Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Banners and Trades!

In case you haven't noticed, I've put up some banners on the site. So far there are five. Phun with Photoshop. Check them all out here. Our Bhoodevi etsy shop also has a new banner (but still no products)!

I wanted to say that I read Island of the Blue Dolphins Monday night. Have any of you read this? It's a beautiful book intended for children but I think I would have been traumatized if I read it when I was a child. It's an incredibly touching book based on the true story of a girl stranded all alone on an island for 18 years, while her tribe went off to California. Much better than Castaway (which I did like). A great testament to the human spirit!

Trades - I'd like to trade someone some of my drawings and crafty stuff for other crafted goodies. Any takers? Leave me a post with your email or send an email to pj20 at cornell dot edu

Here is also a cool little thing created by Typo Generator

Knitted blocks and poem

I finished the knitted blocks - three letters that spell out the little girl's name in knit (picture to come soon). I stuffed them with polyester fill. I made them up like boxes are made - sewed six identical squares each and then joined them in a cross pattern, and then sewed up all sides but one. Stuffed, then sewed up the last side.

They came out a little lumpy - I guess my knitting tension wasn't uniform! But the fronts came out okay.

I also started on a hat for her dad, based on one in the Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits (a great beginner knitting book!), which I picked up from the library. I plan to post it on Wardrobe Refashion when I'm done.

Today's cool thing: Forum with Michael Krasny on reducing greenhouse gases.

Not cool: I saw the Jack in the Box ad yesterday where Jack goes to his kid's school, and the child says he wants to be a vegetarian (at which the audience, along with Jack, are dismayed). Turns out the kid meant "veterinarian!" A simple and funny confusion, but a big step back for vegetarianism. I know it's just humor, but for some reason that ad is making me angry! (See it here)

Today's poem:
through a sliver of a pane
I see trees, like curly q's
and skies like blue cotton candy
like a tiny window into a book
i have not yet read
and in this world of the mundane
i dream
of something ethereal
of something beyond
my imagination

Eco-tip: Check your computer's energy settings. Set them to the lowest you can or the settings for "better energy savings." If you tend to leave your computer on at night, set a schedule to turn it off when you usually go to bed.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cool Tools

I've made one block of my three blocks for the baby! I also got some stuffing from San Diego to stuff them with.

Okay, so I've been finding these great new tools for living a better, more socially responsible life:

1) Mutual Fund Social Screen Tool - If you're invested in any mutual funds, this tool lets you screen them according to criteria you're invested in. Want to see if your fund is tobacco-free? Don't want to choose a fund that invests in Sudan? A very useful and enlightening search.

I'm planning to write to some of the funds from work and have them divest.

2) Water Use Calculator - Calculate just how much water you use. This is a tool from Canada (found it from One Good Bumblebee). Here is another for the United States.

I was surprised - on the Canada one I came out lower than the average. On the other one, I came out to 14,000 gallons. Yikes, need to watch the tap!

3) Ecofoot - How many Earths would we need if everyone lived like you? The answer might surprise you! I was 2.2 - probably mostly from all the flying I do. Shockingly, the US average is 24!

Eco-tip: Easy way to reduce your carbon burden - purchase a Carbon offset to plant trees or do other things that counteract the CO2 you're producing this year.

Monday, February 26, 2007


This weekend I'm in San Diego at my parents home. I've doubled my Seven Things karma by helping my mom get rid of a box of books and various other trinkets from around the house. We did it yesterday while watching the Oscars - which were also green this year (Yay!), included a win for Al Gore, and had many useful ideas about how to stop global warming. Love and environmentalism all around!

I also cut my hair!!! I've been growing my hair for a year and a half and finally cut it off. I got a free haircut out of it because I donated 12 inches to Locks of Love. What an easy way to do something helpful, huh?

She has also been making pretty handbags out of old cloth and bags that rice comes in (Basmati, jasmine, etc). So, we opened up an etsy shop!

It's called Bhoodevi and is at The name comes from the Hindu goddess of the Earth, and we're planning to put up some bags and other pretty things made out of stuff that would normally go into landfills. I'll keep you posted!

Eco-tip: Save bits of paper from around the house and junk mail that's been printed on one side. Staple them together to make little notepads to keep by the phone or jot down notes. You could even make whole notebooks out of them.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Poem for the Earth

For people who want to pass on the value of being environmentally friendly, Green Teacher is a good resource. In the most recent issue, I found the following lovely poem by Emily Dickinson:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.

A succint statement of how important and simple it is to help others.

