Black

via Daily Prompt: Black

It is funny but I had been thinking about this subject and was already planning a blog about it when it appeared as if by magic in my emails. Now my take may be totally different, but that is what makes life fun!

I was walking yesterday and there was a group of about six people walking towards me dressed from head to toe in black, now they might have been attending a funeral at the church across the street although they were not dressed up at all and it got me thinking; when has the color taken over? Black used to be worn for funerals and formal events, every woman worth her salt had a little black dress that she could use for both occasions and look appropriate. I don’t know if it just started sneaking into the fashion world for everyday wear or if one designer spearheaded the campaign. Norma Kamali used to go for it if I remember correctly. If you watch Project Runway (I am a big fan, so many talented people) the judges are always asking to see color. So maybe we are coming around.

I know this time of year you want darker colors, but why black? No wonder everyone is depressed! Let’s see some color folks! I looked through my wardrobe and found three true black pieces: a velvet jacket, dress pants and yoga pants from my son’s alma mater. Black is supposed to be slimming, well that can be said of any well cut and well fitted garment. Dressing head to toe in black just makes you look like Darth Vader or a crow. I love navy blue and I find it much less harsh and really looks good on most people. My cocktail dress in a timeless design is a dark navy and I can wear it any time of the year.

It used to be that you would never put children in black and that is probably because of the funereal connection, and I am sure there are parents out there saying that they look cleaner longer and while that may be true another color like brown or navy blue would work too.

So fall really is a time of color and even if all the leaves are off the trees there are still different colors to revel in, try a soft grey so many colors go with it and it doesn’t make you look like you want to withdraw from the world. Black has it’s place but should it really be in everything we wear? There are so many colors out there, go out and experience them and see if you don’t feel a little more joyful when you weed black out. If you don’t want to jump in with both feet right away, get an accessory say a scarf and wear that. I notice that I feel happier when I am wearing nice saturated colors even when paired with my black velvet jacket or black pants. You might even affect someone else with your positive attitude and without knowing it they will pay it forward also.

So try living everyday with color in your clothes, who knows we might start a trend!

IMG_20170630_141131_124

Break free!

Advertisements
Posted in everyday life, Uncategorized, wardrobe | Tagged | 2 Comments

Six Steps To Less Stress

We all want less stress in our lives, so if we can control in it in any way it should be tried. Stress from other people, jobs, world politics etc, you cannot really do away with so let’s work on what you can control.

The way you start and end your day has a lot to do with how much stress you feel. Some of these will appeal to you and others will not, these have worked for me (most of the time).

Make your bed. I know you have read this before but it bears repeating. I get up take the dog out, feed her and start my coffee then I get my clothes out, start the shower, and make my bed. This has become a habit and I know that when I leave for the day, my room is clean, and will be welcoming me at bedtime. I am one of those people that likes a tightly made bed and well it looks nice. Now most people have comforters so you don’t have to be super neat but it should look made.

Figure out your clothes before bed. I have a leg up on this because for my workdays I wear a uniform, but if you have cut down your wardrobe so that everything fits, looks good and is clean, you can decide the night before and one less decision in the morning.

Build in breakfast time. Even if you do not eat a big breakfast it is important to build the time into your schedule so you can sit down, have coffee, tea and what you want to eat, whatever it is. After all you were awakened by an alarm of sort so that is a jolt to your system so sit down and relax a little and reflect on the day ahead.

Clean your kitchen. I have gotten in the habit of cleaning up the kitchen right after dinner before I relax for the evening. All dishes should be loaded in the dishwasher or washed with the pots and pans and the sink sponged out and rinsed. I know you are probably a bit tired but think how you would feel getting up the next morning to a clean kitchen to enjoy your breakfast. Who wants to see greasy pots, pans and dishes cluttering up the sink. I wouldn’t want to sit down to enjoy anything at that point.

Make lunch for tomorrow. Now this may not apply to you all, but both my husband and I take our lunch to work so I make it the night before so it is one less thing to do in the morning. Sandwiches can be difficult especially with kids but you can get everything else bagged and ready to go. My husband does not mind a sandwich made the night before and wrapped up in a reusable wrapper.

