Monday, November 7, 2011

A Little Bit of Coca Cola...

Day 171 (Year Two)

A Little Bit of Coca Cola...

Five days on the road and a long day of air travel had me feeling a bit queasy and I knew the only cure would be ti sip some Coca Cola. There is something about the fizz and the right kind of sweetness (and chemicals) that seem to be oh so helpful in these situations.

On the last leg of my journey, I politely asked the flight attendant if she would be able to be pour a little bit of Coke into my water bottle. I quickly gave my standard explanation and (over)shared that I wanted to save having to use a cup, one less cup in the landfill, ha ha, better for the
environment, blah blah...

She happily granted my request and was all fun and good cheer until she
asked if wanted ice. I said sure, and she gave me a cup of ice – because she had apparently stopped listening after “Coke in the water bottle”. I got a little flustered and said, “Uh, well that kind of defeats my original purpose of not wanting to use a cup”, which I think offended her, so she tried to pour the ice into my water bottle for me and even tried to shove the ice into my water bottle with the cup itself. Since the ice cubes were too big, they plopped onto my lap, onto the floor and onto my already annoyed seatmate
who had ordered her cranberry juice and pretzels before I ordered my Coke.
The attendant took the cup back from me (with a few cubes still remaining) and tried to shove it back onto her cart but it didn’t quite stay in the space properly. It kind of squished itself back out of the space forcing the remaining cubes to pop out of the cup and land in the middle of the aisle at her feet.

It was getting so all chaotic and weird and I started laughing a little at the absurdity of a simple request gone bad –inappropriate giggling like in church or the library when because you know you are not supposed to laugh, you laugh even more! I then said out loud to everyone – yet to no one in particular – “Oh, no...drama!” in kind of a singsong-y voice which did not amuse the attendant or my seatmate.

Needless to say, I enjoyed my warm Coke in solitude.

My seatmate went back to her book and juice (she did get her drink eventually) and the flight attendant did not make eye contact with me for the rest of the flight.

No new friends on this trip but I did avoid coming home with one more piece of trash/recycle. Oh, and I do feel better...

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Not What You Miss, It's What You Think You'll Miss

Day 168 (Year Two)

After 5 months of not watching TV, I broke the "fast" and watched one hour of TV last night. Between 10-11pm, I channel surfed and caught bits of Law & Order (dunh dunh), Gray's Anatomy, The Mentalist, Anderson Cooper and a glimpse in a fight in a women's prison. I saw "dead" bodies, blood and guts, serial killers, child abuse, ruined lives and sad stories. I do not miss TV, I do not miss it at all. I do not miss Glee, The Office, The Good Wife or Modern Family...I do miss As the World Turns since it went off the air in 2010. On the air since 1956, I watched that show all my life - my Mom watched it and so did her Mom. Grandma called it "the story"..."Did you watch the story today?" Love that.

Why did I turn on the tube? I had already "misbehaved" by ordering room service french fries (trying to cut back on bad food and quantity of said food consumed), so I think on some level I felt like I had already blown it on the food front so why not go ahead and break another "rule" I had set for myself. I guess I also thought that the fries would taste better in bed whilst watching TV. Really? OK, I also rationalized with intentions of watching the news to get caught up. Just a ruse.

After all was said and done, I was not smarter, more clued in, more entertained or more relaxed. Neutral at best, bad dream producing material at worst.

Isn't it so easy to break a rule once one has already been broken?

Isn't it so easy to make up reasons for why our off track behavior is OK even though is is not what we had agreed to do?

Isn't is so easy to imagine what we THINK we are missing? Then when we "get there" it is kind of, not really at all what we thought it was going to be?

In some ways I am glad I looked at the TV and reminded myself of why I do not really miss it at all. I was reminded that I could have spent that hour doing something else. Gotten another hour of sleep, posted a blog entry, written content for my website, read the day's paper or the great book I brought along.

I am happy to go back to no TV and have learned my lesson - a late learner on this one. Years ago, my Dad had what we now call a teachable moment with me as a 10th grader when I snuck out of my bedroom (via window) to go to Sherry Auclair's house to work on the Homecoming float late on a school night. I thought EVERYONE WOULD BE THERE and that if I didn't go that I would be the only one not there. Turns out, only 3 kids showed up because their parents wouldn't let them go out late on a school night. Yup. It's not what you miss, it's what you think you'll miss. Thank you true!

Feels the same! I didn't really miss anything at Sherry's and I surely am not missing anything by not watching TV. I do need to work harder at getting the news - radio while driving and computer should do the trick.

Confession over - back on track!

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It Was Just the Right Thing To Do

Day 148 (Year Two)

My fellow Kiwanian, Rich Stewart, is the Director of Legacy at Clover Blossom, an adult care facility with 240 residents in Rochester, NY. On September 1, 2011, his site joined the other seven Legacy’s in town committed to "going greener" by eliminating styrofoam take-out containers and cups in their dining room! Eco-clamshell boxes are now used for take-out food and only ceramic cups or glassware for beverages. Although the to-go option still exists for food, albeit in much smaller containers, to-go coffee is no longer an option their dining rooms.

The initial program was tested at one of the sites, and with great success, it was adopted at the other three.

Originally, the discussions on their to-go policy with the administration, owners and principals centered around environmental, financial and health issues. Besides these common concerns, they also knew that the to-go option meant that many of their residents were not spending as much time in the dining room at meals as they perhaps could by enjoying their second cup of coffee with a fellow resident.

They explored the positive social implications of reducing the take-out options. Could this impact the way people connect - in person - and perhaps build a stronger community? The pilot site answered that question with a big yes!

Rich facilitated two months of on-going conversations with his Residence Council – walked and talked everyone through the pending changes. Viewed once as a potential inconvenience the new policy is now embraced as a welcome change! Residents are grounded in new habits they know are good for the environment - and good for their environment! They are taking more time to talk with each other in the dining room and conversations and relationships are carrying over way past breakfast. What an excellent example of the sustainability triple bottom line in action - people, planet AND profit...well did Legacy!

"It was just the right thing to do", Rich said. He also shared with me that people do not seem to miss the old to-go option. Once in place and after a few weeks, everyone was on board. He also recognized the decision for Monroe County to accept recyclables up to Number 7 as another facet of their decision to go greener....Thank you Monroe County!

Problem. Solution. That was easy!

It is a privilege to know this story. Thank you Rich and the Residents at Legacy Clover Blossom!

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Monday, September 26, 2011

No Water for You

DAY 129 (Year Two)

One of my "sticky" habits (changes that have prevailed over time and memory) is bringing a reusable water bottle, a travel coffee cup, bamboo To-Go Ware and my own cloth napkins when I travel. I usually refill the water bottle before getting on the plane at a water fountain (aka "bubbler" - hello WI/MN family and friends!) or at a restaurant. I do not get water from the restroom sink. Nope.

Anyway, I was a little rushed getting onto the last leg of a Delta flight home and saved my water refill for the flight. I have never been refused a refill on board, so I had no reason to think this time would be any different...

Once we were at cruising altitude and drinks were being served - which by the way I NEVER need to know how high in the sky we are, thank you - I got my bottle ready and was going to deliver my standard, "Water please and could you put it in here?", while offering up the bottle to the attendant with a casual and perky, "Just trying to save a cup!"

