She will change my life.

Do you know what would improve my life exponentially?


What's that, you ask? Why, it's Ellie the Elephant the incense holder. She can hold sticks (as demonstrated) or cones (which go under her little bod). I ran into her when I was holiday shopping and had stopped in at UO to see if I could find a cute tote or reusable coffee mug for a white elephant gift exchange. I didn't. But I did see her. I do burn incense cones (pine!) pretty regularly and imagine my future delight when I carefully place a lit cone under her belly and pine smoke comes out of everywhere, looking like a demon Treetrunks from Adventure Time. Gah! Hi, Ellie! Hi!

I kept an eye on her online for a few weeks, turning into over a month. She's $3 cheaper now than she was. But still, I keep putting off buying her.

Several times I was on long walks through Manhattan where I passed a UO and thought, "Now. Now is my time." But I didn't go in. 

She is really really rillly rilly cute. And I would use her. But I can't let myself do it, no matter how much she lives in my brain. This, apparently, is one of the hills I die on?

Especially after the holidays and having to absorb so much more "stuff" into my household and life -- stuff I love and stuff that's useful for the majority of it -- I am really trying to justify anything else I bring in. I've purchased stuff. My office foster cat has upwards of $40-worth of new cat toys to keep her busy. I have a "new" acrylic gray jacket from the thrift. I have new-in-the-package onigiri holders from Goodwill (see my IG). The hermit crabs have new Gladware pools to replace pools that had some issues. (Plus new shells to fit them and handmade netting for their tank off Etsy.) I bought stuff. Just stuff that was mostly a necessity or comes from the great maw of discarded and trash-bound items. I didn't buy a brand new incense holder that is just cuter than the one I have. Like, so cute it hurts. 

I'm much more likely to let myself buy something used, something discarded, something from Goodwill or something brought in from Brooklyn's famous quality freepiles. So, here I am. No elephant incense holder for me. Unless I find her at Goodwill in a year or two. 


Welcome to hermit crab land.

Hello, from hermit crab-land.

I am floored by how much stuff I've had to purchase for the hermit crabs to create a decent set up for them! Since they're stolen from the Caribbean (yep, they're all wild-caught), they are essentially an exotic pet, despite being marketed as an easy pet. 

There has been no end to plastic packaging and shipping boxes for some supplies (heaters, gauges, light fixtures, PVC, bags of sand) though I have been able to get some stuff from resale or thrift stores (used 60 gallon tank and stand, cage decor). The tanks are very humid so a lot of what ends up in the tanks is plastic, unfortunately (climbing structures, pools, hideouts, plants). Once the 60 gallon is set up, we'll be able to tweak decor and I'll have more time and space to look for pre-owned stuff that is a good fit because all their basic needs are being met. 

But what a ride on the plastic rollercoaster! 

If you want a hermit crab, here is my advice!

  1. Always rescue. There are plenty of free hermit crabs that people don't want any longer listed on Craigslist, Freecycle, FB Marketplace. There are adoption boards on a lot of the hermit crab communities (Hermit Crab Owners, Hermit Crab Association, Crab Street Journal). Don't support the industry. They are all stolen from the Caribbean. And get more than one! They don't like to be alone. If you can get ones who have already been living together to rescue, great!
  2. Get a big, used tank. I thought I could get away with a 20 gallon, which I bought new because I got into this by taking on a rescue crab already in bad conditions and I didn't have time to spare. I spent $100+ for a 20 gallon tank and then, later, another $175 for a used 60 gallon tank with stand. Also not buying new is good for the earth. {Crabs need 10 gallons per crab.}
  3. Put it on something very sturdy. Tanks with heavy sand can collapse dressers, wood shelving, etc. Get a real tank stand or make something really sturdy out of wood and cinder blocks on the cheap. Learned this one the hard way when our wood shelves started swaying and we had to move the tank. With molters down. Which can kill them by collapsing their tunnels when they're all soft and vulnerable. Thankfully Harvey didn't die. A broken tank or broken furniture is both dangerous and a waste, which will stick you with replacing stuff you didn't need to!
  4. Get the right substrate. Play sand and Eco Earth in a ratio of 5:1, 3x as high as your biggest crab. They really need it to molt, which they need to do in order to stay alive. Play sand from the hardware store is perfect and cheap. 
  5. Heat is important. Get a Beanfarm "under the tank" heater (UTH) which you'll mount to the side of your tank to keep it 80 degrees.
  6. Humidity is important. This is how they breathe. You'll need a $10 Accurite hygrometer and you'll need your tank to have a solid lid so you can keep the humidity at 80+ percent.
  7. Don't trust hermit crab food from the pet store. You can find hermit crab food lists on all the sites I mentioned above. They differ in their opinion on some things, but they all say to avoid hermit crab food from the pet store. A lot of foods can be bought from bulk bins or can be scraps of what you eat, except for plankton I guess. I'm guessing you don't eat bulk plankton.