Get the kids organized. When my kids were little I went through their back packs when they came home, signed things that needed it and put them right back in. They did their homework and placed back in the backpack and the backpack was put by the door. They will forget things but if they get in this habit early they can carry it all the way through high school. I never had to bring a forgotten item to the school for either kid and they are very different people.

I have found that these worked for me after I recognized what was bothering me and figured out how I could remedy it, with  small change. I then did this for a month until it became habit and I never had to think about it again. So I guess you would say that habits (good ones) can lessen your stress. So identify a problem that is adding to your stress (we all have something) do something small to help and continue to do it until you don’t have to think about it anymore. It will involve trial and error and don’t try to fix more than 2 things at a time. I have mentioned before a book that helped me a great deal; Small Move Big Change. I recommend it to everyone. It can work for you too. So start your journey to living everyday with less stress.

DSCN0302

Posted in everyday life, habits, organizing, planning, resolutions, Small Move Big Change, stress, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The perfect desk

Now, I know everyone’s idea of the perfect desk is different. A new desk is on my “want” list not my “need” list as discussed in a previous post, but it doesn’t stop me from searching, Christmas is coming after all!

Let’s start with a little background. I am lucky enough to have a spare room to use as an office, it is not large but more than enough for me. I do not have a job where I can work from home so the office is used for bill paying, household management, crafts, correspondence, blogging and at Christmas it is where all the present wrapping is done. I don’t really do a ton of crafting mostly it needs a flat stable surface (ie a desk). I have a set of bookshelves, plants, a printer stand and a student desk which we purchased for my son to encourage him to do his homework in the quiet of his room, in retrospect not a good idea, but our intentions were good. Come to find out he focuses better when he has music playing in his headphones and the television on, but I digress. It is a small desk and I have a lamp on it and a standing file for items I need to access frequently, I also have small containers for paperclips etc and writing implements. I barely have room for my laptop and then no place to write( yes I take notes on real paper).

I took this desk when he left for college, painted it with blue spray paint to match my printer stand (which used to be a typewriter table from my mother’s office. Did not want to throw anything out and I thought really why should I buy anything expensive after all it was just my office. I figured that I really only needed the basics anyway. I even have my mother’s old secretary chair that isn’t all that comfortable and makes a squeaky noise every time I shift.

I have now decided I want a room of my own that is not filled with cast offs and things that will do for now. A beautiful desk and chair are a start to realizing this dream. This past summer when my husband and I were visiting the western part of Massachusetts we happened into an art gallery that had the most beautiful handmade items. The gallery had furniture, glass, pottery, painting etc http://www.SalmonFallsGallery.com and I found this craftsman that worked with salvaged wood. His pieces were special, they reminded me a bit of George Nakashima in that it was salvaged wood and the pieces told him what they should be. They are extremely expensive on the face of it but not when you think of the work that goes into them. I visit his website every now and again to dream, www.salemboard.com

I know the trend towards painted furniture makes a new desk a good project and much less expensive, but I don’t want to make do anymore. I love a beautiful piece of wood that shows the grain as well as imperfections. I need a flat surface that is maybe 2 feet by 3 1/2 feet with one or two drawers, not a lot of drawers they only become junk drawers. I am willing to wait and to save up. I will get my little room that will be designed with only me in mind. Maybe it will help me to write and maybe not but it will be mine. I know not everyone has the luxury of a room to call their own and I am grateful but it is not working for me as it is so it really is a waste of space.

What is your perfect desk or space to write in or create?

Posted in desks, lists, Uncategorized, your own space | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Recipe redo

Is there anyone out there trying to put together a cookbook? I have a suggestion or two.

I was excited about trying a recipe that I found in a magazine that happened to be a old family recipe from the subjects of the article. It sounded great and I had all the ingredients (which is hardly ever the case with me) and I had the day off, sounds like a plan.

I assembled all my ingredients, read the recipe all the way through twice and began. Now I have been baking since I was about 8 so I am no novice. My oven was preheated my pans were prepared and I was all set. Here are my thoughts:

  • Along with the ingredient listing a listing of how many implements needed would be good
  • Pictures at different stages would be helpful
  • Descriptions of what things should look like

Since this was an old family recipe these people have made it so many times that they don’t even need the recipe so they don’t give it a second thought that you need 2 stand mixers (at the very least another bowl for the mixer), 2 bowls to separate the eggs, a bowl for the dry ingredients, 2 liquid measuring cup 3 would be better as honey was involved and that makes using a measuring cup sticky at best. I can always rinse the dry measuring cups and spoons otherwise it would involve multiples of those too.