Eco-tip: If you're invested in TIAA-CREF, send this letter to oppose their investments in Dow Chemical, which has still not cleaned up its act after a major gas explosion in Bhopal, India twenty years ago, and Chevron, which has poisoned communities in the Amazon, Nigeria, Angola, and Burma.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Not Buying in San Diego, Seven #5

Today I listened to Forum - where they featured Judith Levine and "Not Buying It" (Listen here). Yay for popularization of anti-consumerism!

I'll be going to San Diego tonight to meet my mom and sister. I already have a list of things to do there, like cut my hair and learn how to re-cover old qtip sticks with cotton (new reuse idea!). I've also asked for reuse ideas on How Can I Recycle This?

I love my parents' place - it's homey and calm but still open. I love eating breakfast on this great mosaic table my dad made (another place I get my craft-love):

The biggest challenge will be to return with minimal stuff. My mother always sends me back with STUFF!

Eco-tip: Reuse envelopes by ungluing them, turning them inside out, regluing. You can add a label or piece of paper glued on for ones that are printed. How pretty and eco-chic!

Oh, my seven things:
- Freecycled 2 more scarves
- Freecycled 3 more balls of yarn
- Giving away a bag of jewelry today (stuff I mentioned before plus 3 more necklaces and 1 pair of earrings and 1 bangle set)
- Tossed another top

That's 11! Total so far: 57.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Culling - defashioning jewelry

I've been going through my jewelry and now have a nice pile of old earrings, bangles, and necklaces I'm giving away. After all, as mentioned in Simplify Your Life, you only need a couple of pieces of simple earrings that go with everything.

In my case, many are heirlooms. So I ended up keeping a lot of them, especially the 22 karat gold, for purely sentimental (ie my mother will kill me!) reasons. I'm left with lots of jewelry which I'm trying to pare down further.

Current count:
10 necklaces and pendants (plus 3 gold necklaces)
10 pairs earrings (plus 5 gold pairs)
7 bangles/bangle sets (plus one gold pair)
1 gold ring
2 pairs silver anklets

TOTAL: 39 (a bit of an improvement over the previous count)

My current goal is 20. Already tough.

In the meantime, my current project for Wardrobe Refashion (not sure if it counts though!) is knitting up some baby blocks (sort of like these). I'm making them out of multicolored pastel yarn and white yarn. They'll be a present for a friend's daughter.

Eco-tip: Leftover napkins at restaurants often get tossed. Save them to use as tissues or napkins in the car or at home and then recycle or compost.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Projects, projects

In my attempt to reuse things as much as possible before recycling, I've found that it's not as easy, so I'm back to recycling a lot of things.

Case in point: milk and juice bottles. Ideally, milk should come in reusable bottles you can just refill. Ideally, I should just eat fruit and make my own juice. That doesn't happen in a household of 4+. Therefore, I'm saving a few jugs for watering plants and other things, while the others go off into the recycling bin.

I still have also not set up a compost bin, a fact I am reminded of (cringing) every time I toss vegetable peels and fruit cores into the trash. I'm tempted just to bury them around my rose plants until the compost bin gets set up.

I have been saving the caps of various juice and milk bottles which have made it to the recycling bin, however. I have a small collection now which I intend to make into a bowl that I saw on SOME website but can no longer find (any help? would like to give credit where it is due).

In the meantime, while defashioning, I am trying to give up other obsessions. Here is an arbitrarily-ordered list of my past (starred) and current obsessions and hobbies:

Hello Kitty*
Recycling things
Giving away stuff
Writing poems, stories
Drawing and doodling

I guess I don't intend to wean myself off of all of these, but key is not to let them take over my life.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Seven #4 and Poem

I need to think of some more interesting titles...

Yesterday's revelation has prompted today's Eco tip!

Eco Tip: save anything you were going to put in the trash. Find a new use for it and keep it out of the landfill!

I'm going out of town for the weekend so I'm posting this week's list of things given away now:

1. 4 packets of handmade cards
2. 3 bangles
3. a bead necklace
4-5. 2 scarves
6-8. 3 skeins of yarn
9. bag of buttons and string
10. empty lip gloss box

Not the most amazing of giveaways but it brings my total to 46.

AND another spontaneous poem. I love Greek mythology.

Mirrored on the computer
Is me, Is I
A teardrop of a reflection
liquid crystal, liquid silver
Flowing in and out of bits and bytes
Mesmerized by the glow of pixels
Gazing deep, deeper
Narcissa, drawn into herself
While an Echo awaits me

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Today I saw a great bumper sticker: "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." To me it means that peace can only be achieved by peace, and not by other means!

Peace is so intangible, though. It could be peace as opposed to war, lack of arguments, quietness, or even inner peace. Maybe they're all interconnected.

