Tuesday, October 26, 2010

the news can be interesting.

I was listening to NPR on my way to work today and found myself smiling when I heard about how organic farms are popping up in China. Remember how, a couple of years ago, it was discovered that a Chinese brand of milk powder contained melamine? Well, apparently it stirred up awareness about food safety among the Chinese people, many of whom are turning towards organic.

Read (or listen to) the story here.



Monday, October 25, 2010

general updates and goings on. (with an exciting announcement at the end)

First of all, it's time to update you about my itsy-bitsy garden. I'm sure you're all wondering how my radishes and carrots are doing, so here are some photos:

about 1 week after planting

 does this mean good luck?

taken today!almost 1 month since planting

It's hard to tell if the radishes are doing better or if they're just maturing faster than the carrots. I know they are faster growing plants. At any rate, it's fun to grow things from seed! 

Let's see, what else is new on the home front? 

I'm still on the "no-poo" bandwagon, which has been a fun experiment. I've perfected my regimen and now here is what I do, for those who are curious:

1. I use diluted apple cider vinegar (about 1/2-1 oz vinegar to 12 oz water...just an approximation) as a rinse about every day. Sometimes I can skip a day, but if I just use water I notice my hair becomes dried out. We have very hard water where I live, maybe that is why. I just wet my hair and run my fingers through as though I'm shampooing (but I'm only using water) and then I rinse with the vinegar solution. I rinse the vinegar out with water. 

2. Twice a week or so I clean my hair with baking soda. I put a few tablespoons of baking soda in a little dish/ramekin and add warm water. I stir it up with my finger and then pour over my dry hair in the shower. The baking soda solution is definitely watery. I had to play around with the amount of water to get a consistency I liked. I then scrub my scalp with my fingertips and let sit for a minute or so. Any longer and it starts to dry out my scalp and make it itchy. Then I rinse and follow with the vinegar solution as described as above. 

I've noticed I can't use the baking soda more than twice a week because it dries out my scalp. But if I don't use it at all, my hair is too oily. I still have some days that are more oily than others, but I'm much happier with my new "hair cleaning" method. No more trying to find a shampoo that works for me, no more spending so much money on hair products. And my hair is SO HEALTHY! Oh, and as far as the vinegar smell goes, once your hair dries the smell is gone. I'd like to try infusing the vinegar with herbs (lavender?) - I'll let you know how that goes if I do it. 

Oh - and while we're on the topic of home-made cosmetics, I've been exclusively using coconut oil and jojoba oil as facial moisturizers and have been loving the results. The coconut oil is heavier, so I use it at night and on days where my skin is more dry. The jojoba oil is lighter and can be used any time. 

Switching gears completely, I went on a trip home to visit my parents in the SF area earlier this month. While they worked during the weekdays, I busied myself in my dad's garden:

jalapeno peppers, still blooming

 these roses have a lemony-delicious scent
strawberry blossom

cherry tomatoes

1/2 of the cherry tomato crop!

on a roasting pan, getting ready for oven-drying

 sprinkled with salt...yum!

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the final results of the oven-dried tomatoes (which we put in 2 jars, covered with olive oil, peppercorns, and basil). Which means I'll have to make them again the next time my dad has a plethora of tomatoes that need to be used up. But I will say that they tasted soooo good on some crackers with the feta cheese I picked up at Happy Acres Family Farm on the way up to my parents house. I took some pictures there to supplement my previous post about the farm, when J and I took a tour and learned how to milk a goat. Here are those photos: 

quizzical duck

how are goats so photogenic??

 my favorite is when they awkwardly stand on rocks and other tall things.

 lazy farm dog

their farm stand, decked out in October attire

I will now conclude my longest-blog-post-ever by sharing one more fun-fact:

Our church is starting a community garden! Eeeeeeeeeeeeee! I am very excited. J and I spent our car-ride on the way to meeting his parents for lunch making up names for our future plot. His parents have already made requests as to what we should put in it (his dad wants some of those saucer-shaped squash). How fun is that! The plots are 4' x 6'. Not sure when they will be available yet - I think they're still working out what the financial commitment will be and all of that nitty-gritty stuff. But I'm excited! Keep your eyes peeled for more about that! 