I was supposed to bake for 30 minutes then tent them with foil and bake for another 30 minutes. After the first 30 minutes was done the batter was still very liquidy. ( is that a word or just a state of mind?) I would have liked to known if that was normal. I am hoping this tastes good, smells good that I know, but if I make it again I will be rewriting it myself so I know what to expect.

I know there are some recipes that I have made for years that I don’t even think about; I just do them by heart but when I had to write them down for my daughter I realized that I should have warned her about all the implements that are needed. It really should be part of the recipe and pictures and/or descriptions would be great too.

So if you have any recipes to pass on to future generations remember to give as much info as you can before you even start.

20171103_131051

Posted in Baking, cookbooks, everyday life, recipes, sharing projects, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Minimalism vs Zero Waste

I have doing quite a bit of reading on these two subjects lately and from what I have read they are not mutually exclusive in their goals. I will say that being a minimalist is not as straight forward. You can cut back your belongings, streamline your lifestyle, get rid of clutter etc and be well on your way to achieving nirvana, but the zero waste lifestyle is a bit more involved and requires more that just getting rid of items you don’t need. It really harkens back to the “back to Earth movement” when I was younger (oops just dated myself). Being brought up by someone who grew up in the depression gave you the same ideas, reuse what you can, fix whatever is broken and do with out if you really do not need it.

Now don’t get me wrong I see nothing wrong with either of these ideals. I just see that actually achieving them can be extremely difficult as well as expensive. I know what you are thinking ” expensive? this should be saving you money”. Well, around me there is only one food store where you can buy bulk food in your own containers and that is Whole Foods (don’t know if you can bring in glass containers, though they sell some items in bulk) and in case you haven’t been in this establishment even after it was purchased by Amazon, it is not cheap. So Zero waste is a great ideal to work towards but can be extremely impractical depending on your location. I have purchased organic cotton mesh bags to buy my fruits and vegetables and always use my own bags so I have done away with that plastic, and I try to buy food with very little packaging and since I have cut down my processed food this is coming along nicely. The cost of my organic cotton bags was not super cheap, but why use bags made out of a petroleum product in order not to use plastic, took me awhile to find them, can you see my point. I am all for using less, eating whole foods, cutting down on plastic use and recycling what I can but we do not live in a vacuum and we can only buy what we are presented with in the packaging that is used.

Minimalism as far as I can gather is trying to get people to live with less because we don’t “need” a lot of things and they end up controlling us and using up our spare time. I have re evaluated my buying habits and really soul searched what I needed and what I didn’t. I have cut back clutter, although this will always be an ongoing battle, so I do not really need to clean as often, although to be honest I wasn’t really doing it all the time anyway. I spend more time doing things outside, reading, doing puzzles and writing. The trouble I have with the movement (if that is what you call it) is that I love beautiful things. Art has always and will always have a place in my home, antiques with the patina of years gone by, and even the search for these things are part of me. So I believe that minimalism means different things to different people. It is not a one size fits all, that never works.

Do any of you out there practice either of these? If you do I would love to hear from you. I want to hear what has worked for you and maybe what hasn’t. Maybe we can learn from one another and help the world in the process, now that is a movement I can get behind.

DSCN0259

Posted in environment, minimalism, natural products, needs, plastic free, recycle, Uncategorized, Zero Waste | Tagged | 4 Comments

Shopping

When are a pair of jeans more than a pair of jeans? When you have put a great deal of thought into your shopping habits, your needs vs wants and taken a month off of shopping. When I finished my month of not shopping I had a list of items that I determined were things I actually needed and they are as follows:

  1. a pair of jeans
  2. 2 pot holders
  3. face serum
  4. snow boots
  5. 2 or 3 long sleeve tops
  6. a cover for the couch that my dog sleeps on so it can be washed
  7. a doormat

I have purchased the serum because I use one kind and I was just replacing the bottle that ran out during my month long hiatus. The other items I have looked for but I feel as if I have placed so many restrictions on them that I am no longer able to make a decision. The whole process has me doubting myself. I keep asking do I really like the item or am I just buying it without thinking so I am now over thinking everything. This has always been a problem for me as I am a bit of a perfectionist and if I think that I can’t be perfect I don’t try or buy!