Words like stoic, senseless, staid, stern, (a lot of s-words) and others conjure images of yogis seated on pins for me. Dead to the world, utterly absorbed in their own things and lacking any creativity whatsoever. Awful, right?

And did you know that the word "anesthetic" comes from an- (without) esthetic (senses) - which is what an anesthetic does, make you lose your senses so you feel nothing.

It also means that anesthetics might make you stoic - you lack esthetics! I find it difficult to imagine a life without them.

However, Hindu philosophy holds that in order to be fulfilled and reach enlightenment, you must detach yourself from your senses. Does that mean enlightenment means anesthesia? Is that what yogis are going for? Inner peace by numbness?

Eco-tip: Fight big oil and help the people of Darfur! Sign the petition at Save

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Reuse vs Compact

Over the last several weeks I've been making growing lists of crafts and little homemade projects to do with old balls of yarn, cloth (a la Wardrobe Refashion), paper and more. At the same time, I'm giving away Seven Things a week. I'm simultaneously trying to wean myself from consumerism by not buying any new non-consumables.

Today I had a near emotional revelation-slash-breakdown. I came to two realizations:

1. I've been saving scraps and making more stuff

2. I'm trying to reduce the amount of stuff in my life

These two are like Scylla and Charybdis - how will I ever get through?

If you read the AMAZING book Hooked: Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume , you find that the urge for STUFF is irresistible. Even the Dalai Lama has felt it! So I want to be aware of what I consume, and to try to reduce my consumption.

Still, it is simultaneously important to do the three R's: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, in that order.

Reduce: We are trying to remove the things from our lives we don't need. That means not necessarily KEEPING less, but buying and USING less.

Reuse: This is where the dilemma comes in. If I have 100 sheets of one-sided paper. Should I try to reuse them first in my printer before recycling them? Yes. What if I have 1000? 10,000? It comes down to practicality, for most things. But now, if I have 50 balls of yarn that I hope to use, is it just clogging up space or is it really of value?

Recycle: These days we recycle with ease. We haven't yet set up composting but I hope to return to it soon. We are lucky in that our curbside recycling takes styrofoam and plastic bags and more. However, when do I know when to put something in the recycling bin? When I have too many to use? When it tears? When it smells funny?

I've come up with some guidelines to try to follow in this regard:

Reduce: Seven Things is helping with this. I'm also trying to "use up" things but that means maybe using up stuff more slowly. Like not repeating with my shampoo, and filling the laundry detergent to the line until I start making my own. Also important is buying less packaged stuff. For example, Costco sells certain fruit only in plastic (BAD!). We should also return their cardboard boxes or bring our own.

Reuse: I plan to reuse something until it is unusable and not buy any more of it. Plastic bags will be used again and again and again until they can't be used (or are given away as packaging for gifts or something else). Same with cling wrap and plastic things that fruit come in and other such things.

Recycle: Recycling ought to be a last resort. Things like styrofoam peanuts I get by mistake, or shredded plastic bags.

Finally, the trash should really be trash - nothing that could have been recycled. After all, why do we still have anything to throw away anyway after reducing and recycling and composting?

(Image from

Sunday, February 11, 2007

It's curtains for me!

I've finally put up those pastel curtains. I only used three panels (the fourth has gone missing!) and the ends are not done but it already feels cozier in the room. Again, since the edges are finished, no fraying. I used a needle for fine fabrics and used a zigzag stitch so it would stay in place. The curtain rod was freecycled (probably why it's all warped, but I like it).

I tried them two ways:
1) Hanging panels (pink white yellow) side by side. The three fit perfectly across.
2) Middle panel with swagged sides.

Not sure which I like better. Need help!

I also got rid of a few things so far: some bangles, a bead necklace, two other scarves, and 3 skeins of baby yarn (well, two skeins and one ball). I guess that's seven already. The pressure is off but my obsession with decluttering is not over!

Observation: Yesterday I heard a Hindi song that (roughly translated) said "whoever I think of as far away, is close to you." You can be interpreted in many ways, but I like the idea that distance is relative. Whoever is gone from our lives is closer to something else, whether God, or Nature, other loved ones, or just their own happiness.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Saturday Seven #3

Saturday is nice. I get up REALLY late (the last in my household) and while they have the TV blaring with news of Anna Nicole and presidential campaigns and Indian movies, I get to organized.

Today I just remembered I'm doing Saturday instead of Friday, which is a relief! I got several more things at the last minute, but already in the third week I feel like I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel.