Enjoy your last week of October


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ode to my little town.

Today I got the bug to go for a walk (which is a bug I often get), so I put on my rainy day best, traipsed over to the coffee shop, and then continued on the five (or so) more blocks to the park. The park, in fact, that J and I will be married at 8 months from yesterday. Eee! I couldn't help but notice all sorts of sights and sounds as I strolled and sipped, and once I got to the park felt compelled to write a little ditty about it. But before we get to my poem, I'd like to make a couple of observations about  the town in which I live.

I can't imagine a more friendly place in LA county - I mean seriously, one of the reasons I love walking is that I'm bound to run into someone. Whether it's someone I know or someone I'm to meet for the first time is no matter. And when you do meet someone here, the conversation goes a little something like this:

(two people, demographically very different, standing on the corner of M and L  Avenues, waiting for the crosswalk light to change)
Person 1: Hello.
Person 2: Good morning.
(slight pause)
Person 2: So, do you work here on M Ave?
Person 1: Nope! I live here.
Person 2: Me too! I live over in the L Apartments
Person 1: Nice. I'm over on V Ave, by the high school. It's a nice day for a walk (gesturing towards the sky)
Person 2: Yep. It's a nice day to spend money...(chuckles, lifting up the shopping bag in his right hand)
Person 1: (smiles)
Person 2: The wife's a little mad at me, so I went out and bought her some shoes.
(Both people chuckle)
Person 1: Well, enjoy your day!
Person 2: You as well!
They part ways.

My point is, we're all proud of where we live, and meeting a neighbor on the street is somewhat like meeting a classmate in college and discovering you live in the same dorm. I've never lived in a place where you tell strangers on the corner what street you live on as a part of general conversation. There's an understanding here that everyone in this town is a neighbor, and that neighbors are good people. And I just plain like that, which is why I plan to stick around.

And, no, our street names are not letters of the alphabet...but I have to maintain some anonymity since this blog is out there on the World Wide Web, which is full of nice people who would want to live in my town and mean people who would like to stalk me if they knew where I lived (I mean, I hope not, but a little playing it safe never hurt anyone). So to all you people in hyperspace, you're just going to have to wonder. Unless you know me personally :) 

Oh, and be expecting an update on my "urban homesteading" projects soon. A teaser: there's a lot to write about, and things are going well.

Ok, now to the word-art.

My Town, On a Mid-October Morning

grey skies
chirping birds (squawking parrots)
dancing cacti
friendly faces at the coffee shop

rain sprinkles down like glitter on an art project
pomegranates blushing, ruddy pink among green leaves
the neighborhood is damp
the air is easy to breathe
every sound takes on a softened tone, every color a new hue against the cushioned gray sky
the air is still, the world waits
(in glad anticipation, not bracing itself)
for the downpour

Friday, October 8, 2010

a role model.

Found this video on http://www.howtohomestead.org/

Someday I hope to be like this lovely woman: resourceful, strong, confident, and joyful.

Well, with one exception: no matter how much water it saves, I won't be washing my pet's dishes in the same water as my own. But then again, she's a microbiologist and appears pretty healthy.  Maybe doing so presents no harm to our health after all.

My favorite part (besides the rain barrels, ingenious ways to flush a toilet, and the sheer charm of the lady)?

The absolute joy that radiates from ear to ear when she cuts her homegrown artichoke for dinner, as if it's the first time she's ever done so.  It's obvious that she has learned to enjoy the every day pleasures life has to offer!

Now that's a character trait I'm after.

I think it may even be the secret to happiness.

<3 M

P.S. If the video doesn't load, try refreshing your screen. Or you can just go to the website referenced above.