Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good News and a Whole Lot of Randomness -- Warning, this is sort of a Rant

As reported here, in previous posts, a few months ago I began a campaign to help all mankind by keeping more of my money from the utility company and reduce my carbon footprint at the same time.  I started slowly with line drying clothes and washing dishes by hand more often.  The clothes drying has been absolutely theraputic and I don't know why, I just know I don't feel like a slave to the dryer anymore.  The hand dishwashing was a bit more difficult because I really don't like it but I persevered until I had company one day and had more dishes than usual and just couldn't help myself.  However, I did have the good sense about me to reconfigure my settings and use only a normal wash and air dry.  I mean, nobody was sick so I didn't feel the need to "sanitize" the dishes.  I have used the d/w twice that way and, again, felt like I was more efficient with hand washing.  So, the first bill after I started this little experiement came up $20 less! I was thrilled.  Well.....the latest bill came and it was -- drumroll, please -- $100 less! Of course, the Hubs reminded me that our weather has cooled down a bit and so the a/c isn't running as much but I refuse to think that my efforts aren't contributing to that savings.  I just had to share.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about things lately and I really don't know why.  I am not sure what set me on the path to save energy and money -- I have never been particularly ecologically concerned.  I have never been a wasteful person but I have never been so intrigued by the subject until now and I don't know why.  I am not sure whether the "simple living" concept really has anything to do with ecology or rather more to do with me being overwhelmed with stuff -- materially and conceptually.  I am pretty sure it has something to do with my age and feeling like all the rules of what I have to do and what I should be don't really apply to me anymore.

My recent haircut, for instance, is testament to the fact that I no longer feel the need to subscribe to any edict about what a woman of my age -- or any age for that matter -- is supposed to look like.  I just got tired of all the money going for product, all the time put into something that I didn't really enjoy anymore, and all the expectation of what I should look like when it didn't work for me anymore.  I am happier not having to mess with The Hair.  I think my hair is healthier for it, too, because I have really become conscious of all the chemicals in the products we all take for granted and I am not sure I really want all that stuff on my head! So, here is a photo of The Hair, taken in my bathroom by me so that is why you are only getting part of it -- sorry -- but the other side looks pretty much the same.

That brings us to the subject of cosmetics.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cosmetics.  I love looking at them and I love buying them.  What's the problem you say?  Well, I don't love using them!  I have a drawer in my vanity chock full of all sorts of makeup -- and I don't really use it.  I have narrowed it down to a few products --

Origins Tinted Moisturizer in the lightest color available 
Origins eyeliner in mushroom
EccoBella lipstick in Cafe Au Lait
I also have been using Jane Iredale mascara but they won't let me upload a photo.  I will not use it again after I finish what I have -- it is WAY too expensive to not be any different than any other mascara.

Now, the question is, what do I do with the pounds and pounds of other stuff?  I have purged this drawer before only to go out and fill it back up again -- that isn't very fiscally responsible nor environmentally responsible -- all those plastic packages have to go someplace!  My bad!  Maybe I need an intervention! The truth is, though, that I want to throw it away.  I am beginning to feel smothered by possessions.  I like the feeling of freedom that having less affords me.  I also like the feeling of freedom that I get now that I have learned that I am ok just as I am and I don't have to try to create a new me with tons of cosmetics.  It doesn't work anyway, I am still me!

Another thing that has crossed my mind is how I spend my time -- when not hanging laundry or washing dishes, that is.  I have been a quilter for years.  I have a really nice sewing machine that the Hubs decided I needed to have a few years back and I really like it.  For some reason, however, I have the unbridled desire to hand piece a quilt.  I mean, what is THAT?  Torture?  I don't think so.  I love magazines to a fault and most of my mag purchases are quilting or cross stitch in nature.  I look at the photos and the quilts are getting more and more sophisticated requiring more and more equipment to produce them.  If you want really professional results, you need a long arm quilting machine to do your quilting.  Well, I would have to add on to the house for that but what if you don't want a "professional looking" quilt, you just really, really want to sit down with little pieces of fabric, a needle and thread, and mindlessly sew?  I used to be a purist and want everything to be hand done and then I got the fancy sewing machine and have been more and more frustrated as time has gone on.  I was fishing through some fabric a couple of weeks ago and I found a little piece that I had done by hand -- it isn't finished, of course, and I think I was just doing it to try my hand at it but it is so nice.  It is accurate and the back doesn't look like a tangled web of thread.  I have been working on a top for a few weeks -- a Disappearing Nine Patch pattern.  It is the second I have made from this pattern and I am pretty sure the Disappearing Nine Patch is going to disappear from my go-to list of patterns.  NOT HAPPY!  So, I have decided that from now on, I am going to only employ my favorite technique for piecing -- paper piecing or I am going to hand piece.  I am not going to clutter my mind with what the magazines say I SHOULD be doing.  I am going to be my own quilter.

Well, it seems I have been on quite a rant, now, doesn't it.  I don't know what has come over me.  I just know that the more I get rid of in my life -- stuff or ideas or opinions -- the happier I am becoming.  I have always tried to please other people and never myself first and for some reason I am now looking at how I want to live and think and be and the only word I can think of that would describe it is uncomplicated.  Yes, uncomplicated.

So, on that note, I think I will go grab up my book and sit and read for a while -- the dishes are done and the laundry is drying so I think I can devote the time to it.  I will leave you with a photo of  a recipe I made the other day on quite the spur of the moment.  I have been testing brownie recipes to try to find a scratch recipe that tastes like boxed. So, I was looking through the Pillsbury cookbook and decided to try their brownie recipe but I also decided to try the Pumpkin Bars that were on the same page.  They were listed in the bar cookie section but they were much more cake-like and they turned our completely scrumptious! So did the brownies, by the way! Pillsbury -- who knew!  Sorry Mark Bittman -- they beat you out!