So back to my jean shopping. I went to a few different stores and didn’t even try anything on as I felt that the selection was not worth it( for pete sake it is only a pair of jeans!) I finally did find a pair that I deemed worthy to try on and the fit ok but I am still not thrilled. How have I imbued this purchase with so many problems. I always wear things right away when I buy them. These still have the tags on and I may return them. I feel like if I can finally be happy with a pair of jeans everything will fall into place. When you come right down to it, this seems to be indicative of a few things in my life. Hold on it is going to get deep here.

There are quite a few things I have not done because I have felt that I can’t do it well right at the start so I don’t try. I mean who is perfect at anything when they first try. It doesn’t help that my husband is a natural athlete and is good at almost any sport he tries. I have been wanting to write a book for my whole life but never tried because well, I don’t think anyone would want to read it because it wouldn’t be good enough. I come from a family of artists and always wanted to try painting, sculpting etc but never tried because it wouldn’t measure up. So now I can’t find a pair of jeans because I cannot find the “perfect” pair. How ridiculous is this? Maybe I should start with something smaller on my list like the pot holders, I mean how difficult can that be?

So I have analysis paralysis but am going to soldier through. Anyone have some jean suggestions?!

DSCN0035 (1)

Posted in everyday life, habits, lists, needs, perfectionism, shopping, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Greening the Mainstream

I will say that we have come a long way in knowledge of the environment and the overuse of chemicals, but organic natural products and services are still on the fringe and more expensive. There are people who say that celebrities who now are talking about the environment are not helping.

I say that the more people who speak out about reuse, reduce, refuse and recycle the better. I don’t care who makes it “popular” as long as it works. If there are people who use their status to talk about issues, start companies or products, GREAT! The more mainstream it becomes the less expensive it will be and be more available to the masses.

I can now go into Target, Ulta Beauty and CVS and buy organic beauty products. I don’t have to go to Whole Foods to find those items anymore and this is a good thing. I still have to do internet searches for things like cotton produce bags because the ones that I can find locally are made out of  petroleum based fabric( really doesn’t seem right). I would like to see more publications like Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, Family Circle etc review natural products in a big way so regular consumers have knowledge to make choices. I have the EWG app on my phone and use it all the time. All you have to do is scan the bar code on a product (food or cosmetic) and if it is in their database it will give you a breakdown of the ingredients and any issues with them. I thought I had a great shampoo and then I scanned it and put it back on the shelf. This is why knowledge is power and just looking at the packaging can be misleading. “Natural” means nothing, organic is only good if it has a USDA seal or other designation for cosmetics.

Organic food is becoming more mainstream in regular supermarkets and the variety is much better now than even a few years ago. It is still more expensive but I believe the cost will go down as more people buy organics and the big companies figure it out. When I was growing up very few people had food allergies and I do not believe that all of a sudden people are allergic to the food as much as all the chemicals used to produce them. Insecticides, fertilizers and general farming practices have changed so people’s reactions to them are different.

The cosmetic industry is huge and there are organic and natural products out on the shelves. I use many different brands and when you think about the amount of product you put on your skin on a daily basis it should make you think. You don’t have to go all natural and use no make-up, just make a concerted effort to research what you use. Your skin is the largest organ in your body so you need to treat it carefully.

DSCN0314

Cleaning products are another way to go green, yes you can make your own and there are times I do just that but there are companies out there that make safe products that do the job, because lets face it we don’t all have the time or energy to make our own. My husband suffers from asthma and since I have started using natural organic cleaning products he has been breathing better, not a cure but every little bit helps.

DSCN0306

So if we keep buying these types of products and convincing our friends and families to do the same the better for all of us, so if some celebrity wants to go on about it and make their “discovery” that we have known for years, who cares it will help us all.

Living everyday to me means taking no more from the Earth than I give back. I am not perfect and am not living a totally organic, zero waste lifestyle, but I am trying and make improvements all the time

Posted in celebrity endorsements, environment, everyday life, habits, health and beauty, natural products, plastic free, recycle, skin care, Target, Uncategorized, Zero Waste | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment