Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More and more things to keep and Seven #18

I've set aside my Seven Things this week, but for some reason, I keep finding things I want to keep.

I wore a few things in Paris I love, but others I will toss into the giveaway bin - they are simply not practical wear! Given those caveats, I keep saying to myself: hmm, this looks great. It should really stay. Suddenly I have a closet full of clothes I think I have to keep! I'm trying to limit myself to the list I mentioned before, but despite the large number of things there, I find myself drawn to more stuff, an endless addiction.

I'd like to hear from others - how do you know what to keep and what to toss? Have any of you ever been in a state where you thought you had the just the right number of something? How did you know?

I'm still balancing my keeping with giving away. And last week's Seven Things is a good example. I put most of these away just after Paris:

- microwave cookbook
- yoga cookbook
- notepad
- pens
- old urban almanac
- backpackers magazine
- plastic cup
- winter scarf
- electrical cord
- lock (no key)
- head/ear phone for telephone
- pieces of fabric
- green rayon top
- old envelopes I was saving

That makes 14, for a total of 197.

I don't hope to get rid of ALL clutter from my life. As a creative person, a little bit of clutter helps me. I like to have a bit of a mess, and then clean it all up one fine day, then let it build up again. So I'm okay (for now) with something less than austere asceticism. I'm okay as a partial materialist. BUT I'm still looking for the right balance of simple and complex.

In the meantime, I hope for peace of mind and the peace of a clutter-optimized life for all of you!

Eco-tip: Buy fruits in season. Rather than track down winter squash and brussel sprouts this time of year, make use of the fresh berries and beans. Visit your farmer's market and find out what's in season - it'll be fresher and less expensive, too.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Paree and Portals

I just flew back from Paris and boy are my arms tired!

Okay, silly jokes aside, I had a brilliant, exhausting, overwhelming, relaxing time over there. It was a city of contradictions - the raging new and the astonishingly old, fashionable and ancient, industrial and green - and so was the trip.

A few photos:
§ The Louvre. I could have spent a week in here, but sadly only got an afternoon. A tiring and exciting one.

§ Outside Shakespeare and Co., Sylvia Beach's bookstore.

§ From the top of the Eiffel Tower - home is so far away!

§ And my favorite (full credit goes to my husband for this picture):
Paris Hilton behind bars!

And on another note, Portals #5 is out! I've got a little article on recycling stuff around the home (mostly things you may have seen here already) but the whole issue is on reusing and recycling - what a great theme! Check it out and buy here.

Eco-tip: Have unmatched tupperware lids and bottoms? Send orphans off to the recycle bin or freecycle and then mark the others - 1A and 1B for top and bottom, for example. And always wash them together!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Flight drawings

Here are some drawings I did on the plane to and from India. I've been meaning to post theese forever, but they are so blurry I wasn't sure it was worth it. Well, here they are, if you can see them without being cross-eyed.

I got inspired by Delphine's Non dairy Diary to do a few drawings while I was on the airplane:

1) My impression of the security checkpoint. We're sheep, get it? Joke below contributed by dh.

2) Us on the plane. dh's neck was sprained and he had to use the ice pack. I was reading and drinking green tea (the tag from that is that green thing on the bottom).

3) The view out of the window at night was unbelievable.

4) This was in India - my cousin and her daughter napping. There's something beautiful about a mother and her daughter curled up peacefully together.

Eco-tip: Check out these sections on NPR's Talk of the Nation - Paper or Plastic and How Green is Green?

Miscellaneous Manic Madnesday Morning

Brought to you by the letter M and the number 3.

Today is just one of those days when I wish I were a housewife. A lazy one. (M is for homeMaker?).

I've accomplished little at work (ahem, I'm writing in my blog!), lost a bid on a house, and I'm browsing three interesting blogs with lovely pictures:

1. Molly Chicken - the epitome of cuteness
2. Non-dairy diary - art skills like you wouldn't believe
3. Yarnstorm - flowers, knitting, and food. Yum!

Progress on my new rule to get rid of things: I've already put away a bunch of things for next week's Seven. A couple of other household things have gone in the giveaway pile. I am more attached to stuff than I thought, and I fear I am too addicted to materialism to truly simplify. We'll see how it goes after I get back.

Get back you ask? Well, here's a surprise: I am headed to Paris for the weekend! I know, it's sudden, and I know virtually no French other than bonjour, voila, and ooh la la! However, I'm excited, and will catch up for a romantic getaway with dh who is over there for a conference.

So, au revoir my blogging friends and bon week-end!

Eco-tip: Try this instead of television. Sit outside with dinner. Sit under the stars and point out constellations or make up your own. Listen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Things To Keep

Not everything must be given away. In the process of purging, I've identified a few pieces of jewelry and clothing I definitely want to keep. Now you get to see some of the intricacies of my wardrobe. Nothing scandalous in here, though. The shocking part is that I've only bought a few of these myself. I'll add pictures soon.

Things I've had for years

These are things from my mom or things that have sentimental value for various reasons.

§ Purple wrap skirt - This flowy skirt goes everywhere, and trails on the floor, but it's a wrap, so it always fits, and the cotton is just dreamy. Plus, what's not to like about dark purple? The fact that my mom wore it when she was my age is just a plus.

§ Gold hoops - I can't wear too much silver or other jewelry because I'm allergic, so I have these lovely gold hoops from India. They're intricate enough to wear somewhere nice, but they also work day-to-day. My mom bought me these when I was younger.

§ Topaz necklace - I've actually lent this to someone temporarily, but my grandmother got it in Kashmir, now a nearly inaccessible place.

§ Garish sari - Some seemingly gaudy things have real value. It's shiny purple and green and yellow with a white and black border! I remember my mother lounging around in this when I was about 4. She doesn't want it anymore, but I love the design and keep it for the memories.

Other things on this list: gold chandelier earrings (bought by parents), my wedding ring (bought by dad) and necklace (bought by parents and in-laws), my wedding reception dress (bought by parents), 3 wedding saris (bought by parents and other family), a brown printed wrap skirt (mom's), reversible dress (first gift from in-laws)


§ My Om shirt - my mom bought me this a few years ago. It's made of jute, a natural fiber that doesn't require pesticides. Although it's not that old, it looks it, because I've worn it so much.

§ Coral sweater - On sale at Ann Taylor outlet for $10, but so much more than that. It often gets a compliment (apparently coral/salmon is my color!), has extra-long sleeves, and has a flattering neckline.

Other things in this category: denim jacket (from the Gap, bought by dh), multicolor scarf (cut from a scrap cloth), beige payless flats (nearly falling apart, I bought two pairs but wore out the first), Teva-like sandals (for non-work days, bought by dh), sneakers (bought by dh, at least 10 years old)

Recent things I love

§ Mango salwar set - If everything in my life were mango yellow and royal blue, I'd be happy. This one makes me feel slim and elegant and comfortable all at once. Gift from mom.

§ Bracelet - Kate recently made me this custom bracelet in - royal blue! It fits perfectly and has a lovely toggle closure I'm always fiddling with. I think I'll be wearing it everywhere.

§ Amber necklace - A good high school friend of mine gave me a necklace made out of real tree amber. It has that "earth chick" feel, which, as you know, I'm all about.

§ Loomstate jeans - In retrospect I probably paid way too much for these, but I'd wanted organic cotton jeans forever and buying organic and fair trade is worth it. I have two pairs now (one skinny with pinstrips and one plain bootcut) and wear them much too often. A gift from mom and sister for graduation.

Other things in this category include: knee-high boots (holiday gift from family), black kitten-heel slings (you need dress shoes, I bought these myself), yellow brocade heels (my only high heels, I gave these to my sister and she gave them back)

It's been a fun trip through my closet. I do realize that my "to-keep" list is already nearly 30 items! However, I think I have a better sense of what I'll keep. More closet-purging to come!

Eco-tip: Get inspired by this video about the Compact. Though it mostly talks about buying secondhand, it's also good to remember that NOT-buying is an option!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sevens and Projects

Well, now that I've completed the papercutting, I wanted to go on to knit socks, but other projects are calling me first: I have the 5x7 art swap due mid-July, which is not that far off. I'm still thinking of good ideas of what to do, hopefully fulfilling these criteria:

- beauty - something that looks nice, at least, but also has some meaning
- usefulness (not just decorative)
- sustainability (should be made of used, recycled, or renewable materials)

On top of that, of course, it has to fit into a 5x7 mailer!

I've also forgotten to post my Seven Things for several weeks, but don't think I haven't been tossing things:

Seven #15 (from June 1)
- 1 skirt
- 1 basket
- as gifts: set of jewelry boxes, 2 soaps (1 bottle, 1 bar), a painting, a book, salt-and-pepper shakers, alarm clock (7)
- 1 bangle
- set of bangles
- 1 top
- 1 scarf
- 1 sari blouse
Total: 14

Seven #16 (from June 8)
- - 1 rice-bag handbag
- 1 top (both gifts)
- 1 old planner from 2006, 3 recycled-paper notebooks
- unused binder
- ancient business cards
- indigo girls CD (have it on itunes)
Total: 9

Seven #17 - This week's. I'll be busy this week so I'm just gathering a bunch of stuff already for it. Aah, the freedom of being done early!
- yellow scarf that I made into a wrap skirt
- Vegnews magazine
- piece of embroidered fabric
- Heaven on Earth book by Danny Seo
- fridge magnet
- 2 old rice bags
- pajama top
- bag of twisty ties and rubberbands
Total: 8

Total so far: 184. Since we're in the 24th week of 2007, I'm averaging just over seven and a half items a week. But there's still tons of stuff left!

