31 May 2008


It is no secret that gas prices are at record highs. Today I paid over $4.70 p/gallon, which was $52.17 for my 12 gallon tank. The last date I filled up at the pump was March 26, 2008. Between then and now I have been out of town a total of 4 weeks for business and pleasure, which means I have been in LA for 48 days on 1 tank of gas. This is definitely the longest I have ever gone without filling up. It doesn’t hurt that I am not working and don’t have to drive to thru classic LA traffic to the office everyday. Trips outside of Venice have been mostly for special events or to the local hardware shop. Somehow I managed to do almost all of our grocery shopping by foot or on my bicycle. Donny and I even rode our bikes to the 3rd Street Promenade for a double feature: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and 3 bags full of groceries from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. We brought our bags of food with us into the theater.

In the eight years I have lived in LA I have never taken public transportation and still haven’t – and I don’t think I am very different from most Angelenos. I recently heard on public radio that in the past few months the park & ride for the LA metro had increased by over 40%, however there is still a caste system about taking the bus. I start work on a movie next Monday and plan to try out the Big Blue Bus for my transportation needs. I might sit in just as much traffic if not more, but it will cost half as much. Plus, “43 percent of the BBB fleet is fueled by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) which is 77% cleaner burning than diesel-fueled buses”. If I can go into Ralph’s by myself with reusable bags and not be too embarrassed, then I can ride the bus. I just might wear really dark glasses at first.

19 May 2008


My ex-roommate and her boyfriend came over for dinner. I bought a 3 pound grass-fed bison roast from the Santa Monica Farmer’s market and my ultimate goal was to serve a completely local meal. Local in the sense that we could use ingredients already in the house, i.e. spices and condiments. And that as long as an item came from the state of California we wouldn’t discriminate. We already had asparagus from a recent trip to the farmer’s market. Early that morning we went to the Beverly Hills Farmer’s Market and bought potatoes and bread, in addition to Chilean sea bass and broccoli for another night. Donny has been snacking on apples lately and we didn’t find any good ones in BH, so I promised to ride my bike over to the other Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. This one edges on the Venice border, so it is just a short ride from our house. I pulled up to the awe-inspiring bike valet next to the petting zoo. So many people out and about. No good apples in sight, but I did pick-up some grapefruit and flowers. After I got home we started to go over the menu. Realizing we had not picked up tomatoes or garlic, Donny wanted to just walk over to the Ralph’s. This is where I started to get frustrated. I remind him about this “local” meal and we get into a whole discussion about organic vs. local vs. convenient. It’s hard for him because he doesn’t have the passion for this project like I do. If Donny wants something at the last minute, he wants to be able to go out and get it. Since he doesn’t taste chemicals on the fruit and he isn’t the one going to China to pick-up the vegetables, then he doesn’t think about its effects on our bodies or environment. Out of sight, out of mind, really. In the back of my mind I'm thinking - he's getting off easy. The couple in the 100 mile diet and the No Impact Man are extremists in my mind. I think their stories are very inspiring, but I'm not making him give up every chance at convenience. Right now I'm just asking for one complete local meal. After a long talk we realize that just a little bit of planning could relieve a lot of tension. It is definitely hard to plan every single ingredient. We have so many farmer’s markets in a 20 mile radius yet without any planning, 4 trips to the markets in one week is pointless. Genny and Jon brought over 2 bottles of California wine. The bison was a bit dry, maybe overcooked, but everyone wanted more meat and potatoes. It is sort of funny that we had such an American classic for our menu. I have never thought of myself as patriotic. In fact, I relate much more to the European style of life. If being American means cooking for friends, while eating literally home-grown food then I’m okay with that label.

