Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rising to the Challenge(s)

It's a big week here. I am wrapping up the first 7 days of my 100 Thing Challenge, as well as nearing the deadline for the Ravelympics.

Oh wait, I've been a bad blogger and haven't mentioned the Ravelympics here, have I? In a nutshell, it's a knitting challenge wherein one starts a project during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, and finishes it by the end of the closing ceremonies. If I really hunker down tonight and tomorrow, I just may make it. I am making the Multnomah shawl (PDF link) out of some alpaca that I bought from a local farm and recently dyed dark green. I would take a progress picture of it but at the moment it just looks like a wadded mess. Because my original circular needle had a catastrophic failure (read: cable separated from its needle tip) mid-way through a row, I had to switch to a too-short replacement needle to complete the project. As it keeps growing, it is increasingly difficult to manage to knit, let alone spread it out for a photo op. Here's a picture of it last week, on the original, 40" needle. I now am 3 feather-and-fan repeats away from completion.

My hand is killing me from all this knitting, but I really think I'll like this shawl when it is done, so I'm powering through. Less than 36 hours isn't much time. It's going to be close.

As I mentioned above, it's also the close of week one of my attempt at a 100 Thing Challenge. I vowed donate/gift 100 things a week out of my home. Between Mr Deplume's toy-culling work in our kids' rooms and my clearing out of some old kid clothes and cookbooks, we have rehomed 118 items to the local charity shop.  I knew that coming up with this first hundred things was going to be easy. What I didn't realize when conceiving of the idea is how much my eyes would be opened to all the crap in my house (and my life) that I could live without.
In the basement, I see the Christmas decoration boxes half-filled with ornaments and tchotkes that I don't like and will never put out.
In my closet, I see the dress clothes that I only wear when I am desperate. (Which, admittedly, is fairly often, as I'm not a skilled outfit-builder.) But just maybe, wearing the same few outfits that I like repeatedly is better than "trying to mis it up", which translates to "wearing clothes that make me sad." I don't need that sadness, do I?
In the kitchen, I see the utensil drawer that is too full of unitaskers. How many sets of tongs do I really need? I like to make bread, but should I really keep 6 loaf pans? How about 4 sets of wine glasses?
The hall closet is home to too many jackets and coats-- I only have two arms and 4 seasons. How many do I really need?
It is like this in my head all the time now.

Only time will tell if I can stick with this for 100 days, but the first 7 have been good. I'm excited for the next.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

100 Thing Challenge

Last week Mr Deplume shared a blog post he had found about a guy who had vowed to live with only 100 personal possessions for one year. It surprised me because that I had no idea Mr Deplume had ever really entertained the idea of living with dramatically fewer belongings. I thought that only people who live with too much crap day in and day out daydreamed about living a minimalistic life. Of course, even though he's not a packrat, he lives with three of us who are, so maybe that's where these dreams came from. Who knows. Maybe he'll offer some explanation of his motivations in the comments section when he reads this. (hint, hint)

Anyway, this Guy Named Dave decided in 2008 that to help break himself from the nasty habit of consumerism, he would spend some time figuring out which 100 personal things he needs, then spend a year living with only those things. He completed that project, and has revised it for 2010, and I'm hopping on board. His idea is to allow us the readers to come up with our own challenges, to help decrease our Consumerist tendencies. As much as his plan speaks to me, there's just no way I can do it at the moment, even though I buy relatively little anymore. There's just too much stuff in the way at Ch√Ęteau Deplume. So I've concocted my own 100-ish Thing Challenge, after which I hope to have made enough headway to try out Dave's. His goal was not to declutter, but mine is.

So for the next 100 days (give or take-- 14 weeks is actually 98 days), I will get rid of 100 things per week.
If I buy anything non-consumable, I will get rid of extra items to make a net reduction of 100 things.
Throwing away trash doesn't count-- that's just regular housecleaning.
Since generosity is a virtue I'm short on and my goal here is to declutter, I would like to help myself and others who have less all at once. Selling off items will not count in the weekly 100s. I will focus my energy on donations and gifts.

I started on Sunday the 21st, and so far have only 19 items in this week's donation box. But I have a basement, a partial attic, and three closets full of stuff I don't really need, so I really doubt that there will be much of a problem coming up with 1400 things I've committed to unload.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Playing catch up

I't been a busy couple of weeks around the Deplume household! Last week, I used my Perfect Brownie pan for the first time.
As you can see, I had some leakage issues. I know that the answer is to line the pan in foil, but I resisted, as that seems like more work than just using a regular pan and cutting the brownies with a knife. People love these things, apparently, but not me. 

Then, I decided to make my daughter a cake for her 8th birthday. In a silicone bundt pan. It was given to me by a family member a while back, and I thoguht "what the heck? She said it worked fine, she just didn't love it." 
I think that maybe what she meant to say was that it was a miserable waste of silicone. I floured the pan. I used a cookie sheet under it. I followed the directions. But it still fell apart when I tried to de-pan it. To add insult to injury, this tragedy struck while I was trying to also get the house ready for about a dozen people to arrive for the party. 30 minutes before guests were to arrive, I was at the grocery store, buying a premade cake. This failure is still tasty, though. It lived in our refrigerator for a few days, being eaten and referred to as "The Fail Cake"

mmm, fail cake...

In other news, I'm knitting again. It's been slow going, as I keep screwing stuff up. I started a top-down hat on Superbowl Sunday, and it might actually fit when it's all said and done. But it's a beret, and I've never found one that I liked, so who knows what will happen. The yarn sure is pretty, though. 

So that's my last couple of weeks in a nutshell. I cannot wait for the Olympics to start. How about you?