Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Little Holiday Recycling

I'm always looking for new ways to creatively recycle or reuse things that I would normally end up throwing away and I came across this tip (from the always excellent Sierra Club Magazine's The Green Life series) St. Jude's Ranch (3 centers for abused and neglected children in Nevada and Texas) has created a recycled greeting card program. From now until February 28, 2010, you can mail your used cards (any occasion: Christmas, birthday, thank you, etc…) and they will turn the “old” cards into new—removing the front of the card and replacing the back with a new blank card. Children at the center also assist in the recycling process. A great way to give new use to something that most people throw into the trash bin once the holiday season has wound down.

You can mail your donations to:
St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude's Street
Boulder City, NV 89005
877-977-SJRC (7572)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Skipping Christmas

A few years ago, John Grisham wrote a crappy little book called “Skipping Christmas”-in it, a couple of empty-nesters decide to 'skip Christmas' because their college-age daughter isn't coming home that year. Instead they decide to take a cruise, leave the decorations in the attic, and avoid the malls. (It was made into an even crappier movie starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis called Christmas with the Kranks.) In theory, their self-imposed ban on the holiday seemed like a nice peaceful way to celebrate… but their obnoxious neighbors belittle and berate them for their choice. They manage to hold out until (spoiler alert), the daughter announces she really is coming home. Then mayhem ensues as the couple spins out of control trying to recreate their usual standard of holiday festivities, decorations and gift giving in less than a day. See the comedy? Sigh.

This year I decided quietly that I was going to truly 'skip Christmas'. Aside from the 'avoid the malls', no decorating, no holiday cards, I wanted no pressure to be anywhere, to do anything… just be. And when you step back, you see how overbearing Christmas has become. It's now a cliché to say “we've forgotten the true meaning of the holidays” because the “true meaning” still involves commitments and traditions that can easily spiral into too much to do, not enough time to do it and not worth the stress in the long run. So this year, I said 'no' to Christmas and 'yes' to peace and simplicity instead.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Cobblers Live!: Resole America

Everyone's got a favorite old pair of shoes that they love so much that they won't get rid of until you can see right through the sole to the street below, but shoes are so cheap and easy to buy that resoling is a lost art. Scan the Yellow Pages for cobblers and you're not likely to find many listings. Now though, an online service called Resole America is setting out to change all that. Using their website, you can search for your brand and request a mailer. Ship your shoes out and they agree to have them back to you in 8-10 business days. Currently there's not a huge selection of shoes listed, and the prices range between 1/3 and 1/2 the cost of a new pair, but this is a great way to give your favorite pair of shoes an extended life.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Simple Saturday in the Big City

What a great day today-spent it walking all over Georgetown (I mean that's one benefit of global warming, enjoying a 60º day in November walking around D.C…. maybe?) Needed a formal dress for the big gala in a few weeks and literally tripped (those Georgetown streets are very rocky) over a Second Time Around consignment shop and was able to find something to wear. Opted out of the beautiful brand new red satin Ralph Lauren cocktail dress (original retail: $450, here: $72) in favor of a simple black Jones NY number. (Even simplists have a fashion gene!) Total cost to me? $19.08. Did a quick climb up the 'Exorcist' stairs (oh you think you're gonna make it without losing your breath, but once you're up there you realize how winded you really are! Then despite browsing at the Georgetown Public library, (no national library cards… yet!) headed over to Books for America, a great local used book store that not only sells used books but also used the profits to make donations to local schools, shelters, correctional facilities, etc. etc. Four books in almost as new condition, cost to me? $12.72. Some days the gods of simplicity just shine down and show you the way.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Book Review: No Impact Man

No Impact Man (The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes about Himself and our way of life in the process) by Colin Beavan

I'm a sucker for any book that poses a year-long eco-challenge to itself (See my reviews for: Plenty, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Not Buying It (okay I meant to review this one, but it slipped through the cracks), A Year Without 'Made in China') but what makes Beavan's book unique, is that he combines all of the challenges posed by these other books and tries them all at once. While living in New York City. With a toddler. A grand undertaking indeed. Now I realize there are people out there thinking “what a presumptuous jerk! There are people who live like that every day, not because they want a challenge, but because they have to.” But the issue is that so many people do not want to consider live as he does—eating locally, not driving or taking mass transit, not using electricity (!!), (there was also some note about also not using toilet paper but it wasn't revealed how exactly they went about this). With the title of the book 'No Impact', it's pretty big boast, but on only page 22 he admits that having 'no impact' is actually impossible, but what you learn slowly is that he can lessen his impact so much that he can make up for what waste and destruction he does create with simple actions like picking up litter along the riverfront. He won me over by not only talking the talk but walking the walk. Shutting off the electricity? That's a pretty bold maneuver. Sure I've got the worm bin chewing up my scraps and I can make less than a plastic grocery bag full of trash a month, but this guy washed his own clothes in the bathtub and read by candlelight for months. And that's pretty cool. He's a minor celebrity now, with his blog and his documentary but I'm happy to support anyone who preaches the gospel of needing to simplify your life no matter where you live and finding creative solutions to do so.

Look, I like to consider myself a fairly environmentally sound person (in the grand scheme of things) but I also don't pretend that I'm something I'm not: we all have our vices and that's a great thing about simplicity-it's not about deprivation. It's about being conscious of your actions and not allowing those vices to get out of hand. I love In-n-Out Burger, and I don't want to imagine giving it up, so instead, I use it as a treat, a reward. I also try to keep learning about creating less waste and lowering consumption and staying mindful about my actions. I also am working on my strength as an activist, so that someday I'll convince those In-n-Out folks organic meat and vegetables are the way to go, or to recycle their paper waste, or to have non-plastic options for eat in service.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Book Review: Wake Up and Smell the Planet

Wake Up and Smell the Planet: The Non-Pomous, Non-Preachy Grist Guide to Greening Your Day (edited by Brangien Davis with Katharine Wroth)

Finally was able to track down this little book from the editors of grist.org (“Gloom and Doom with a Sense of Humor” or “A Beacon in the Smog” I can't figure out which tag line of theirs I like better…and no I'm not reviewing just because it'd be nice for them to return the favor, it's all altruism right now, baby.) Originally published in 2007, it's packed with no-nonsense tips on how to start and get through your day a little greener. Even a crusty old broad like me who has “picked all the low hanging fruit” of environmental tips out there was able to find some peaches in this quick (and very funny!) read. Even came across a few “oopsies” that I'll be getting into in later posts once I get my eco-wagon back on the tracks. And even if you don't have time for another book on your nightstand, check out their daily dispatches at grist.org.

