Posts from the “Simplify” Category

Field Notes : House Plants

Posted on August 17, 2018

[ I am new to this. It’s too early to declare love. It’s way too early to profess knowledge. This is what I have learnt so far. ]

“It’s now trendy to have house plants. Instagram is making people jump on the bandwagon. What a cliche.”

– an acquaintance.

“I don’t see it that way at all. I rejoice in the fact that we have more common ground than differences, in the pursuit of happiness. It can be really simple. Grow some plants. It’s accessible for everyone.”

– me.

“Only the ones who have never grown a plant are capable of saying such stupid words. The ones who garden are usually eager to share the happiness.”

– I wanted to say but that would have been very rude.

There is a certain happiness in nurture. It could be with a fellow human we find companionship in. It could be a child we raise. It could be a pet we grow old with. It could be a robot we train. It could be a tree that we plant. Of all of them, houseplants are the easiest to deal with !! They add that element of living beauty to my home. They clean the air inside for me to breathe. Why did I wait this long to get started ? Maybe it was the tiny home I was living in. I was terrified of every addition becoming clutter and stealing the limited space. Or maybe I hid behind ‘no green thumb here’ excuse. It’s a total myth. Nobody is born with brown or green fingers. Everyone learns it as we go. It is said that when a student is ready, the teacher appears. In my case, I found many teachers :

White Noise : July Edition

Posted on July 28, 2018

Dress : Steven Alan, second-hand and worn in ( as seen here ). We moved out of our tiny apartment and into a cottage with a backyard. 15 days after we left, Fernando, my ex-landlord gave me Cinco.  I gave up on zero waste for the initial move in period and am slowly getting back into the routine again. I am learning about the challenges of living more sustainably in a bigger space. ( Is that oxymoronic? ) Growing vegetables, planting native shrubs, bee-friendly gardening, repairing the soil, reducing water waste, … have replaced the mind space I once reserved for fashion and clothes. I used to churn out blog posts every week after working on them for a few hours. Lately, I am…

Simple Pleasures : Home Fragrance

Posted on July 21, 2018

I want to live in a home that smells of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, the summer sun in the afternoon and of lavender in the night. If I am lucky, a whiff of foraged flowers from time to time would be a luxury. 

Formerly, this discussion of mine would have started and ended with the kind of candles one can buy. But a hike changed the experience for me. Uvas Canyon is very under rated by the adventurers for many reasons – too close to the city, park not large enough, hikes not being difficult enough, native trees not photogenic enough, … Travel can be conveniently romanticized and life changing when it’s to lands far away. But California has so much beauty in the little nooks and corners when nobody is looking. Uvas Canyon takes on a life of it’s own after it rains. The little water falls appear in otherwise dry crevices and rock moldings. The moss covered trees glow green. The tree browns glisten. It has the power to make a human instantly happy. We remember it as ‘the fragrant trail we once did during the monsoons’. Californian bay trees lined a mile of the trail. Then came the plain lands with sun streaming and wild flowers growing with careless abandon. Then came the water bodies flowing in full vigor that smelt like the forest. An array of fragrances – is this something I can design at home ? Some ideas :

Lavender in planters to use as leading lines near the doorways.

Fragrant indoor plants placed by the windows that let in sunlight.

Growing herbs indoors by the window or by fluorescent light on the kitchen counter.

Mop the floors with some lavender essential oils added to the water.

Let the kitchen countertops smell of lemon and champagne.

Light a tea candle in the diffuser with an essential oil of your choice.

Use a humidifier – the smell of H2O is soothing too.

Having a pot of floral tea on the desk to sip on.

Floral vines like jasmine, outside the windows that can be opened.

A small stash of candles for instant gratification.

Add some moss to indoor plants. The air smells different.

Wash bedding, curtains, towels in Laundress rose detergent.

Line dry the clothes outside. They smell of the summer sun and the soil.

