Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tops and Bottoms: A Clothes Count

I'm counting my clothes again. How can you detect progress without numbers? (that's sarcastic)

At my first clothes count, I had "tops" (tops/sweaters/salwar tops, saris, dresses, and outerwear), and "bottoms" (pants and skirts and salwar bottoms and shoes).

Tops: 89 + at least 30 + 7 + 6 = at least 132

Bottoms: 14 + 17 + 35 + 9 = 75

I expected low numbers - after all, I've been giving away things and doing the Seven Things for a while now (counting through my seven things for clothes gives me at least 25 tops and 9 bottoms released).

Tops: 40 + 37 + 4 + 6 = 86

Bottoms: 9 + 13 + 8 + 8 = 28

Good job with the bottoms but I still have a lot of tops. What happened? I think there are a few possibilities:

- some of the stuff was hiding during previous counts (laundry or with mom/sister or somewhere)
- I've been getting more new clothes as gifts
- I've been getting hand-me-downs

Saris are the least-reduced category. Technically they are (like dresses) neither tops nor bottoms. They are handed down to me from close family and some are heirlooms or very sentimental, so I find it hard to let go of them. On the other hand, I might wear one a month, at most. Time to buckle down.

Today I got rid of 2 more salwar bottoms (down to 6), 3 saris (one will become curtains some day), and several tops.

New totals
Tops: 42 + 34 = 76
Bottoms: 9 + 13 + 8 + 6 = 26

This is a good set of numbers, about 3 tops for every bottom. But I'll keep working at it!

Now it's your turn. How many tops and bottoms do you have? Post a comment below and let me know!

Eco-tip: A good recycling project for major pieces of clothing you're very attached to is to turn them into throw pillows. Cut off a top or sweater at the shoulders, or pants at the crotch. Trim skirts into a square or rectangle. Sew all but one end shut, stuff, and hand-sew closed.

Things Received

Despite all my attempts to reject gifts, they seem to come my way. Here is a short list:

1. Our previous roommates are taking their LCD tv with them - and surprise! - bought us a new smaller one to go with our place. Already well in use!

2. My sister always knows what I like - chocolate. They are filled with mint cream. Yum. I think I'll have one more now.

3. A family friend bought me a (non-leather) wallet. Now that I think of it, I really did need one - all my cards and change are floating around in my purse somewhere.

4. My parents are helping us out with expenses, and my mom sent me some very pretty sheets she had (not new). She also made me some sweets.

5. A bottle of "scented stones" from a friend that are a room fragrance. Very pretty and they smell great.

6. Multicolored roses from dh. They were not organic, but how could I say no to such sweetness?

Thanks to all for your wishes too!

Gift Eco-tip: Accept your gifts (and give them) unwrapped. You save paper. Or use old newspaper, pretty shopping bags, or actual containers. And save any packaging you receive to reuse.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

So far, so good (and Seven #23)

I just turned 30. There, I said it.

It hasn't been bad so far, but I'm so used to thinking of myself as a late-twenty-something that I can't come to grips with "thirty-something."

It's a good thing I'm not reading magazines anymore or I'll have to go to the "What to wear in your 30s" section (not that I would follow it anyway). And there is the new age box on taxes and other forms. Aside from that, though, 30 doesn't seem like much of a milestone to me. Ask me tomorrow :)

I've still been working hard, but I've moved on to phase 2 of the toaster-cover project: sewing (I'd cut and pressed the pieces and batting). I sewed them and turned them inside out. And then I pressed them

Next: joining. I'm waiting for some cloth to use as piping which is coming to me tonight from mom.

This slow and steady approach is working for me. Less stress. I take my time and do things in a more deliberate way than my usual, "let's just get this done!"

Also, I forgot to post last week's Seven Things. I can't even remember what I put in there, so this is what I remember:

- 1 sheet set (2 sheets, 2 pillow cases, 2 shams)
- computer CDs and disks
- 2 books returned to parents
- 1 top
- 1 more salwar bottom
- fabric scraps

I'll count that as 7 so the total is now (tada!) 300 even!