Friday, October 30, 2009


There's a lot of litter here in Maine. I mean A LOT. It can never understand the rationale behind, “I'm done with this, I'm just going to throw it out the window.” And how can you not understand the bottle deposit rules? You buy your tall boy at the gas station, they charge you an extra 5 cents and when you're done, you throw that in the woods? That's like throwing a nickel in the garbage.

So I decided to try and up my Maine karma (and crotchety-old-lady-in-training status) another quart by giving a little purpose to my morning walks and doing a little litter removal. I needed just the right tool, because while I may be simplified, I may be minimalized, I sure as hell ain't touching the McDonald's cup you used as a spittoon, mister. Enter, THE GOPHER™. You know those deelies that old ladies use to get cereal off the top shelf at the grocery store? (Endorsed by the late-great Billy Mays himself!) Perfect for picking up 75 empty cigarette boxes without having to resort to the old “nail on a stick trick”. I'm just wondering how many bags of trash I have to pick up to undo the guilt that I had to go to Wal*Mart to get it!

**Note, “The Gopher” is no longer available, but “The Reacher” (it "Reaches So You Dont [sic] Have To") is…and they're exactly the same product. I smell drama here…

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Time to Recycle!

What to do with those things that you can't just drop into the recycle bin? Electronics? Ink cartridges? Batteries? www.earth911.org can direct you to anything you might want to get rid of but (thankfully) major retailers are getting into the eco-game.

Home Depot accepts CFL bulbs and rechargeable batteries
Brita has a plastic filter return program. See their website for mail back options.
• Some US Post Offices have mail back envelopes for small electronics and ink cartridges
Nike recycles old athletic shoes
Staples, Ikea, Best Buy all have recycling programs for ink cartridges, rechargeable batteries, small electronics.

Thanks to the latest version of the Burbank Public Works newsletter for these tips!

Friday, October 16, 2009


So after a few days of beautiful fall weather, a little rain must fall. Temps are still around 45º so I'm not running back to California quite yet. (Not that it matters, the weather report says 60º and raining back there, which I'm sure feels like 45º to Angelenos.) The cabin is cozy, especially after I rigged up a sheet to cut off the kitchen from the living area. The difference is drastic-curtain up, the kitchen is a good 15º colder when the heat is on in the living area. Thankfully I figured this out on day 2 and not day 25. Suns supposed to be back out tomorrow, but I notice that temps are supposed to go below freezing tonight! Ah October in New England. I have missed you so.

So I'm not gonna lie, the water here smells like rotten eggs. There, I said it. I was left a note saying it's “Safe for drinking, cooking and bathing…but here's 25 gallons of bottled water just in case that's your preference.” I'm going for the drinking and cooking with bottled and hoping if I smell of sulfur everyone here is too polite to mention it. Bummer that in the land that provides water to the eastern seaboard, I can't even filter to drink what comes out of the tap.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


To say this little vacation is Thoreauvian would be presumptuous; We’ve got running water, electricity, a television (w/ VCR and DVD player… sadly no cable though). Thoreau lived within 2 miles of Concord, MA … I’ve got a Shaw’s and a CVS 5 miles down the road and year-rounders on all sides of me. While my cabin has 4 small rooms and a sun porch, his cabin was only 10’ x 12’. But in our society of sensory overload, this might be as close as I can get to Thoreauvian solitude (without heading further up into the Maine woods) Everyone has one of two reactions to my little undertaking: either “Why?!” or “Hmm, that’s kinda cool”. I’ve got a trunk full of projects to keep me busy and I know that I would be distracted too much if I were at home in L.A. I am also the type of person who thrives in situations where I’m forced to be a little creative to get along and spend time recharging my batteries.


Erie, PA -> Auburn, MA
What many people don't realize is just how big New York state is…on this trip, I have driven more miles in NY than I have in Colorado or Nebraska. I did a double take as I crossed the state line after leaving Erie… 450 miles to New York City?! The additional wonder of the New York Thruway is the deceiving toll ticket you get as you enter the state: wow, only $3… but that only gets you to Buffalo. They have graciously waived the toll fees around the Buffalo area, but continue on through and that toll ticket the size of a Pop Tart is back in your hand. And while other states have adopted the exit number equals the road mileage, the NY Thruway has 59 exits spread over that 450 miles. There were also so many vehicles with Ontario license plates I wondered if Canada was closed for the weekend. Not even the promise of the end of the journey could make this day finish soon enough. It rained from start to finish and worst of all, the only traffic I encountered in almost 3,000 miles was on the last 30 miles of today as I sat on the Mass Pike and inched toward my friends and family.

And on the 7th day, we will rest… eventually. Just a short jaunt up the Maine Turnpike and we are home for the month. One of those beautiful New England fall days that make you gasp from how beautiful it is-rainbow of foliage colors, backed with a bright blue sky peppered with just-the-right amount of fluffy clouds. And for the first time in a long time, I can breathe.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Day 4 (Grinnell, IA to Elkhart, IN)
Nice to awake to a fairly easy day of driving-and break it up in the middle with lunch in Chicago with my sister. The “I” states are smooth sailing-hit cruise control and sail on through to Ohio… well stopping for tolls of course. Wish I was able to order my automated toll transponder in time for this trip, they save so much time when you're on the road and plus it helps take your mind off how much it actually costs you in tolls when you're not forking over the money at every toll booth. (FYI cost of tolls from California to Illinois? $0. Cost of tolls from Illinois to Maine? $52.05. Maybe California wouldn't be in such debt if we started charging the people who drove more. Just sayin'.)

Day 5 (Elkhart, IN to Erie, PA)

Had a later start this morning (okay maybe 7:30 a.m. isn't that late but it took awhile for my cell phone to figure out what time zone we were in). Today's a day where I am reminded why I do these trips every year: it's not about the destination, it's about the journey. It's not about how many miles I can make in a day, but it's about this moment: this 8:04am on a Thursday morning with the sun trying to push it's way into the sky. It's about getting off the interstate for a few miles and riding the back roads of Michigan and taking time to breathe for a bit. Even better is ending the day visiting with a good friend… unfortunately that visit has to take place in the smoky bars of Pennsylvania (well it doesn't *HAVE* to, but tradition dictates). One forgets how poorly one's body processes cigarette smoke when one hasn't been around it in months and months.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


An early morning back on the road after a frustrating day 2 (even more frustrating when I find out after the fact that a good friend lives in an area I drove through yesterday, grrr.) Strangely enough, the sketchier the hotel room I stay in, the better night of sleep I usually get. Or maybe by day 3 I'm just so exhausted I'll sleep though anything. Trying to get out of the northeast Denver area continues to be frustrating because even at 6:30 a.m. the streets are packed and drivers are aggressive. But perseverance pays off and soon I'm back to being one of the only cars on the interstate, traveling through what Kerouac calls “the middle of coyote nowhere”.

