Not-So-Winter-Wonderland

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I grew up a born-and-bred Territory girl, in a place where ‘cold’ meant 25°c and ‘winter’ involved beautifully sunny days and slightly chilly nights. When I decided to go to University in Melbourne, I was completely unprepared for an actual winter. The only warm items of clothing I owned were a pair of jeans and a hoodie, and my thoughts of winter revolved around wood fires and ice-skating. I am now in the middle of my third Melbourne winter, and I have decided that I absolutely and completely hate winter! When I went home for the mid-year holidays this year, I was reminded of how much I love being warm. I also broke my hatred of winter into a few specific categories, which I thought I would share with you today.

Winter Dressing
When I came to Melbourne, I had a rather romantic vision of what dressing for winter would be like. I saw myself frolicking around in pretty coats and lovely boots, occasionally accessorising with adorable hats and scarves. Now don’t get me wrong, there are days when this actually happens. I have fallen in love with various different hats, and I love my port-wine coloured coat with its beautiful shiny buttons. But 5 days out of 7, I find winter dressing to be nothing more than a hassle. Things weren’t too bad in first and second year, but this year I spend 5 days a week on placement at a hospital, where ‘clinically appropriate’ clothing is required at all times. This means no hoodies, no jeans, and no massive fluffy jackets that you can bury yourself in while you watch a lecture. Instead, I am constantly running out of clean tights (note to self – buy more tights), and trying to think of new ways to layer my limited collection of ‘professional’ clothing so that I don’t freeze to death. While I am slowly getting the hang of winter dressing, I still feel a pang of sadness whenever I see my denim shorts sitting forlornly in my wardrobe, and I am desperately looking forward to the days where I can wear a dress without three other layers.

The Lack of Sunshine
I think one of the things I have found hardest during winter is going days without any actual sunlight. On the rare days that it does get cold in Darwin, the sky is still bright blue with fluffy white clouds, and you can always find a patch of sunlight to bask in. One of the reasons I find the lack of sunshine so hard to cope with is the effect it has on my mood. I suffer from Depression and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (both currently relatively under control – yay!), and I always notice a definite dip in my mood, and a definite increase in my anxiety levels, when the days are a uniform shade of gray. When my depression and anxiety are playing up I will get very tired very easily, and it is particularly hard to pick myself up and get on with things when it is pitch black at 6pm. My body is very much of the opinion that when it is dark outside the day should be coming to an end, which makes being productive and getting things done rather difficult.

The Rain
In Darwin, when it is cold, it is also dry. I had very rarely experienced being cold and wet at the same time, and I am still have no idea how to deal with it! I have gotten better over the last two years – I learnt that ballet flats are not appropriate shoes to wear in winter, and finally got into the habit of always having an umbrella – but I still find it so hard to adapt to being both cold and wet. I find it particularly hard because the rain is so miserable. In Darwin, we get incredible thunderstorms, and the rain always brings this incredible smell of grass and fresh earth and green things. In Melbourne, we get day-long mists of cold rain, and the only smell is wet. Wet coats, wet hair, wet shoes. Everything gets so wet! And don’t even get me started on trying to do washing in winter – waiting three days for my jeans to dry is something I can rant about for hours.

The Strategies
I can whine and moan as much as I want about the weather (and I do), but I still have another two and a half year before I finish my degree (yay for being half way!), and as much as I hate the weather, I just have to put up with it. I have developed a number of strategies for coping with winter, ranging from my favourite new coat to endless cups of hot chocolate. I have some wonderful Peter Alexander flannelette pyjamas that make getting up at 6am much easier, and a few weeks ago I finally caved in and bought my first pair of track pants. They are so warm and fluffy, and when they are tucked into my fluffy boots, they are absolutely wonderful! I have found that it is the little things that make a big different when it comes to brightening up my winters, and hopefully these little things will see me through to the other side. A side full of sunshine and flowers and colour! I hope you enjoyed reading this little ramble, and that winter isn’t treating you too badly (if you live on the other side of the world and are enjoying being warm – I am insanely jealous). At least there are only a few months to go!

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I Made A Thing!

Ever since I was a child, I have known my mother could sew and have wanted to learn. Mum was sewing when she was a child on my grandmother’s Singer, and mum made me wonderful clothes and costumes when I was little. I took sewing classes when I was younger, but the lessons weren’t quite what I had hoped. I wanted to learn how to read a pattern; how to make alterations and sew a zipper. I decided it was time that I learn how to sew again, and while I was home mum took it upon herself to teach me!

My sewing adventures started with a very excited trip to Spotlight, the haberdashery megastore. We rifled through pattern book after pattern book, and finally settled on a Vogue pattern for a knee length black skirt made out of a lovely black cotton. My lessons started as a language lesson; patterns are written in a language of their own, and mum had to teach me what the various squiggles and dots meant. The skirt is very full, so there was a lot of material that had to be cut. Figuring out what “the right side of the fabric” meant was one thing; trying to figure out which of the two nearly-identical sides was the right one was another matter!

After some fiddling with the sewing machine, which is old and rather uncooperative, the actual sewing commenced! Things went surprisingly smoothly much of the time, and when things were going well I found the sewing to be wonderfully relaxing. I love the sound of the sewing macing as it pounds away, and it makes me feel rather like a stylish young thing from the 1950’s making something special for myself!

As much as I enjoyed the sewing, I have to admit I found it hard at times. Perfectionism and an abundance of self criticism led to some extreme bouts of annoyance, but I got through them, and in the end I did enjoy myself. I successfully completed every stitch on the skirt bar the hem. We were running out of time before I left, so mum decided to take over the sewing while I started packing. A few alterations were also needed, which mum took charge of as well. I am still trying to master patterns, and I am nowhere near ready to try my hand at alterations yet!

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In the picture above, I am wearing the skirt for placement at the hospital. I paired it with a Veronika Maine shirt, a Forever One blazer, and my ever-present Wittner boots! Please excuse the less-than-wonderful positioning of this photo. This is the closest thing to a blank wall in my room, and I am still practicing taking photos of myself on timer. But things can only get better from here!