Sunday, November 5, 2017

Maintaining My Minimalist Wardrobe

Since my last post about my wardrobe I have faced several challenges. One of the first challenges is replacing items. It's no longer as simple as walking to a store to buy it. I now think about who I'm buying from, do they follow ethical practices or are the clothes made by children in a sweatshop, for example. I'm also looking at what they are made of, natural vs. synthetic fibers. Unsurprisingly, I am trying to only buy natural fibers like wool, cotton and linen. Lastly do I like the look of the item and, importantly, does it even fit? As you can imagine this is not a simple task. It also needs to work well with what I already own, gone are the days of buying two items that go together and with nothing else. Unfortunately, my purchases don't always match the full criteria and I have a cheat. The cheat is anything I buy from a thrift store is recycling so it can be made with anything and by anyone. Hey, I'm not perfect but at least I'm working on it.

My current pile of clothes

The things I have replaced are a cardigan, plaid shirt and a pair of jeans. I've gotten rid of several tops(two wool shirts(painful but necessary due to the multiple patches and holes), two synthetic shirts, one synthetic tank top), and I've swapped a pair of cargo pants I rarely wore for a pair of black tights. I've added THREE skirts (too many) and a silk dress which was an extravagance I should not have done. Still learning, but it was a $40 silk dress from a cute little Tibetan woman selling out of an eccentric pizza place with REALLY good pizza! To be fair, I did toss a dress and needed to replace it.. although the plan was the new cotton skirt I got was supposed to fill that niche.

My updated clothing list:

1) Underwear - 5    I still go commando most days.  This includes the one wool pair (which has a patch, ha), 1 cotton, 2 synthetic, and 2 Thinx(no more pads in the trash for me, I use these on 'light days' and a Diva cup on heavy days).

2) Bra - 6    This hasn't changed. Includes 1 thin wool sports bra, 1 thin synthetic sports bra, 2 synthetic traditional thick sports bras and 2 Victoria secret bras I rarely wear. I plan to drop one of the VS bras since I haven't worn it in months.

3) Tops - 10    3 tank tops one wool and two synthetic, 2 t-shirts (1 wool and 1 cotton), 4 long sleeve shirts (1 wool, 2 cotton and one synthetic), 2 sweaters (1 cotton, 1 wool)

4) bottoms - 9    Includes 2 wool tights, synthetic lightweight pants, black cotton tights, jeans, 2 wool shorts, and 5 skirts (4 synthetic, 1 cotton), 1 synthetic pajama shorts

5) Socks - 7   All wool in various weights

6) Dress - 1    I had to replace the dress I had, now I have a silk dress instead of synthetic

7) Outerwear - 4    Includes a down coat, down pants, a rain coat and waterproof pants

8) Scarves - 2    I have 1 purple synthetic and 1 grey wool

Total=45 items

Even though I feel like I have too many skirts and didn't really need that silk dress, my overall total has dropped by 5 items!

What I bought:

I had to replace a flannel shirt, it had been patched and torn multiple times. It took a while to meet my criteria but I found it in Minnesota! I love Duluth. They are the home of Duluth packs(which I have an awesome all natural pack from) and Duluth Trading Co. (which does clothes mainly). I got a new flannel shirt while there that I love, it is 100% cotton, cute style and even has gussets in the back so I can move easily(this was the weak point on the old shirt, because my 'guns' are getting too big, lol). It's a great brand for durable womens clothing, a rarity to find. Duluth Flannel Shirt link

I made several changes to my bottoms. I got rid of the 5.11 pants, despite being durable they were a little too snug and I found that I rarely wore them. I wanted to have a pair of black tights for 'town' days and went on a search for 100% cotton tights. There are a ton of tights on Amazon and I found my way to HUE. They are made in the USA and I found one that is 95% cotton with 5% spandex. A win for me, no sweatshops to worry about and mostly a natural fiber. As far as I can tell the corporation is not evil. HUE leggings link