Eco-tip: Instead of stressing out over all the little things you do that hurt the environment, focus first on the big ones - driving and flying less, eating less meat and poultry, buying organic, using electricity more efficiently, building/living in a sustainable home, reducing your water use. Not easy, but important!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Papercutting progression

Brought to you by the letter P.

P is for posh. It's such a UK word, you can't say it without a hint of a British accent. Like the posh-looking Midsummer Light I'm emulating.

Speaking of which, I've finally made some decent progress on my papercutting. Below is a picture of the drawing I did on white paper. It's hard to see because it's in pencil, just dark enough for me to see to cut. As you might be able to tell (or not), I've designed it so some of the pieces make holes in the paper, while others remain attached at one corner. At this point I had cut about half of it.

Here is a picture of it fully cut, with the pieces popped out.

Detail with the other partly-attached regions popped out. I created a hole in the center where a lightbulb (dangerous around paper, though) or some other thing might go, so that this can be hung.

Here's the final version. I couldn't keep the hole OPEN so I just tied it together with string. It still needs finishing so that the hanging part is a ribbon or something prettier.

It is made of stiff paper but not coated paper. The original is more intricate and flexible, but I'm okay with mine. I think I achieved most of what I wanted. A more-than-one-week project, so that's a big one for me!

If I had to do it over or again:
- I'd make more intricate designs. Some of them are not very fine in detail.
- I'd coat my paper with wax paper or parchment so that it's heat-durable and a little stiffer. This got floppy.
- I'd use a sharper exacto, or sharpen it. The edges of the cuts are a little jagged, and sometimes I ended up tearing what I thought I had already cut!
- I might color or draw on the paper with pen or use a colored paper. White brings out a nice contrast but wouldn't black be lovely? Or wrapping paper - white on one side and patterned on the other?

My to-do for today: Stop drinking soda. I haven't really had any in a long while but I do have occasional cravings for cream soda and root beer. I want to give those up - nothing carbonated.

Eco-tip: Save old envelopes with patterns on the inside. You can use the bits for cards, scrapbooking, notepads, and other paper projects. (also, when turning them inside out, as mentioned before, they look interesting!)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Warnings and info

Short post today.

First off, I want to warn everyone who received some cotton from me that they are not colorfast! I wish I had told you all sooner, and I hope there were no accidents. Many of these cottons in India are not dyed with colorfast dyes, so it's important either to wash them first, or soak them in salt water and then wash in cold water.

I just came across this article which pretty well covers the various sides of animal research. What is "acceptable" pain? If and when do the needs of humans outweigh those of animals? Is animal research exploitation? I think it does a decent job of pointing out the "talking points" though not deeply into the arguments for each side.

No pictures of projects YET. Any day now!

Today I took a nap, after a long time. I clearly needed it. Mmmm...

Eco-tip: Carry a small bottle or box of baking soda when you travel. It makes for an impromptu face-scrub, or deodorant, or shampoo, and it will clean up some stains on clothing too. And it's liquid-free.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Madras aka Chennai

The city of Chennai/Madras is a feast for the senses:

Women and girls wearing fragrant jasmine flowers in their hair

Delicious sugarcane juice, fresh pressed (and spiced with lemon and ginger)

San Thome Cathedral, named for St.Thomas, one of the first missionaries who came to India in 52 AD. Unfortunately, his missionary attempts were not well-received. He was chased by a mob to Saint Thomas Mount, where he was killed. His remains are in this beautiful church, along with a statue of the Virgin Mary that dates to the 1500s.

City Centre is a big building you'd think was city hall. It's actually a modern mall, complete with food court, where you can get gelato or pizza or Indian food. The third coolest thing there was a vending machine that sold magazines. The second coolest was their selection of paisley-and-gold wrapping paper (I resisted temptation!). The coolest was the view of Madras:

And then there was the juxtaposition, once again, of the rich and the poor. It's such a dilemma - overcrowding because of poverty, poverty because of overcrowding.

We finished with a trip back to Bombay, and then back to the US of A!

Eco-tip: Save energy and money by visiting your library. I always find the books I want to read there (or request them online and have them email me when they are ready). The same goes for DVDs - why pay to rent movies? Library booksales are a great source of gifts, their children's activities are fun, and some even have movie showings and interesting workshops!