Speaking of which, I popped the audio book of On the Road into the iPod and got to listen to Matt Dillon read to me for 2 straight days about the Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity. Not a bad way to pass the empty miles. Nebraska is amusing in that you will drive over 400 miles of interstate and not see one vanity license plate… until you get to Omaha, and then it seems everyone has one.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Up and ready to face the day-southern Utah to deal with and then lots and lots of Colorado. The first few hours of the day I barely pass anyone on the roads. I went over a half hour at one stretch not seeing a single other car on the same side of the interstate-what a drastic change from Los Angeles. More cars speed past me with their bike racks making me miss mine even more. I can see it sitting there in pieces in my kitchen. So sad.

Colorado has a tendency to make me lose my mind-the altitude probably has something to do with it, but this trip especially, I just found very frustrating. Hills are not my car's best friend and long slow inclines to 11,000 feet are a sort of torture. I made the mistake of pulling over to a chain up area to take this photo, and trying to get back up to speed (let's say… 30 mph) well, it would have been faster to get out and push the car up and over the Vail Pass. But Colorado at least is gorgeous to look at while you're losing your mind. I'm slightly sad this trip because this route reminds me of the last trip through Colorado in the days before I had a wifi card, where I was stopping at every small town library to use their internet to send emails back to work. I must have stopped 5 or 6 times in towns like beautiful quaint Georgetown (tiny little storefront library which was closed when I got there), Glenwood Springs (where a neighbor had named their wifi with a dirty version of the library's name) Fruita (where I sat on a children's chair trying to work before they closed). It was actually a fun challenge getting off the interstate and then trying to instinctually find the local library… I would give myself 5 minutes of driving around to find the sign that pointed me in the right direction until I'd cave in and ask directions. Just another way technology continues to speed our lives up.


So this weekend I set off for another cross country jaunt, nothing too novel or pioneering, as this would be my 26th cross country trip in 14 years and I had a 6 day time limit to make it from LA to Maine. Packing the car up I was concerned that all the “stuff” I was bringing with me was going to add serious weight to my car and cause my gas mileage to plummet. I had this vision of my car looking like the Clampett’s as they putt-putted into California. I looked at the bags and bags of stuff, trying to figure out what I could do without for 3 months. I mean, I was trying to advocated simplicity… one woman should not need this much stuff. Sadly, the first thing to go was my bike. As much as I hated to leave it behind, I know where I’m going it’s going to be COLD. And I know that riding my bike while making me temporarily warm, leaves me freezing for the rest of the day. So while my bike doesn’t weigh that much (under 20 lbs) it did free up the room so that I could now see out the rear view mirror. I played the camping game: what do you really really need? And we were off! Me, adventure kitty, and my traveling companion The Los Angeles Roaming Gnome. We hit the 15N (for the 3rd time this year) and the wind kicked up in Devore—we watched as new fires kicked up in the mountains and I was truly happy to be moving away from that destruction. That wind however pushed us all the way to our destination: Beaver, UT, 500 miles at over 57 mpg. Satellite TV was knocked out by the wind when we got there, which we were slightly bummed about (Gnome and I enjoy watching The Amazing Race…) but it was nice to just sit and be peaceful for a night. Tomorrow, we head to Colorado and hopefully Nebraska.

Special note about Beaver, UT: not only the childhood home of Butch Cassidy, (I looked for the cabin but my keen eyes could not spot anything at the location I got off the interwebs) and it also claims to have the Best Tasting Water in America. Not bad I have to say and it’s a good place to fill up the canteens for the long drive tomorrow. No more plastic bottles!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Simple Pleasures: The National Parks

Yes, it’s true, I’m a big old National Parks dork. I read all of Nevada Barr’s Ranger Anna Pidgeon mystery novels. I’ve got the handy-dandy little passport book that I can have stamped at every park I visit. I’m kinda proud of this fact, which probably makes me an even bigger dork. So imagine my glee for the premiere of Ken Burns’ 6 part documentary series: The National Parks: America’s Best Idea on PBS this week (all episodes are also available online as well). Oh how excited a NPS dork like myself is. Say what you want about Burns’ style (that it never changes, that he only seems to interview old white male writers for their opinions, that he’s a narcissist for having his name attached to the title of all his documentaries), he does spin a damn good narrative. And there’s something about his technique of taking photographs that are well over a century old and making them more beautiful than anything the most current and most expensive equipment could take.

Monday, September 28, 2009

No More White Pages…Evah!

I can’t remember the last time I used the white pages… but it was certainly not in this millennium. Yet, twice a year, I still wake up one morning to find a big stack of phone books on my doorstep. For what? Is there really anything in print that you cannot find online these days? Banthephonebook.org is out to stop the needlessly wasteful production of phone books. The stats are simple: 5 million trees cut down each year to make the white pages, $17 million spent on recycling services. A simple solution is the opt-in program, where consumers can personally request the white pages if they want one, while everyone else is spared delivery. Sign the petition at Banthephonebook.org.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Junk Mail

It’s that time of year again, when my direct mail “Do Not Contact” notifications run out. (and yes, I am the type of person who keeps track of when I submit DNC notices. You shouldn’t be surprised by now.) For 11 months of the year, I am blissfully free of those unwanted flyers and newsprint ads for things I could never need (Carpet cleaning? Botox? Clairvoyancy services?). So off I head to www.clippermagazine.com and to do my yearly update. (interestingly enough, in the last year they have added a Facebook fan page, a Twitter page and a “Clipper Blog”) No offense to my good friends at the Postal Service (and yes, I do solemnly swear I care deeply about saving your jobs), but the amount of direct mail in this country that goes directly into the trash would probably reforest the 170,000 acres of wildfire-ravaged Angeles National Forest.
For your reduction in junk mail: visit
Clipper Magazine:
Direct Mail Association’s Page: (Good site that covers a whole lot of unsolicited mail that you may be getting. You can select what type of mail you want to get (or not get) magazine offers, credit card offers, etc.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

So in an effort to practice what I preach, it’s time to start using the book to keep myself accountable. This week, it’s #6 on the Budgeting List (p. 68)…”Waking Up” and realizing what your bills really mean. Case in point, I noticed that my health insurance premiums had DOUBLED in the past year, (and not just because I’m hitting that milestone birthday this year that’s kicking me out of one bracket and into another), so a quick (okay 4 quick… if 20 minutes each is quick) call to the home office and we come to learn that I can knock my premiums back down to previous levels just by removing the “maternity” clause. Things they won’t tell you (should I have to ask if prostate exams are covered too?) It all comes back to know exactly what you’re paying for or else you’re probably paying for something you don’t need.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Celebrate Good Times (jazz hands) Come On!

