Thursday, 18 June 2009

Exfoliation 2 - The Bookshelf

A little while ago I told you about my first 'exfoliation' - that is, shedding unused clutter in order to leave just the good, the useful, the beautiful and/or to put that clutter back into the world and see it used better. (see makeundermylife for the original and best explanation).

Since then, I've been getting quite into this whole exfoliating/making under business. I've been picking away at my wardrobe, building up a big pile of clothes I don't wear or can't wear or know don't suit me. Every time I take something out my wardrobe looks richer, not smaller. The colours are nicer, I see more stuff I like. That taking stuff away, not putting it in, is what enhances it is so counterintuitive it feels like magic! And yet when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Anyhow, more on the clothes and what to do with them later...

For now, this was my second exfoliation - I went through the bookcase taking out all those books I didn't want anymore. Not a huge pile (there were a few more than this in the end), but it made space in the bookcase for a few more books that had been hanging round in piles elsewhere, helping tidy up our messy little shoebox of a flat.

I was quite excited to try out a couple of good internet book swapping initiatives I'd heard of. Bookmooch and Read it Swap it both allow you to upload books you don't want anymore then start swapping with others. On Bookmooch you collect points, on Read it Swap it it's a straightforward swapping system . Both great ways to give old books a new lease of life with someone else, and to refresh your library for minimal cost (and without any new materials being used).

However, I started thinking about how rubbish I am posting letters (and hence posting out the books), and how much I like the library and spending time in second hand book shops, and how I didn't really want to add to my permanent book stash... So I decided in the end that I was much better off just feeding my books back into the second hand system, and I dropped them off at my nearest second hand charity bookshop.

So, I'm interested in knowing what's your preferred way of reading. Are you a library addict, like me? (With my ginormous fines to show for forgetfulness!) Do you like to buy shiny and new or prefer careworn and tattered? Have you used any swap sites or other ways to circulate and re-use books, and how have you found them if so? Do tell...

Monday, 15 June 2009

still here...

I've been capsized by work of late. It's been filling up my time and zapping my energy to such an extent that I haven't been able to blog for a while. So, sorry for the absence. I hope it will all settle down soon.

I did manage to make my first local meal, although the waste challenge is faltering somewhat. I also finished a good book I wanted to tell you about, I've experimented with homemade almond milk and I've exfoliated this and that...

So, watch this space, and just as soon as things start to calm down enough for me to get a chance to post, I will be back...

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Another challenge!

Seems to be the week for it. This one is somewhat more pleasant than the waste one though. It's the Go Local challenge from Heather Jane at Living Senses and it entails making one meal from local food each week throughout June to August. If you join in you can then blog about it and post a link on Living Senses each week so all the local meals can be shared and admired. Lovely!

There's a farmer's market on at the school near where I usually run on weekend mornings, so I'm hoping to stop by there this Saturday and pick things up for my first meal.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Waste Challenge - update 1

A little while ago I rather rashly made a commitment to myself, here on this site, to spend a whole month collecting my rubbish rather than throwing it away.

And now the month is upon me, so I have had to honour my word and start really thinking about waste. This is how things are going so far:

Day 1
- I realise it's the 1st June and hence the first day of the challenge as I am eating my lunch - with a disposable fork - it's made of wood and has got a bit soggy and broken so I can't put it in the cutlery drawer to take to work as I do with the few plastic spoons I pick up. I put it in my bag.

Later I'm working through my receipts (I record all my expenditure - slightly obsessive but there we go) and realise I have unthinkingly tossed them in the bin. I realise why I am doing this challenge - because it is that unthinkingness that I - and most others - have become accustomed to. But once out of my hand this stuff doesn't disappear into thin air, so I really should be thinking about just what I am throwing out.

By evening I'm quite impressed at my small haul for the day, until I realise I'm too late to go to my usual shop and have to buy dinner at Tesco Metro. EVERYTHING is in packaging. There is literally nothing I can buy loose apart from an unripe avocado. Some plastic and netting gets added to my stash.

Day 2.

This regime is pretty good if you're on a diet because if you're looking at food in terms of waste, there is not much there you can go for apart from fruit (this is at least the case in our canteen). I go out for lunch with a colleague though and get a sandwich wrapped in paper and then put in a paper bag stuffed with paper napkins. The bag and napkin I can save and re-use, but the paper is all oily so it has to be chucked (things with food on that might go mouldy over the course of a month are not coming in the bag). So I kind of cheated today, but still pretty good going with nothing so far. However, I am pretty thirsty because my only options for water here are plastic cups or buying a plastic bottle, as I forgot to bring my normal tea mug. Damn! And another dinner needs to be bought and I'm not sure I'll make my shop opening hours. I had better go and try do that!!!


An optimistic article in this week's Sunday Times - .

Author Rosie Boycott claims:

"There is a phenomenon springing up all around that isn’t just about a green revolution, nor is it simply a response to the recession, an economic necessity to downsize because your bank balance is looking precarious. No: a whole new set of values as fashionable as the old is currently in the offing. "

Is it really true? It doesn't seem based on much, although I'd like to think that the credit-crunch inspired articles that currently abound on clothes swapping, staycations, doing it yourself and growing your own are more than just a media fad.

She does touch on some more solid examples of 'good things' a-happening, such as a programme with persistent truants at Hackney City Farms and this - Capital Growth a project which aims to enable more food-growing in London, especially community food-growing. This is something I've daydreamed about but didn't know was actually out there happening, so I am glad to stumble across that, and it has injected a little optimism into my day.

What last made you feel optimistic?

Monday, 1 June 2009

June List

June's here! And it's actually sunny, hooray!

So, from top left, going clockwise.

1. I love this ring from artisan look on etsy. Gorgeous

2. Also lusting after the lovely caoba top - another etsy find by Zelaya. It's made of organic cotton, can be worn two ways, and looks perfect for warm weather (apart from the fact that I ban myself from buying white apparel on the grounds that I'm just too prone to spilling things).

3. Hoping to catch the The Photographic Object exhibition at the photographers gallery in its new home. It's one of my favourite London galleries with a constant turnover of small and interesting exhibitions and I haven't visited since it recently moved.

4. I'm sure this golden sands brooch from Calexandra would make everything in my wardrobe look better.

5. Comfy and chic, and coral, one of my all-time favourite clothing colours, this Peopletree bubble dress is another item on my wardrobe wishlist.

6. Having finally managed to keep up regular(ish) running training since January, planning to run a 5K this month, with Sri Chin Moy races in lovely Battersea Park.

7. Cherries have started to arrive on the streets of London and I can't get enough of them. They just taste of summer. I went to my first picnic this weekend just gone and sitting in the sun in the company of interesting people, with a handful of cherries and a glass of prosecco is a good recipe for a Sunday afternoon...