wanted to.”

Annelise is so creative and her beautiful mind captures her friends and strangers alike; she is thrifty, but not the “urban boutique-y kind,” she knows the inner workings of her surroundings, and trusts her instincts in an animalistic way, which I admire.

Her dream job is to be an art director for music videos. “And my dream house is the one that I will build one day with people I love somewhere in beautiful North Carolina.”

“I’ve always believed in my ability to manifest my own destiny. But I’ve never had that power so significantly presented to me as I have in this past year. A year ago I sat in a park and blew on a dandelion tuft and believed that in 2011 I would find a job that was more suited to me than I ever could have imagined possible. In August of 2011 that job fell into my lap.”

Annelise is currently working in Brooklyn, New York. And she’s daydreaming, loving, laughing, and living outside of work, too.

Her wise words conclude why I love Annelise so dang much.

“The first step to getting where you want to be is to see yourself there.”

Photo Credits:
One: Jessica (“Lazer”) Tzur
Two: Lydia Tron
Three: Edmond Ng
Four: Annelise Jeske

Today is for Lovers

Things I love today:

Seeing a friends handmade bags at a favorite store downtown
Downtown Santa Cruz
The farmers market
Curry, cauliflower, raisin (!) sauerkraut from farmhouse culture at the farmers market downtown
Fresh flowers from the farmers market downtown

Handmade Valentine’s Day card from Grammie to Willa
My darling doodlebug friend Michael calling me to talk about redesigning my blog!
Sunshine in Santa Cruz like Spring is here! Isn’t it, though?
Willa’s first haircut (we both got bangs)
And love! I love love today.

What do you love today?

Photo Credits: Lindsey Royal Anderson

Simple Life

Dark in the deepest stack, in the smallest book with the curious phrases, in the library of my heart is the faint, deliberate passion for living a simple life. This passion has been thriving on the farm for the last nine months! We cook on the wood stove, all day pots of joe, or tea brewing. Chicken in a pot! Our dutch oven is our main mode of cookery.

Simplify. I’m constantly reminding myself of this valuable notion. It becomes difficult, on occasion, when I see a pair of wonderful boots in green, half off at the flea market.

A song by The Weepies inspires this battle cry deep in the heart of me. Running with the ebb and flow of nature, dawn til dusk and darkness, too; nature serving as a teacher for my family, and serving nature with utmost respect, living in sync with the rhythms of the seasons.

I think in lieu of having a daughter (and feeling nostalgic and vintage) in the midst of a blurring media, the fast track, phones “smarter” than people, and wanting to avoid Cinderella eating my daughter, a simple life calls. I am thinking of a weekly feature to bring you into my attempts to simplify my life. In what ways do you simplify your life? What are your weaknesses to living a simpler life? What are your tips for simplifying?

Print available at Story People.

Here Comes the Senator, Y’all!

We ordered our stove and right now, this very moment, he makes the grand traverse from the east coast to the west coast. Thanks so much to Brendan and Emory at the Stove Hospital!

The Senator!

Have you ever cooked on in a wood burning oven?  There are six burners atop this beaut!  Six!  Can you just imagine all the delicious things I’m going to cook with the Senator?  I’d love to bring you a feature where I highlight my delights on this here old fashioned stove.  Mah session with tha Senator.  Anything in particular you’d love to see come out of this oven?