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30 August 2011

On a Quest to Simplify - Slow Down



Whatever we do in life, we tend to compete. Whether it is with others, ourselves or time. We are a competitive tribe. Most advices about being productive include a point about setting your alarm and trying to beat it. After following such instructions it is only natural to loose track of the competition, to forget where we are going or to simply lose motivation.

Once we've been through several competitions of the same kind we learn our lessons and figure out the reasons. But it is not always so. We often have to go through the same cycle again and again and loose precious time until we realize that only by slowing down we can move steadily ahead.





To illustrate what I mean I will tell you the little fable about the lumberjack who found a very well-paid job, and excited as he was, started happily cutting trees right away. 

The first day he cut more than any other lumberjack in the company. The second day he continued working vigorously but could not exceed his first day's results although he put more effort into it. By the tenth day he got the worst results of all lumberjacks. Now the question was if he was going to keep his job.

When he got called to the supervisor's office he was a nervous wreck. The poor man was giving everything that depended on him to serve well and yet, his results were way below mediocre. After telling his story, he almost cried when his supervisor asked him: How often did you sharpen your axe, my friend?

And.. yes, it turned out that the lumberjack was so blinded by the bright idea to do his job perfectly, that he forgot to sharpen his axe every day after work, so that it could help him achieve his goal.
Photo: Jason Jones





Putting all your efforts in making your dream come true is not enough. You need to take care of yourself, take some time off once in a while, change your point of view, change the environment and ultimately... sharpen your axe, my friends, before you head to the next task. Have a neat plan on how to emotionally support yourself, so that you keep on achieving great results!

You might want to read the other posts in the series On a Quest to Simplify:

How do you reward yourself after a job well done? Tell us in the comments.

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29 August 2011

Make Your Own Soil



Have you heard the term permaculture? It is a mix between permanent and agriculture, and refers to sustainable land use through patterns that occur in nature. The idea behind permaculture is to achieve maximum effect with minimum wasted energy.

In other words, permaculture aims to borrow from nature and apply to everyday life to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants. As Wikipedia puts it:
Within a Permaculture system, work is minimised, "wastes" become resources, productivity and yields increase, and environments are restored. Permaculture principles can be applied to any environment, at any scale from dense urban settlements to individual homes, from farms to entire regions.
The philosophy of permaculture was developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren during the 1970s. Their intent was to build self-sufficient settlements that would reduce the dependence on global industry. Permacullture has developed a wide international followship and one of its most prominent advocates, Geoff Lawton, reveals in the following video two shockingly obvious places where nature quietly makes soil.





It does sound surprising but yes, you can assist nature in making soil. Before you head to buy soil for your garden, think again, you could take your sustainability one step further.


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28 August 2011

Weekend DIY: Colorful Kitchen Projects



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The time you spend in the kitchen is so much more fun when you are surrounded by objects you like - colorful and exciting!



1. ABC salt dough magnets
2. Cute Apron
3. Rainbow Cake

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27 August 2011

The Week in Links and Photos



Saturday's posts will not be as quiet anymore. 

Starting today I will be altering the Right Now posts, changing the title to The Week in Links and Photos and adding links to green or simple living posts from around the web which I have found interesting throughout the week. I hope you will enjoy them as much as you have enjoyed the quiet photo posts and I would love it if after reading you come back and share your thoughts.


If you are still insure about the advantages of switching to solar power, maybe you need to reconsider

Who said you couldn't name a vegan spider after a book character? Meet Bagheera Kiplingi, named after the panther in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, as well as 9 more rainforest creatures that defy imagination. 

Make drivers slow down with this awesome birdhouse.

With hurricane Irene knocking on the door of the East Coast of USA, here are several tips for evacuating your pets.

Although vacation season is almost over, there is still time for travel. Just in case, take a look at this list of ideas on how to stay healthy while on vacation, which I compiled for Green Living Ideas last week.

So, what do you think? How do you find the new idea of combining a photo from the week with interesting green links?

Blog Directory

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25 August 2011

Big Brands are Killing Us Softly



Yesterday I read a good post on rejecting advertising as the dominant form of conversation, and rediscovering true human interaction. It mentioned those people who, in their desperate attempts to show supremacy, dress up in expensive brands which only leads to them becoming walking billboards for those powerful manufacturers whose products they don't need in the first place.

Whether they are jogging with the Puma skin-tight T-shirt in latest fashion or in their old no-brand T-shirt, they will achieve the same – they will be jogging to the same old effect.

