Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Quickstart, no finish?

I'm one of those people you'd call a starter. I have a million ideas in my head, and many of them find expression - on paper, in crafts, or on the internet.

Finishing, however, is not my forte. Hence the partially written short stories and books, the piles of craft materials for some-day, the partly-knitted projects. And the neglected websites.

Am I the only one with this problem? I have about 20 different websites. They are websites created over the last 15 years (almost), but some are sorely neglected, never updated with new information that people send me, or just somehow seeming active when they are not.

So it was time to take action. First, I shut down my Fashion Cents website - leaving only the archives for perusal. I did the same with The Remedy Page overall. A few more, along with keeping my email inbox small and remembering not to commit to things I don't have time for, and I'll have a little cleanliness in my internet experience, without the guilt!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Climate for Change

What kind of self-proclaimed environmentalist would I be if I didn't bring attention to Al Gore's new Climate plan (link here). It's realistic, though it fails to address one major step we can take: personal action, personal reduction of consumption and participation in markets we don't like.

I particularly like this article titled the Idols of Environmentalism. Bottom line: there is no difference between the economy and the environment - they are part of the same thing, and environmentalists and human activity need to learn to co-exist as part of one ecosystem on this planet.

Eco-tip: Go around and lock your windows - you'll prevent that many more air leaks that bring cold air in this winter.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Baby mobile

Made from some paper from the recycling basket:


DH is at home and on a special diet, so I spend time in the morning cooking while he watches my boy.

I got these white daikon from the farmer's market. Surprise - they're pink inside - pretty huh?

Here's a south indian meal made with that (clockwise from top):

- daikon sambar
- thippili (long pepper) rasam
- yam, greens, and green pepper curry
- eggplant rasavangy

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A lullaby

Hush (a lullaby)

Hush, my darling, go to sleep
The world you've entered is not safe
There's trouble brewing every day
Sleep, my love, and you'll be safe

Hush, my darling, don't you cry
Although this life is full of pain
There's hope and love in every day
Sleep, my love, there'll be no pain

Hush, my darling, close your eyes
And dream a dream where I'll be there
I'll hold you closer every day
Sleep, my love, and I'll be there

Monday, October 27, 2008


A new poem inspired by my little one. I may these days be posting things without much discussion - but just because I don't comment, doesn't mean you shouldn't!

Wonder and Joy

O wonder of wonders
the self-soothing sleep
without which a mother -
why, surely, she'd weep!
O great joy of joys
the spontaneous smile
that makes all the sleepless nights
forever worthwhile.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Fast Runner

I recently saw an Inuit movie called "The Fast Runner." Lovely movie - documentary-like, but fictional. It's amazing to me that people can actually live so in touch with nature - I wonder if there are many people living without any touch with modern "civilization" (as we know it) in other parts of the world. I can only think of the Bushmen of Africa.

Anyway, that inspired some random scribblings, below. Those D's are actually sideways igloo-like shapes. Ok, not really. Atanarjuat is the name of the hero.

Eco-tip: Have too many postcards lying around from various trips? Rather than giving them to people who might never use them, use them as one-sided notecards or greeting cards. You'll save postage and transportation, and the pretty image won't go to waste. If you receive one, you can post it onto an old sheet of paper to make another!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Well, I'm kind of settling into life as a new mom. It's super tiring but just a delight to get those sweet coos and silly smiles, especially at 2am.

So, I'm back to trying to conserve energy/water on a conscious level and thought I'd bring in a new eco-tip or two:

1) Buy local - check out the farmer's market if you haven't, find a CSA (community supported agriculture), and look for the most local versions of things you already buy, especially things that have to come from far away.

2) When local is not an option, go fair trade! Look for the fair trade symbol especially on things like chocolate, coffee, vanilla, sugar and rice.

Old eco-tips can be found by typing eco-tip in the search box above or else here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Collage "Religion"

Made from whatever was in my recycling bin - Oct 3, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Natural, baby

It's been a long time since my last post - babytime has been frustrating, tiring, exhilarating, and joyous. Getting here has been tough but those irresistible toothless smiles are entirely worth it!