Now the really tricky replacement was finding a good pair of jeans. It's surprisingly hard to find jeans that are just cotton. My old pair were really more jeggings than jeans. I decided on a pair of jeans from Boulder Denim. I came across these guys at Rocktoberfest in the Red river gorge. We just happened to be there the weekend of the festival. It was great to hang out with a bunch of other climbers, and check out the vendors cool gear. Anyway, Boulder Denim is a new brand out of Canada. The jeans are ethically made in Canada so at least they have that going for them. I don't have them yet (in the mail) and I don't remember the exact numbers but they are mostly cotton with some spandex. They are a stretchy jean that you can rock climb in, a big plus to me. They also have a lifetime guarantee on manufacturing flaws. As Matthew pointed out to me long lasting helps offset  plastic. Boulder denim jean link

I also found a 5.5 ounce rain coat at Rocktoberfest. It is made by OR who has an infinity guarantee on their products. At the event they did a silent auction so I got this coat for $75, half the retail price and the full cost went to supporting the climbing area we were climbing at that week. So I  donated $75, and got a jacket I wanted. I was looking for a wind shirt to replace my heavy rain coat for backpacking, happy to see the technology has gotten so good I can use this lightweight raincoat. I've yet to test it so we'll see how that goes. If all goes well, I'll drop off my other (heavy but high quality) rain coat with my parents this winter to have for future use.

The flannel shirt was $54 and the jeans were $116 (retail is $148 but I got a discount, woot!), so not cheap, but when you only have a few items and you find that perfect thing... I don't feel bad spending the money. At the end of the year, I'm still spending less than when I used to go to Marshalls weekly and buy whatever 'cheap and cute' thing I found. I also still use the thrift store. I needed a new t-shirt and sweater which I found at two different Goodwills. They are 100% cotton and can't beat the price of $5 per item.

I almost forgot to mention I now own a pair of pajama shorts. I got them for those special occasions when I can't sleep naked. This came in handy almost immediately when we were sleeping in Matthew's brother, Dan's, living room. They were $3 at Goodwill and still had the original sales tag on them.


Matthew, who apparently has had too many conversations with women about bras, thought I aught to explain how I use my bras. Primarily I wear the two thin ones. They are the most comfortable for me, no underwire and I don't need a lot of support, and they dry faster after intense activity. The one VS bra I wear is only to town. The traditional sports bras I mainly use if the other two are dirty.

Odds and ends:

My colors have changed some. Now I have a bright blue sweater, a bright red t-shirt and my flannel shirt is a plaid blue/red. I still can mix and match most things since the majority of what I have are neutral (black and gray). I'm still perfectly happy living simply, it's so easy to decide what to wear in the morning.

I haven't noted the joys of patching clothes! Obviously depending on your work situation this is not an option but for us patches are in! As I mentioned I got rid of a few wool items that were full of holes and patches. Before retiring them I either patched them with an older hole ridden wool shirt or darned them with some wool thread I salvaged from a pair of damaged wool gloves. They were finally sent off to Patagonia (love this brand!) to recycle into new wool clothing, they have a wool recycling program that I'm excited about, here's where to send your old wool!. (UPDATE 12/13/2017: Patagonia ONLY takes there own brand of wool to recycle. Big BOO but hey it's something) As a brand they are doing great work making ethical clothes. The day I wrote this my down coat got damaged on the left sleeve while I was starting a fire. I should have learned this lesson already, but I was only thinking about getting warm. Anyway, it was something I could patch and did using ripstop tape I had from the first hole.
 damaged down coat sleeve

unflattering ripstop fix! Doesn't look good but it is on the inside of the sleeve, so luckily not very noticeable.

On a side note I've learned that natural fibers are far safer than any plastic material. It doesn't burn nearly as quickly. I try to tend the fire wearing only wool, even when the flames lick against the material is doesn't go up easily like my down coat did. In fact, Matthew tested this theory Here


This section is for anyone interested in what I wear for different situations. I thought a nice way to do it would be a photo shoot with my most common outfits. There are obviously variations but here's a sampling...

warm weather hiking - synthetic lightweight long sleeve shirt, synthetic skirt

Cold weather hiking - wool t-shirt, thick wool sweater, lightweight raincoat, wool tights

I love these pants for climbing, they are lightweight and protect my legs from scraps. I wear a variety of tank tops and the long sleeve shirt is mainly to cover from being in the sun while belaying or to keep on if it's cool or I'm chimney climbing.

