July 19, 2011

Sadness in the Magic of Words

I heard today that Borders is closing. They are going bankrupt.

I am so sad. :-( There is no word to concisely express my feeling.  I still look in bookstores for inspiration, imagination, creativity and magic.

So now I will what - shop at Barnes and Noble - ick NO.  They are Star Bucks and fancy brightly lit fake book space.  They charge for you to have a membership card.

There is no tactile on line substitution.  Maybe to buy textbooks or something specific for a reading club but not to browse, not to be inspired, encouraged, involved or touched.

March 11, 2011

Inspiration beyond words

The Blog is called The Zero Waste House ... she's amazing and this is her first blog .....  I wanna be like Bea when I grow up - or get on with it already!

Well, my most dreaded day of the year is over: Christmas day and all the potential waste and extra consumerism that it entails. We did pretty well this year (better than the last), but there is also improvement for us to work on (it will be part of our new year's resolution).

Here is what we did:
-we've used our patio topiary as a Xmas tree for the last 2 years (it looks great in our minimalist modern home), lit with LED lights on a timer and decorated with mostly vintage ornaments from the Alameda antique market. We did not buy any ornaments or new light strings this year (yeah! that's a 1st)
-for greetings cards, I made homemade plant-able envelopes (thyme seeds) with a picture in it (that part and the stamp need improvement). The greeting was handwritten in a folded envelope, which eliminated the need of a greeting card and reduced the amount of paper and labels used.
-we gave homemade consumables in a reusable or returnable jar (jams, pickles, quince paste...)
-we gave gift certificates for services (manicure, movie tickets...): my personal favorite present this year came from my husband who gave me coupons for dinners out and undivided time with him (much needed for decluttering)
-we mostly gave used items: I like to label these "vintage", it is better accepted than the words "used" or "from a thrift shop"...handkerchiefs, brand tee shirts or jeans, board games, sports equipment
- if we had to buy a new product we chose one with minimal or no packaging: a converse shirt with a cardboard and jute tag (bothcompostable) -but a plastic sleeve with 3 buttons in it... I miss the days when buttons were always sewn onto your garment (it is easier to find when you need them and you don't have that extra wasteful bulk on the tag), socks with a cardboard wrapper (but a small plastic hanger), a bike and engraved luggage tags (both naked and free of tags! yeah!)...
-I have kept all cardboard boxes/sleeves that I received from eBay shopping, I reuse them when I sell on eBay, Amazon or ship presents
-we did not use any virgin wrapping paper: we used newspaper cutouts (my son loved the USC player pictures I chose for him), our Xmas dinner meat wrapper (see item to be improved below :(, paper bags that have made their way into our home (could not stop the neighbour from giving me a full bag of fruit last month), shipping packaging (we received a used book from amazon in a plastic envelope, it was white and a red ribbon made it pretty), packing paper from a UPS delivery, and this year Santa did not wrap his own presents (Santa is trying to be greener, I told the kids)
-I am making paper cards (hostess gifts) from some the used paper wrappers, we recyled the rest
-we used ribbons and twine that we already had and kept them for next year
-we used paper tape if needed
-in january, we will send the greeting cards we received to: St. Jude's Ranch Card Recycling, 100 St. Jude Street, Boulder City, NV 89005.

What we should and will improve on (our to do list for next year):
-vouch to only buy used: with planning we could have found a used bike for our son on craigslist
-let the kids shop for all of their cousin's presents at our church Xmas boutique (used items donated by members of the church), it reuses stuff and donates money to a good cause at the same time
-request minimal packaging when purchasing used on eBay: I received a tee shirt that was wrapped in a zip lock bag (people still use these?) and wrapped again in an envelope for shipping... A BAG IN A BAG
-make sure that an item is used when buying on eBay (I bought a wooden monopoly game, I thought that it was used and it came all shrunk wrapped)
-not use any papers mentioned above to wrap our presents, I will make reusable gift bags from pretty fabrics/cloths from the thrift shop to encourage friends and family to not use store bought wrapping paper
-let friends and family know about our zero waste efforts (this blog will help I hope), so they know not to give us any packaging or item that is not compostable at best or recyclable at worst (i.e, plastics)
-talk Grandma into giving used
-get my duck and rabbit meat (Xmas dinner) in jars, my husband went to the store and came back with a wrapper. Both were cut up at the counter and could have fit in 1.5L jar.
-find an alternative to landfill for hard meat bones that my dog can't chew
-find an alternative for the non recyclable picture of the kids in my greeting cards, I love getting and participating in the greeting cards exchange each year and love to see how kids have changed. But perhaps I will be ready for electronic next year...
-If I send out another greeting card though, I shall choose for a minimal stamp. I did not think much it when I bought mine this year, but I ended up with HUGE stamps. what a waste

So, what's in my trash this week?
- plastic cork from Beaujolais Nouveau (damn it!), the wine was good though. Note to self: email Georges Duboeuf for alternative to their plastic corks... screw top? and double check wine bottle corkage before buying
-duck and rabbit bones (they would kill my chihuahua) wrapped in the meat counter wrapper. Note to self: that's the last one
-lego packaging: the boys each received a brand new set from grandma, the box and baggies (#5) seemed recyclable but the sticker sheets and plastic accessory holder did not. Note to self: Call recycling center and ask if the sticker sheets (and USPS stamp sheets) are recyclable
-wrappers of cough lozenges. Note to self: find a recipe for honey candy for the kids coughs
-dirty wax paper wrapper of a breakfast roll. Note to self: husband needs additional training

Not too bad considering that the average American fills their trash cans 25% more between Thanksgiving and Xmas than a typical 5-6 week period according to ecomom.com.

