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 99ยบ.) 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?