Well, that wouldn't wash with Wanda, who responded, "Oh ,right, uh, well, no." I was surprised, but just said OK and put my bottle away which in retrospect must have thrown her off - perhaps she was expecting a volume argument. I figured it was just a matter of time before I would be refused for sanitary know, if her bottle touched my bottle in a moment of sudden turbulence - it would be icky, there would be germs and would create a very un-hygienic situation...and I agree! Her bottle would be unusable and besides who knows if her bottle had touched other people's bottles. Wanda clearly felt bad for denying me - she told me that she would feel responsible if I got dehydrated and offered me a plastic cup of water to pour into my bottle - still defeating the purpose of not using a cup. She tried hard to get me to take a cup with her promise to recycle it. She even offered me the liter bottle she was pouring from! Nonetheless, I stuck with my decision and she stuck with hers. I had to say four or five times that it was OK, I totally understood and reassured her that we would be Facebook friends by the time we landed!

Anyway, my positive agreement with her and her willingness to share the reasons behind her response, led us into Part One of a great conversation about it not being Delta's policy about not refilling water bottles (she wasn't sure they had one!) but actually her own personal policy. I respect that 100%. Delta does recycle when they can (time permitting) and I appreciate that. This exchange took about 5 minutes and with an "ahem" from the other attendant, and as they rolled on back to dispense more Coke and tomato juice and I heard one or two more "sorrys"...clearly she felt really bad about

Part Two of the conversation was back in the galley with Wanda and the other two flight attendants. As I was walking back to the bathroom, I said (loud enough for W to overhear, thinking I was funny), "Gosh I am so thirsty..." which served to open up the conversation again - she really did feel bad! Nonetheless, we had a quick but deep conversation about values and sticking to them whether or not it is company policy. I explained my commitment to not just Recycle on the back end but to Reduce on the front end. They talked about the challenge of the inconsistent "no refill" policy between flights and even between attendants on the same flight. They had stories of unhappy, non-compliant passengers whose insistence on using their own bottles and cups made for added stress. With no policy to back them up, the reliance on their personal conviction of this seemingly simple decision to refuse a refill was admirable.

Interesting. Isn't that how life is? There are no company policies to lean on or blame when it comes to personal decisions on how we live our lives, how we treat others, how we spend our time and money.

Once safely on the ground at my final destination, I said goodbye to Wanda and she said, "Sorry." one more time, I said, "It's OK, thank you." one more time and we parted ways...

Lesson learned - fill early and often and be ready to back your decisions with your values - even at 32,000 feet.

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Habits, Always Habits

DAY 99 (Year Two)

I had gotten off track with a few things - veered off to buy some new items - small - new nonetheless...greeting cards, computer bag for a college bound gal, a t-shirt from Moravian College, Barnes & Noble/Target gift cards...hmmm....still doubling the value and putting that amount into a special account...kind of a win-win "punishment"...

On the food front too - its been easy to slip into the convenience and rationalization - especially when I am traveling...I really want to eat locally AND as of late have enjoyed bananas, OJ and some other distantly sourced which is it? Full or part time "Localvore"??? Same on the vegetarian front...a little salmon here, tuna salad which is it?

The end of the world? No...AND I must decide and stick with it. There is a little more ground work to do on the vegetarian scene...find my local black bean farmer, talk to some veg friends for support and make more deliberate time for packing my own food for road trips to avoid the fast food traps.

On the Nothing New side of things....set some time aside to make a few cards, get more creative with gifts, and stay focused on the need vs the want.

So, Day 100 is a renewal day - a back-on-track day, a take-a-breathe-and-keep-moving-forward-day. It's been an odd day anyway - contemplative yet restful - just the winds of Irene here...knowing that thousands of people are not having a peaceful day makes the quiet here more of a contrast...I hope everyone is recovering or prepared depending on which end of the storm they are on.

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Keurig Rant

DAY 98 (Year Two)

Disclaimer: Apologies to my family and friends who have a Keurig...

The search for quick, easy fixes to our daily tasks ends for many with the purchase of a "Keurig" - the instant coffee and tea machine. I had a Keurig in my hotel room on my last road trip and used one of the little plastic cups to make a cup of tea thinking I would be able recycle or reuse the container. Turns out the small shot glass type cup filled with coffee or tea is not recyclable and the reuse is limited by the hole that gets punched in the bottom. I took the thing apart and found a tiny filter glued to the inside of the cup under the foil lid which makes sense as to how it "brews" the tea or coffee.

But isn't that exactly how a coffee maker or tea bag works anyway? So why the need for this mini-filter, one cup thing? Isn't that exactly what a single tea bag or a coffee "pod" would do? The premise is that it is gourmet, fresh and always ready...but how fresh can something in a tiny plastic thing actually be? Shipped from somewhere and stored on a shelf then in a box under a sink in an office??? OK, maybe some people keep the "K-Cups", as they are fondly referred to, in a cupboard or in a glamourous display on a counter...I just don't get it...

Overall, I am not sure the K-tea took any less effort or time than it would to heat water in a what's the attraction? I still had to get water from the tap, pour it into the machine and press a button to make it start...I suppose I saved time and effort by not having to rip open the tea bag...really? Hmmmmm...really, I dont' get it!

This inspirational blurb is from their website:

Brewing excellence, one cup at a time.

We strive for excellence. It's literally a part of who we are as a company. You see, "keurig" is actually derived from the Dutch word for excellence, and it's also our promise to you. From start to finish, it's our benchmark. Be it our patented single cup brewing technology, our gourmet brands of beverages or our customer service, it's simply something you'll come to expect.

Today, we're the leading single cup brewing system in North America, and we couldn't be happier to provide gourmet coffee drinkers with the perfect cup, day in and day out.

Why do we think the single cup brewing technology is so great?

We believe that coffee should always be served fresh, just like a gourmet coffee house, wherever you are. Period. So why brew coffee a pot at a time when we drink it a cup at a time? It was from this question that our revolutionary concept of a K-Cup® Portion Pack was born.

Introduced in 1998, Keurig's innovative single cup brewing system lets people brew the perfect cup of gourmet coffee in less than a minute, without having to grind beans, measure coffee, handle filters or clean up. It's as simple as it gets.

Choose. Brew. Enjoy.®

Simple? Once again, I don't get it. Simplifying an already fairly easy process seems absurd to me. Gosh, I mean is it REALLY that much work to mak coffee? Well, I guess I do have to go all the way to the pantry to get the coffee, work up a sweat to open the bag and pour the beans into the grinder. THEN I have to take a break to work up enough energy to push the grinder down and hold it for hours to grind the beans...then rest again to be able to turn on the water and transport it to the coffee maker. When I have rested enough, I am then able to hoist the coffee filter out of the drawer to lift it up into the coffee maker with both hands. And when I am finally able to recover from the strain of these steps, I push it the start button and hope for the best. Yes. Sarcasm present and accounted for!

The simplified simple process produces a trash item that is not at all "green" or sustainable...Please reconsider this purchase if it was on your list. Your coffee pot and any of your appliances that heat water work just fine. Resist the quick, easy way out that puts more petroleum based plastic into our landfills!!!! This is the K-Response to their non-sustainable product - my comments in (-) for your reading pleasure :)

Sustainable Packaging (not sustainable at all!)

K-Cup® Portion Pack Packaging is an area of major environmental concern for all consumer product companies. As the single cup coffee market and our Keurig brewing systems grow in popularity, we understand that the impact of the K-Cup® Portion Pack waste stream is one of our most significant environmental challenges. The K-Cup package is made up of three main (non-recyclable) elements -- the cup itself, a filter and an aluminum foil top. The polyethylene coating of the foil - as well as the process of heat-sealing the various elements - makes recycling difficult (impossible).