We’re off and running now! Finally wrapped up the big show and now it’s time to celebrate the rest of life. First up, the ‘West Coast Book Party’—October 3rd. Hopefully lots of old friends will be in attendance, so that I can say ‘so long for awhile’ before heading out on the road again for a 3 month cross country trip and visit to the east coast (and hopefully the East Coast Book Party!) One of the most exciting realizations of the past week is how (finally) I have accomplished something so empowering before my milestone birthday this weekend. It’s kind of a great feeling.

Monday, September 07, 2009

At last: The Simplicity Connection goes live!

Huzzah! After much ado, we are finally in print! Wasn’t quite expecting that it would take 9 years of blood, sweat and tears, but looking back I wouldn’t change how it was done at all. Self-publishing has allowed me to keep control of my creation (and doing my own book layout taught me a new skill that I could probably turn into a small sideline business). It’s a great feeling to finally see something you’ve worked so hard on come to fruition. And as the big show winds up it’s run, I hope to be better about updating and organizing my thoughts. Lots of time off on the horizon, so watch this space!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

As I continue to spend my days “letting go”, today I finally decided it was time to give up the ghost that the apartment handyman was going to stop by and fix the broken sprinkler heads. A quick trip to Lowe’s (okay, 2 quick trips… I need to learn how to measure things before I head out of the house) and I was able to replace the broken and the missing sprinkler heads all by myself. I was also even able to adjust them properly so that they’re not shooting at the sidewalk or into the apartment windows. Sometimes simplicity is just getting off your butt and getting the job done on your own. My only regret that I was letting the broken sprinklers waste so much water for so long…but now I know, that when the World’s Worst Gardeners steal/destroy these new sprinkler heads, that it takes only $3, 5 minutes and a wrench to fix the problem.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Letting it Go

On the same theme of getting super-simplified this weekend I’ve also come up with a brilliant idea this week, one that I like to call “LET IT GO”. I’m not even going to go into the details of why I came up with it, or what I am using it for, because both of those go against what “LET IT GO” is all about. So now, anytime I find myself thinking about something that is making me mad, I just stop, say “LET IT GO” and try to move on. It doesn’t always work very well, but then I just say “LET IT GO” again and continue along my way. So far it’s going okay, but I know the real test will be once I get back to work full time. It’s just another way of reminding myself that life is too short to be wasting time stressing over things that in the grand scheme, just do not matter at all.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hot Fun in the Summertime... without the burn

As someone who loves to spend as much time as possible outdoors, (especially during those sunny hours) I know how important having a good sunscreen can be. After having adverse reactions to commercial brands in the past (getting laid up with fatigue for an entire day after one application) I decided to check out the natural options offered by Whole Foods as well as the “healthy” baby options offered by responsible companies. My two choices Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sunblock Lotion (SPF 55) and Kiss My Face Face Factor Paraben Free (SPF 30) seemed to rectify the exhaustion factor, but I am now learning from a recently published list by The Environmental Working Group of their dangers. The new report rates 660 different sunscreens on a scale of 0-10 (0 the best, 10 the worst) and my two choices received a 5 and a 4 respectively. In fact only 2 sunscreens they tested received the perfect score of 0. Less than 20 received a 1. Even scarier are the new realizations that the chemicals in many sunscreens are destroying water quality. So what to do to still enjoy the sun and get your daily dose of Vitamin D, but keep yourself safe from overexposure? Big hat, avoid the midday hours, and pick a safe sunscreen to reapply every several hours

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Just another simplified weekend.

Oh boy, are we getting our ducks in a row this weekend. I am actually finally at a place in my life where I am so organized that I can actually accomplish everything that needs to get done before it needs to get done. Granted my list of to-do’s are pretty low priority to begin with, but that’s the perk of being super-simplified… not only do you get things accomplished more easily, but you begin to realize that most of our tasks are actually low priority. So the compost has been taken out, the cat’s nails have been trimmed, the smoothie’s been blended, work emails have been responded to, computer files have been organized. What else to do on a stiflingly-hot 93º July day? Ah yes, be still.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Link of the Day: "There I Fixed It!"

I’m a personal fan of jury-rigging (or jerry-rigging or MacGyvering as it is often known as and There I Fixed It is the site for exhibiting only the most ridiculous repair jobs that actually… well kinda work. The yellow bungee cord I had holding my bumper on for 5 years has nothing on these creative handy men and women. Just a sampling of some of the most creative: Here we have the real reason I think the El Camino was made for:

Followed by what to do if you lose a head light:

And last but not least—in fact this one is actually pretty aesthetically pleasing, and I can see Restoration Hardware mass-producing these for next season:

All of these ideas are great because not only do they keep a product that might otherwise be thrown away still working, but they use materials on hand to make the fix. The ultimate in recycling!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Simplicity Project of the Day: Make Your Own Candles, the Easy Way