Photo: Kick Photo
Thanks to the powerful brainwashing machine called Marketing, a great majority of the population is intoxicated by the will to show off their ownership of pointless and often way overpriced stuff, while bragging about it live, on Facebook, Тwitter, etc. 

I have to admit that I believe in what we call coincidents because I know they happen to us to open our eyes and to remind us we are on the right track. That is why it came as no surprise when soon after I learned about the toxic chemicals found in big brand names like Adidas, Calvin Klein, Lacoste and Ralph Lauren.
  
Photo: Bert van Diijk

It's nothing new, you'd say, we all know major corporations have moved their manufactures to China, to ruin their environment for a change (as if China is on another planet) but did you read well? The toxins, and more precisely, nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), were located in the products, according to a recent research of Greenpeace.

NPEs are harmful to the environment and to human health and their effects are not limited to the location of manufacturing. In fact, they have been proved to cause male fish to develop female characteristics, or in other words, nonylphenol ethoxylates alter sexual development and affect the reproductive system. 

Photo: Paul G


Nonyphenol ethoxylates can be found in some household detergents outside of Europe. In Europe, due to environmental concerns, they have been replaced by more expensive alcohol ethoxylates, which are less problematic environmentally.

But since NPEs are used as detergents in the industrial process, residual quantities of the chemicals are released when clothes are washed, and in this way they get unnoticeably to the countries where their use is prohibited.

According to the report by Greenpeace, NPEs were detected in 70% of the samples from 14 of the most popular brands in the U.S., including Adidas, Uniqlo, Calvin Klein, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lacoste, Converse and Ralph Lauren.

A list of toxic chemical in household detergents can be found here. and while you are getting acquainted with it I am still wondering:

Isn't it just about the right time to stop slaving to our vanity and live without too much unnecessary bragging?

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24 August 2011

One Perfect Day Giveaway



The giveaway is now closed. Thank you all for participating! The winner is announced at the end of this post.
 
I often stress on the fact that I absolutely love the interaction on the Kanelstrand Organic Living. As more time passes by, I get more distinctly the feeling of a community in which we help and inspire each other. 

Now, let me take you more than a month ago, at the time of the Red or Gray Giveaway, sponsored by my lovely friend ELK. The winner of the gift certificate for the Red or Gray etsy shop was Gia from One Perfect Day. Gia is also a fellow crafter who makes unique accessories, cuffs, jewelry and bags. 

Can you imagine how over excited I was when the ecstatic Gia contacted me to say that not only she was in love with Red or Gray shop and cannot take her eyes off Elaine's lovely romantic creations, but she wanted to sponsor a giveaway, just to say THANK YOU!

To tell you the truth, I was beyond myself because I realized that my dream of linking between creative people and helping the good energy flow is coming true!

So, today I want to present to you Gia's creations - unique and made specifically with the modern woman in mind, to compliment both the casual and the formal occasions in your life. I love browsing through Gia's brooches section. She makes the most dreamy of flowers out of a mix of organza, organza tulle and other similar fabrics to create a stunning, unique piece of art that defies description.

Under each flower is an arrangement of cotton canvas leaves with bright red stitching. Their edges are intentionaly left unfinished to add the element of surprise with a frayed edge to an otherwise perfectly finished accessory. In Gia's own words:

"I'm finding these organza flowers totally addictive. There is an unlimited scope for variation and experimentation. Not only with the petals in terms of color, size, shape and number, but also with the kinds of fabric you can incorporate into the flower that change the whole look.

While the motions that make a flower are repetitive, no two are ever the same and you can see the evolution of them with each new flower.

It's endlessly fascinating!"

Gia's excitement brought to life a set of most delicate mother - daughter organza brooches, created especially for this giveaway and charged with positive energy all the way from sunny Greece. 



Starting today, 
you have the chance to win this Mother-daughter brooch set, 
worth $50!  
 