Final Note to self: Post my declaration of Plastic Independence and allegiance to Zero Waste so that my readers (if any) know what the heck I am talking about! ... to be continued.

March 08, 2011

New way to put it

from another small house blog ... "One of my passions in life is backpacking. I thrive on the opportunity that back-country travel affords one to completely simplify to the most basic essentials. I find nothing in my daily life to be as rewarding as carrying only the things you need for your basic needs and immediate comfort. This guy (Jay Shafer) might just have figured out how to do what I have not these many years: merge the two worlds of home and back-country living. Jay’s Tumbleweed Tiny Houses are backpacks for your every day life! I was sold. And so it begins. " ... that is definitely a good way of putting it.  I still get crazy looks from people who spend 300 dollars a month to heat their homes and another 150 dollars in water and sewer bills.  I wish they could embrace.

January 06, 2010

Tried and failed - again

tried and failed to write from the library - library doesn't like the blogger.

anyway just read living the simple life by elaine st. james. i suppose rich outta touch people would find the information new and invigorating. i found it old and already in practice, at least for me.

in the simple wardrobe ideas for women she says to pick a few base colors good for your skin tone and only buy accessories that match - what do you think poor people do? three years ago i decided to do this and have bought very few accessories (partially due to my career) but use the ones I have. 15 or 20 years ago i decided navy should be my base color b/c it was one color all wealthy people wear and it exudes confidence. it isn't making me rich but i don't look sloppy when dressed it it - or black. i used to buy whatever accessories were on sale but only use them once or twice, now i know i look better and enjoy silver, pearls and stones and not much else. in recent years i actually wrote down what i needed/not wanted for a wardrobe and it was long before i knew her book existed. i want my life to fit in the trunk and backseat of my car so when it's finally my season to be me and not just a 'mom' or 'employee' i can go find me w/o leaving parts behind.

apparently real estate was too hectic so elaine st. james began writing small books about simplicity and there must be idiots who cannot do it alone or she wouldn't have written 4 more after her initial 'simplify your life'.

now i don't know the woman but i do know that i would love to quit working and write full-time but i don't have a husband to fall back on as she does so i'll keep up the hectic schedule to do the minimum that must be done to get it all done.

anyway i have decided that this was a bad eBay buy on my part.

in a different thought i am realigning my small house desires: i want to live more self-sufficiently and not so much worried about small or tiny. i still would like a small home but it may be bigger than i planned for activities such as soap making, canning, laying out sewing patterns and such. in 2 years i want my 5 acres and maybe we'll live initially in a converted out building already on site, but slowly over 5 years we'll get it together and by the time my little one is big she'll be more prepared to make hard life choices and go off to college knowing what reality is.

December 16, 2009

So what next

I am seeing a financial advisor to get on a budget and more forward with my dreams.

Now onto my list of MH and WL

MH = must haves. Since I am building these are things I will NOT do without.

WL = wish list, or would like. Not deal breakers but important enough to consider ahead of time.

MH - 3 sleeping areas, L or U shaped kitchen, open floor plan, dishwasher, washer and dryer, 2 - 3 burner cooktop, no oven.

WL - mudroom as a screened in half walled back porch (maybe put washer dryer outside), pot rack from ceiling, stone foundation, reclaimed materials for entire building, including interior space.


November 30, 2009

Future hope?

I found this neat article:

Someday I will have my house and I look forward to using some of these techniques to make my little space fun and all me.

October 26, 2009

try this link for unusual toilet lids


Next idea

Found a sqaured off toilet at a friend's house - they got it out of the basement when the one on the first floor was no good. So where did the squarish one come from??

October 01, 2009

Dreaming of the day ...

Okay so have any of you seen the new movie "Julie and Julia"? A young woman from Queens decides to cook her way through Julia Child's first cookbook in one year, over 500 recipes in 365 days and she starts a blog about it.

In the end she gets a huge following and a book deal. Well huge following and book deal aside I want a goal. I want to do something with this blog and my need to live in my own home. I need a goal, a concrete firm goal and 365 days to accomplish it.

Any ideas?

September 26, 2009

Finance me!

so much want my own home. NOW.

tried to find a Crown Financial Ministries study offered in my area to no avail. :-(

i want/need/desire/must have 1 -2 acres w/in a one hour commute of DC (on a bad traffic day - cannot count commute time at 2 pm on a lazy Saturday afternoon). i will happily live in a tent with a portajohn and make shift shower while i build.

does anyone understand how much i need this?