As anyone who knows me can attest, I am chemically sensitive to pretty much everything, but nothing so much as when I come within 20 yards of a scented candle. (and those of you with more than 50 of said scented candles in your abode, prepare to be mocked heartily by me, from your front porch.) It probably stems from the fact that scented candles were one of the initial triggers to my chemical sensitivity problems, way back in the salad days of 1993, having to work the register at Deluca’s on Charles Street in Boston next to a candle display that I’m pretty sure no one ever patronized (then again it is rumored that Deluca’s had some, let’s say “connections”, so I don’t think it really mattered what did or did not get sold). But, long story short (too late) I enjoy candles as much as the next gal, but it’s pretty limited in terms of eco-friendly, non-toxic, non-petroleum based and inexpensive options. So I developed my own solution by recycling the old aluminum tea light cups from a batch of Ikea paraffin candles, prying out the wick holders, cutting new wicks (and rethreading) from hemp twine, and then ordering a pound of beeswax pellets to fill the cups up. Sure, you can buy a big block of beeswax for slightly cheaper, but melting it down or chopping it up gets messy and time consuming. This way, you can make the candles as you go and even reuse the same cups if need be.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It’s been a good week for ‘playing things by ear’, another favorite benefit of having a simplified life. Granted I’m quasi-unemployed this week, but having a simplified life makes being quasi-unemployed a lot less stressful. So when I hear a friend is in town for only 24 hours, it’s not an effort to hop in the car and grab a quick lunch down by the beach. And if I needed to kill some time, I can always do my daily exercise by taking a walk on the sand. (I also delight that I actually travel with a few bathing suits in my gym bag and sunscreen in my purse, so that I could have spent the whole day out there, if it had not been so windy) Always traveling with a book makes waiting in line or having my oil changed not so much of an inconvenience any more. And preparing myself for having to spend the day at jury duty with enough projects to keep me entertained for a good 8 hours means it’s a nice surprise that I can hang out at the Central Library (one of my favorite places) when I’m released early.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A bummer of a day yesterday: the world’s worst gardeners, as my apartment handyman quotes his wife: “They mow, blow and go,” in our case, they mow over sprinkler heads, blow what they’ve trimmed around and then go before picking it up… all in under ten minutes, start to finish. The ultimate landscaping abuse came as I awoke to find my beloved lavender bush severed in two—why on earth they would cut the green fertile top off, leaving the branches below that are clearly past their prime. I’m disheartened by the incident because I raised that lavender from small plant—in 6 years, it’s grown to 10 times its original size, more importantly, I transplanted it to outside my bedroom window where not only did its size create a barrier between errant sprinklings from the sprinklers (when of course that sprinkler head was functioning) but created shade from the sun, a screen from anyone who might want to look in my window and best of all peaceful fragrant relaxing lavender scent. It’s too soon to tell whether it is all going to grow back but if anyone can tell me how to say: “Trim this again and I’ll have you fired” in Spanish, that’d be a help.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

So I’ve been neglecting my blog updating lately, but not without good reason, I’ve either been working or I’ve been doing little projects around the apartment to help make life a little more simplified. Nothing too involved, and yes, I am that person who is crazy enough to seam rip open the bottom of a shower curtain liner to soak the plastic strip inside in hydrogen peroxide to bleach out the red tide disease growing in there rather than go out and buy a whole new one. There, so I saved $6. Who’s the crazy one now? But that’s the gist of most of the little projects: taking some silly problem (like red algae) and trying to come up with a solution using what I have on hand to fix it. Would it have been easier to throw a new shower curtain liner in the cart next time I went to Target? Possibly. (Remembering to actually do so might not be so easy…) But the feeling that I know how to fix this problem makes me feel kinda good too. Waiting for a friend to finally remember to bring me a step ladder could take another 6 months, while dragging the coffee table out to the stoop to stand on accomplishes the same thing in seconds. Ditto with getting the building handyman to come by to cover up the greasy ceiling vent over my stove… the piece of aluminum foil I attached may make Martha Stewart roll her eyes, but at least I don’t have fan belt oil dripping in my pasta water anymore. I’ve put too much stuff off on my ‘to-do’ list because I’m waiting for the right tool to magically appear or the moment when I can justify the expense for the quick fix. I’m learning now that with a little patience and a few moments thinking about the problem creatively, I can do it myself for a fraction of the cost.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Homesteading continues...

Well after my first attempt at sweater making, I got more confident and decided I could probably do better than my first attempt (so much so that I've already unraveled that first sweater and I'm using the yarn for another project!) The 2nd attempt I took the lessons I learned from the first version (the yarn I originally chose seemed too thin and I would be more likely to wear a big warm fluffy sweater instead) so First Sweater version 2.o is just such: in my favorite color: grass green, it's a big foofy good for a cool fall day (or an overcast June Gloom Friday as the case may be.) Best part of this project is that I'm really learning to adapt to the design issues I come up against. For example, knitting the sleeves as the pattern called, I ended up with armpits down to my midsection. After unraveling and re-knitting with slight changes to the pattern (4 times!) I finally came up with a solution that seemed to work and makes my project much more likely to be worn outside of the house (in fact I've already gotten my first complement! :)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Homesteading: Part Deux

Finished my first sweater a few weeks ago: and thanks to Knitting Pretty's 'Simple Sweater' pattern it was a piece of cake. And since it was so easy, not sure if I want to save it as a sweater or start unraveling to use the yarn for something else (it's too hot for an alpaca/acrylic sweater now!) But look out... now I'm ready to make more!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

This homesteading thing is going pretty well—after being out of town for 11 days and just allowing the crops to get watered by the sprinklers, look at this! I made lettuce! (see it there, it's on the far left) Snap peas are coming up and the tomato plant is about 5 times the size it was when I left. I could get used to this lazy gardener thing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It seems we have sped right past spring here in LA and are now deep in the throes of summer. (How’s this for weather yoyos, last week I was trying to relight my heater’s pilot light because I was so cold, this week it’s 99º.) But the sun is good for something—first round of crops are starting to spring up: this year’s mini-garden includes lettuce, tomatoes, basil, peppers, strawberries and snap peas. First strawberry of the year consumed: 100 times tastier than anything bought at the grocery.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Today’s mini-dilemma to tackle? How to mail out 4 book-sized birthday presents without any envelopes? I knew this was a challenge I was up to—first, I found in the recycling bin a padded envelope and a small box that I get mailed DVDs in: old addresses covered with new mailing labels, a few staples and some packing tape and they were good to go. Second, I started to fashion a new box by refolding an old cracker box and got so far as gluing 3 sides together before a knock on the door revealed another DVD delivered in a padded envelope. (How the universe provides, sometimes when you don’t need it to!) And finally, the last package was slightly larger but more flexible than the others, so a used Tyvek mailer turned inside out would probably be the best option—the great thing about Tyvek is that it is so tough you can’t rip it, the bad thing is that not many people realize how easy it is to reuse them. And don’t want to use Fedex or Priority Mail for your shipping needs? Just turn them inside out and you’ve got your own generic brand mailer. The ease of this challenge made me wish I had more things to mail out— I could see reusing the tough plastic bags the cat litter comes in as a substitute mailer and I always keep a stash of kraft paper on hand in case I need to wrap a package for mailing. It’s amazing how much one can accomplish if you just take a few moments to work out the problem.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Service Saturday