1. Toaster oven - wanted by someone on Freecycle
2. Recipes and VegNews magazines - offered to Freecycle, taken
3. Tshirt - I added sleeves to make it 3/4 but wasn't happy.
4. Binder clips - I never bought these so they probably accumulated from things brought home from my old school.
5. Binders and folders - I save all my old binders and folders for reuse, but I'm just not using that many any more. Extras out!
6. ipod nano case - I gave my ipod (which I won) to my dad, and he'd never use so girly a case.
7. Real simple magazine - I stopped subscribing but was hanging on to one last one for some reason. There's always the library.
8. Bag of tea lights - I'd saved this for a gift but it never seemed appropriate.
9. Airline headphones - usually a waste of $3-5
10. Power strip - have too many, and not that many electrical items to use at once!

Wow, looking back, that's decent considering I only had three things Friday night.

I'm also giving away old cards. Let's see how many go today.

This week: 10
Total: 36

Next week is going to be difficult, but this is my personal battle with consumerism.

edit: forgot the photos, here they are!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Free Cards

Well, I'm trying out my Friday seven, only have 4 things so far. Update at the end of the day

I store all the cards I've handmade (or modified) in a big expanding file, which is now bulging! I'll never use them up this year, and I still have a ton of card-making materials! I'd hate to have them all be recycled because they are kind of nice (if I do say so myself!). I've enveloped them in magazine-paper individually. (I'll try to post some pictures later)

So here's the call-out to all: if you want any greeting cards, post a comment or email me your address and I will send them out in packs of 5-10 (depending on how many people want them) until I run out. They'll be a mix, but mostly blank. US only please!

I hope you all will like my cards!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Here is a drawing I completed a few days ago. I've always done these in black and white so a multi-color was new to me. I did it on three-hole paper which was probably a bad idea. I may use it to cover a gift or paper bag.

Observation: Drawing slow steady designs is cathartic. It teaches me patience and to appreciate repetition, but lets me still create. I am slowly and reluctantly accepting that some things can be beautiful without necessarily being traditionally "useful."

Border jeans

This week I've been slow at removing things from my life, but I'm getting started on tackiling some projects I've been putting off.

For example, I added sleeves from dh's old sweater (he didn't like the v-neck) to a tshirt. It made the tshirt sleeves 3/4. Then I realized I'd added them inside out. Resewed. Now they are just past the elbow. It looked okay but it is going in the give-away pile anyway. Somehow not what I was going for.

I then was going to let go of a pair of capris - light soft denim ones but a weird length. I re-discovered this green zari border in my stash. Cut 4 pieces (all same width) - sewed on straight (front back front back), and then sewed up the sides. It's a nice length now. I kind of wish I could have sewed them a little higher so that the hem stitch of the jeans doesn't show but then they'd be too short, as you can see. Compromise. Have to figure how to focus better with this camera too. Apologies for fuzziness.

On the seven things front, I so far have the tshirt, and a surprise as well. Someone on freecycle wanted a toaster oven. I had one which I had been saving for someday since we don't have space now, but I gave it away. I also have a set of recipes and books posted which lots of people have requested but no one has picked up!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Friday seven #2

This week's friday seven was a double! I've put them all into TWO small suitcases and my husband has promised to drop them off at the Goodwill this coming week.

Here are the items:
1-3. textbooks: development, calculus, genetics - these are old textbooks I no longer use
2. forever young forever healthy - a yoga book I gave back to my mom
3. better sight without glasses - I'm on contacts now but I've read this and know the principles. Maybe someone else can benefit.
4. conference book - don't know if anyone can use this, so it's just recycle
5. laser pointer - needs a battery
6. computer microphone - the case has snapped but it works if you hold it. we haven't used it in at least a year
7. nail clipper - I found at least 4 in the kitchen drawer, so here's one gone off.
8. 18 cds - the music is all on the computer or ipod or unnecessary
9. pair of slides/sandals - i just can't wear slides comfortably for some reason
10. pens - working but we have WAY too many
11. padlock - i forgot the combination. i wonder if anyone else can figure it out?
12. toolbox extras (nuts and bolts) - how many nuts and bolts does a person need?
13. one scarf - I have a ton
14. two tops - one shrank in the wash and no longer fits. It's a shame, it was pretty and a gift. The other is stained.
15. black pants (stained in the wash) - I only have one pair of black pants left now!

X. a glass vase, book origami and papercraft, my old drawings - I've relegated these to my gift box and for wrappings, so that they won't be lying around useless. I can fill the vase with roses when they bloom next year, and I have friends who love crafts. The drawings will make pretty wrappings and cards.

I also gave away two of my dh's shirts. It was hard parting for him.