 Flannel, tank, tights

 tank and skirt

Silk dress, hardly worn it, a bit flashy but I love it!

Ok, that's all folks! If there is anything else you'd like to know I'm happy to share. Cheers, thanks for reading.

West VA climbing and back in VA!

We return to our adventures in Seneca Rocks, WV. I flew out of Dulles and our plan was to go straight to New River Gorge to climb, until we realized we had to pass through Seneca to get there. The last time we were in Seneca was at the beginning of our journey. We happened to be there last year at the beginning of climbing season. The local climbing shop had an event. This time by chance we were there for the end of the season event. It was a chili cook off, they did a raffle and had a video about climbers doing a big wall climb - a Yosemite climb that was 32 pitches and took them 5 days to complete.

Another difference between last time and this, we were trad climbing. We did some top rope climbs last time. This time Matthew lead us up some nice, easy, very exposed 5.4 climbs. The first one was a two pitch climb (Conns West). The second day of climbing we did another 2 pitch climb (Ecstasy Junior), which took us to another climbing area and we did a 1 pitch climb (Humphreys Head). Our last day climbing there we did a 3 pitch climb (Skyline Traverse), followed by a single pitch 5.5 (we think, not sure because the info was limited in the guide and it had a pretty tricky 5.7 move).

 At the top of Conn's West looking down

 Selfie on the peak

 Rappelling back down

 starting on Ecstasy Junior

view of Ecstasy Juniors first pitch

Happy at the top of EJ's first pitch

Matthew at the top of Humphrey's head (taken by a friendly climber we met that day)

me about to rappel down

Hanging on the side of a cliff on the Skyline traverse as we rappel down, we had to do two rappels to get back on the ground.

We took a few days to explore Dolly sods, we never did last time and I kept hearing how beautiful it is. We ended up doing 3 days hikes, about 10-11 miles each. The first day in the northern section was cold, even snowed some but it was, as expected, beautiful. Oh, it was also very wet from a recent rain and hey, it's called Dolly SODS for a reason. The second day it was cold but the trail was not as wet. Our last day it was supposed to rain so I wore my new rain coat to test it... well, it rained about 20 minutes after we finished hiking. Ended up being a gorgeous day to be out, and much warmer than expected.

 Dressed and ready to go, we just wanted to show off our gaiters

 I thought this showed nicely how soggy it was

Lunch time!

Snow on the trees

We made it to the New but perhaps a little late. As I mentioned the climbing season kind of ended so the temperatures and weather is not ideal for climbing any more... depending on the day. We ended up getting one day of climbing in the New, pretty disappointing. Furthermore, we did one climb during the only warmish part of the day. We'll just have to go back another time. We got hit with cold rainy days and even snow. When the forecast looked like straight rain for a week we decided to head out to the woods to hang out and hike. Oh yeah, and I sprained my ankle trying to get to a climbing area so I had to let that rest. Boo. I was pissed, I'm not a big fan of hurting myself or being idle.

 waterfall on the way to the climbing area

 Bridge we slept under

Only climb we did, a pretty fun 5.7

We continued East and stopped in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. We got lucky on our first day here. We found a great private campsite by a river and it was warm, high of 72f. We got to bath! And boy did we need it. It had been three weeks. Let that sink in. So here's the trouble.. it's hard to motivate yourself to bath in a river when the forecast high is in the 40's. On the up side we mainly keep to ourselves, and if we stink we are both used to it lol

Bath time!

I managed to roll my ankle, Twice. So we are taking it easy today, and probably for the next few days. We're heading to Waynesboro by the end of the week and the visiting friends bonanza begins.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

An update in pictures. Wisconsin to Red River Gorge

 Mustard museum in WI

 Lyndsey and Josiah!