Today’s service project through Tree People was planting 30 shade trees in a local neighborhood (I have finally learned my lesson that I can no longer participate in any mountain-based projects or face the repercussions of full-body poison ivy again…) and while I was a little fussy about the fact that we were planting trees in one of the most well-off neighborhoods in the valley, (with an impressive most-likely Earth Day related turn out of volunteers) it was explained that anyone can have this type of event organized, it just requires a little community coordination. (Interesting note, met a girl who grew up one town over from where I grew up and went to the same college as I did, both on the east coast…small world) I was also skeptical of the over-eager event leader’s claim that it is a scientific fact that when you give a tree a name it has a better chance of growing healthier, something I was not about to buy into at 9am on a Saturday morning. But scientific proof pending, I did notice how quickly the local residents got into naming the trees near their properties. A man who had to be about 85 or 90 came out in his wheelchair and watched us work and promptly named his nearby tree “Gloria”. Another family named the 3 on their curb “Kelly”, “Ralph” and “Ginger” after dogs that had passed on. And another resident christened “Dwayne”, after Dwayne Allman, of course. I know I’ll be driving by in the future, especially to check up on Gloria, because that hole was a real bitch to dig.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Kindred Spirit Series

Thought I would start a new blog series here about people I come across out there in the that I can totally relate to. So without further ado, please welcome the KINDRED SPIRIT SERIES. Our inaugural spirit is Jenna Woginrich, author of Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life, a great little book about how anyone can homestead, regardless of where you live. Jenna wrote the book while living in apartment in Idaho and beginning her journey into homesteading by accumulating chickens, sled dogs, honey bees and a love for heritage music and instruments. She now apparently lives in Vermont and blogs from her new home The Cold Antler Farm. As someone who always wanted their own sheep and bees, Jenna’s story makes me realize that a connection to traditional ways is not impossible, no matter what your ZIP code is, what your job is, and no matter how much technological and sensory overload invades our lives.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Simple solutions to simple problems

Couple cool realizations this week, all simple, healthy and proven effective!
• After trying a bunch of times to get rid of several years of calcited water on an antique piece of Spode China, after scrubbing and scrubbing, to no avail, just simply submerging it in a bath of vinegar for less than 12 hours, the residue wiped right off. (Saw the same cup and saucer on eBay for $32!)
• Inspiration struck while feeling “facially congested” tonight: My pores feel so stuffed up, that my forehead is literally lumpy! Knowing that sugar is a great facial scrub, I mixed it with about 2 tsps of Dr. Bronner’s soap and made a nice paste to scrub the dead skin away and open the pores. I don’t know why more facialists don’t use sugar in their treatments, your skin never felt so soft!
• Another beauty tip—adding a teaspoon (or two) of olive oil makes any body, hand or foot lotion even better. One use and I already have smoother skin.
• I hate, hate, HATE, cleaning my bathtub—doing the dishes used to be my least favorite chore, but I’ve learned to enjoy the Zen-ness of dishwashing and there’s also the fact that it is a productive chore—you start with dirty dishes, you end with clean dishes. With the darn bathtub, it just never seems to get fully clean, unless you start with all new tiles. So after ripping out the old crusty black grout, I wondered what the best way to keep the new grout looking white and clean. The answer was so simple and there all along: I’ve been a tub squeegee-er for years, but everyone knows that squeegees get most of the water, but not all of the water. The solution, squeegee first, then wipe down with an old towel. So easy, why didn’t I think of it years ago?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

No More Plastic Bottles...evuh!

So I've had it. I'm usually pretty good about not buying bottled water, but when I travel it seems to be all one can do. After many trips where my system adversely reacted to the change in minerals in local water, I thought sticking to the bottled stuff was the way to go. But after going through airport security at Burbank Airport, I needed to quench my thirst. None of the news stands carry water any longer, so I was stuck with going to a cafe for my water selection. I picked a small (16.9 oz) bottle of Crystal Geyser and was told "That'll be $2.72."

*GASP* I was floored. Too floored to even storm out shouting, "That's highway robbery," dramatically, with a flourish of my cape. So I handed over my money and drank that bottle of water (at 16 cents an ounce), in 2 minutes flat (it was a 1.5 mile walk from home to the airport) and resolved never again. I headed to the restroom and promptly filled my aluminum bottle and the empty Crystal Geyser bottle with tap water. And you know what? It tasted just fine. I didn't grow gills on the plane.

Spending the week on location in New York, I put my new tap water only theory to the test, where, it didn't matter so much because New York City has one of the most highly rated municipal water supplies in the country. Of course, I was lucky enough to have someone running to the spigot for me every hour to refill my bottle, so first chance I got, I picked up a new SIGG 1 liter bottle... which is almost as light as a plastic bottle, is washable, reusable and a fashion statement and conversation starter. The $25 price tag is small potatoes, especially when I can recoup that cost in less than 10 bottles of airport water.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Reading List: "Greasy Rider: Two dudes, one fry-oil-powered car, and a cross country search for a greener future." (Greg Melville, 2008)

When Greg Melville needed a new car, he and his wife decided to try a greener route: why not buy an old diesel powered automobile and convert it to use 100% vegetable oil as fuel. Once they secured a 1985 Mercedes wagon and retrofitted it with a Grease Car system, Greg grabbed a friend (Iggy) and set out on a cross country road trip (Vermont to California with a few detours) to be (what he thinks) the first person ever to cross the nation in a vehicle solely powered by used vegetable oil. (Seems weird that it’s taken someone this long to come up with this challenge, and even the author prefaces every mention of it with “we think”). Converted Grease Cars are an intriguing idea, as they do keep (usually) older vehicles out of the waste stream and prevent a least one new car from being purchased. But more important is to realize is that they use 100% used cooking oil, (a waste product that most fast food restaurants actually pay to have taken away) to power a car and that is pretty darn cool.
The whole book feels a little thin—it feels that he had to fill it up with a lot of side trips that had nothing to do with the challenge (who cares if a college friend they visit turns out to be gay?) The “errands” that Iggy challenges Greg with are interesting enough (a trip to Google headquarters would make any eco-nerd salivate) but we’re still left wondering what happened to the bio-wagon after the cross country trip. It’s a nice story that does prove it can be done, you just have to WANT to do it; to quote Iggy “…if two goobers like us can actually get in a car and drive across the country without fossil fuels or putting a lot of carbon into the air, the answers for sustainability are easier than people think.”

