What I Learned Wearing A Capsule Wardrobe For a Year

What I learned from wearing a Minimal Capsule Wardrobe for a year

When my workplace introduced a limited colour palette of black, white and grey a year ago, I basically stopped buying new clothes. I have bought the odd fresh t-shirt or top, and two new jumpers, but have pretty much survived this Sydney winter in the same 4 dresses, 2 cardigans, 2 skirts, 2 pairs of tights and 1 pair of jeans.

Apart from 1 new dress and 1 new skirt that I bought to start with, I really did already have a capsule wardrobe – it was just hiding in amongst all my other clothes.

what I learned when I wore the same clothes in a limited colour palette for a year:

Fewer clothes makes getting dressed so much easier

It’s true what they say about uniform dressing, there is much less to consider in the morning when all you have to worry about is the temperature and what kind of situation you are entering that day – having less items of clothing will immediately narrow down the choices you have to make once you have taken weather and context into consideration.

You will save a lot of money

If you limit the colour palette of your wardrobe, going shopping will lose its charm. You will look at half the clothes on the rack and simply say ‘not for me’. Over time, the desire to even go shopping will almost disappear.

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If You Liked The Handmaid’s Tale…

If You Liked the Handmaids Tale.. try reading...

If you enjoyed Season 1 of The Handmaid’s Tale, you may be interested in trying some of the following novels, tv series and films – many of which raise (still) relevant questions about personal agency, fertility and reproduction, and society (especially when it takes a dystopian turn).

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Children of Men by P. D. James
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
He, She and It by Marge Piercy
Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
The Gate to Women’s Country by Sherri S. Tepper
Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Humans created by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley
Orphan Black created by John Fawcett and Graham Manson
Top of the Lake created by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee
Never Let Me Go directed by Mark Romanek
Children of Men directed by Alfonso Cuaron

Novels to try reading if you liked The Handmaids Tale

What is Bibliotherapy?

ways to read more

There can be an amazing solace in reading the right book at the right time, and bibliotherapy is both a formal and informal way to help readers find the stories or information they need during significant moments in their lives.

In a formal sense, bibliotherapy is a clinical practice that encourages healing through reading and reflection. Expressive therapies like bibliotherapy use the arts and value creative and imaginative processes as paths to healing. By carefully selecting reading materials that may help a client understand or solve an issue that they may be facing at a particular time, bibliotherapy practitioners offer options for personal reflection, assessment and growth.

In a more informal sense, bibliotherapy is what many of us do whenever we are feeling unsettled, sad, or confused. We reach for a read from our comfort shelf – the books that remind us who we are, and that reinforce our sense of self. New reading can also enrich our lives, providing us with much needed insight and inspiration.

Reading specialists like myself love nothing better than matching the right book with the right person at the right time. Not all readers are the same, and when helping someone work out what to read next, I like to understand the reader – what they like to read and why, and what they don’t like to read and why. I also like to understand if the reader is seeking a new perspective, revitalisation or a renewed sense of wonder, or comfort.

It’s also important to recognise that everyone’s reading choices are valid. There’s no point being snobby about what people read, and we all read for different reasons. I do like helping people read outside their comfort zones from time to time, however, and this is one of the fun challenges you face as a reading specialist or amateur bibliotherapist.

In an informal bibliotheraphy session, I might have a friendly conversation with you, and ask you some questions about your reading and where you are in your life. I may give you some instant recommendations on what to read next, and I may follow up with some suggestions by email after a bit of research or reflection. Because I’m not a psychologist or counsellor, I can’t help you with serious issues that may come up in our conversations, but I do have a great list of services staffed by professional and caring people that I can refer you to.

I’m an ‘expert reader’ at The Mudgee Readers’ Festival in August, in beautiful rural NSW. If you will be in Mudgee during the festival and are interested in having a one-on-one or small group conversation with me about reading, you can book in for a 15 minute bibliotherapy session on Saturday 12 August at Warbehr Design.  These sessions are free, but you must email info@mudgeereaders.com to book your 15 minute slot.

For the Full Festival Program, visit The Mudgee Readers’ Festival website.  The Festival runs from Thursday 10 August to Sunday 13 August, 2017.

What is Bibliotherapy, How can you lead a better life through books, and what should you read next?

Girl in Christchurch

The Tannery Best Shopping ChristchurchBill Sutton Christchurch Art Gallery Canterbury LandscapeNew Regent Street Best Shopping ChristchurchBill Hammond Christchurch Art GalleryDemolished Building Post Earthquake Christchurch

Christchurch is one of the main airports from which to enter New Zealand’s South Island, and because Christchurch is in the centre of the island’s east coast, it offers easy access to Kaikoura, Able Tasman, Marlborough and Nelson to the north, Mount Cook, Mackenzie Country, The Southern Alps and the West Coast to the west, and Queenstown, Central Otago, Costal Otago, Southland and the Southern West Coast (including Fiordland and Milford Sound) to the south.