17 May 2008

Vegetable Garden Pests Part 1

This morning I found we have a big problem. The gnats and aphids situation was out of control. There were swarms of gnats in front of our door and in front of our neighbor’s door. At a glance, you could easily see hundreds of tiny pests living in my vegetable garden. I quickly started spraying the homemade bug repellent I made last week. That worked for the moment, but what to do about this soil that is just covered in aphids. Gross! Yesterday I purchased some Sea Kelp by a company called Organics Rx from the Living Green store in Culver City. Per the instructions, I added a capful into each can of water I used. I doused the plants. Some websites say lots of water is good to get rid of pests and others say that the pests thrive in wet soil. Today I am going with the notion that more water is better. The sea kelp is more for the plants than it is pest control. I went online and found several non-toxic options, mostly bug traps that are sticky. In my quest to hammer out this pest problem quickly and to avoid having anything shipped I quickly got in my car and went to the nearest nursery, Lucky Plant, which is about a 5 minute drive away. It occurred to me that I probably should've biked there. The salesman tried to get me to buy some toxic sprays and basically told me I should go somewhere else if I wanted a product without chemicals. Ugh – why are people so difficult? At this point I wonder if organic gardening is worth it. I push on. Glad to not be on my bike at this point, I drove to another nursery, which is about 10 minutes away from the first. Merrihew’s Sunset Nursery in Santa Monica has a very friendly staff. I like to buy from them. The salesman actually laughed at me when I told him I had some homemade bug repellent. Considering I was there looking for something that will actually work long term, I don’t blame him. He also pointed me in the direction of a spray. I bought Safer Brand’s Yard & Garden Insect Killer. It is made with Pyrethrum and is Omri Listed, which means it is approved for organic gardening. The salesman told me not to spray until the evening because it could damage the plants. Honestly, this situation is so bad that I feel getting rid of everything might not be a bad idea. It feels about 10 degrees cooler in the courtyard of my building compared to the air at the nursery, so I’ve decided to spray everything right now. I’m sure that every gardener in the world would tell you not to spray your plants with anything, water or insect killer, at high Noon during a heat wave. Oh well. I’m taking the chance. I sprayed everywhere – in the air, on the soil, on the crop. I mulched a bit as well, which brought a few worms to the surface and hopefully unearthed some of the aphids that were living in my organic soil. I have a good feeling about this. I was really discouraged this morning and now I feel a lot better. The directions on the bottle are to apply solution every 7-10 days. I’ll use my homemade spray during the intervening days and hope this is a cure. Even though I have been back inside for an hour, I literally feel like I have bugs crawling in my hair and on my skin. Good times.

11 May 2008


I have not been in a "regular" supermarket in a long time. It was a lot brighter than I remember and a lot colder. Donny has found the Best Bacon In The World and we ran out. The Ralphs on Lincoln boulevard happens to be the closest market to our abode, so we took a little bike ride together to replenish our stock of bacon. It is amazing how quickly you forget about all of the crap there is to buy at the supermarket when you shop exclusively at farmer's markets’ or Whole Foods markets. I'm not trying to sound elitist and maybe other people don't forget, but I honestly forgot all of those products existed. I still go with Donny to the corner liquor store to buy grape soda and read Rolling Stone Magazine, but it’s not the main place we go to buy our food. And I understand that it is the choice of those people who solely shop there, but it’s not me. I was also shocked to see two young women at the check-out counter loading up a cart full of food in plastic bags. I thought everyone watched Oprah. I don't, but my mother does and I thought that literally every single woman in this country watched her show. Didn't they see the Earth Day special on Oprah. Where are their reusable bags? Donny now carries a reusable bag on his bike. He attaches it to the front cables. It might be because he cares about the environment or because of the ridicule he would endure upon previously coming home with plastic bags. Either way, it makes me feel good that he goes out prepared and it isn’t just a part of his shopping lifestyle when he is with me. I did feel a little like a hippie when I was there with my green bag. I usually don't feel like a hippie or a scuppie when I am out there with reusable bags or not taking a bag at all, but today I felt different. It could have been because I was judging everyone else for being in the Ralph's, so I just assumed they were judging me too. It also could have been because the only other bicyclists we passed to/from the Ralph's looked like hippies. There is this vibe I have often felt when in smaller towns in this country, specifically in New Mexico because I've worked there a lot. The vibe is of feeling different from everyone else. I feel like people are looking at me or the clothes I wear and they know instantly that I don’t belong.