However, this packaging approach prevents oxygen, light and moisture from degrading the coffee. Without the barrier the packaging materials provide, we could not maintain the quality and freshness of the coffee, which means that all the resources and effort put into growing and roasting great coffee would be wasted (so then just get fresh coffee and grind it yourself for Peet's sake!). Finding a more environmentally-friendly approach to this packaging challenge is a big priority for us (but not that much, eh?). We are working on a few different fronts to improve the environmental characteristics of the K-Cup® system, as well as to mitigate its impact (should have done this before In My Humble Opinion).

Here's what we are doing:

* We are actively researching alternatives to the K-Cup® Portion Pack's petroleum–based materials (meanwhile thousands of K-Kups are going into the waste stream!)

* We are conducting a Life Cycle Analysis (so?) to help us understand the overall environmental impact of the K-Cup® Portion Pack as compared to the use of a typical drip- brewer (again, should have done this before...). There are environmental considerations at every step on the road from "tree to cup". By studying the K-Cup over its entire life cycle, we can more clearly understand how and where we can reduce its footprint (yes, stop making plastic junk).

* We are working to identify the right definition of "environmentally friendly" for all our packaging, including the K-Cup Portion Pack. For example it could (should?) mean carbon-neutral, made with renewable materials, recyclable, biodegradable, compostable, petroleum-free, all of the above, or something entirely different (what does that mean?). We are researching what is possible today and tomorrow, taking into account the current state of packaging technology, consumer preferences, community infrastructure, performance requirements, and the demands of the marketplace. (was there really a demand? are we getting that lazy/busy/

overwhelmed with life that we can no longer make coffee????)
* We also continue to offer the My K-Cup, a reusable filter cartridge assembly that can be refilled by the consumer, is easily cleaned, and is compatible with all Keurig home brewers sold today
(you mean like a coffee filter????)

OK, I'm done...going to go make some coffee but I need to rest first...

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Monday, July 25, 2011

R.I.P. Beets

DAY 65 (Year Two)

With NO RAIN in beets did not survive...even with twice daily watering the leaves that looked promising, withered and turned brown. Darn! Had a little ceremonial moment for them as I pulled them out of the ground - exposing a skinny one inch root, not beet-like at all - and had a minute of respectful silence as I released them with love into the compost...for my worms to welcome with open arms...

Posted this link on Facebook today as a solid reminder of the water situation - I should say drought situation - around the country given the extreme heat and lack of rain....puts things into good perspective.

Water is one of our most precious commodities and it is easy to forget what a luxury it is to turn on the faucet. I drink water from my tap - no filter - and it is fine. Well, mostly fine...I got a free water test from Home Depot and then got to talk about my results with a nice Anderson Water dude. He was truly interested in educating me about water in our area and did not try to sell me anything. Check it out! Disclaimer: I just did a little research on HD and this service - seems they used to partner with a company called Rainsoft but there were so many complaints that now they work with Anderson - at least here in the Rochester, NY area. Always good to read fine print and to be clear about what you want and don't want.

Anyway, I do not have a water softener or filter on the tank so my water has a bunch of "stuff" in it that could be removed. Even though our water is pretty good - yay - I could help it along a little...will wait until next year to make that NEW purchase...

So tomorrow, have a little ceremony for all the water you use - as you shower, brush, wash and flush. Limit what you use, no matter how small the reduction. You can use less water! Even better, really pay attention to how you use water for one month and see what you can do. Oh, and say hello to the beets in your produce section next time you grocery shop...and have a moment...

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Don't Need TV

DAY 43

It’s been over month of no TV and really, I do not miss it! I am out of the habit watching altogether and of having it on in the background at home or in the hotel while traveling.

Although I have no idea of what is happening on the Bachelorette or on Glee, my life seems more peaceful, my mind less cluttered and my travel more blissful. I do *not* miss hearing all the bad news, the over-amplified commercials or the Cheers re-runs! We will have to see how I feel when all the new shows start up again in the Fall....

Other pluses abound – read two (2....2, really!) non-work related books, got more work done, wrote postcards on vacation, talked with my Mom more and took care of other miscellany like follow up emails, logging receipts, and balancing my checkbook. These would have gotten done eventually but it just feels like I am more organized and getting things done along the way instead of letting them pile up – AND in order of importance (imagine that), in time (monumental feat) and with less stress (for real). Have all but forgotten about Starbucks...what is it, this Starbucks? Oh, right a coffee place.

I did find myself entranced by the TV twice on vacation - shared a cabin with my Mom who was kind enough to keep the TV off most of the time - thanks Mom! Once I was staring at a soap opera for a few minutes and had to rattle my head and extract myself...I think my mouth was even hanging open a little. The second time it was Wimbledon and I am pretty sure I wasn't blinking at all - had to go into the other room. I could hear the TV which was a tiny cheat but was able to do other things...Much easier at home here where turning on the TV provides only a snowy/static-y "I don't' have cable" screen.

Was gone for 12 days and came back to a nearly overflowing the TV means more time to pull weeds and mow!

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Lettuce" Look at Where You've "Bean"...

DAY 29 (Year Two)

I don't "carrot" all that you "beet" me to the punch! A little garden humor to start your week - hahaha. I find that I am funnier later in the day and after a little caffeine...hope you agree! Could not think of a way to fit "zucchini" and "garlic" into the pun however...I just added tiny little Ajíes dulces pepper (Puerto Rican Sweet Peppers)and green peppers for sofrito thanks to my friends at Henry Hudson School- Jessica,Marisol and all the kids! Will work on more garden "pun"ishment for you in the next blog unless you tell e not to.

The garden is growing! Everything is up - healthy evidence of beans,tomatoes, melon and squash...will keep you posted. Oddly, one little bit of lettuce came back and one sprig of cilantro...a Festivus Miracle (Seinfeld reference) as neither of those are perennial. A good omen me thinks. Turns out what I thoguth was a miracle carrot as well only looked like a carrot on the above ground was just a root below...oh well!

I purchased special red compost worms this past Saturday - very exciting! They were very worm-y when I put them into my bin...heeby jeeby-ish because they were all in a lump and moving around...shudder. I left the lid open for a bit so that they would burrow down into the stuff to get away from the sight of them now...the idea is that they eat the compost and keep things rotating along especially because the kind of compost bin I have does not allow sunlight in. Can't make it too wet- I have strict instructions from Renee with Vermi-Green at the Farmer's Market (Fairport) to spritz only if needed. The worms breathe through their skin and could drown if it gets too wet. I feel responsible :)

Have plans for next year's garden already in the works - I picture a garden double the size it is now, with a white fence all around to keep the bunnies out...oh and a trellis arch doorway entrance with a swinging gate. Plenty of space between raised beds to walk and room on either side to mow...oh and out in the back - room for a pony!

Meanwhile, I am working hard on eating local...froze 2 quarts of strawberries and am enjoying a few with local honey in my Chobani yogurt (made in NY!).

Have gone almost 3 weeks with no tv - even in the hotel and at friend's...I am no longer missing it or interested! The "no Starbucks for a year" has been harder...especially on the road...but do-able. (I got into a bad SB habit the past month or so and needed to quit. At over $4 1-2 times a week for my iced grande caramel was not a good expenditure...imagine average $6 a week x 52...$312! Bad.