Those are the main points. You can join some of those communities to learn more (how to measure shells! why painted shells are bad! how to calibrate a hygrometer! what to use for hideouts!) but those are the basics and the stuff I wish I knew when I first started out...a mere 4 months ago. 


Purge Responsibly

Closet purges based on which was the trends are blowing are the worst. (Not familiar with this seasonal advice? See this Refinery 29 post and then look anywhere else on the internet that peddles ads for women.) Please just wear what you want and get rid of stuff responsibly instead of using terms like "throwing away" which sounds like everything is going into the trash.

I saw a comment on one of the Zero Waste FB groups that was something along the lines of:

If you buy something, it's yours forever. It's your job to deal with packaging, lifetime use and getting it where it needs to go next.
When you think about what your impact is on the world, it's not just what's in your home, it's everything you've ever thrown in the trash or donated.

And that's kind of true! I am directly responsible. Feels overwhelming to think of it that way but also pretty true -- even if it's a gift. It was purchased on my behalf and doesn't absolve me since it's now in my possession. I'm cleaning out my home office to make room for the (used) 60 gallon hermit crab tank so I'm really feeling the overwhelm of clutter these days and I'm doing my best to try to figure out what needs to go -- and where it is going.

I also have some new presents to incorporate into my daily life and likely more to come in the next week. My best plan is to make sure I find a place for all the new things I love and to remember to use them. And to keep tabs on gift cards by keeping them all in one spot -- or my wallet if I want them accessible. I have a habit of leaving stuff in boxes or in a random pile on my desk. But losing stuff multiple times this year really highlighted how important to "responsible stuff stewardship" organizing actually is. Like, so important! 

All these white elephant items are already incorporated into my life  -- it helped that I managed to steal the reusables in both white elephant swaps. 

I'm still going on Project 333 except a 1 week trip to LA for work where I had to bring logo wear that isn't part of my 333 wardrobe and also a few summer items I just didn't have in my current Project 333 collection. After those make it through the laundry, I'll put them "away" again. How is the laundry going? Let's just say I've been re-wearing a lot of jeans and shirts so thankfully it's really cold out these days. Still working on a laundry routine but it's true Project 333 will .

One day I'll actually work on photographing outfits again though I managed to pick kind of boring but really comfortable stuff so there's so little incentive. Most of it might look better as a flat lay so I can probably at least get that done by the end of January.


Tell me about your ugly holiday sweater.

Once upon a time ugly holiday sweaters were true to their origins -- plucked from the racks of thrift stores, freshly donated from some poor sucker's closet (probably a teacher, mom or grandpa). Some were sweaters, some were quilted vests, some were decked with classic puffy paint...but all were pre-loved (or pre-tolerated) and sprung from the well of re-use via a healthy dose of mocking. Nowadays, you can't throw a candy cane in a retail store during the holiday season without seeing a cheap acrylic sweater posing as an "ugly sweater." (Though most of those are cute sweaters or funny sweaters or whatevs. Because god forbid anyone wear something real ugly.) How did we go from skimming the cast-offs of a cultural theme to generating brand new and kind of off-topic versions at that?

Obviously this new development is not great for the earth. Not that the holidays are but if we're thinking about conscious gift guides, let's also think about conscious ugly sweaters, too. 

This Treehugger article includes a survey as to how many people bought new, the intent of not wanting to be seen in the same sweater and whether they planned to throw away their current sweaters to get new ones because they're so cheap. There's a new #GiveAKnit hashtag to promote DIY, swaps and buying used.

Here are a few iterations of what I've done in the past. Sometimes I just bow out but I enjoy corny stuff and I actually like participating in dorky junk like this sometimes. I will never get the crown of Greenest Bitch on Earth. *sigh*

Example 1: The ugly holiday t-shirt. The year this happened, it was wicked warm for December. I didn't want to wear a sweatshirt or a sweater indoors. It was like 60 degrees! So I though I'd DIY a t-shirt version. And then I realized that I had a cat Santa hat and scarf from when I was in denial a few years ago and thought I could get at least one of my cats in it and get a holiday card out of it. (Didn't happen, though we have photos of Cleo running down the hallway with the hat dragging on the floor behind her. Worth it.) So I safety-pinned the Santa hat and scarf onto a t-shirt where I already had a face. 