1. Heart OnePerfectDay on etsy and post a comment saying that you did - 1 entry

OR

2. Follow Gia's blog, OnePerfectDay - 1 entry


 You can gain one additional entry for each of the following:
 
3. Follow Kanelstrand Organic Living (the Google Friend Connect widget on the right) - 1 entry     
4. Add One Perfect Day Shop as a friend on Facebook and leave a comment here (If you already are a friend, just say so in the comments) - 1 entry
5. Follow OnePerfectDayS on twitter (leave a comment) - 1 entry
6. Tweet about the giveaway and leave a comment here - 1 entry - You can use my tweet if you like: Win a #unique mother-daughter brooch set worth $50 by @OnePerfectDayS #giveaway @kanelstrand! http://goo.gl/zf3uk

TERMS & CONDITIONS:
  • It is possible to have up to 6 entries.
  • You must leave a way for me to contact you if you win (have your email address listed in your profile, post your email address with your comment, email me or convo me in etsy).
  • The deadline to enter is Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 23:00 CET.
  • This giveaway is open Worldwide! 
Comment date stamps must be recorded by 23:00 CET on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 to be eligible. The winner's name will be drawn via random.org and will be announced shortly after in this post, so make sure you check back to see if you won! 

Good luck! 

* * * * * * * * * * 
And the winner is...



CONGRATULATIONS, Connie! 
We will be contacting you soon!

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23 August 2011

On a Quest to Simplify - Streamline Your Virtual Life



Simplification is a never-ending journey, I know that. But there are also moments of insight, when you get carried on the wings of inspiration and open a new page in life. 

The road to simplicity is simple in itself. You are not supposed to take many turns and there aren't even bumps. You just walk, as simple as that, straight ahead to the light. 

Why do we need to simplify, you may ask. Well, because there is no other way to a healthy and creative mind. The less clutter around, the clearer you see your purpose, the easier you identify your goals.

Photo: kanelstrand



Simple as it appears, I realize the journey may be hard for some of us. After much thought I came to the conclusion that it is a good first step to declutter your virtual life. That is why I devised a 5 step plan for simplifying your virtual life, which was published last week on green living ideas. You are welcome to read it and join the discussion!

You might want to read the other posts in the series On a Quest to Simplify:

Do you take any actions for simplifying your virtual life?

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22 August 2011

Check the Weather with Google Maps



Ever since Google Maps launched Street View my family’s total online time has gone up by approximately 1 hour a day. Why? Because here was the irresistible idea to satisfy a traveler’s thirst. We would roam the streets of Tokyo, or the green roads of Ireland, or check the name of a store in Sweden just by browsing on our laptops from the top of the Google car. Not much left to ask when you need to plan a vacation, right?

Wrong.

Last week Google Maps became even more enticing by adding Weather to their tools. Official Google Blog: Rain or shine, see the weather in Google Maps. To check the temperatures, just go to the widget in the upper right corner of Google Maps and click on Weather. If you zoom out, you will see the weather icons for any location you choose, showing current temperatures in Fahrenheit and Celsius, humidity and wind speed in km/h, mph or m/s.




The icons also show you if it is day or night and don't worry if you see white spots above some regions – it is the current cloud coverage which can, of course, be turned on and off! 





If you click on a particular icon you will see detailed weather information about the location. 



Now think about how easy it has just become for you to check the weather conditions anywhere in the world. With a click or two you can be very well informed not just about your local weather or the place you are going to visit this time next year, but also about how your friends or relatives living around the world are doing in the current weather conditions. 

How often do you check the weather?

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21 August 2011

Weekend DIY: 6 Back to School Projects



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Get ready for school with these super creative green DIYs. They involve cutting, sewing, gluing, printing and much fun not only when you see the outcome but also while you are making them! 



You will find all projects on the websites they were first published:
1. Notebook top
2. Apple print backpack
3. Stylish pen case
4. Artist's organizer
5. Oilcloth lunchbag
6. Hankie holder

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20 August 2011

Right Now






* * *
Right Now - a quiet moment of contemplation; a retreat from the noise of the keyboard. A single photo and no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple moment that I would like to savor quietly and remember. Inspired by SouleMama.

Have a cozy weekend!
* * *  


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19 August 2011

Blog of The Week: Anna Emilia



Today, the first Blog of The Week takes us to marvelous Finland.



I stumbled upon Anna Emilia's blog almost a year ago. It was love at first sight. The simple aesthetics of this Finnish artist keeps me amazed and willing to go back again and again. 



Anna Emilia keeps her blog as a weather diary of colors, wind and sounds. She is in fact an illustrator and often shares her printed work as well as some whimsical photography. 



I love Anna Emilia's photographic memories of her life in Iceland, the discreet glimpses of the wilderness in Finland. 



Her view on nature and the changing seasons, her contagious serenity combined with her tender words take me to the dreamy fields of fairy tales and magic.