I thought I'd share some of the Indian natural remedies I've been treated to by family and friends during pregnancy and after. I'm only one, but I can attest that they have been great for me:

Pregnancy tea - A tea made with toasted black cumin, fennel, and a little bit of thyme. This is used to help with digestion, nausea, and morning sickness. It's flavorful, so for me, a great way to stay hydrated.

Lehiyam - A paste made of various roots and herbal medicines, including long pepper, thyme, cumin, nutmeg, and others. For after the baby is born, to be taken in the mornings. Helps with digestion and milk production. Made with jaggery (raw sugar) cooked in, so it tastes great.

Fenugreek - Seeds soaked in hot water for a few hours until soft, then eaten with a spoon. Proven to improve milk production. Also great for regularizing your digestive system! A little bitter but soft and chewy, and the results can't be beat. You could also buy the Fenuber powder or pills, which will have a similar effect.

Kasturi - A powder for the mother to eat/drink mixed in milk/water. Not sure what it is, but said to stimulate milk production.

Garochan - This little red powder you mix into a little milk or water to give to the baby after birth (we waited for the 10th day). It is said to improve the child's voice. Mine gave us a loud "aah" right after we gave it to him!

Betel leaf and nut - Betel nuts are a notorious stimulant but the leaf with it is supposed to improve digestion. More importantly, it's smeared with lime, which is calcium carbonate, and provides the new mom with calcium. To be taken after meals.

Chana dal flour - Mixed into a paste with warm water in place of soap on the baby's body and hair, it's cleansing and moisturizing, and said to help clear out the baby down.

Sesame oil - A cooling oil, warmed with a few peppercorns, rubbed into skin and hair before washing to moisturize.

Coconut oil - a good moisturizing oil, it's helped get off the cradle cap, soothe dry nostrils, and generally keep baby moisturized in extra-dry weather.

Castor oil - rubbed into baby's belly button or on belly when there's gas trouble, or on sore jaws or any other pains.

In addition, there are the forbidden (papaya, jackfruit, certain rare fruits) foods for before pregnancy, and after (too many lentils, spicy food), and the foods that are encouraged, like eggplant, saffron (said to make skin lighter), and dry ginger (a bit helps with gas trouble).

Traditional medicine has lots of other recommendations, but I didn't do them all.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Baby is here!

That's the news. It's a boy!

I'm really grateful to have the help of parents and in-laws, which allows me the luxury of actually reading a little. I have just finished "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver (of Poisonwood Bible fame). Truly inspirational and something I'd recommend to anyone, culinarily-inclined or otherwise.

Of course, I'm not up to cooking these days, but have been stocking up on farmer's market produce! We froze away some beans and some fresh red grapes (they are like poppable ice pops!) And there are tomatoes to come, too.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cardmaking kit

I decided to make use of all the materials I've been collecting over the years - pretty pictures from magazines, construction paper, card papers, envelopes, calendars, little stickers, ribbon scraps and doodads. I've put together several packets of what I am calling "card-making kits." Each has about enough material to make 2 cards (general instructions included). A good recycling/reuse project and a way to share materials - it's especially interesting to see what people come up with.

So far I've given out about 25 kits, and I'll be making more!

If you would like one or two, please leave me a note or email me at p j 2 0 at c o r n e l l (dot) e d u with your address. I'll send them out while I still have time!

Monday, July 21, 2008


I found this great link on Treehugger that is inspiring: Garimpo+Fuxique. They make repurposed things from old fabric and seemingly kitschy stuff. But it's so vibrant and colorful! Plus they're going carbon-neutral. I'm inspired to (eventually, someday) create a vivid, cozy home full of simple pleasures.

And speaking of purpose, I am also trying to keep calm and meditate. I highly recommend the book The Wooden Bowl. It's very inspiring and makes you relaxed about meditating without the stress of "Omigosh I have to meditate now."

Of course, I've learned that meditation itself is not always easy, or even interesting, but I think the book helps me keep perspective.

Are crazy crafting and modest meditation compatible? I think, in a way, the complex can be simple and the simple infinitely complex. Isn't there something beautiful about that?

Friday, July 18, 2008

When it rains...

it pours.

I'm in last-minute panic mode (due in 11 days) and this is what's going on in my head:

- I still have a couple of baby things I want to buy. Why? Not sure. Are they absolutely necessary? Maybe. Maybe not. Somehow I need to have them. It's not logical. I accept that.

