Friday, November 28, 2008

To Buy or Not to Buy?

A while back I was watching a show on TV (Deserving Design, this episode), and noticed that the room that was being decorated was similar to mine but oh, so much better (*cough*cough* the attention being paid to my apartment while I am at school is sadly lacking, I am afraid to say)! Sandy browns, sea blues and dark woods. AND A ZEBRA SKIN CUSHIONs. Or, at least, ones that kind of look like it. Fake, yes, but the stripes just look superb in that room.

I happened to mention it to the right person, my wonderful friend back home who is an interior designer. She then asked if I would like a REAL zebra skin cushion.

Hmm. A good question. I am, as you probably already know, trying my best to live in an ecologically sound and responsible way. What would the implications of a real skin on my couch be? Also, would it upset me to see it? A few years ago I thought I would become a member of Peta . I take this seriously... however, I also believe in balance. I believe we are stewards in this world, and should protect it but with the imbalances of how we live its not as simple as condemning everything that is not in tune, at first glance, of that principle. I do eat meat. But not a lot. That kind of thing. Balance.

I didn't join Peta because I read an article on their site, which misguidedly spoke about how elephants were being killed unnecessarily in South Africa. Perhaps it is a presumption of mine, but surely if this is their business they would know that elephants eat about 5% of their body weight a day, and the largest weigh up to 6 1/2 tons (these are facts I found online. They might not be too accurate but the point remains: an elephant will push over shrubs and trees while eating. And they eat a lot). If elephant herds grow too large, they can decimate their environment, and that impacts other animals in that environment. Sometimes culling is the only way forward (even though it is not the best. If there are no other homes to move elephant families to, what do you do?) I don't see Peta running reservations to take these animals in.

Okay, okay, venting done. Back to the cushion. My friend suggested I take a look at African Gameskin, a skin supplier who participates in government approved animal herd reduction programs, and a company that actively works to reduce unemployment by employing people in previously disadvantaged areas. This I can consider. I liked the zebra skin on a handbag, it had the same brown color I wanted but I'm not sure I can live with real zebra everyday.

As much as I understand the need to cull, I don't eat zebra meat. It doesn't make sense to me to have the skin of something I would not use other parts of, it seems a waste. Perhaps I am not making complete sense because, of course, even if I eat chicken I don't use the feathers from that bird, but do you see what I'm saying?

I looked at a cow skin cushion and love it. The right colors and the right approach.

I've placed my order. Turns out that the cowskin cushion I'll be getting is not that similar to the one on the website, but that is part of buying from an enterprise that is based on the needs of the ecosystem, and not the market (it's the brown one in the image below). Perhaps I am convincing myself that this is okay, but I think that in this way I can support fellow South Africans and also keep being a thoughtful steward of my environment.

Do you have any ideas on this? I'm open to hearing ideas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Weather Outside is Frightful!

Ah, as the skies get dark early, and the weatherman threatens snow flurries daily (not yet!), winter is upon Boston. We have had a few days of January weather (it is usually not so consistently below freezing for so long until the new year), and my slippers are wearing thin.

I got them a few years back at work in the wonderful tradition of Secret Santa (I didn't work long enough in SA to enjoy the traditions of work celebrations there). They are sheepskin, and I wear them without socks, so that my skin can soak up the oils from the wool. With heating drying out the air, I need all the help I can get.

Luckily I recently saw this posting on the Wren's blog, about her boyfriend Jeremy's slippers (don't you love the sheep on the banner!?). He and his mom have been making them for years, and now have them available for all of us on etsy. Yippeee! I don't think mine will make the end of winter.

Anyone need a Christmas gift idea? Jeremy can make yours custom for you.

(Photo of Boston from flickr, by cgc0202)

Monday, November 24, 2008

I've Been Bad

...and been missing in action for 3 weeks. I'm sorry... but now I'm back!

(pic found on flickr, by a lovely blog I have never seen before... two sisers in Oz/NZ, from what I can tell and it looks promising! Lovely Sweet William. Note to self: must read some more after posting this!

Since I saw you last, I've been to a baby shower, wedding, some parties, thrown a small dinner party, celebrated the birthday of someone fabulous (happy birthday, Ma!) and worked, worked late, done the Christmas shopping (phew!) and so on and so forth. I have been thinking a lot lately about our modern lives, and work. And money. You know, how do people do it? I don't have children and just can't see how they would fit into my schedule!? How do people do it? I have enough trouble getting a walk with the dog, exercise, laundry and maybe some reading in... joking aside, what lives do we lead when we have to make choices about the things and people we love so that we can do it, and provide for our families? I just don't know. I think it takes strength and ingenuity... and community. I am very thankful for my wonderful life here in Boston, for the awesome, good souls I have met and made friends with and the love and support I get from them. So although it sometimes keeps me away from my blog, and you (whom I always miss!), I hope you can forgive me because it keeps me human, and passionate and interested. I'm sure you understand.

It all makes me think of some other bloggers who have tackled these questions. Holly at Decor8 wrote a fantastic post a while back about how she and her German husband have managed to create the life they want in New Hampshire and also in Europe. An inspiration of hard work and prioritising... and you can see more of her lovely apartment.

Maria at Port2Port Press is an artist who creates beautiful letterpress work, and she is quite candid in what it takes to be an independent artist today in her interview with Grace over at design*sponge.

Does anyone else have inspiration on the web? Please comment and let us know. I have been thinking about my future as a designer, a South African and just as a person in this hectic world and it would be cool to see how people create balance in their lives.

Next post we will be back to our regular schedule of southern African art and design, promise ;)