All illustrations are courtesy of Anna Emilia.

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18 August 2011

Welcome, August Sponosrs!



Welcome and welcome back to the eco-minded sponsors of Kanelstrand Organic Living! Please, take a moment to click through to their online shops and get to know how and what these artists create! You will be amazed by their talent, I promise! Don't miss the discount codes they offer especially for Kanelstrand readers. I also encourage you to follow them on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to get discount updates from them.


Partly Sunny Studio
I have been drawing and painting all my life ~ I love to create bright and colorful artwork. I get lost in the creative process of flinging paint onto canvas, and can't wait to see how each painting turns out in the end. :)



Evaelena
I am an artist who likes to make things and I am passionate about vintage. I sell a range of interesting vintage items that I consider has good design, fine craftsmanship or is amusing and unusual. I make jewelry out of vintage souvenir spoons and vintage pieces. No two are ever alike and I love the idea of wearing something about a sense of place that comes from another time.

With coupon code KANEL20 you get 20% off your entire order.




Jezzy Belle

One of the most basic tenets of green living is reusing and recycling. Taking old things others have thrown out and have no use for anymore and giving them a second life. Jezzy Belle's is filled with gorgeous vintage goodies to help you do just that!


Use the code KANELSTRAND for 15% off your entire order!







Belle Terre
shop | blog | twitter | facebook

Belle Terre use only organic oils in their natural handcrafted soaps, lip balms and related products. They also use minimal and recycled packaging, and commit 5% of our sales to charity. All of this means you can enjoy our products with peace of mind, knowing that not only are they great for you, but they are also helping to create a cleaner and healthier world for everyone.

With coupon code GIVEAWAY15 you get 15% off your entire order.


Red or Gray Art
shop | blog | facebook
I am a redhead with a touch of gray hair .. my shop name! The pieces are gently created using repurposed stone . cloth . paper . wood offered to you from the earth, many pieces are one of a kind .. all are unique, which is the joy of handmade!

With coupon code REDORGRAY10 you get 10% off your entire order








Raw & Repurposed
shop | blog | twitter | facebook
Just like diamonds, my pieces are uncovered and refinished to be made beautiful. Some of my items are simply restored into a new look and some are complete transformations. I do use new materials for some of my items but they are always organic or have earth friendly properties. That is my PROMISE to myself and my customer.

With coupon code ECOCALM10 you get 10% off your entire order.





Hapee Monkee
shop | blog | twitter | facebook
This is a visual-candy store that offers glossy postcards and unique still life, landscape, food & travel photography. I hope it gives you and your home joy & happiness. The photos are perfect as gifts to friends & family or just for you because they invite you to 'come and see beauty in every day events'.

With coupon code BEHAPPEE2011 you get 10% off your entire order.





Betsy & Bess
shop | twitter | facebook
Eco friendly purses, handbags, and accessories, made from repurposed, upcycled, and recycled materials, down to the zippers, buttons, and pockets. Nothing goes to waste!

With coupon code KANELSTRAND you get 10% off your entire order.
 





Thanks to the talented  Kanelstrand sponsors for advertising and sharing with us their generous discounts! All of the funds raised by their ads go back into spreading the word about handmade and green living, and promoting the Kanelstrand blog.  

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16 August 2011

On a Quest to Simplify - Mission: Simple Home



This is guest post by Cari of CoquetteBath. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

At the outset, let me state that I do love beautiful things. My only requirement is that they be, for the most part, useful. I'm not into what my mother always termed 'dust collectors' but even so, after more than 50 years on this planet, I have accumulated more than my fair share of gadgets, gizmos and other wonderful things that are just... being honest... clogging up my world.

Stuff is nice. I like stuff, but I have found that I've too much. When you have to buy organizers for your organizers... well I'd say that it is time to take a deeper look at the issue.

Photo: shaza sha


The challenge 
My main problem, if you can call it that, is that I'm a creative. If you are one, too, then you know what I mean. It seems ridiculous to toss a perfectly fine piece of ribbon (that could be a bow for a package or a small child). Or to consign to the landfill a piece of wood that could repair a window sill or become a nice shelf. And you know what? I won't part from items like that. But what I have had to look at, because I do value conservancy, is whether or not the other stuff - the papers, the clippings, the chaff - really needs to be part of my world.

And for much of it, well, it doesn't.
 