- I want to bake all these funny things, like bread, and use my ice cream maker, and make cookies.

- I have a stack each of kids' and adult books I want to read. The kids' books will get read one way or another (pre or post), but the adult ones? Hmm.

- Nesting instinct is in full swing - shouldn't I buy this (I'm supposedly still compacting, right?) and rearrange that? What about the bed this room needs and the things I should wash (what happened to saving water?)?


- The bathroom is still unusable
- Dear spouse is ill and recovering
- I just can't stick to a schedule, no matter how hard I try.

On the bright side:

- I'm packed to go
- I'm giving away reused materials to make cards with (little card kits - my concession to craft)
- My giveaway box is growing!
- I have a suitcase full of (maybe, if they fit again) post-baby clothes to rediscover later, when I'm sick of the same old things
- Someone came and took my saved up scraps of giftwrap and tissue and gift boxes
- I made some basil-parsley pesto and froze it for later

And oh yeah, there's still work and daily life :) Supermoms (really, isn't that every mom?), please advise. Until then, I'll be re-reading Buddha Mom (more about that in a future post, I'm sure).

PS - if you want a card kit, do let me know and I can mail it out to you. I forgot to mention I do need to make a trip to the PO.

PPS - Eco-tip: Al Gore may get a lot of flack for various reasons, but he is right on track to demand we go 100% to renewable energy in ten years. Let's make our politicians listen.

PPPS - I've started linking books through Better World. They fund literacy when you buy books through them, and they actually take your old books, too.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Posting updates

I just uploaded some photos and thought I'd share with you my kitchen adventures.

Like the time I tried to make vegan hostess cupcakes, but without confectioner's sugar so all the icing was kind of thick and crumbly and wouldn't make thin lines for swirls. Plus I used muffin cups without liners so they were short (my naive attempt at saving paper...). I have lots of so-called icing leftover from that recipe, too, not sure what to do with it other than eat it straight :)

So this is how they came out:

Sorta sad, but tasty.

I also knitted up a pair of tiny newborn baby booties which took probably about an hour and my mom and I worked on the bunting from Yarn Girls and my mom-in-law and I worked on a hat. Lots of craftiness!

Now, on to being more straightforward. Sent more things off - a cutting board set and some books.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Maybe you call it coincidence, but some law (perhaps invented by Murphy) suggests that when one gets too complacent about something, inevitably something will go wrong.

Like thinking I have plenty of toilet paper stocked only to have it all get soaked (see below).

Like discussing how we've been lucky in finances (yeah, there's asking for trouble) only to have expenses suddenly skyrocket (see below again).

Like being happy that I was getting well-prepared for the baby, with clothes washed and bags ready. And then discovering a major bathroom leak, which requires a remodel.

It's funny living outside a bedroom you have gotten used to. For the first time ever, I'm using the other shower (and realizing it has better water pressure). I'm living off of 5 tops and two bottoms (plus underwear) squirreled away in various closets while parents and in-laws generously make room. I'm finding myself drawn to my bedroom only to laugh and realize I can't be in there!

It's a good test of my complacency and probably good practice for the unexpected changes that are bound to come my way soon.

In the meantime, I take comfort in good books like Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, fresh fruit from the farmer's market (or a kind neighbor), and reading juicy anti-fashion articles like this one and really scary ones like this one.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stuff, stuff, and more stuff

Ahh, how I love a good article about consumerism.

Today's issue of the Seventh Generation newsletter has a great one, with a history of consumerism that ought to be required reading in school. Read it here, or the original article "The Gospel of Consumerism" from Orion Magazine.

When you're done, check out Carrotmob, and then here, too.

I also read an article about getting insane amounts of better gas mileage. Tricks include:

- going at 55mph, or the speed limit, whichever is slower (Read more about this here)
- stay back from the car in front of you (recommended: 1 car length for every 10mph)
- drive steadily and accelerate evenly and slowly
- ride 3 seconds behind trucks (keep out the draft)
- turn off your engine whenever you are stopped for at least 10 seconds (but not while moving! dangerous!)
- combine errands and try to park so you don't have to back out
- keep tires inflated to the maximum recommended (some inflate them even higher, to the sidewall pressure inside, but that will wear out your tires faster)
- use cruise control for long stretches to keep your speed steady

I have a Civic Hybrid and aside from driving less overall, am going to try some of these strategies.