08 May 2008


I woke up this morning, excited to make homemade moonshine. The recipe, which I give Junio credit for finding, had too many steps. All I wanted to do was pour everything in a mason jar. And that is exactly what I did. 2 small containers of blueberries (frozen) from the Culver City Farmer’s Market, ¾ cup pure white cane sugar that we already had in the cupboard, 1 ½ cups + unidentified extra topper Sky Vodka we have had in the freezer since we moved in. Oh, and I also picked a lemon from our dwarf lemon tree and sliced off pieces of zest to add in. There is a blueberry lemon martini at the Whisper lounge at the Grove I hope to replicate. This will sit on my counter to turn for weeks to come. Donny and I have decided to have a housewarming party and I’d like to share my moonshine with our guests then. I called my mom today about said housewarming party. We are about to send out the invitation via email to our intended guests. I’d like to put a line on the invite that says something like “Please consider the environment if gifting.” I wanted to get my mother’s opinion on the matter. When I called her and started to explain the invite: black & white architectural photograph, yellow type that is straight to the point with only the necessary information, i.e. date, time, our address. She said she immediately knew I was going to ask her about this issue. Here is the thing. I like gifts, but I don’t want people to feel so obligated to get us something that the need to pause for the environment is lost. I told her about the wedding invitation etiquette I read about online that said even the mere mention of gifts was taboo. My mom agreed the way we worded the invite seemed appropriate and necessary. If we left it off then potentially we would leave ourselves open to guests getting us anything and everything, which is a waste we don’t want to incur. I also think that it is valuable to try starting the conversation with our friends. Most of the people we know do not have composters in their house. They do not recycle regularly and they do not buy mostly organic and local foods. It will be an opportunity to share ideas on projects and see what other people are doing in their homes. I hope to find out things I didn’t know.

07 May 2008

Apartment Buildings

I have been remiss in watering my vegetable garden. I was out of town for 3 weeks on business and we were out of town for a week visiting family, so I got out of my routine. Donny gets on me about it sometimes. I convinced him that less water is sometimes good for the plants, which might be true, but I am also lazy. Although our garden is right outside of our front door, it still means that I could be seen by one of the neighbors or a visitor. This means that my usual garb of Loomstate organic cotton pajamas and un-showered hair is out. Of course today was no exception. I changed into jeans and converse and began watering. Just as expected my next door neighbor actress/producer stepped outside to chat. She had most recently been to her niece’s bat mitzvah that was green themed. At the reception, the table centerpieces were an assortment of herbs in a box ready to plant. A few weeks ago my neighbor had me plant flowers because she deemed the vegetables unattractive. I was now asked to plant these herbs. She thinks I have this magical green thumb. I couldn’t really say no because at the core I do think it is important to be neighborly. Aside from that, free herbs are free herbs. Hopefully I can keep them alive. While we were out chatting I noticed an abundance of flies. This was also very obvious to my neighbor who was batting the air around her face. I felt a bit embarrassed. I was the reason these flies had made a home in our building stoop. They were my vegetables and I had chosen to grow them organically. I went back inside and researched organic pest control. There are so so many different concoctions listed online to fend off an array of insects. I found a recipe that seemed easy to do right away with materials I already had in my cupboard. I think it is already working.

06 May 2008


The plan is to eat locally as much as possible. I was inspired by the 100 mile diet book, Plenty* - written by a couple in Vancouver, Canada. In that duo the husband was the instigator. He cooked most of the meals and was willing to take more risks with food. My situation is a bit different. I would like to jump right in and eat local foods only, even if that means not getting to eat my beloved foods, like sushi and french cheese. Donny, on the other hand, is a bit more skeptical. He has been working out a lot lately and wants to be healthy, but could not give up soda or In N Out. After his 24 mile bike ride to Manhattan Beach today, Donny went to the Ralph's and picked up some maple bacon, granola bars and a copy of Men’s Health. He read this article and now by some strange miracle he is a water believer. If he is really able to give up soda, maybe we will be on a local foods diet sooner than I thought.

*My Aunt Jan should be credited for recommending this book and challenging me to eat as locally as possible.

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