I live in a nicely sized house. I have 2 kids, and each has a pet. We're comfortable and not too crowded, except by furniture. So lately, I've been going through rooms and pulling out furniture pieces. Yes, I probably could sell them, but I've decided to donate them to charity. I'll get more usable space in my house and I'll also help those less fortunate, a true win-win.

Going soon: a bookcase/entertainment unit. A lone chair from a now donated dining table. A china cabinet (that is just too huge), an antique bit of furniture that was designed to be a 'bar' (for lack of a better word) with space for an ice bucket. A desk (a very very large desk) and a few assorted other bits and pieces.

Already the rooms where they were situated seem much larger. I have also taken the time to repaint the walls a light turquoise color. It looks lovely here.

Deciding what you want
Simplification is, to me, the process of deciding. Deciding what you want. Deciding what you need. And deciding what you must have to have the type of life you want. For my daughter, getting rid of the china cabinet is no problem. But my intention of getting a new one, albeit a smaller one, doesn't seem right to her. Well, I love stuff (as already mentioned) and my grandmother's china from the early 1900's is in the cabinet. Along with stuff I do not need (and probably will donate, too) and I want to showcase it. Not only for the link to my ancestors, but also because--well--the china is absolutely freaking gorgeous! And while not absolutely necessary, beauty is important. And showcasing that which makes you smile is always a very good thing.

What we need and what we want, though, are often very different. And most of us, I'll warrant, are able to have both of them. The problem arises when you make too many things as 'necessary' and then want to stuff in the 'wants' on top of it. Then your world gets to crammed closets, boxes under the bed, and worse... a rental storage facility apart from home. Just to store stuff that you do not use. And probably do not need.

Photo: kanelstrand

Here's what I have done, and maybe it will be something that will work for you, too. Go through a room and ask yourself a question:

What do I do in this room?  
If you sleep, then you need a good bed. Probably a table for a lamp and a clock. You may need a spot to store your clothes. You do not need a large piece of exercise equipment that is masquerading as a clothes hanger. You do not need bins and boxes of out of season clothing. If you haven't worn it in 2 years or if you do not really love it, then please donate to less fortunate.

If the room is for eating, well you need a good table and chairs. That's all. Hutch, buffet, china cabinet, etc are all extra 'wants'. If you watch television, work on the computer, do crafts, etc the needs for that room will change. Each time see what you really need and go from there.

After the needs are accomplished, then pick one want per room, if you have space. For my dining space, as already mentioned: china cabinet. For my bedroom, I put in a table (that I built!) for makeup with a wee chair bought from IKEA.

Always make sure to use color that makes you happy. Color/paint is a fabulous way to liven up a space. No money for the paint? Check your home improvement store. Around here, I can get 'oops' paint (where the tint wasn't perfect for the previous customer) marked down to less than 20% of the original price. That's right, a $35 gallon of paint for less than $8 usually.

Photo: another.point.in.time


Simplification can be a bit heart wrenching. I mean, you love those cute little gizmos and things, don't you? But really, will you miss them? I bet you won't. And if you're struggling, get a large box and put them IN the box and put the box elsewhere for a few days or weeks. Still miss them? Well, figure a way to use them. Don't miss them really? Ahhhh, now they're boxed for giving away, so do it.

You might want to read the other posts in the series On a Quest to Simplify:
Wishing you all the best in making your space simple, efficient, warm and cozy... just like you. 

Cari owns Coquette Bath & Home™ and makes fabulous bath and body products (plus the most deliciously scented candles, wax melts and more). She sells on Etsy and Artfire, but you can also visit her main site www.coquettebath.com. And, if you do shop with her, drop her a note and say that you've read this post. She will put something special in the mail with your order!

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14 August 2011

Weekend DIY: 3 Projects With Jar Lids



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Autumn is just round the corner already and it brings a whole new array of lovely colors, smells and traditions. One warm childhood memory of autumn I have kept close to my heart is the time when canning begins and the whole family takes part in the process. But to keep your canned food you need jars. In June I posted several diy projects with mason jars but they were mostly about alternative uses of jars. Today I bring you a collection of diy's to make your jar lids more appealing and to find a different purpose for them!  





1. Storage jars with chalkboard paint lids by Amanda Wright from Wit & Whistle.
2. Fancy Tops by KristanLynn from AdelynStone
3. Mason Jar Sewing Kit by Liz Stanley from Momtastic.

So, how are you beautifying your jars?