Oh by the way, in decluttering, went through a lot of old files and tossed things I didn't need to keep (shredded papers), and gave away more things (I'm not officially back on Seven Things, but here's a start):

- various bottles of lens solution
- a blue mug
- color inkjet refill kit (was ordered for Dell All-in-one)
- several cds (returned to owners or given away)
- infant clothes i received but won't use
- box of Similac I received
- bag of cosmetics/toiletries I don't want to use anymore
- bag of cleaning supplies that are not green
- some candles
- some beads

That makes 10 different items.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Nesting Instinct

Nesting is apparently not limited to birds. Cats and dogs do it (think of all the newspaper they shred), and well, so do we humans.

In the final-run-up to baby-time, I'm trying to get through my list of 764 items that need to be done (if anyone needs a list made, write me!). Fortunately, I've made a smaller pre-baby list. However, it does include cleaning, washing, packing, accumulating (despite my best efforts, I guess a new person does need some things) and my favorite: decluttering.

There is still something very gratifying about going around the house and finding things you don't need, don't want anymore, and sneaking them off to the giveaway bin. Especially those funny things someone you love gave you but which appears to have no inherent use or beauty. And those little things you were saving for "someday" or "just in case." And there are the things that are beautiful but chipped or broken and not reasonably fixable. And the duplicate items - why do I have five nailclippers?

Go, go, go. All you tiny things, almost not noticeable things, but somehow they free up my mind.

And all the mental clutter, the guilt (is my baby going to have peanut allergies because of the peanut sauce I ate last night?), the worry (what kind of life am I going to have?) the panic (1 down, 763 to go?). I take deep breaths, walk with a handful of stuff to the giveaway box, and dump my mental clutter in, too. It may try to creep back into the house, but I'm keeping the door closed.

Friday, June 13, 2008

In the midst of it all

I don't write much about politics, but really, being green and sustainable and free all are interrelated. Inalienable rights.

So, I would have supported Dennis Kucinich for the presidency, at least in part, until he dropped out. And now I'm sure, since he read out the articles of impeachment against George W. Bush on C-SPAN. Read them here. And weep, because no one seems to be doing anything about it.

But we can!

1 get informed by reading
2 tell people (post on your blog or email)
3 vote for people you truly believe in (after doing #1)
4 take part in local government

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Why this site looks different

I came across an amazing new discovery today: black backgrounds save energy over white! That's the logic behind a search engine called - saves lots of energy over the white screen of Google (on Google itself, it would save 750 MWh a year - equivalent to over 400 barrels of oil!). And that's true even though most of the world now uses LCD monitors. More info here .

Another blogger at ecoIron has also created a energy-saving website palette for use with the black background, so that is what I'm using here.

Greenergle (see the -gle theme here?) also has further energy-saving computer tips, like taking a moment to turn down the brightness on your monitor.

So, let me know what you think of the new color scheme. In the meantime, I'm going to be a little leprechaun painting low-energy rainbows over my websites. And that is your eco-tip today.

Update: Of course Google has a response to this that suggests that on several LCD monitors, blackle can actually be worse (mine still saves about 2 watts though). Still, the CRTs do show good savings overall, and it's important to note that CRT monitors are still in use in places that cannot afford to replace computers quickly. So the question is up for debate. I'm playing it safe and going to the black background anyway.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Fashion, Sex, and the (Global) City

First of all, thank you to everyone who sent baby wishes and great advice. I'm persevering in my bid to keep things green and (mostly) secondhand to conserve on resources.

And then I go and see the Sex and the City movie. For me, it was sort of a girl-fling-thing. But oh, the indulgence. The excess. The violation of nearly every defashion rule!

I have been reading 's newest issue, Sex(ism) and the city, which covers a range of more socially-conscious topics related to the movie. So even if you are a die-hard fan, I recommend you take a moment to be a defashionista, to think about what all that glorious glamour means.