More to follow - have a Nothing New Day!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

What's on TV?


Ideally, I would be watching TV whilst enjoying my Chipotle take-out (in this quaint, peaceful theatre district hotel in New Brunswick, NJ...alas, my decision to watch NO TV for one year precludes me from doing so. Instead, I am alone (not lonely :)) with my veggie Burrito Bowl in recyclable container and my To Go Ware bamboo utensils - greening it up baby!

The quiet room is a welcome change to the past 24 hours spent in NYC, I must say! I was working with a talented and lively group of Orientation Leaders at Pace University and then drove to my next stop for a training tomorrow here in NJ. It took me almost an hour to get OUT of the city and into the Holland Tunnel...good times. There are so many cars and people! "It's a wonder more people don't get picked off in the streets by cars!" I spoke out loud to myself in the midst of it all. A lot of honking and not a lot of smiling. TV for a year. The Time-Warner dude said "Wow, good luck with that", as we cancelled my cable. There is no option at home to even turn the boob tube on in the first place so that will be easy to manage. The hotel TV temptation is a little more challenging. I resisted last night and actually got a lot of loose ends tied up via email, caught up on a staying in touch with my people connecting on Facebook (not giving that up) and had a long phone call with a great friend...I think NO TV is going to be a good thing...

Not only will I "get" more call to Time Warner will save me $96 a year! I also reduced my land line plan in the same call...another $240 a year or so saved for a total of $336. OK then! What could you cut, change, reduce in your life to unclutter your time, your space or your finances??? Check out this cool blog by ...reposting Erin Rooney Doland's website here:

Going to get ready for tomorrow and enjoy the silence....Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Year Two of Nothing New - Let the Games Begin!


I started Year Two on Sunday, May 22 to coincide with Day One of the LeaderShape Institute with Cornell University students... It was easy to start since Days 1-6 were sequestered at a retreat site in Painted Post, NY! Now the real test begins.

I will be doing monthly challenges again...while I am ramping up for June, I am using the rest of May to get my garden in order, go through closets, clean my office and spare room...

To keep things super exciting, I am also adding three major year-long efforts...

1. No TV for one year! I will take the TV out of my living room so it will be easy at home anyway to NOT will be a little more challenging if I am at a friend's house or in a hotel room whilst on the road...I will be strong! I will not be watching Hulu or any TV on the web either - easy now since all the season finales have taken place - talk to me in the fall when I am missing Glee, Modern Family, The Office and The Good Wife!

2. No Starbucks!!!! I have gotten into a bad habit of a weekly - if not more frequently - iced grande caramel macchiato...I was using it to celebrate - everything from a successful workshop to working with a new client to "Today is Tuesday"...not good! I shouldn't even be drinking coffee for one thing (food sensitivity) or milk! (lactose intolerant) - never mind it is $4 plus every time...imagine a year of savings - $4 x 52 = $208...will bring my own tea and reusable mug if I meet someone at an SB or any other coffee spot...I think I can do this one...

3. Seriously reducing my trash production...even though I compost and recycle, I know I can do more! Had to make a tough decision today at Wegman's - to buy locally grown greenhouse lettuce in a #5 non-recyclable container or lettuce from California in a little plastic bag I can use again or recycle...I opted for the CA lettuce - now I am thinking I should have gone with the local lettuce and found a re-use for the silly container...what do you think? I am also keeping all pieces of paper mail I get from unsolicited sources and making ongoing calls to get off mailing lists...should be interesting to track...

NOTE: I continue to get pulled into the food part of my Nothing New lifestyle...I am working hard to eat seasonally and locally...I found out that yogurt is OK for most folks with lactose intolerance and got me some Chobani Greek Yogurt today - made in NY - yay! It has 23g (that's twenty-three!) of protein in 8 ounces - more yay! Local kidney beans and NY apples are getting me back on track...

More soon - hope you are all well...

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Water, Water, Everywhere

DAY 425

Last week, I had a great Skype session with a new friend/colleague in Education City in Doha, Qatar, Chris Silva. He is the Sustainability Coordinator for the Residence Halls there - a new position - and he gets to do all kinds of cool projects to teach and learn about sustainability. So great to have first hand commentary and comparison of what important things are happening around the world to take better care of our planet!

Weeks ago when we met at the LeaderShape Retreat in Chicago, Chris told me about some exciting initiatives he is promoting to change perceptions and behavior around water and local food - in particular to change the perception that "nothing grow in Qatar because it's too hot". Look at all that grows there:

Egg plant; zucchini; Chili peppers; tomatoes; gourds; cabbages; bell peppers; cauliflower; lettuce; corn; broccoli; green beans; carrots; different types of herbs; green onions and mint. (thanks for this Chris!) Nice list, huh?

This last chat, Chris shared some of his ideas for implementing a campaign to educate staff and students about the safety of drinking tap water in Qatar. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of plastic bottles going into their landfills -I share that goal! Apparently the tap water in Qatar is quite safe and in fact is above the standards of the World Health Organization. In spite of that fact, just like many places in the US, the perception is that tap water is not as good (safe) as bottled water... I am sure the whole scenario is much more complex than this and that changing perceptions actually requires a culture shift not mere behavioral changes.

By the way...this info from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN:

Qatar is a small peninsula in the Persian Gulf covering an area of approximately 11,000 km2 including a number of small offshore islands. It's maximum length is about 180km along the north-south axis, while the east-west width is 85 km at its widest point. It is bounded by the Persian Gulf on all sides except in the south where it touches the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. Check the map :)

The movement toward more sustainable living is international...turns out, it is a small world after all...

More to come - have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

You Say Tomato

DAY 419

Had a great conversation today with Wegman's manager about the lack of local foods right now - usually there is something at this point but the (too much) rain has delayed Spring planting for our farmers. I appreciated the concern the manager had for the farmers and the time he took to talk with one other guy in produce AND make a phone call...then guided me to some local greenhouse on-the-vine tomatoes, NY apples and potatoes. Yay!

As soon as I can I will get to the public market as well as my little Fairport market to see what else is growing.

My garlic is coming along - just waiting for the leaves to dry back. From what I have read, it will be sometime in July and it is a test of patience and faith to harvest at the right time...then there are all kinds of next steps to cure and store the garlic - who knew? Best advice so far:

"To remove the garlic, take a flat shove and gently loosen the dirt around them. Garlic can bruise easily and bruised garlic does not keep well. Don’t bump it, don’t bounce it. Don’t drop it."

I had no idea it was such a delicate operation - will keep you posted.

I am making my final *new* purchases this weekend - including some garden supplies...very exciting yet oddly relieving to know I am going back to Nothing New...

Bye for now - have a Nothing New Day!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Green Clean

DAY 417

Hello - been a while...miss you!

I am sort of hanging out these two months before starting Year 2 of Nothing New...still have a few new things to buy and then will "go back" to Nothing New. I feel a little bit like I am out of the wilderness to get provisions before going back into the woods. Quite a different wilderness in Fairport, NY compared to perhaps a Walden Pond or Antarctic trek - an adventure, nonetheless. I will track my two months off of spending and report accordingly later...should be interesting.

I am getting ready to plant Year 2 of my garden - need to get seeds and dirt (new). Decided to keep the overall garden space as is - attractive metal stakes and chic wire fencing intact even though I really want to switch out to a cuter white picket version, bigger with more raised beds - that will have to wait til next year. A few more things to get my bike back in working order and a few goodies to get back into swimming again and I will be all set. Starting May 20, I will have to make do with what I have (plenty). Cool!