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13 August 2011

Right Now






* * *
Right Now - a quiet moment of contemplation; a retreat from the noise of the keyboard. A single photo and no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple moment that I would like to savor quietly and remember. Inspired by SouleMama.

Have a cozy weekend!
* * * 



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12 August 2011

Blog Of The Week



I am not yet finished decluttering my Google Reader and another batch of about 20 feeds went away yesterday. BUT (there is always a but and when it is in capital letters you must be extraordinarily cautious) I have decided it was high time I start another lovely tradition of giving back.

I have so far had so much sincere and positive feedback on my A Portrait of The Artist project, designed to offer publicity to independent artists from around the world, regardless of their media or experience in online selling. For those of you who still haven't clicked on the tab under my blog banner, I will explain that for each of the interviews in the project I pair up with Marin Ívan PhD, who is a prominent expert in the field of eco-technologies from Islandia Geomatics and after getting acquainted with the work and the level of ecological sustainability of the artist we come up with the interview questions which are in turn answered and presented to you with the most suitable illustrations of the artist's creations.

Blog as a graph: dafyd


While organizing my RSS feed I have been thinking that supporting bloggers, and moreover the blogs I connect with and believe in, is another priority of mine. I want to showcase to you blogs I love or am falling in love with and the work of famous or undiscovered bloggers who inspire me or whom I look up to. I don't care about the numbers behind those blogs, just if they speak to me. I hope that I will manage to broaden your horizons and breathe beauty and aesthetics into your everyday.

So, look out for the first of the series next week!

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11 August 2011

On a Quest to Simplify - Declutter Your RSS



I have recently caught myself thinking of simplifying my life. And by simplifying I don't mean well-known phrases like Buy Less! or Reduce Your Clothes! or Declutter! No, I mean, really simplify everything I do every day. Real steps. Because the mean tiny streak of doubt has been creeping through my thoughts for a while, implying that I spend too much time and I put too much effort with not enough results in return. This injustice got me thinking that there must be something I am not doing right. 

In this line of thinking I talked about deliberate singletasking last week and getting rid of the myth of saving time through multitasking. But finishing tasks one at a time was not enough to clear my overloaded brain although it was a positive step ahead.

Photo: kanelstrand


As it usually happens, when you pose a question you get the answer. Some days ago, I read how Leo Babauta drastically decreased the number of his RSS feeds and, what do you think? Of course, I decided to follow his advice because I quickly identified my 200 strong RSS feed army to be a major obstacle on my way to simple living. 

I must admit here, that I am guilty of gluttony. Ever since I set on the blogging journey I have been adding feed after feed to my Google Reader, often attracted by information that looked valuable at the time or to return the favor to other crafty bloggers who followed me. 

But can you imagine a day of mine? Going through 200 feeds takes up quite some time, especially if I want to comment under some posts or to concentrate on important information. With time, going through my Google Reader became a chore and I started procrastinating reading it. I even got to the point of organizing the vital blogs that inspired me in a separate folder, so that I didn't have to browse through all 200 to get to them.

I asked myself why did I have to keep all those feeds, some of which have not offered any insights or haven't helped me develop at least a bit. Do I really have the time for all this not necessarily useful information? Isn't my aim in life to try and use my time wisely and grow? And this is how my clean-up began.

Photo: kanelstrand




Day 1.
I cleaned up all subscriptions that weren't updated in the past month. To my dismay, I found some that weren't updated since April. That took me down to 169 feeds. Not bad for a beginning.

Day 2.
I identified the feeds that were duplicate. I receive updates on Twitter and Facebook for 11 of them, so I simply unsubscribed. (By the way, hang on Facebook, you are next!) The figures got down to 158.

Day 3.
I reserved the third day for the very hard task of purging feeds that did neither enrich nor inspire me, thus making me subconsciously avoid them. I got to 145.

Day 4.
On day 4 I said goodbye to uncommunicative bloggers, and more precisely the ones who never reply to comments left on their blogs, never visit mine, or whose posts are mainly showcases of collections. Although I respect their choices, I hardly find it inspiring enough or triggering empathy that might result in sharing my point of view. Unproductive on both ends. I reached 134.

Although my aim is to go below 60, shared between feeds from which to learn and blogs, part of my creative community, I will still give some of the feeds a chance and let them live for another week or even a month. If we get along well, we keep our friendship; if no one is benefiting, we part. That is as fair as it can get.

One thing I learned is that I need to be merciless to remain sane in the age of information. I much more value the friendship of a handful of sincere, like-minded people than the indifference of hundreds.