On another note, I finished a borrowed copy of HP7. It took me a long time to read, and I didn't rush through it, and I even read the last chapter twice just to be sure I understood. I'm not a fanatic but I enjoyed it. And then I found out a friend already bought me a copy for myself! Oh well.

Eco-tip: Save the dryer lint from your whites and cotton (or any natural fabric) laundry - it can go safely in the compost! Be sure not to put synthetics in - they'll never biodegrade.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


This is a plug for a great new online store created by my second cousin. It's lovely Indian-inspired clothing of great quality in luxurious fabrics and styles. The clothes are made in India with the people there given fair wages.

It's called ZenTrend and includes tops, skirts, and accessories for women.

15% of your purchase also goes to the charity Dress For Success! You can shop here (in case you missed all the other links above!)

Pretty huh?

Eco-tip: Don't throw out that shoebox! Cover it with reused pretty wrapping paper you've been saving. Then put in whatever pretty scraps you find (fabric, paper, or anything else) as an inspiration box. Dig it out when your fingers are itching to make something!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Just things to do

I think I'm going crazy, so this is where I'm venting. Advance apologies to all!

Work is driving me crazy and making me unhappy.

I'm sleep deprived.

I'm way behind on lots of things.

I wish I had more time with my husband and at home.

These are all understatements.

One of the few things that keeps me sane is crafting. The no-list method is working out. I'm less stressed, and I sat for about an hour today just taking apart an old crochet belt I made from orange flowers that I didn't like. I reconnected the flowers to make a crochet flower bowl, and made ponytail holders out of three other pretty flowers. The others are going away.

I've also cut out the pieces for the Toaster Cover, made following roughly the pattern here. Next step: sewing!

Ah, I feel better. Thank you for reading.

Eco-tip: Fair Trade versions of more and more items are available now. Look for rice, coffee, tea, chocolate, and spices like vanilla.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Seven #22

This week's Seven Things is only #22 (we're in the 29th week of the year, but I started on the 4th week, minus 2 weeks in India...). No pictures, but more items:

- microwave cart - it had been a bit rain-beaten, so I freecycled it.
- deet OFF spray - DEET is bad!
- stir sticks wooden
- plastic lids for coffee cups - these two things are leftover from a coffee service
- empty squeeze bottle of shave gel - recycled
- contact lens case - I have too many!
- 3 camera/tv/cell phone cables - not sure what they fit
- old rug/mat - it's seen better days
- keychain
- small plastic bags - ziplock-style, probably useful to a jeweler
- a few more photos
- 2 small kumkum boxes
- 3 pens (count as 1)
- another broken spoon
- three-hole punch
- old glue gun
- shower curtain (we only have glass)
- stuff for my sister: soap, scarf, mirror compact, cassette, book
- salwar bottom
- crochet hook
- Om shirt
- more wrapping ribbons
- a notebook
- a cassette
- stack of gift labels
- Gandhi book
- more yarn scraps

That makes 34 items, for a total of 293. Coming up on that 300 mark...

Eco-tip: Looking for an eco-version of what you already have? Check out Co-op America's Green Pages first.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

List of Lists

I've posted before that I like making lists. I think I'm addicted to lists. Family members have joked about my compulsive habit of list-making (oh no! I mentioned groceries!)

A search on this blog for lists results in lots of posts, plus the ones that actually list Seven Things or other lists themselves.

Here is my list of lists:
- Seven Things (every week)
- Ways to simplify my life
- Books to read
- Movies to see
- Goals (short term, long term, gotta get em)
- Work to-dos (at least 2 lists)
- Craft projects
- Home to-dos
- Energy saving to-dos
- Things to give away/go through
- Scientific ideas
- Things I want to do in my life
- Daily overall todo list

I'm sure I've forgotten some. And many are lost in old files somewhere, or old journals and notebooks. Clearly, these lists have gotten out of hand! What is the source of all of this list-chaos?