Getting very questionable water in Indiana

 Entrance to Mammoth cave

First large room in the cave 

Just a cool profile shot of Matthew 


"Fat mans misery"

 making our way through this claustrophobic section of cave 

 Climbing at red river gorge

 Checking out a climb

Arches of Kentucky!

 Princess arch, yes that is me lounging 

 One of many very cool rock shelters in KY

 more climbing

Random adorable dog in the parking lot of a not so great grocery store in rural KY

 Got lucky, we were at the Red in time for this event

Ok, that's all you get. I had a death in the family and heading out for the funeral tomorrow. I'll pick up on our adventures again in a few weeks. Plan is to climb at New River Gorge in WV when I get back. Currently in NOVA, spent a few days with Matthews wonderful Brother and his husband. Conveniently they live near Dulles where I am flying out of tomorrow. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

One week in the Boundary Waters

We moved on from Duluth to go further North to the Grand Marais area. We found an awesome campsite with steps down to a river and spent the next day Rock climbing. We found a fun spot with a great view, but it took about 3x as long to hike to it because there was a trail running race going on and we had to keep stopping to let people pass. Anyway, the climbs were interesting.

 view from Carlton peak

 first climb of the day

 interesting 5.8 climb

5.7 climb, we think. It was hard to find with limited info on

The main thing to report is our one week canoe trip in the Boundary waters. We started on a Monday, heading out on a beautiful sunny day that got windy in the afternoon. Our intent was to do about 6 miles, but we did closer to 10 miles because the campsites were all taken early. Oh well. It got us pretty far out fast. It also made us very sore for the rest of the week since we were paddling daily. It was a blast though. We had several options and decided to try and take it easy. This was wise, we would have been even more sore otherwise.

 view during lunch

first campsite


making dinner

looking and feeling sleepy in the morning

The first 4 days were rain free. On the 5th day we got some rain but only after we stopped to camp. We were into a routine by then so we already had the bear bag thrown and our tarp set up. We already had dinner by the time the rain started so we went under the tarp to keep dry. That did not last. It rained fast and heavy for about 30 minutes. Our site didn't have good drainage so it started to flood. Thankfully we didn't have much out yet. We quickly got our rain gear on and got up waiting for the storm to calm. It eventually did, slowing enough for our spot to drain. We took our sleeping pads out and tried to get some of the water off. We did go to bed damp but I was happily dry by morning. Best of all we didn't flood again that night.

 chopping wood for dinner

Let see... other interesting things to note... Once while lounging at camp I felt something squishy between my feet, it was a LEEEEECCCHH!! That was gross, but didn't bother me nearly as much as I think it should have lol. On the first few warm clear days we jumped in the water to cool off. It was quite hot those days. We saw a lot of chipmunks, a few bald eagles and one snowshoe hare!

We stayed at one site that warned of a bear, with a sign on a rock and we could tell from the packaged food that was shredded at the site. Later that day two guys stopped by on there motor boat to inform us they were at the site for 4 days and saw a small black bear every day. They got tired of it getting into there things and left. Before leaving us they gave us two fish which we immediately cooked up. Unfortunately we already had dinner and couldn't finish them, so Matthew went on a short hike and dropped it off in the woods, a good distance from or site, as an offering to the bear. We never saw or heard the bear and our things remained unmolested.

 our bear warning on the rock as we pulled in

free fish!

We didn't stay at any site for more than one evening. We had to do several portages which we became efficient at by the end. It came to pass that I was unable to carry the canoe, it was just a little to heavy and awkward for me. So, I was tasked with carrying all the gear, which was not lighter but more condensed and easier to carry. We never got a photo but it was funny, we both had a backpack so I put one on with the other pack slung over it. The whole thing stuck out pretty far so I hunched a little forward to stay balanced. It worked better than when I tried having one on my back and one in front as that blinded me and I couldn't as easily walk along the uneven trails.

our last evening out

We loved the trip, it is such a beautiful and tranquil place. I'm a huge fan of being on the water and we have already agreed that we will someday buy a canoe and/or kayaks if we land in a place we can use them... which is likely. Anywho, next we are heading to Wisconsin to visit friends then on to the climbing mecca of Red River Gorge in Kentucky.