You might want to read the other posts in the series On a Quest to Simplify:

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09 August 2011

Making This Blog a Better Place



A month has passed since I got the urge to pose the serious question to the important people in my virtual life. Yes, a month ago I asked YOU, all of you, my dear readers: How to make this blog a better place? and was I surprised by the response this survey aggregated!

Thank you, all of you 228 souls for the time you spent giving me your advice. I get so uplifted collaborating with creative and thinking people, there is hardly anything else I would rather do!

I know you can't wait to see the results and where this blog is heading to, so here are the answers to the main question in the survey:

What content would you prefer to see on the Kanelstrand blog?

Yes, things looked pretty obvious even in the beginning and I am so glad that I had the chance to give you what you wanted straight away! Several days after setting up the survey, my family and I started on a journey around Norway and you were my photo companions for 15 days of Scandinavian nature, cities, small towns and UNESCO World Heritage listings. Now that's what I call good timing or even more bravely put - reading of minds!  I am proud to have covered the most wanted topics - Photography (71%) and Scandinavian nature and way of life (68%). 

Now, what is left is for me to keep on sharing with you my passions: photography, Scandinavia and easy decluttered living. Of course, there will be much more and I have already taken into consideration all of your wonderful thoughts and ideas you shared in the survey. I wholeheartedly appreciate your opinions and I feel blessed to have connected with so many inspired and bright minds. 

Thank you for being there for me. I will do my best to keep working and collaborating with you for creating a better place for ourselves where we can grow together and share our passions.

On a different note, I am thankful to my friend ELK who informed me yesterday that there was a problem with the comment form on my blog, so I had to change it to a pop-up window in order to be able to get your responses. Hopefully blogger will fix whatever needs to be fixed soon. 

Do you have any problems with your comment forms?

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08 August 2011

Are You In a Creative Standstill?



If you are doubting yourself, your abilities, your style, your creativity - take a look at this video... and keep on working!


Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

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07 August 2011

Weekend DIY: 4 Projects With Envelopes



Subscribe or follow Kanelstrand to get updates on more eco DIY projects.
 
Who doesn't love getting mail! In beautiful handmade envelopes...



1. Double sided envelopes by Anelle from The Pretty Blog.
2. Envelope book from Curbly.
3. Photo envelope liner by Paige from Paiges of Style.
4. Air mail envelopes from Homework.

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06 August 2011

Right Now





* * *
Right Now - a quiet moment of contemplation; a retreat from the noise of the keyboard. A single photo and no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple moment that I would like to savor quietly and remember. Inspired by SouleMama.

Have a cozy weekend!
* * * 




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04 August 2011

Cassia's Garden Giveaway



The giveaway is now closed. Thank you all for participating! The winner is announced at the end of this post.
 
What do you do when you need magic? You surround yourself with the most wonderful of aromas to take you to a dream land far away... Do you know how much thought and love go into creating a single handmade soap? I cannot even begin to imagine but there is someone who can tell us. Today, I am proud to collaborate with my extra large sponsor - Kelly from Cassia's Garden

In her studio overlooking the most secret of herb gardens Kelly works on her vegan soaps, scrubs, soy candles and essential oil perfumes. 

This week Kelly has a surprise for one lucky Kanelstrand reader - a generous $30 gift certificate for her shop! There is a myriad of most amazing aroma therapy candles, spa products, perfumes and soaps to choose from! 



So hurry up! Don't miss your chance to win a lovely shopping experience in an etsy shop that strives to indulge your senses and be eco-friendly!



To enter the Cassia's Garden Giveaway:

1. Heart Cassia's Garden on etsy and post a comment saying that you did - 1 entry 



You can gain one additional entry for each of the following:

2. Post a comment, saying which method you use to subscribe to Kanelstrand Organic Living - 1 entry   
3. Follow Kelly's blog, Cassia's Kitchen - 1 entry
4. Like Cassia Aromatics on Facebook and leave a comment here (If you are already following, just say so in the comments) - 1 entry
5. Follow Cassia Aromatics on twitter (leave a comment) - 1 entry
6. Tweet about the giveaway and leave a comment here - 1 entry - You can use my tweet if you like: Awesome #eco-friendly #giveaway @kanelstrand! #Win a $30 #gift certificate by @CassiaAromatics at http://goo.gl/cZjw1

TERMS & CONDITIONS:

  • It is possible to have up to 6 entries.
  • You must leave a way for me to contact you if you win (have your email address listed in your profile, post your email address with your comment, email me or convo me in etsy).
  • The deadline to enter is Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 23:00 CET.
  • This giveaway is open Worldwide! 
Comment date stamps must be recorded by 23:00 CET on Wednesday, August 10, 2011 to be eligible. The winner's name will be drawn via random.org and will be announced shortly after in this post, so make sure you check back to see if you won! 