Historically, Christchurch is a very English city, with beautiful parklands along the Avon River, but the city is currently experiencing significant change after a devastating earthquake 6 years ago. This makes Christchurch a really interesting, dynamic city to visit, as there are new developments constantly, and the 21st century is currently butting up against the older parts of the city that are being preserved.  Two of my favourite new (old) places to visit this trip were The Tannery in Woolston, which is a new shopping and eating precinct in a beautifully preserved old arcade and New Regent Street in the CBD, which is full of cafes and quirky little shops, very near Cathedral Square.  I miss old haunts I used to visit like the Arts Centre, but am fascinated by my old memories of Christchurch and the palimpsest of new developments that have been overlaid over the old routes and ways I used to navigate the city.  I know it’s been very hard for people who live in Christchurch, but she is a wonderfully resilient city and I know it is going to be a very interesting city to visit for years to come.

Surrounding the city on all sides are the gorgeous Port and Cashmere Hills, and it is an amazing feeling being in a city where you can see magnificent and rugged nature looming just beyond the skylines of buildings.  This is something I associate very much with New Zealand, and it always makes me feel like I am home.

Stayed: With friends in St Albans
Ate at: The Caffeine Laboratory, Tanner Street Bakery, The Thai Container
Explored: The Tannery, Christchurch Art Gallery, Crate Escape (an Escape Room in a Shipping Container!)
City Highlights: CBD, Woolston, Lyttelton

Girl in the Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Vineyard Tour Wedding at Circa 1876 Hunter Valley Halls Road Walk Hunter Valley New South Wales

For somewhere that is less than 2 hours drive from Sydney, we don’t go to the Hunter Valley nearly enough. We were lucky to be invited to a gorgeous wedding at Circa 1876 between Christmas and New Years, however, and stayed at the Convent next door – a gorgeous boutique hotel that has now topped my list of affordable but luxurious places to stay in NSW.

The wedding itself was gorgeous, one of the nicest and most heartfelt weddings I have had the privilege of attending, and it was a great opportunity to explore the Circa 1876 vegetable garden that the restaurant uses to supply some of the produce for their dishes. The vegetable garden is large and varied, with lots of herbs, trussed tomatoes, globe artichokes and feathery fennel.

With only 48 hours to play in the Hunter (and temperatures above 40 degrees centigrade) we had a very laid-back day visiting vineyards after the wedding. We picked up the makings of a picnic lunch from Binnorie Dairy (which we enjoyed from our private balcony looking over the Convent gardens), and went for an afternoon swim in the hotel pool before hitting a few more vineyards in the early evening.  One of the best vineyards we visited was Petersons, where ‘John the Pom’ treated us to a special tasting in the private members room.

Stayed at: The Convent
Ate at: Restaurant Cuvee, Peterson House, Circa 1876, Binnoire Dairy
Explored: Hunter Valley Vineyards
Region Highlights: Broke, Pokolbin, Lovedale, Wollombi, Wollemi

Still on My To Read List for 2017

Still lots of books I didn’t get to, and I am ashamed to say some of them I have wanted to read since at least 2015!

Zero K by Don DeLillo
It’s sitting on my phone waiting to be read.  I should probably get myself a paperback.  An unread ebook is one way to immortality, I guess.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Victorian England, Naturalism.  I don’t know much about this book yet, but it popped up on lots of favourite lists at the end of 2016, and those two keywords are enough to pique my interest.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
This seems like a logical next read after The Last Painting of Sara de Vos for anyone who wants more of the Dutch Golden Age.  I am hoping for Dorothy Dunnett meets A. S. Byatt.

The Girls by Emma Cline
Much anticipated in 2016, but didn’t really cross my radar or catch my interest at the time.  Now that I have read and loved Commonwealth, a dangerously edged tale of adolescence at the violent end of the 1960s sounds perfect.

A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel
To tie me over until The Mirror and the Light comes out, an epic French Revolution tale from a Booker Prize winner sounds wonderful.  Nobody makes historical figures quite so human or vulnerable as Hilary Mantel.

And the ones from last year that I didn’t make it to, but that are still high on my list…

The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall
A fictional account of the reintroduction of wild wolves in the UK? Wolves, English Gentry and Country Estates, Female Scientist Protagonist, Returning home to family ghosts? What’s still not to love? I don’t know why I haven’t got to this yet, but did make sure I set it for Book Clubs in 2017 (just to make sure I finally read it)

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
One of the most popular science fiction novels in China, and increasingly hyped now that it has been published and widely read in English.  I still hope that the Cultural Revolution background story for this novel will be the driver for some really serious political science fiction.

Best Reads of 2016: Not Actually 2016 Books

Three World War II novels, two modern classics, and one newish post civilisation novel (I can never get enough utopia/dystopia/post-apocalypse) rounded out my list of favourite not so new books read in 2016.

Life After Life and A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
(Kinokuniya)

California by Edan Lepucki
(Readings)

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
(Public Library)

High-Rise by J. G. Ballard
(Public Library)

Ripley Under Ground by Patricia Highsmith
(Public Library)