Challenge Update: Week 46

Six weeks to go!

Stay through to the end for a sneak peak at our Christmas concert!

Challenge Rule 1: Buy No Clothes/Don’t Covet

I did not buy. I have been coveting a little bit, but wait! Let me explain!

It’s a very fine line between thinking about the things I will actually need to replace come the end of my challenge, and coveting. Do you remember the many, many, many episodes of the Saga of the Elf Boots?

If you are not up-to-date, my Buy-No-Clothes-in-2021 Challenge included accessories and shoes. It so happened that by the end of January, my favorite pair of boots, the ones I’ve had for at least ten years that I call affectionately “the Elf Boots”, had sprung a leak in the sole and had a broken strap. Because these are nearly the only casual shoes I wear all Fall and all Winter, I panicked. I laid out 60€ to get the fixed at Rumpelstiltskin’s, reasoning that A. I love these boots and no others could ever make me as happy as these do, and B. It would cost me at least twice that to ever replace them and C. Replacing them was out of the question this year.

But that’s not all! after I spent my 60€ to get them fixed, I had a mishap with a barbed wire fence and made a gash in the side, which I desperately tried to fix with needle and thread.

Well, it’s Fall, and I’m back to wearing those boots every. single. day. And while I still love them, and have them down to 1€ per wear now post-repair, I’ve gotta be honest. Every single time I put them on, and often with every single step, I wonder when they are going to give out on me. They just feel…not right. They feel loosey goosey.

So what to my wondering eyes should appear but an advertisement on Instagram, which I will be honest, I didn’t realize at first was an ad. I just thought it was a photo of someone I follow, wearing an outfit I was instantly drooling over: a fancy green pleated skirt and these gorgeous mid-calf black boots. “Oh! Those boots!” I actually said out loud after an enormous gasp. That was when I discovered that this was an advertisement and that I could, if I wanted them, have my very own pair.

They are like a girly mix between Doc Martens and a cancan boot. (Can you picture them?) I screenshot them and have been returning to them daily, yes, to covet them. No, I might never be able to replace my Elf Boots, but these would be the perfect answer to my Elf Boots. Plus, bonus, they are made by a brand which is famous for having breathable shoes, which is always something I struggle with (and is one of the reasons I cling to my Elf Boots with my life.)

Oh here. Just so you can covet them with me:

“I exist to tempt you,” hoot the Doc Martensy cancan boots

So, as I consider the things that I might actually need to be replaced after my challenge, it has made me seriously covet things I do not have. End of story. Guilty as charged.

Challenge Rule 2: The Inventory

I had set before my eyes the goal of “If it hasn’t been worn this year, then it’s gotta go…” Which has set a fire under me to get some things worn. This, in itself, is a good thing. But in practice it has been an itchy matter. More to come on that in the “alter and repair” section.

Challenge Rule 3: Go-To Catalogue:

I have been documenting the good outfits as they arrive. I fell back on a Go-To this week one night when I was too exhausted to do my evening Mise en Place with any creativity whatsoever, and yet still was able to put together a really cute outfit thanks to the Go-To Catalogue. Yay me!

Challenge Rule 4: Mise en Place/Plan Ahead:

So, thanks to my brilliant sister, I am giving a new weekly planning system a go. It is a document that lays out all on one page the agenda, daily family meal plan, outfit Mise en Place and a few other health-related essentials.

My goal is to try this system until the end of the year, since, with my three concerts and myriad rehearsals upcoming, I know life is going to get busy and I am going, inevitably, to get lost and confused. When this happens, I get overwhelmed and then I get miserable, and ain’t nobody want me miserable. So I printed off six copies of the little planner and started filling them in.

What this allowed me to do was to pre-Mise en Place the important dates, the ones for which I want to be a Fairy Princess, notably, the two days next week when I will be with my scalawags’ classes for Thanksgiving. Incidentally, I asked my eldest, “What should I wear to your class?” thinking he would give me another rule, like “Do not wear an orange petticoat,” but to my surprise he did not say that. He said, “Well, wear something pretty, of course.”

With this Mise en Place done now, I was able to put all those things aside so they will be clean and ready and I won’t get stressed out the day-of or even the night before. Three cheers for Mise en Place!

Challenge Rule 5: Repair and Mend, Alter when Necessary:

I fixed a hole in a coat pocket, that abyss into which I was systematically losing my car keys. Because apparently it was Pockets Week, I also fixed a seam in the pocket of a vintage pair of culottes that I have had forever and that I hadn’t worn in forever. These are wool culottes handmade by some woman in the 1970s who seemed to have made them just for me. The only problem with them is that the silly woman didn’t pick up both layers of pockets when she sewed them together, so there was a three inch hole in the bottom of it…probably since the first day she made them. I fixed that.

The Unsuccessful Fix of the Week:

This wool sweater is one I have had for a very long time, but never wear. I couldn’t remember why I don’t wear it, so I undertook to wear it a few times this week. I was miserable. I couldn’t figure out why I felt like my neck was on fire.

Ah yes. It’s because this sweater is made out of fire. That’s why. I don’t typically get itched-out by wool, but for some reason, this sucker has just the right mix of cayenne pepper and porcupine quills to make me squirm.

But I love the way it looks. So I tried to fix it.

I had a pair of jeans destined for the trash. They were unwearable by any human ever again, but they had the most soft finish of any jeans I had worn. I decided to cut them apart and use them as a lining for the neck of the sweater. It should help, right?

But no. I mean, yes, to a degree. But those little fire ants still can find my skin on the edges!

I will wear it like this, though. I think. I hope. I really want to keep it out of the landfill.


It’s fantastic to have a touch of pressure to start finding solutions to some of my wardrobe issues…I am particularly excited about the Plan Way Ahead method of Mise en Place. We’ll see if it’s sustainable!

In other news…

I’ve been rehearsing quite a bit for our Christmas concerts. Last night we met up with the musicians who will be playing with us, and, remember, this is a rehearsal recording, so it’s not perfect, but since you won’t get to be there, I thought you might like to get in the mood with us.

So, for your listening pleasure, here are three pieces from our concert (rehearsal style):

First up, “Balulalow”, a lullaby for three women’s voices. One of the musicians is heard here sight-singing the second soprano part. She knocks it outta the park.

And second up, a contemporary Christmas carol called, “Adore”. Here, we have piano, cello, recorder and voice. Again. It’s a rehearsal and you get to hear me mess up and Aline helping us stay together. But you get the idea. Just picture: evening gowns and a fabulous handknit bolero.

And thirdly, my ultimate favorite of all possible hymns, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty…”

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

5 thoughts on “Challenge Update: Week 46

    1. I have been trying different ones, but truth be told, this particular blend is so unpleasant that those quills come at ya even with a blouse, a turtleneck, or a scarf around the neckline. This sweater is incomprehensible. Who would make something like this? It’s the proof that the people who design and make the clothes do not wear their wares!

      Liked by 1 person

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