Lists give me a sense of security and of control. Crossing another item off is satisfying, such a great sense of achievement. At work, a list helps me stay organized and focused. My project to-dos let me do one thing at a time. They help me remember, too.

But then maybe I don't manage and remember things myself, and take time to enjoy the discovery of the moment. Maybe that sense of achievement is false. Maybe that organization and focus are a hindrance rather than an aid to productivity. Maybe I rush through things just to check them off without doing them right in the first place. Maybe I lose sight of what is important in spending my time writing lists.

Maybe what I need is an anti-list. A list of things NOT to do, as suggested here. This will keep me focused better.

But it's not enough. I'll consult the list for what not to do, and check them off, and rewrite the list so that I have a smaller list, and on and on. And imagine having a new not-to-do list each day!

Really, what I need is escape from the list itself. This article is inspiring in this regard. What I'd like is to just have a simple schedule that will remind me of things (right now I use iCal, which works well) like appointments I might forget.

I want to try to observe and remember things I need to do by myself, with no more than one list a day. I'm sure I won't let go of the list completely - it's too much a part of my life. You'll still see my Seven Things on here, and I might make a list-scrapbook or two, and I'm liable to slip anyway. But I'm aware of my list addiction, and like my fashion addiction, I'm aiming to break it bit by bit.

List-related Eco-tip: Save paper - go list-free! If you can't escape your list, at least use recycled or reused paper. Make yourself an instant notepad by stapling together a bunch of used envelopes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sock #2

I finished the other sock/slipper! They're ridiculously huge but very warm and comfy:

What's next, you might ask? Well, maybe I'll make my mom a toaster cover she wanted. Or maybe I'll fix that top that's been sitting in the sewing box. Or maybe I'll just wait for inspiration to strike. My new "list-lessness" (pun intended) might take me anywhere!

Eco-tip: Are you composting yet? It's time! And if you are already, don't forget to freeze your compost scraps, then thaw them and add them to your compost pile - it'll kill any insect eggs and mush everything up for faster composting.

Monday, July 16, 2007

To give or not to give?

That is not the question anymore. When in doubt, give. I had to finally part with a loved shirt I listed in my Things to keep - my Om shirt. I took it out of the wash, and even after a scrubbing with detergent, I noticed it is worn and stained. Not a good look. It is time it moved on.

I was sad, but then I realized I could paint an Om on anything else, if I want it. I don't need to advertise it, I just want it near my heart.

I've still got plenty of clothes, don't worry! I'm adding them all to this week's Seven Things pile.

As for simplifying, I didn't clean any rooms today. Have to try again tomorrow.

Eco-tip: Check out Croq #9 and Portals 5 - both have Trash to treasure issues! You can also find great ways to turn old stuff into new at About.com

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Crafting happy!

Oh, I'm distraught that I forgot to take a picture of my before http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifI sent it off, but that's the truth. The show will be on August 10th in Northampton, MA, so if you're in the area, save the date! There will be lots of other artists making 5 x 7 sized art pieces, and I'm hoping mine measures up.

Now that I'm finished with that, I've also finished two other projects:

Here's the photo of my first ever Stuffy - he is lopsided, funny-looking, and weird, but IMHO, eminently loveable :)

I also got to work on the socks - finally. Thanks to Gaia Girl for the link to the 2-needle pattern.

However, I used too big a needle and now have a beautiful slipper instead of a sock:

It's very warm and cozy, though, so I'll go ahead and make the second one (though I might run out of this color yarn...not very meticulous of me). Once I get some smaller needles, I'm planning to try to make some matching ones that fit!