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Weeding the Mountain

So this month’s day of service I spent out with the friends of Tree People literally weeding the forest. I was skeptical at first but figured there has to be a logical reason why we would be pulling up perfectly healthy green plants—in an area so prone to wildfires, why would we want to get rid of something that is not brown and crispy?? The answer lies in the target of our attack: mustard greens and yellow thistles are both invasive plants to our region that are so toxic to the soil that their presence can kill native flora and even some animals. In an area in danger of drought conditions, these nasty weeds also “steal” water from the ground, so they had to go. Tree People insists on leaving the nutrients from the uprooted weeds in situ, so that the nitrogen from their leaves can do some good for native plants. (I’m trying to remain Zen about the fact that I have contracted a poison ivy-like rash all over my arms and legs during the weed pulling extravaganza…)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reading List: "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (Barbara Kingsolver, 2007)

Continuing with my habit of reading any book that consists of an environmentally-themed personal challenge, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, fell right into that category. Kingsolver (most notably the author of The Poisonwood Bible) sets out with her family to eat only either what they can grow themselves or what was created locally (150 miles seems to be their “local radius”) for one year. Unlike the couple in Plenty (known as the “100-mile dieters”) Kingsolver and clan have a Kentucky farmhouse and enough knowledge of animal husbandry and agriculture to support it. (They also seem to handle issues with each other much better than the Plenty couple did.) Their admirable quest is made even more interesting by their commitment to heirloom varieties. Anyone can throw a handful of agro-conglomerate seeds in the ground and tend what grows, but it takes real patience to hunt down and nurture varieties that are all but extinct and unknown to the average American. (Most notably, instead of raising Broad-Breasted White Turkeys [which is what over 99% of all American turkey meat is] and instead raise Bourbon Reds, an heirloom variety. They must try to re-awaken the mating instinct that has essentially been bred out of the bird due to artificial insemination.)

While she insists that their lives were more than planting, hoeing, weeding, watering, picking and canning, the reader is left somewhat in doubt. (There are just not enough hours in the day to hold down a full time job and support a farm this size.) But for the average American with a small corner of land or room for a few containers for gardening, it is an otherwise inspiring tale of truly creating your own food supply.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Simpler or Too Fast?

So I got this new little toy for my computer… A wireless USB connection card that allows me to be online wherever I want (provided there’s a cell phone signal in the area). After spending the last 10 years dialing up whenever I wanted to be online at home or having to stop at public libraries while driving cross country to check my email, this is a radical change for me. I’ve resisted upgrading for years in order to save money ($20 for a phone line sure beats whatever the going rate for DSL and wireless networks are—over that 10 year period, I’ve easily saved thousands of dollars) but now it’s time to enter the 21st century. I’m a little saddened that I will lose that time that I would spend waiting for websites to load that I would usually get up and move around the apartment, multi-tasking as I waited. Will I fill that time that I don’t need to wait anymore with something productive? Or will I just waste more time online looking for things I don’t really need or want? Will the fact that I got impatient that it took 5 minutes for a page to load before be supplanted by getting upset if a page doesn’t now load in 30 seconds? Will this new technology really make my life simpler or make it go too fast?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Farmers Markets, Food Waste and Getting the Garden Growin'

For a while now, I've been planning on finally 'walking the walk' and getting myself to a farmer's market in the area. Of course, all the procrastinating was unnecessary since there is one right in my town, not 2 miles from my house. Every Saturday morning (rain or shine!) local vendors set out their pop up tents and display their horticultural wares. Some are organic, some merely boast they are pesticide-free, but all are merchants that are hands on participants in their products' creation. (Take that Ralph's produce department!) Okay, so I have some work to do to learn more about where my food comes from, but the farmer's market is the right step in the right direction. After perusing for a bit, I settled on a basket of strawberries (lots of fresh smoothies this week), a basket of grape tomatoes (good in Mexican dishes), and a couple organic pears (which I don't know why I don't eat more of, they are one of my favorite fruits). My fear with the quantities they sell is that I will end up tossing most of what I buy because I'm just one person that doesn't eat it fast enough before it goes south. (The tomatoes are the only thing left, but they're starting to get pretty squishy) So I'm trying to plan out meals before I select a particular produce for some variety. (Strawberry smoothies are great, but 3 days in a row seems to be the maximum amount of time I can stand them). I pride myself on not needing a garbage disposal, mostly because I am very conscious of how much food I waste, and whatever food that starts that detour south before I can eat it goes directly to the worm bin. With any luck this year's garden will start to take root shortly: Pea plants and sunflowers have started to sprout, a few other seedlings have begun germinating (oh why don't I label them better!) and once the worm castings are spread out on the new plants, mystery plants will also start cropping up as well. It is the most wonderful time of year. :)

For a farmers' market near you: click here for the searchable site.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2009 Resolutions: Give a Little Bit

After my trip to Ye Olde Tax Preparer this year, I was stunned to see how little I made in charitable contributions last year. And in this “ECONOMIC CLIMATE” what’s going to suffer most are the organizations that rely on contributions to survive. So this year, I’m going to challenge myself to make at least one donation a month, for 12 months to a cause near and dear to my heart. January I’ve already written about my fated donation to the team behind Gregg’s documentary, but February I think I’m going to select my local YMCA. I’ve been pretty much a lifelong member of one Y or another (back when mom threw me into swim lessons at 6 months of age), and I have seen first hand what a membership can for a person. Bally’s or 24 Hour Fitness may be the place to be if you’re looking to turn your workout into a social event, but the Y is the place to be if you want your membership dollars to directly benefit your community.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Reading List: "Confessions of An Eco-Sinner" & "Where Am I Wearing"

While being waylaid with a chest infection, I’ve had plenty of time to sack out on the couch and catch up on some light reading. Well, and with the absence of any fluffy tomes on my reading list, instead I picked a couple of “where my stuff is from” books. Both “Where Am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories and People That Make Our Clothes” (Kelsey Timmerman, 2008) and “Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff” (Fred Pearce, 2008) give the reader an insight into where and how everyday items are created. Both books covered “sweatshop” conditions but both challenged the notion that “sweatshop” is always a bad concept. Timmerman traveled to China, Bangladesh, and Honduras to uncover how his favorite items of clothing were made. What I liked most about his book was the photographs and stories he included about the real workers. And while the conditions that these workers are exposed to are what we consider low pay, long hours and toxic working conditions, he debates that if there was a boycott on the items that they make, these people would have even less than they have now.