 

Even if I succeed at growing the plants, it will not be the same experience as a candle. It will be uneven. It will be faint. It will be seasonal. I will have to constantly work at it. It will be a different kind of experience – one closer to nature. Serendipitous and fleeting. Let the experiment begin.

Place

Posted on July 7, 2018

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[ Sustainability feels like a hopeless cause that can only result in heart ache. But poetry gives me hope. This artist found his paradise by planting trees.  ]

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He never went into academia like his peers or worked for an enterprise. He ferociously maintained his independence to do what he wanted to do. He didn’t come from money. To make ends meet, he cut his own hair. Dressed out of Salvation army in old army clothes since his childhood. Lived the simplest life to achieve his goals. Shunned excessive consumption. Shunned sacrificing sustainability for the sake of convenience. Said that folks who support war and pollution have no reverence to life. Donated his prize money towards anti-war efforts. “I never wanted a domestic life. I didn’t need a lot of money. ….. I had a different set of examples in mind. I thought of the poets and the composers before the 20th century, who never thought that they were going to have any money. So I thought to myself … well this is what I want to do and I will do it anyways.” Used his life’s savings to start a conservatory. Moved and bought a piece of deforested waste land. Started plating native trees but found that the land was too damaged to grow them. He planted the trees required to re-build the soil and the ones that change the micro-climate. Built the forest canopy first and then planted the trees that grow under it. Found his heaven. This is how my kind of style icons dress – in old clothes and in blue.

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His mind and his work.

I am not in a stage of my life where I can follow his footsteps. But here are things I can do :

  1. I wanted to plant 10 trees this year. I hit the goal. 100 is my new target. I am at 38. Inside our home, outside our home, indoor plants gifted to friends, outdoor plant cuttings potted in family yards, any empty public land, our street, your street, buying carbon offsets, …. all of it is fair game.
  2. I have gone on a shopping fast since June 1st. I want to keep it a quiet long affair.
  3. I have gone as zero waste as I can. Any more, comes at the expense of my productivity and social life. I am doing my best. The rest, I plan to tackle on a different platform. Lot of our ocean plastic pollution comes from Asian rivers. Making a donation to a grass root organization in India would help. ( Haven’t figured out a specifics yet.  )
  4. Compost. It’s super food for plants. It keeps our land healthy.
  5. Save up to go solar and off the grid. I opened a seperate savings account.
  6. Keep blogging. It won’t change the world or solve world problems as the naysayers love to point out, but it has changed me and kept me in check. Baby steps till I am ready for the leaps.

Spring Cleaning

Posted on March 24, 2018

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This year, I have nothing to declutter. A deep clean done. A zero waste check list half conquered. A closet that has been declared built. A personal uniform adopted. 3 years since I gave up fast fashion and synthetic fabrics. A 90% plastic free home. What next ? I never addressed the way I consume content online. I am an introvert by nature and have been feeling the brunt of information overload. An detox might be beneficial. I could never stay away in the past. So, wrote a little snippet of python script to enforce it. Aiming for a week’s worth black out. Longer if I can keep going. (That includes this blog too.) See you in a bit.

While I am gone, check out some good podcasts :

Waking up, Sam Harris ( My fav critical thinker )

Dan Carlin, Hardcore History ( Story telling at its finest. )

Quanta Magazine podcast ( For science. )

( Notable mentions : O’Reilly Data Show, Data Sceptic, Linear digressions and Talking Machines. ) 

Bloom and Grow Radio ( For green thumbs. )

 

On Being, with Krista Tippet ( For spiritual enquiry. )

White Noise : February Edition

Posted on February 25, 2018

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On board of Falcon Heavy, one of the single most incredible launches I have seen in my lifetime. 

Artist of the month : Louis Faurer

Annie Hall’s personal style, deconstructed on Classiq. ( wonderful blog. )

Q : The three essential things a woman should know about style are…

A : How to look elegant by wearing something simple, how to look sexy without being naked, and how to look feminine wearing masculine-inspired outfits.