A few highlights:

- the show has never repeated an outfit, which though fashion-amazing, means a huge wastage of clothes
- fur-wearing is still considered cool? (a nod to this in the movie)
- allegations of sweatshop labor
- has anyone noticed - they're all white (Jennifer Hudson notwithstanding)

Take a look and report back. I'll be here, incubating :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Green Baby

Now that I am full swing in pre-mama mode, I am looking for ways to extra-green my lifestyle BEFORE I'm overwhelmed by, well, life.

A few things I've started planning out:

- Gifts - telling people to make a donation instead, and using the Alternative Gift Registry to request safe secondhand items (in the spirit of compacting). They even give you some great ideas for sustainable gifts. (I already scored some lovely secondhand maternity items)

- Waste - there are 24.7 billion diapers in landfills. that plastic is not going to degrade! I'm planning on going the cloth route, fully aware that water is also a precious resource. But the gDiaper is another brilliant option, especially for travel.

- Food - i've managed to stay vegan so far and intend to keep it up. It's hard to fend off the guilt of "just a few months, your baby needs it to be healthy" and the article forwards of the vegan family whose child died from malnutrition. What about afterward? I will let the little one make the choice eventually (though not being vegetarian at home is not an option) but luckily we start out without that question!

If I am forced to use formula, I'm not sure what's the best way to go - dairy or soy? Any ideas?

- Cleaners and cosmetics and everything else. When it comes to a child, we are suddenly more picky. That generic slightly chemically brand is okay for me, but no way for the little one. No more artificial red color, or occasional dryer sheet, or non-organic bananas. I think it's a bit obsessive, but in a good way, I hope?

- What about after? I do worry about the future - what about after when they're old enough? TV, or DVDs, or neither? Allowance or not? Own room or share? Soccer and art class and language class and music, or just one? I get tired just thinking about it.

Okay, all you pro mothers out there: pass on your wisdom, puh-leeze! And happy belated mother's day!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Recycling at its best

This article is amazing:

Continuing with the theme of hanging on to things of value - isn't everything of value? Maybe we should reconsider our habits of just giving away everything haphazardly to Goodwill or Salvation Army (where anything imperfect may get shredded or tossed!)?

Maybe we should try to use every scrap of everything until it can be used no more?

Maybe we should keep all the junk, the stuff, the everything out of our houses until we have used everything we already own to its "logical end."

Maybe we should just learn to be a little more conscious of the precious clutter in our lives and in our minds.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Rain and giving and a million things

It has, once again, been months since I wrote. But I could stay silent no longer when I saw this.

The punchline: Rain and snow may be most dependent on a certain type of bacteria! What happens is that these Pseudomonas syringae bacteria are the little "dust particle" around which rain droplets and snowflakes and clouds form in warmer conditions (still cold, though). Without the bacteria, they can't form with any sort of regularity or predictability.

What's amazing about this is that it once again highlights the interdependence of life and environment. It suggests that maybe rain didn't even happen with regularity UNTIL bacteria evolved, and maybe that is what allowed higher organisms to come about (after all, plants need rain!).

And even scarier: in places where we destroy the environment and graze or kill off plants that may help the survival of this bacteria, we may be inadvertently causing drought!

Amazing how every little act begets another. Which brings me to the concept of giving. Another study shows that buying for others makes us happier than buying for ourselves. And this is true even though most people think buying for themselves will make them happier! Apparently, we have no idea what will make us happy.

Giving is more satisfying than taking. But what about hanging on to things? I have news to share with you all: I'm expecting a child. Well there you are. As a result, I've developed a great desire to go through childhood things my mother has saved and find stuff my child will use in the future, someday, maybe. I have to be picky - no junky toys, nothing in really poor condition, and mostly only things that are sentimental anyway. Like an old baby blanket. A kid-size kimono. My favorite books.

Giving, even when for our own family members, is so satisfying. And it can be satisfying even if we are giving what we already have, or only our time. What do you think will make you happier - buying a braille book for a blind girl or reading to her? I'd be willing to bet on the latter. But what do we do? Instead, we send money to foundations that are in the charitable work business, and we buy toys to put in the boxes at the holidays.

Why, when we spend so much time and energy looking for happiness in Hawai'i or a spa or a skiing vacation or more hours at work or the gym, can we not spend the time helping others, knowing it will bring us the happiness we so desperately seek elsewhere?