Example 2: The Real Deal. I went to a real thrift store and got a real handmade ugly holiday sweater. Is that fabric paint from the little tubes that you buy at Michael's craft store on those birds? YES. And those socks were brand new but from Unique Thrift.

This year I was caught unprepared for an ugly sweater party so I splashed out on a light-up Xmas tree headband, which I will wear again and again, even past the point where it lights up.

Now, tell me about your ugly holiday sweaters?


Odds & Ends: makeup brush cleaning, coffee stirrers, Joe Keery

Hi pals!

Have you seen this single-use hack? Pasta as coffee stirrers! Accessible, compostable.

Also Steve from Stranger Things (aka Joe Keery) suggests you wash your hair less to "extend the shelf life". I can get behind that because I'm lazy and also, less water and product used. He notes he's on day 3 in his interview. Since I've gone blonde+pink, I'm way ahead of him.

My Halloween makeup application really put my makeup brushes through their paces. It was time for a cleaning. I saw this makeup brush cleaning tutorial on Going Zero Waste and followed it...mostly. The tutorial notes that you should use a castile soap like Dr. Bronner's and sweet almond oil. I had jojoba on hand, so I just used that instead. (Hey, I didn't finally learn how to pronounce it to not use it every chance I get.)

Who knew I had so many kabuki and blush brushes?

This worked out pretty well. In the past I'd just used hand soap to clean my brushes. I won't pretend I think that's uncivilized -- but it was a little drying. This combo solves that issue and hopefully the brushes last a little longer because of it. Also I would like Adult Activity credit for this one. 

I'm still in the process of getting used to Project 333 so far. I think I've almost worn all my items once at this point. I will start documenting what I chose and how it's working out soon -- I am just behind on doing so. 


Apparently armpits are having a moment!

Screenshot from R29
Kudos to them for featuring pit hair

While product spreads about a specific body part or makeup look are common, seeing the armpit newly featured to sell product (primers! masks! soaps! deodorants!) has been one of those moments of transparency for me. 

It's kind of how my (long ago) Intro to Anthropology class in college made us all read this description about a barbaric practice of dragging metal over people's body parts for all sorts of weirdly specific reasons. And you realized a paragraph into the piece that they're talking about...shaving. That when described in less familiar terms, it sounded absurd. Har har, anthro teacher, you got us. It sounds weird but most of our classmates do it. It's a weird thing that's just culturally acceptable so it no longer sounds weird. 

Well, this was like that but instead I was like, "Oh, pits are having a moment?" the same way I'm regularly like, "Oh, a purple lip is neat-o? Let me click through to the slideshow!" But the hilarity of the armpit primer pulled back the curtain just a bit. (Sorry Meow Meow Tweet - normally I love you.) I mean, obviously it's all kind of ridiculous but moments like this remind me to see the man behind the curtain and take stock of how far I want to go with buying all this stuff -- from armpit primer to purple lipstick. 


Kickoff of Project 333

I have begun. I put together my list. It is not exactly Project 333 but close enough. You know what they say - don't let perfection be the enemy of good. And I never ever do.

Project 333: 33 items, 3 months.
Includes: clothing, accessories, shoes, outerwear, jewelry
Does not include: underwear, lounge clothes, workout gear

My "Project 333": 28 items, 3 months
Includes: clothing, accessories as in bags
Does not include: outerwear, shoes, jewelry (and all stuff the real project doesn't include, too)

I am not overwhelmed by my coats and jackets, shoes or jewelry and typically wear all the same stuff anyway. I will pay extra attention to weeding out what I don't use in those areas to keep things streamlined but my coat closet, jewelry storage and shoe rack are not at all a concern for me. (I said that smugly with false confidence.)

I took pictures in my office because I forgot to at home in the morning and we now live in Eternal Darkness aka Fall and I can't get a decent picture after work hours. My office is also very small, so I couldn't get a full photo. Imagine ankle-length black jeans.

What have I learned about myself so far? I'm overly ambitious that I'll still wear short sleeves this Fall and also, you will pry my sweatshirts and sweatshirt-like shirts from my cold, dead hands. They are the only long sleeve items I picked. 

I also had a bit of a Come to Jesus re my shoes. I wear a pair of trainers nearly every day and I walk a lot so a lot of my less supportive shoes get the short shift. I brought a pair of Novacas ankle booties and Golden Ponies monk strap shoes to work so I can switch out of my trainers and to make my sweatshirt-like shirts look more profesh. More profesh than sneakers, anyway.

I am still in the process of trying to hide all the non-Project 333 stuff in my closet and drawers and I can post a final list of what I've kept soon. It's more work than I thought!