In the meantime, I continue to search for greener behaviors, methods, and products to ultimately reduce my impact on the planet. I just found a new green dry cleaner for what little I do get dry cleaned. A new shop called "Martinizing" (remember "One Hour Martinizing"???) - a ramped up franchise version of the older company who now uses a process called Green Earth Cleaning The owner, Todd, totally gets it and is a delight to talk with about being green. Prices are reasonable plus they take back hangers and the plastic bags for reuse and recycling. Yup. Like it! Check out his shop:

12 Courtney Drive
Fairport, New York 14450

More to follow - have a Nothing New Day!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Swimming Pending New Suit Still Needed

DAY 400

I am afraid the "six word memoir" concept has taken over my brain. Will use in moderation I promise (6 words).

I have decided to start swimming again after watching my 9 year old nephew, Jonathan in a couple of meets now. He is GOOD and I'm not jus sayin that because he is my relative and gets all his talent from me - haha. I have gone to a few of his Saturday 7am practices, watched him prep himself to race - event/lane/heat written on his arm with a sharpie, cap, goggles and shake out the arms and legs - and cheered him on for the brief seconds he flys, strokes, and freestyles his way to the finish. This along with flashbacks to my high school swimming days, reminder of past fitness in my life and the recent spotting (not stalking) of Dara Torres (2008 Olympian at age 41 among other achievements), I am prepped to go to my town rec center and get my @#* back into the pool.

I am making the decision to my a new suit, cap and goggles - these are such *personal* items - so getting them used is not interesting to me. Got advice from Jon on the best color for a suit - green, black or blue is best.

Starting May 18 I will head back into my second year of Nothing New fueled by renewed energy from the pool chlorine, gardening successes and the vision of further financial stability and freedom. Yay!

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Live Free or Die

DAY 399

Had a nice talk with student employees at the University of New Hampshire about Nothing New - thanks Dave Zamansky and crew! Cool discussion along with a learning opporutunity for me that people seem way more interested in my actual experience perhaps than in the leadership implications...hmmmmmm....good to know!

My 7.5 hour drive to NH from Rochester gave me tons-o-time to think, dream and marvel at the lack of driving finesse on US highways. I actually saw a woman leaning back on her arm with her eyes CLOSED. For real. I honked at her and she "woke up" and showed me her "angry eyes". I also had the pleasure of listening to some classic New England NPR (NPR always sounds hipper in New England) and got inspired the the idea of a "Six Word Memoir"...check it out...

The idea is this (from the website):

"Once asked to write a full story in six words, legend has it that novelist Ernest Hemingway responded: "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn."

In this spirit of simple yet profound brevity, the online magazine Smith asked readers to write the story of their own lives in a single sentence. The result is Not Quite What I Was Planning, a collection of six-word memoirs by famous and not-so-famous writers, artists and musicians. Their stories are sometimes sad, often funny —and always concise."

Here a a few of mine from today - in the spirit of Nothing New and that less can indeed be more -there are no real rules - one or several 6 Word Memoirs a day (or in your life) is perfectly acceptable, offered freely and of course, never judged...

Malted milk eggs not as hoped.

Overnight success fifteen years of toil.

Choices made vulnerable life of love.

Rooted in faith free to live.

You know it’s gonna be alright. (Thanks Bob Marley)

And one more:

Enough in the garden is enough. (Deep, I know)

Your turn...

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Black Bean Quest

DAY 397

Just when I was convinced and had all but given up on finding black beans grown in NY State, there was a ray of hope this past weekend!

This belief (now a confirmed myth!) was bringing me down. In my second year of Nothing New I am working hard to eat only locally grown seasonal foods with very few exceptions. I have also decided to go back to being vegetarian. My big concern is protein because I cannot eat soy and dairy so I have been thinking deeply about beans (in my free time).

I had dashed hopes for local beans given what I thought was a fact. Based on the research I had done last summer, I really thought that black beans were not grown here... Along with the longest winter ever this has been a real downer, man. Perhaps I should have tried harder. I must forgive myself and move on.

As I was mentioning my protein/black bean woes to some lifetime Rochesterians on Saturday, I received this response, "What? We have black beans here, what do you mean you can't find black beans grown in NY?" He was a tiny bit upset and in disbelief, as if I had suggested that paper is made from cheese.

He gave me a farm name and the farmers name...well, that was easy!

So the NBBINY (No Black Beans In NY) myth is busted! Right up there with the Easter Bunny and that you can die from eating Pop Rocks and drinking Coke, the Black Bean mystery is solved.

With a little research on the WWW, I found my source. One phone call to John at NY Beans and I was on my way to Caledonia, NY to buy 25 pounds of black beans grown in my 100 mile radius. Woot!

The only other thing I will check on is how to buy directly from the farmer...but maybe he sells to NY Bean first...I will keep you posted.

Black Beans - yay! No more dread, the cloud is lifted! Joy! Rapture!

Have a Nothing New Day - Kristin

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Can See Garlic from My House

DAY 369

I planted garlic in the fall and now a miracle is happening in my garden! I went out on Sunday to push some dirt around to feel like I was “gardening” and then I saw them... 8 of the 12 garlic cloves I put in the ground in November sprouting up about an inch above the soil. And the gardener was happy. Today, I did a “from my kitchen window” glance around the backyard for branches, squirrels and cardinals and realized I could see the garlic sprouts from there! Very exciting.

It really is a life metaphor to see something survive and thrive through what seemed like the longest, coldest, grayest winter EVER. Plant something, let it sit and see it sprout. Simple, profound.

So as I make plans for an expanded 2011 garden with kale, tomatoes, butternut squash, more basil and more lettuce, I can see how this whole grow your own food thing can be addictive. Don’t worry, I will not be getting chickens and goats at this point. I will leave that to the experts! OK Wendy Thomas??? Check out Wendy’s great blog “Lessons Learned from the Flock” at I bow down to all farmers and animal tenders and to the time and energy and love it must take to raise animals - I mean really, my cats Buddy and Curtis are a little bit of work, but they are pretty self-sufficient.

I am a big fan of goat cheese, I must say...hmmmm....OK, I promise – no goats...I will leave that one to Missy Martz! Missy gave me a million dollar gift recently – a precious bar of goat’s milk soap that she MADE. With some help from her goats of course. I just about fell over when she gave it to me...I cannot imagine what it takes to take care of the goat, get the milk and THEN make soap. I am in awe. I have the bar in a spot of honor to admire it daily – I almost don’t want to ever use it! It is a symbol of all that is right with the world...

I am still deciding how to “do” year two of Nothing New – I think I will continue with the numbering of days...I also need to decide how I am going to NOT spend money in Year Two.

Meanwhile, I am going to get some sleep and dream about garlic and goats...Have a Nothing New Day! ~Kristin

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The End or the Beginning?

DAY 1 (or Day 366 - Year Two!)

Yesterday was Day 365! counting of days was way off...I don't know what I was thinking! I started Nothing New on March 19, 2010, so of course I would be "done" on March 18, 2011...that was yesterday! For some reason I had my last day as next week some time...numbers of any kind are not my strength - I have other gifts and talents!

OK, well, then - wonder what I should to tomorrow - tempted to go to the Mall (oh, no say it isn't so! Run away, run away!) because I need a pants suit! Looked in three consignment shops today but no luck...I will go through my closet first. Maybe I can mix and match some items to create a faux-pants suit...

I really need to decide what I am going to do for Year Two and how to create even better boundaries. Secretly, I kind of want to do some shopping...argh. So maybe I allow myself to shop for new things once a year? That seems reasonable...or am I rationalizing???? Oh dear. Late nite ponderings - I will probably have shopping nightmares...

Any advice?

Have a Nothing New Day (and Night)! Kristin

Friday, March 18, 2011


DAY 355

My “ride the bus” month did not happen – at all. I could not quite get it together to make the time to get the schedule, find the stops and build in the buffer travel time. I will table this challenge for a challenge month in my second year of Nothing New! I have decided to stay on this track for another year, implement all my learnings from this year and apply them on a new level in Year Two. More to follow on my plans for ramping things up for Part Deux!

Meanwhile, I have been tracking how much trash I create as a challenge – started on 2/18 and just finished on 3/18...I was inspired by my friend Rebecca’s lifestyle changes and commitments to reduce what she contributes to the landfill. See her post on February 14. I will not list every piece of trash here – as fascinating as that would be – I will give you an overview of the last 20 days, how’s that?

I work hard to compost first, recycle second then throw it out. So much can be composted and I am amazed at how it all works out there in my compost pile – even in the winter. I have an inherited dark green plastic compost container (thanks JoeyO!) and dump a 10 gallon bucket of biodegradable yumminess :)out there once a week or so. Every time I go out and make a deposit, the pile is back down to where it was the week before - a tiny little miracle of nature. I feel good about this AND I am concerned that composting is a bright spot it my life, but hey, whatever it takes right? Check this website out to join the thousands of happy peppy people who compost!

Thankfully, my town recycles and picks up my large clear trash bag of paper, glass and aluminum once a week. I appreciate this and am glad to have recycling in my habit skill set. Most of the recycle bag is filled with paper....argh...paper! So much paper. Junk mail – catalogs, newsletters, promotions – on and on – I call and get off their lists any time I can. Envelopes with annoying cellophane windows that I remove and throw away dominate the paper mix along with juice bottles and cat food cans, laundry soap bottles and other grocery related containers. As I write this, I realize I have a lot of room for reducing the amount of stuff I recycle! The juice dilemma is such that there is always a non-recyclable lid or pull tab. Need to find a good alternative here...any ideas? Make my own OJ? With real oranges? Hmmmm...I should also cut back and then eliminate the canned cat food...must discuss this with Buddy and Curtis.

Because of my efforts, I ended up with three medium sized bags of trash for the month (down from four) and three big bags of recyclables (up from two). I will measure one more month to see if I can reduce my recyclables with some shopping habit changes.

More to follow – Have a Nothing New Day! ~Kristin

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hmmmmmm...What's Enough?

DAY 323

Still working on the details of using my car less...I leave again soon - so I will start next week - practice riding the bus for one thing! I am excited - I think this is going to be a signficant change for the good...

Meanwhile, getting in the garden mode...for real! In February! I bought a book (used) called "Sufficient" by Tom Petherick...Sufficient as in self-reliant and as in enough - love it. Looks like some very interesting perspectives on sustainable living from a British perspective. Will do a book report when I am done :)

I am going to fancy up my garden a bit this year - make it bigger and replace the chicken wire with a fence (used wood!). I am hoping my compost will be ready this summer too...I have been adding "stuff" since the summer. Even in the dead of winter it seems to be churning - a little steam comes out when I go to dump in a new batch of eggshell/carrot parts/lettuce bits potpourri. Cool!

Still have a freezer full of local peaches and berries, my pesto and bread...need to start eating!

More to follow...need to go and get SUFFICIENT sleep :) Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Monday, February 14, 2011

Carbon Footprint - Size 16 Shoe

DAY 322

I ate 2 purple potato chips at a gourmet restaurant in Athens, GA over the weekend. Oops! Day 12 of no Coke – good AND I still need to keep limiting my sugar intake. I feel the need for a sugar detox after a weekend of sweet tea in the south! I was also forced to eat “Momma’s Pancake Breakfast” at the Cracker Barrel.

OK, I’ve decided my final challenge will be around reduced use of my car. I will track gas purchase and miles – should be interesting to see how much less I spend and what kind of extra time it takes. Thanks to Mandy and Becca for the inspiration! Be careful what you ask for – I solicited ideas and the car thing came at me twice!

Because I travel for work long distances – flying and driving – my carbon footprint is very (VERY) high – Sasquatch-sized. Our carbon footprint calculator estimates how many tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases our choices create each year.

In spite of my efforts to reduce in many other every areas of my life, the choices I make produce 34.22 metric tons of C02 a year. Nice. Not what I was expecting...I have not been thinking about the big items in my consumer life – car, flying, and utilities. Check out this website for a nice little (well, big) reality check.

More stats on carbon footprint according to this site:

• Average for industrial nations is 11 metric tons
• The worldwide average is 4 metric tons
• The target to fight climate change is 2 metric tons

These other sites are good too – what sites have you seen out there?

I have a lot of work to do.

So, this month I *will* use my car less – I need to do some homework on the bus lines in Rochester AND look at some ways to share driving for some things – find a friend to go to the grocery store with – we could take turns driving. I also need to think hard about the work that I do – I flew 10 times in 2010 – 24, 450 miles and a C02 use of 3.88 metric tons. That alone is almost the average across the world for all aspects of consumption. Kristin Skarie – High Impact Girl. Not the Super Hero name I would have chosen for myself!

I will report on the car and other changes I will make– here are the suggestions from the site (the extreme ones):

• Buy used clothes
• Be vegan
• Recycle or compost EVERYTHING
• Eat only local food
• Grow all your own food
• Eat only foods that are in season in your area
• Participate in recreational activities with ZERO carbon footprint – bike & walk not eat out & go to the movies
• Get rid of your car.

OK. Not so easy!


I need to start now – not look for a convenient time to start riding the bus. It’s cold, I’m busy, I’m stressed, there are not enough hours in the day...AND I will start now.

Film at 11.

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Choice and Commitment

DAY 317

My Fashion Fast is over - I wore a bright pink sweater today - yay! A nice change from all the black I was wearing this month!

It took me about 20 minutes to figure out what to wear - why? I have not had to make any clothing decisions for 30 days! Also, the stuff in my closet seems foreign to me. Oh, and some (several, OK, many) do not fit because I have chosen to NOT exercise regularly for the past 6 months. Why am I surprised? Argh.

A very interesting experience to be sure - I think I will do it again in the summer...

This is Day 7 with no Coca Cola - or any soda for that matter. I think my sugar cravings are subsiding which is a good thing. My potato chip craving has not. So, I am done eating those now too. Really. Until March 19, 2011. For real.

I do want to have one more meaningful Motivation Month and am drawing a blank...ideas anyone? I will add exercise 3x a week starting tomorrow but I really want to try something big. All feedback welcome :)

More to follow - going to finish up and call it a night - Have a Nothing New Day!


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Go Packers!

DAY 313

I will tell you right now, that I am adding one item of clothing for a few hours tomorrow evening - my one and only Green Bay Packers t-shirt! Mostly, I am so very done wearing this black sweater and even though I have just three days left of my Fashion Fast, I am anxious to move on to my last Motivation Month!

In case you were wondering where *your* GB shirt is that you will be wearing tomorrow, here is a tidbit to motivate you to get it out of storage. Green Bay won the first Superbowl in 1967, 35-10 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Nice. I am also in the middle of researching (because I apparently have so much free time) the rapidly spreading urban myth that the G logo for Green Bay actually stands for Greatness - lovely, except there is no real source minus the recent interviews by Tiki Barber now captured on a Yahoo Video, stating this as fact. I will keep you posted - no doubt you are pausing all socializing right now to consider this possible new finding. OK, well, I just found this:

"The famous Green Bay Packers G [logo] was designed to honor the original owner Curly Lambeau’s (as in Lambeau Field in GB) first wife; Grendal." Source: (Reverse the Call on the Field, The Secret History of the NFL, Doris Kearns Goodwin, ESPN Press 2010)

Perhaps you be discussing this tomorrow during the game. You do not need to credit me.

Note that I am an expert procrastinator - now that is Nothing New - hahahahaha - I am way funnier at night.

I will leave you now. Go Packers!

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Looking Back, Looking Forward

DAY 310

Hello! Had a great talk with the Rochester Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction about Nothing New this week - excellent meal, inspiring conversation and fun evening in spite of the snowy trek.

They had some great questions about my Year of (Mostly) Nothing New...thank you all for a nice chat!

Who else in my household is participating?
Curtis and Buddy (meow). We talked about it being more difficult if I had to get others on board with this. Oh yes. My friend Terry who gave me the idea - engaged her husband and kids into a year of this!!!

What's next after March 19, 2011?
I will continue some form of Nothing New...I will be careful to continue on this peaceful path of living within my means...I am thinking a bigger garden, better compost system, and maybe a swim suit.

Some other things I WANT:
Cross country ski boots - and new skis if I cannot find the right boots
Snow shoes
Cardigan (not black)
Pantsuit - for upcoming conference
Cell phone - I have a coupon!
ToGoWare - my fork broke
Light (or ceiling fan) for dining room
A sauna - what? Well, maybe someday...

Has this year affected my health?
Yes! for the good - the eating habits are great, award winning cholesterol score (good genes too - thanks Mom and Dad) - and except for Coca Cola, no real food vices...which with the NAWIC group as my witness, starting Feb 2, I removed all soda out of my life and therefore a huge chunk of my diet that is the evil....High Fructose Corn Syrup. A can of Coke has 140 calories and a 20oz bottle has 240! Today is my second day of NO COKE and so far, I crave sugar...not even the caffeine (as far as I know or can tell anyway...)

Have you saved money?
Good question - tough to answer! It is hard to measure what I did NOT spend money on...what I do know is how much debt I have been able to pay me if you want details!

Here are my spending numbers as I make sense of them...what I bought new or would have bought new if I were not doing this:

$54 Wanted but did not buy
$30 Saved by getting item free or cheaper
$248 Bought new (caved to nephews, sunglasses I ran over, travel mug, plants)
$321 Christmas presents for 17 people
$64 Paint and supplies for painting bedroom "Frozen Pond"
$717 TOTAL (the amount I will be donating...)

PLUS these items which I did NEED:
$800 Snow tires
$350 Roof shingles for leaking back porch roof
$52 Plastic for winterizing old windows

Another INTERESTING Number...I spent $2501 on clothing March 2009-February 2010 and ONLY $194 March 2010-February 2011...WOW. Really??? Maybe I did have some kind of a problem...well. Yay for $194!!! Not only did I stay out of the MALL to get that and other A+ Scores, I did not set foot in Pier One, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Marshalls or Target (except for my great tasty Vitamin D with Calcium), etc...

More to come - I have some interesting gigs coming up where I get to talk more about Nothing New with smart cool and fun people in Georgia, Texas, and Maryland - what fun!

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Sunday, January 23, 2011


DAY 300

Hi! Here are my clothing stats for the the past two weeks:

Week One
-Items of clothing - 6 (good!)

Week Two
-Items of clothing - 6 (but...replaced black cardigan with long black sweater and white shirt with long black short sleeve floaty top with a satin band at the bottom)

-Confession - wore a dressy suit for four hours at the Athena Luncheon. I had forgotten about that event and even my "nice" jeans would not have been appropriate. Grr.

This limited clothing thing is a little more challenging than I thought it would be...choosing the right items is key! The black cardigan was not warm enough for day-to-day wear...I do not really even like that black cardigan and have in fact "released it with love" to the consignment pile...I LOVE the long black cowl neck sweater and the black floaty top so I feel good about the switch. I will not be starting the month over though...I still have 2.5 weeks to go until February 9. Even in this short time, I have been daydreaming about my bright pink cardigan, currently living in the back of the closet. I am sensing this experience is going to make me highly appreciative (more than usual) of a closet full of clothes. At the end of this month, I am going to go through everything leaving only the items I love.

If you decide to experiment with a Fashion Fast, my suggestions to you are:

1. Pick the right month - consider all out of the ordinary events and choose the clothing items that will work for everything - unless you want to allow some exceptions - you get to make the rules!

2. I know only 6 items seems extreme - I was going to do 10 but really wanted to get as close as possible to the NY Times experiment as possible. The trade off of variety for freedom from decision making has been very refreshing.

3. Pick comfortable items that you wear frequently anyway.

3. Select items that can all be worn together in any combination.

4. Neutral colors rule. I chose black - my fav color to wear - easy and unnoticeable for the most part...goes with everything.

5. Be open to combine and accessorize in new ways...the long sleeve black shirt will be worn under the short sleeve floaty thing under the jacket tomorrow - WITH A BELT. Yes, I am a Fashion Risk-Taker, I know. Sorry if that is too much detail!

Good luck! Let me know if you try any version of this - I would love to compare notes!

Must get some rest for my big day with a belted floaty top...Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


DAY 288

Woke up to a 53 degree house...I knew something was not quite right yesterday when it seemed so chilly in here! I only had to endure a few hours of cold until the furnace man fixed things right up for $337...argh. Had to buy a new ignitor - a ceramic and metal thingy the size of a large spool of thread. Until now, the word "ignitor" was not in my general vocabulary. Oh well! Grateful for the house and the means to keep it warm.

Went into public in a combo workout/pj situation (mail, bank, doc) to save the clean clothes for my trip. I will not make a habit of that. I am certain there are some rules about going "out there" and I want to be sure and adhere to basic societal standards...on the other hand, does it really matter what one wears? Clean - yes, it is best. Appropriate coverage - for sure yes. Age appropriate - mostly yes. In "style" (whatever that really means) - no.

I can remember my brother offering my Mom some unsolicited advice on the coolness factor of a white visor she was sporting at the time. Apparently not a big fan of visors (not that there's anything wrong with visors) he told her, "Once you're 50, you probably don't care what other people think about what you wear". Not even really a sideways compliment, but I think there is some truth and freedom in there! Thanks Bro!

Wear what you love - is my unsolicited advice...even if you have it in every color! All of us have a uniform of sorts - I kind of like that. What's your uniform? Besides the actual clothing what do you "wear" every day that give others a sense of who you are?

Hmmm - deep snowy evening ponderings - better wrap up before I start making up haiku...Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Monday, January 10, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Inside

DAY 287

Hello! I decided to save my (6) clean clothes for the pending trip to avoid doing laundry and opted for the workout outfit today. Traded out for the painting clothes later on with hopes of getting some "Atmoshpheric Blue" onto the walls of my bedroom. Only got as far as finishing up the prep-taping. Maybe tomorrow.

These additional costume changes are somewhat beyond the whole Six Items Thing...well, I am the one making the rules after all. The whole point being to see what I really NEED to have in terms of a public wardrobe. You will make your own rules as well...if you decide to do this or a tweaked version of this challenge - please comment below! I would love to learn from you:) News flash: Just packed in 15 minutes - easy peasy (lemon squeezy)! A tiny little miracle, really.

The bones of my house are cold. She told me today as I added a little more clear tape to the edges of her plastic-dressed windows. My bones were cold today. I layered as much as I could - including a scarf. My office window faces North and my desk is as near to that natural light as possible. A creative little breeze comes out of the closet to my left if I do not close the "door" (aka curtain). I was in good company today as I just heard from Amy who wore her wool hat all day inside! I get it...comfort sacrifice - oh well! Pretty on the inside :)

This trip will be the first real test of the 6 items - will tell all - not sure if this would be easier in warmer months...I may try it again just in June for kicks! I sure know how to live it up! Easily amused...

Off to finish some handouts - Have a Nothing New Day and stay warm! Kristin

Sunday, January 9, 2011


DAY 286

Two of my 2011 goals have been reached - exercise 3x a week and bake my own bread...just need to keep the exercise habit for longer than one week, right? Bread turned out nicely - a little dense and something weird happened when I tried to get the loaf out of the pan. It took about 3 hours to make this bread - from prepping, mixing and punching to rising, checking and baking, it was my day's main activity! I appreciate bread.

My fashion fast has begun - although I am sporting my "workout costume" at the moment, in my mind, I am wearing my Green Bay Packer shirt! Packers will beat the Eagles today. Yes, they will.

This month's new habit will sure make packing easy - I have both plane and automobile travel. Things will hopefully be a little less stressful getting myself out on the less thing to decide/prepare.

As I was telling a friend today about my Nothing New endeavor, I was reminded of the privilege I have to be able to implement this interesting experience. Coupled with learning about the Ted Williams story this week - the homeless man from Columbus, OH with the Golden Voice - I know how blessed I am to have what I have. I never take for granted my access (social, physical, financial) health, time, education, support from family and friends, a home, a full frig, cats...Watching him be so grateful, gracious, faithful, insightful and kind, truly realigned my perspective. For that, I am grateful and so happy for Ted.

What do you have? What are your privileges? Your blessings? Your "bread"?

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fashion Fast

DAY 285

As I was taking my Christmas tree down today, I was witness to the phenomenon of unusual (yet ongoing) eating habits of one of my cats, Curtis. He was taking pieces of tinsel and running to a corner, growling to scare off competitors (perhaps his older brother Buddy, or me I suppose) and being very secretive and mysterious. I had to chase and contain him to pull the tinsel out of his mouth. Minutes later, I would hear growling and realize he got another piece of tinsel (bright shiny object representing a mouse) and the process would start all over again. During all of this, Buddy kept his distance as "supervisor" and did not really get involved.

I finally got the tree out to the front porch where I will let it "transition" until March before it goes to live out in the backyard at "Compost Spa". Curtis went to find more mice (bright or shiny or crinkly or shrimp-flavored objects) and Buddy went to find a cozy spot on a bed somewhere upstairs.

So, I go to thinking about the put-away-tidy-up-return-to-normal feelings I always have in January and started thinking about how I was going to finish up the projects I started in December. I will finish re-organizing my office, complete the painting my bedroom and get back to work on world peace. I feel fairly ready for a new year...good to have most of my holiday decor down, rugs/curtains/floors washed, and the plastic up on the windows of my 1920's house. I have not had a Motivation Month since November, so I want to get that in place before too much January slips by. With 285 days of Nothing New so far, it is getting harder to think of new challenges.....I have settled on a clothing challenge - a "Fashion Fast" described in the NY Times Style Magazine on July 23, 2010 - details here:

People chose 6 items of clothing to wear for one month (excluding undergarments and shoes) and learned some really interesting things...I've been marinating in this idea for a week now so here is my list of 6 items to wear January 9-February 9:

1 Blazer (gray/black)
1 Pair of jeans (black dressy)
1 White dress shirt
1 Sweater dress(long black)
1 Long sleeve t-shirt(black)
1 V-neck sweater(black)

I am allowing pj's, one workout outfit and two winter coats (a dress coat and a super warm casual jacket - it is after all winter in Rochester). I am also am going to accessorize freely - scarves, clip-on flowers and jewelry. This is going to be hard! I am going to stick to these six items. For reals. Easier for me than others in some ways because I am either working at home by myself or traveling and seeing different people every day. More challenging perhaps for someone who is in a workplace with the same people everyday...the coolest thing the NY Times "Fashion Fast-inistas" had to share was that other people never really noticed or cared. OK then.

I will keep you posted on this...Going to start painting!

Happy New Year! Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Season of Giving

DAY 281

The Number One question I get regarding my Nothing New Year is about food - What is "new food?, Can you eat out?, How about fast food? Do you grow your own food? Do you eat locally? Are you vegetarian? I love these conversations because they really challenge me to match my behavior with my beliefs about food and eating. The best talks have been those around the "localvore" movement - the latest books, great speakers, gardening stories and promises to trade pesto for tomato sauce (or raspberry jam - I will trade for either!).

The Number Two question is about gift giving. My commitment this year was to give either second hand items, or use second had items to make gifts. I started out strong and well-intentioned. I had been buying use picture frames with the idea of framing some great photos I had taken on my trips - shamrocks in the forests of California, aspen trees in Aspen, and swimming star nephew at Junior Olympics in Florida. Great plan - then most of the frames did not really "go" with the photos, so I bought new frames. I also ended up framing (new) these cool square greeting cards (new) with quotes on them.

I decided that to the best of my abilities, I would make something so that even if I had to buy new materials, there would be some element of hand-made by Kristin Skarie. Given the fact that I started most of the gifting preparation process on Dec 10, this was my best effort. I also allowed the purchase of "consumables"or "experiences" as a present or to supplement the handmade gifts...
  • Lavender body oil and lavender sugar scrub stored in (new) glass jars and bottles.
  • Spicy walnuts in (new) bags
  • Cranberry-walnut chutney in (new) glass jars)
  • Peppermint bark and hot chocolate (new - Williams Sonoma - the best)
  • Candles in glass vases (new) with little green stones (had them) - super decorative if I may say so myself :)
  • Terry's Chocolate Oranges, Ghiradhelli Squares - so so good and favs all around
  • Book for Olivia (she is 3 and would not "get" the whole used/handmade thing)
  • Lincoln Logs to make a mini log cabin for JoeyO
I defaulted to gift cards for some friends - itunes, Barnes and Noble, Starbucks...somewhat consumable...there is a fine line between what's consumable and what's not. Finally, I went way outside the lines with these great (handmade by someone in New Zealand) wall tiles.

I am proud that I did not totally give in to materialism this giving season...the fact that I resisted getting the Obama Head Chia Pet for Sue says a lot about my discipline and tenacity. (Someone else gave her one so I at least I got to see what it looks like...) All told, I spent $321 on new things for 19 people...about $17 per person.

Now that the holidays are over - almost over as I have a few more deliveries to make - I will give myself a "C+" for sticking to my original plan. In the end I felt good about my endeavor and am making plans for 2011 to try again with the handmade things...hope you like walnuts!

Happy New Year - Have a Nothing New Day! ~Kristin