Pearce’s book expands the search from clothes to other consumer goods such as coffee, computers, where his trash goes and even where his wedding ring came from. His book also opened my eyes to things I never knew existed (did you know there is a gold mine in South Africa that has supplied more gold to the planet than anywhere else on earth and that at any time there are 60,000 men working underground?) but also changed my mind on conventional thinking: (they have noted that it takes less energy to make virgin paper from trees than it takes to recycle old paper into new, that if everyone on the planet emitted as much carbon as the average Chinese person, there would be no climate crisis, that around polluted sewage drains there seem to be a higher abundance of thriving wildlife as compared to clean areas, and that if current population rates continue, the only population crisis will be that there are not ENOUGH people to support the human race.)

Both books are good examples on why we should never stop learning about where our “stuff” comes from and where it goes to once we’re done with it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Doc Review: FLOW: For Love of Water

FLOW is a riveting documentary that covers all aspects of the global water crisis—from chemical pollution that is causing fish and frogs to spontaneously change sexes, to the corporate take over of water supplies, to large scale dams redirecting the natural flow of rivers for greed of the rich, to lack of access to clean and safe drinking water in the world’s poorest communities (where contaminated water kills more people than war or AIDS). “Water=money=power” is evidenced by the fact that only 3 major corporations (Suez, Vivendi and Thames Water) control not only the global water supply, but also created and control the World Water Council, an organization that has taken upon itself to be voice of authority on global water supply. We as Americans rarely think about where our water comes from and where it goes to, but in less than 10 years many American aquifers are in serious danger of being completely drained. Could you imagine having to wait in line for hours with a bucket for the mere possibility of clean water? It may be a reality if drastic changes are not made to our consumption habits. Another staggering statistic: Nestle owns SEVENTY percent of the bottled water brands (such names as Poland Spring, Ozarka, Deerfield Park, and Arrowhead) and supplies these brands by setting up in local communities, extracting the water from the ground and then selling back to consumers. I hope this documentary widens the discussion of who really owns water and how we all need to change our habits to keep it clean and plentiful.
Sign the petition for “the right for water”.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sometimes the world works in very mysterious ways. During my new conscious habit of being more responsible for my actions, I had a rather prophetic experience. After discovering that a PayPal donation I had tried to make 2 years ago did not go through (I don’t check the account very often and when I signed on recently, I noticed the money back in my account and a “declined” letter waiting for me… dated 2006) I was disheartened, because I had no idea that this happened. I could have just walked away, taken that money and moved on with my life. But instead, this week, I went about making it right. I resent the donation directly to my friends at Greenie Films (creators of A Finished Life, the documentary about my late friend Gregg) with a note of humble apology and fessing up to what had happened. Their response was a pleasant coincidence: the amount I sent was needed exactly at that time to pay for the dub of the copy of the film that will shown on HERE TV shortly. Sometimes the world works in mysterious ways, and I am beginning to truly believe the power of intuition.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Accountability of Simplicity

Oops. Okay, I’m ready to admit it. I did it. Picked up a wedding present for a friend this weekend (pushing that Emily Post rule about having 1 year after the wedding to come through with the gift or face social rudeness) and promptly proceeded to puncture a hole and scrape the side of the leather ottoman I had just purchased, not 15 minutes before. Sigh. So I ran through the options, #1- I mean it’s not really that bad, right, giving a wedding present that’s slightly damaged? Um, yes it is. Okay how about #2-head back to Tarjay and say that I didn’t notice that it was damaged when I bought it. This seemed like the way to go, but after sleeping on the decision, I remembered something I had written about in my book, which is that returning things that are damaged or that you have bought just to take parts out of is stealing, plain and simple.
So now the ottoman sits in my living room, and I convince myself that it is a nice addition to the space, damage and all. It serves as a reminder to be more accountable for my actions. I’ve also decided that I need to fill it up with a comparable amount of “stuff” to get rid of to justify its arrival. I’m also going to try to save the comparable amount of money spent, since now I still have to get another wedding present!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"A New Era of Responsibility"

I like the sound of those words. I know there’s all this backlash that people think Obama is god, even when he says the same words as Bush, but I think it all comes down to who you believe more. Or who has not made a fool of the country he claims to love time and time again. I hope everyone takes these words to heart, and begins their own personal quest for responsibility. Owning up to our mistakes, accepting what has come to pass and being accountable for our actions. It’s going to be a long slog through the mire, but I think the only way Americans can make their way through this is to scale back, take control of their own lives and SIMPLIFY!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

To quote Nina Simone:

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good.

I hope everyone is feeling pretty good today.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Day of Service: A Simplist's Contribution

So I headed out last Saturday morning for my few hours of volunteering—I had opted for a joint venture between WeChangeLA and Tree People helping prune fruit trees that would be donated to non-profits such as schools or churches to distribute amongst their members. A little trepidation as I roused myself from sleep this morning (as there is anytime you try something new, alone) but a short bike ride to the park where the event was held and I was ready to get to work. We all seemed daunted by the large number of trees waiting for us in the compound, (it looked like a challenge out of The Amazing Race...)but the 15 or so volunteers that showed up made quick work of it (so much so that while we were budgeted for 4 hours of work, we finished it in 2). It turned out to be a wonderful idea, reacquainting me with Tree People (which I had been a member of many years ago but let it lapse after moving away), plus introducing me to the newly formed We Change LA (so new they don’t even have their own website, oh the humanity!) While this 2 hours of pruning might not change the world, it showed me that this kind of service—something so simple and not very time-consuming, can fit into even a very hectic schedule.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Call to Service

So this weekend, our President-elect has issued a call to arms to the American people…5 hours of community service on Monday (for those with the day off—I however will be toiling at the TV Guide Network). So in lieu of having a day off, I’ll use this weekend to do my 5 hours of service. The real task now comes at selecting something last minute that is both worthy of 5 hours of service and "accomplish-able". First stop: checking out USAService.org for a listing of projects in my area.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm back... finally.

Greetings and salutations… it has been far too long since my last post, and I am terribly sorry for that. I also abandoned my 12 for 2008 resolutions started last January midway through the year and well that’s just unfortunate. But it’s a new year, and a new you…er, me… and a new economy. In just 5 days the Almighty Obama will take office and fix everything…right? Well just in case, I’m going to try to use this year to focus on how to save money and be green at the same time. I’ve always been very conscious of both, but it’s time to dig deeper and see how green and how frugal I can be. It’s time to cut those bills in half! It’s time to kick it into high gear, people!