Friday, June 26, 2009

Simplicity Project of the Day: Make Your Own Candles, the Easy Way

As anyone who knows me can attest, I am chemically sensitive to pretty much everything, but nothing so much as when I come within 20 yards of a scented candle. (and those of you with more than 50 of said scented candles in your abode, prepare to be mocked heartily by me, from your front porch.) It probably stems from the fact that scented candles were one of the initial triggers to my chemical sensitivity problems, way back in the salad days of 1993, having to work the register at Deluca’s on Charles Street in Boston next to a candle display that I’m pretty sure no one ever patronized (then again it is rumored that Deluca’s had some, let’s say “connections”, so I don’t think it really mattered what did or did not get sold). But, long story short (too late) I enjoy candles as much as the next gal, but it’s pretty limited in terms of eco-friendly, non-toxic, non-petroleum based and inexpensive options. So I developed my own solution by recycling the old aluminum tea light cups from a batch of Ikea paraffin candles, prying out the wick holders, cutting new wicks (and rethreading) from hemp twine, and then ordering a pound of beeswax pellets to fill the cups up. Sure, you can buy a big block of beeswax for slightly cheaper, but melting it down or chopping it up gets messy and time consuming. This way, you can make the candles as you go and even reuse the same cups if need be.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It’s been a good week for ‘playing things by ear’, another favorite benefit of having a simplified life. Granted I’m quasi-unemployed this week, but having a simplified life makes being quasi-unemployed a lot less stressful. So when I hear a friend is in town for only 24 hours, it’s not an effort to hop in the car and grab a quick lunch down by the beach. And if I needed to kill some time, I can always do my daily exercise by taking a walk on the sand. (I also delight that I actually travel with a few bathing suits in my gym bag and sunscreen in my purse, so that I could have spent the whole day out there, if it had not been so windy) Always traveling with a book makes waiting in line or having my oil changed not so much of an inconvenience any more. And preparing myself for having to spend the day at jury duty with enough projects to keep me entertained for a good 8 hours means it’s a nice surprise that I can hang out at the Central Library (one of my favorite places) when I’m released early.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A bummer of a day yesterday: the world’s worst gardeners, as my apartment handyman quotes his wife: “They mow, blow and go,” in our case, they mow over sprinkler heads, blow what they’ve trimmed around and then go before picking it up… all in under ten minutes, start to finish. The ultimate landscaping abuse came as I awoke to find my beloved lavender bush severed in two—why on earth they would cut the green fertile top off, leaving the branches below that are clearly past their prime. I’m disheartened by the incident because I raised that lavender from small plant—in 6 years, it’s grown to 10 times its original size, more importantly, I transplanted it to outside my bedroom window where not only did its size create a barrier between errant sprinklings from the sprinklers (when of course that sprinkler head was functioning) but created shade from the sun, a screen from anyone who might want to look in my window and best of all peaceful fragrant relaxing lavender scent. It’s too soon to tell whether it is all going to grow back but if anyone can tell me how to say: “Trim this again and I’ll have you fired” in Spanish, that’d be a help.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

So I’ve been neglecting my blog updating lately, but not without good reason, I’ve either been working or I’ve been doing little projects around the apartment to help make life a little more simplified. Nothing too involved, and yes, I am that person who is crazy enough to seam rip open the bottom of a shower curtain liner to soak the plastic strip inside in hydrogen peroxide to bleach out the red tide disease growing in there rather than go out and buy a whole new one. There, so I saved $6. Who’s the crazy one now? But that’s the gist of most of the little projects: taking some silly problem (like red algae) and trying to come up with a solution using what I have on hand to fix it. Would it have been easier to throw a new shower curtain liner in the cart next time I went to Target? Possibly. (Remembering to actually do so might not be so easy…) But the feeling that I know how to fix this problem makes me feel kinda good too. Waiting for a friend to finally remember to bring me a step ladder could take another 6 months, while dragging the coffee table out to the stoop to stand on accomplishes the same thing in seconds. Ditto with getting the building handyman to come by to cover up the greasy ceiling vent over my stove… the piece of aluminum foil I attached may make Martha Stewart roll her eyes, but at least I don’t have fan belt oil dripping in my pasta water anymore. I’ve put too much stuff off on my ‘to-do’ list because I’m waiting for the right tool to magically appear or the moment when I can justify the expense for the quick fix. I’m learning now that with a little patience and a few moments thinking about the problem creatively, I can do it myself for a fraction of the cost.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Homesteading continues...

Well after my first attempt at sweater making, I got more confident and decided I could probably do better than my first attempt (so much so that I've already unraveled that first sweater and I'm using the yarn for another project!) The 2nd attempt I took the lessons I learned from the first version (the yarn I originally chose seemed too thin and I would be more likely to wear a big warm fluffy sweater instead) so First Sweater version 2.o is just such: in my favorite color: grass green, it's a big foofy good for a cool fall day (or an overcast June Gloom Friday as the case may be.) Best part of this project is that I'm really learning to adapt to the design issues I come up against. For example, knitting the sleeves as the pattern called, I ended up with armpits down to my midsection. After unraveling and re-knitting with slight changes to the pattern (4 times!) I finally came up with a solution that seemed to work and makes my project much more likely to be worn outside of the house (in fact I've already gotten my first complement! :)