Good luck! 

* * * * * * * * * * 
And the winner is...

CONGRATULATIONS, Ria! 
We will be contacting you soon!

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02 August 2011

On a Quest to Simplify - Stop Multitasking



I have been a serial multitasker for a long time and I must admit that I was proud of it. I thought that was the right way. Riding the multitasking wave used to make me feel like the do-all, be-all mighty master of every problem. The realization that women can multitask better than men gave me one more reason to proudly keep on gaining speed.

There came the time though for questioning the effects of my ability. In the past months I found myself in a whirlwind of activities that have been slowly adding to each other, each more important than the rest - activities that I couldn't refrain from and with time became more complex and required even more time. 

Photo: kanelstrand



Until recently I thought I was juggling perfectly well and I patted myself on the back for the great performance. Some of the multitasking I've caught myself into: 
  • writing a blog post and checking mail/twitter/facebook/watching TV
  • browsing/watching TV while talking on the phone 
  • my favorite - listening to an audio book while knitting/crocheting/cooking
Should I go on? I believe this is common practice for most of us, modern people and I am sure you can add your fair portion of "harmless" multitasking to the list. 

After I felt definitely burnt-out and caught myself keeping away from ventures I used to enjoy I set out to find the reason. After all, losing passion is not to be overlooked. I noticed how easily it was to fall into the multitasking trap. Wishing to spare time and thinking I was effective, I was actually losing time and overloading my brain!

Photo: kanelstrand


In "The Multitasking Generation" it is clearly stated that when you try to complete several tasks at a time, “or [alternate] rapidly between them, errors go way up and it takes far longer - often double the time or more - to get the jobs done than if they were done sequentially,” The main reason for this is that the brain has no other option than to restart and refocus. A study by Meyer and David Kieras found that between the different restarts, the brain even makes no progress. So, when we multitask, we not only perform the tasks badly, but we also lose time.

As I read in Wikipedia, "since the 1990s, experimental psychologists have been conducting experiments on the nature and limits of human multitasking. It has become clear that multitasking is not as profitable as concentrated times. In general, these studies have disclosed that people show severe interference when even very simple tasks are performed at the same time."

Photo: foreverdigital



Psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell even describes multitasking as a “mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously as effectively as one.” Others have researched multitasking in specific domains, such as learning. Mayer and Moreno have studied the phenomenon of cognitive load in multimedia learning extensively and have concluded that it is difficult, and highly impossible to learn new information while engaging in multitasking. Junco and Cotten examined how multitasking affects academic success and found that students who engaged in more multitasking reported more problems with their academic work

Photo: Paul Oka


The scary part of the story is that modern life provokes and requires constant multitasking, as simple as listening to music while exercising. And of course, our social interaction is negatively affected. Have you noticed how young people manage to text and listen to music while having a conversation? They may be really good at switching their attention rapidly between 3 actions, but in fact, they are physically incapable of focusing on both in the same moment. 

So, I decided to experiment with myself. I consciously shut off multitasking. When I caught my eyes wandering aimlessly to the mail tab of my Firefox browser, I simply didn't succumb and didn't click through. Instead, I concentrated on what I was doing. I tried to stop all temptations that were otherwise too easy to fall into and that normally reduced my effectiveness and to tell you the truth, the feeling was liberating!

I felt I came back to an old self I had forgotten, leading a slow life of delight and appreciation of the present. Now, when you come to think of it, there is hardly a better way to enjoy the moment than to fully dip yourself into its waters - to only read when you read and to only eat when you eat; to sit quietly under a starry sky, without the glow of a display and without any interruption that you yourself have been welcoming so far. And you know what, I am planning to keep it simple, stress-free and old-fashioned. I realized my brain is not yet a computer (and thank God for that!) and there is no need to treat it like one.

You might want to read the other posts in the series On a Quest to Simplify:

Do you multitask and how does it affect your life? Does it have positive or negative effects on your life?

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Let me know with a comment and I'll put you in a Google+ circle that is only for new blog notifications.
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