We also set out all our giveaways for pickup tomorrow - three big bags worth! That was refreshing. More things gone. And now I'm trying to move on to simplify rule #3 - speed cleaning. I want to try to speed-clean a room a day this week. Let's see how that goes.

I was also browsing a blog and found this lovely painter's works. Inspiring.

Eco-tip: You might have heard of the three-quarters rule, which says to refill things when they are 3/4 over (gas, milk, etc). But here's a new three-quarters rule - try using 3/4 of whatever you normally use. You often can't tell the difference - 3/4 cup of coffee instead of a whole cup, 3/4 tsp of sugar (better for you), 3/4 of your usual dab of shampoo, 3/4 cup of laundry detergent (save!), 3/4 the speed you might normally drive (better mileage). It'll work just as well and save you so much!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Where is everyone? (part 2)

I just had to mention this news item:

India slashes number of AIDS cases

And this poem:

How can I be alone,
when I am here, oppressed by
my thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams?
Let me find solitude
On the freeway
In a crowd
Not lonely
Only alone.

Where is everyone?

Hmm, I seem to have lost some commenters somewhere along the way - if you're out there, say hi!

If you've been following along but silent, you know I'm deep into decluttering mode. What I didn't tell you is that I've also been working quietly on another secret project: my 5x7 art.

Before I tell you more, take this quiz:

Is this project

a) actually larger than 5x7
b) made of recycled/reused materials
c) a good excuse to eat dark chocolate
d) useful in multiple ways
e) all of the above

Okay, you guessed it. I used some lovely Parisian chocolate wrappers in multiple colors (and the foil), some of those cardboard rectangles from shirts, and some old wedding invitations to make a decorative picture frame/expanding-shelf/box. Inside I'm putting in a photo I took at the Arc d'Triomphe (I feel a little stuffy saying "Paris this" and "Arc d'Triomphe that," so please don't think I'm trying to show off that I traveled. I was trying to keep the items I used from within the month and a half allotted for the project).

I'll post the picture of the item after it's in sendable-shape. It goes out tomorrow for the art show and swap. This is my first time doing this, so I'm looking forward to it.

Eco-tip: Flying is really fuel-inefficient, so we can try to walk, take the train, bus, car(pool), or even boat whenever possible to commute. But when will flights be more efficient? Southwest Airlines and Continental recently retrofitted their planes so that they are more fuel-efficient by about 3%. But overall, airlines are finally thinking of the energy-efficient planes of the (hopefully) near future.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Seven Things #20 and #21

Well it seems to be a habit of mine to lump together weeks of Seven Things!

Here are this week's and last week's (last week's was for the previous week!):

Seven #20
- taboo board game
- broken salt shaker/pepper grinder
- yogurt container I was saving
- 5 balls of yarn
- book Eragon (as gift)
- puzzle game
- cassette of kids' songs

That was 11 items.

And then this week, I went all out. I think I've turned the house upside down trying to find things I don't need. And this is the long list:

- 2 more balls of yarn
- black slingback shoes (painful!)
- old water squirt bottle
- old toothbrush (had to trash)
- travel hairbrush with mirror
- zip-up travel case
- travel hairdryer
- potpourri stand
- concert planner
- Palm PDA and parts (from freecycle but only used once!)
- stack of cards and card parts
- bag of 20 gift boxes - freecycle
- scraps of wrapping paper - freecycle
- binders
- exercise band
- photo stickers
- construction paper
- unnecessary photo holders
- extra photos
- black paper notepad
- exacto/scalpel
- set of recipe cards with sleeves (kept the box)
- small song book
- broken windchimes
- candles
- broken spoons and forks
- backpack (to India)
- VHS tapes
- extra wrapping ribbon
- greeting cards - freecycle
- Microbiology book
- yarn scraps
- 3 cassette racks
- 2 cassettes
- fabric pieces
- scarf
- spray bottle

That's 41 items! We also sent some books back to the library and returned some DVDs we'd borrowed from friends.