– Giorgia Tordini.

The great green wall of Africa.

The Aesthetic of Mending.

This Pinterest board on Alexa Chung.

This stripe top.

This home tour.

Meanwhile, in the land of chic woman ….

The joy of wearing out a piece of gear.

Blog Discovery of the month : VenusianGlow. My favorite articles :

A mission to create a stylish wardrobe. How I shop sustainablyLiving green. Tips for Earth day. Stop reading blogs that make you feel poor.

How to Dress Like a stereotype.

Youtube discovery : Grandma’s Recipes

I think women only start to really look like themselves after they turn 30. That’s when a girl first dares to be her own age, show her bare face, and not just dress for boyfriends or husbands. I’ve kept all the old photos of myself from the ’60s, but I can’t relate to them now at all. All that dressing up! And the eye makeup! We looked like Barbie dolls.

I found my uniform about 20 years ago, and it hasn’t changed since. To me, there’s nothing more beautiful than a simple cashmere jersey paired with boyfriend jeans or trousers. …..  I wear an old man’s smoking [tuxedo jacket] in the evenings, which, if you can get your hands on one, is definitely worth buying. You can wear it for years, even if it has holes.

– Jane Birkin, in an interview with Harpers Bazaar. 

100 wears : Lizzie writes an ode to the garments that have proven themselves to be valuable and useful.

TheLuxeStratergist’s 2017 shopping roundup. This is the sort of balance I look for : high quality garments, second hand purchases, no fast fashion, restraint and great taste. Well done lady ! You inspire me.

Finally, check out the agenda on Vogue Australia’s cover :

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White Noise : January Edition

Posted on February 1, 2018

Fashion film of the month : Lacoste, Timeless. ( Max Richer did the music.)

Have you checked out the Covetan house yet ? 

The Endless Quest, on Put This On.

No Onion, you are wrong. I do spend time outdoors. Don’t you mock the trench coat ! Two possibilities : Onion is right ( it usually is ) and I am a fashion victim. Or I am an outlier. ( Its good for my ego to think the latter. )

Homo sapien fossils found in Morocco and Israel. This could help us understand our origins and migration patterns better.

 Ignore people’s advice, avoid tradition for tradition’s sake, and stop following recipes. A bountiful home garden helps, too.

– Erez Komarovsky, How to live life, Saveur Magazine.

This closet tour.

This last letter.

This blue fabric. 

This pinstripe wool short coat by Isabel Marant.

This graveyard for clothing.

Interview with Brandon Truaxe, founder of The Ordinary Skincare Brand :

Why did you get into the beauty business ?

….. I was horrified that in the lab, it was all about the scent, consistency, touch, sensorial experience, its not about the evidence ….. eventually, the role of the chemist reduces to meeting the requirements of the marketing team instead of inventing the next big thing …

( another reason we need better reviews of products. )

Cristóbal Balenciaga’s black.

(new) Blog discovery : Wear About, an Indian Street Style Blog. ( When living in India, I took a lot of styles of dressing for granted. I called them mundane/common place. This street style blog presents Indian fashion to me with a fresh pair of eyes. It makes me nostalgic. It makes me miss traveling in India. It makes me miss the textiles that I once had access to. I am amazed at the diversity from each state. I am amazed by the way the West meets the East in some of the northern states. That is something I have been meaning to achieve. To make both the cultures represent and meet in my closet. There is plenty of inspiration for me. The blog has interviews with my kind of designers. I am counting on this blog to be a window into letting me explore Indian fashion and style. )

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Please excuse me while I take a break from talking about myself, clothes and style. I over did it in 2017 and am turned off by it all. I want to write about other matters that are dear to me. Zero waste. Food. Travel. Or nothing at all. If you don’t want to see these other essays, do check back in Spring.