So the current total: 207 + 11 + 41 = 259. For 28 weeks, that is 9.25 items per week, or for 191 days, it's 1.36 items per day. (I love math!)

Eco-tip: Do a little calculating - what environmental impact does the paper you use today have? Try the Paper Calculator

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Today was the Live Earth concert, part of which I watched online. It was a great concept - concerts in various cities around the world, all as part of one great televised event to raise awareness about global warming. I wish they had made the pledge-signing a bigger deal though. You can sign the Live Earth Seven-point pledge here.

I've also obsessively gone around the house finding things to give away. I freecycled and set aside stuff I was saving that I haven't used. I organized photos. I tossed junk from my scrapbook (while reading old letters). I cleaned up drawers looking for stuff. Amazing how a search for unnecessary items is also an opportunity to clean up!

Other things I've been doing:
- I listed the 100 Ways to Simplify for myself, so I can start doing them (decluttering being #1)
- I'm making a scarf for my stuffy
- I've been practicing reading in another language (my family's language, Tamil, which I can only read slowly)

As for that clothes count, it's not going anywhere. My mother has left me some clothes I didn't know about! I still have many more than I need, and will have to find ways to part with them. Any tips for parting with clothing that fits and looks good but just is TOO MUCH?

I've found a single, interesting solution to this problem. All these years I've been accumulating clothing, but they are all of different styles. Sportswear, evening wear, long skirts, professional clothes. And now it's hit me: I finally have a style I like. I now know that I will never be a woman who wears short shorts, or who feels comfortable wearing all neutrals and solids. I do enjoy bright colors and prints, long flowy skirts, and comfy jeans, oversize shirts and things with ethnic designs, dangly earrings and necklaces. I am someone who will carry a big handbag filled with items for contingencies, wear flats and scarves, and not worry too much about how I look.

But that's just me. I think I've found that what works best is to have things that truly fit your personality and your lifestyle. I wear skirts on the weekends, when I'm outdoors or doing crafts, and jeans on weekdays, when I'm doing science. Clothes make the man, but a woman knows the right clothes!

Eco-tip: Aside from signing that pledge above, try one other big thing, if you can - give up one long-distance trip for a local one. Imagine all the money and flight/car travel you'll save!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Outdates and updates

Have I been AWOL? I guess I have.

But I haven't been idle.

I've been going through my house finding more and more things to give away, all in preparation for an upcoming move (more on that later).

First, what have I made lately?

- I'm supposed to be working on my 5x7 art but haven't even started yet. Major confession. I'll be doing that this weekend. I hope.

- I started making a stuffed doll. It's so lopsided and "different" I am not sure I even want to show you! But I will when he/she/it is done.

What have I bought lately? Nothing new.

- I picked up a little mirror compact for my sister at an estate sale.

- Food and necessities

- I've received a few things. Every time my parents come over they bring me stuff - old clothes, sweets, household items. I try to send whatever other stuff I don't want back with them. So we end up even.

What have I given away? Seven Things #19

- A chapathi maker. I just find it easier to roll them out and make them by hand.

- Various stamps and papers

- Another notebook

- Another top

- A pair of earrings

- A little organizer box

- Magazines

- A mug

- Kitchen things (spoon rest, cherry pitter)

That makes 10 for a total of 207. Yay, I hit the 200 mark! I'm aiming for 300 by the end of August.

What else I've been doing:

I've also been counting my clothes again. I'll have a full update, but I was surprised to find that despite all my giving away, I still have thirteen skirts. How did that happen? I think I have a closet monster that secretly puts extra clothes in my closet, or maybe just hides them and puts them back.

I'm also Compact-obsessed lately. Articles about 30 days of consumer celibacy here, an old article in the Washington Post, Adbusters, and more additions to the Compact. The guilt has started kicking in.

Eco-political-tip: Do you suffer from fear of losing your election? Watch the "ad" for Incarcerex.