29 June 2008

Family Summer Visit Pt. 2

The weekend ended up being all about recycling. On Saturday we took a family field trip and walked to see my hairstylist Jen at Ohm Salon. Donny, Kim and my Mom all got haircuts, except my Mom’s cut was the most renegade. She chopped off 10 inches of her hair and donated it to Pantene beautiful lengths. I did the same thing in ’06 and donated to Locks of Love. I’ve had a bet going with my Mom since then that she wouldn’t be able to grow it out. She lasted pretty long, over a year and a half, but it was time to get rid of it and go back to the short ‘do.

Earlier today we went over to the Flea Market at Fairfax Highschool. I ended up buying a nice mid-century vintage bench. I also got a few handkerchiefs, which I’ve decided are my new favorite thing. In my family we are plagued with allergies and asthma, so I go through a lot of tissues. Somehow handkerchiefs don’t feel too girly or old world, especially if you get the ones that are just all white silk, no lace. I just talked some of my colleagues off the ledge about using handkerchiefs. Both of their initial response was “Ew!” But after some discussion we all admitted to having carried used tissues in our bags or reused old tissues, which basically means handkerchiefs are not that gross. After having used handkerchiefs solely for a few days, I think I prefer them over tissues anyway. They are quite soft and it was an easy swap that reduces my tissue use immensely. I am going to call my grandmother and see if she will send me the handkerchiefs my grandfather used. It will be a nice memory to use his old ones and it’s just another way of recycling.

Oh – and handkerchiefs shouldn’t really go in the dryer. If you buy vintage fabrics they can be delicate and best dried flat or outside on a clothes line. We have had some trouble finding the best place for our clothes line. We first tried putting up a make-shift line on our roof with wood planks stuck in concrete weighted buckets. We ended up using the small outdoor space between the side of our building and the neighbor’s fence. It has worked out quite well, though Donny was apprehensive off the bat. We have come up with a good system where we put wet clothes on the line and after a few hours in the sun we throw the clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes. It doesn’t use as much energy as if we put them in for the whole hour, plus they soften up for that last shot of direct heat.

27 June 2008

Family Summer Visit Pt. 1

Having family visit your home is always an excess of something. Excess of emotions, excess stress on your body and more scheduling than normal. I feel like I usually eat more food, spend more money, and drink more alcohol when I’m around my family.

So my Mother and her Partner are in town from Philadelphia to visit Donny and me. They are here to see our new place and enjoy Los Angeles. We have several local activities planned for the week, including having them join in our local eating. Last night we made locally grown hormone-free bison short ribs, local organic asparagus and local organic carrots. My mom and I also drank some tasty organic Samuel Smith’s apple cider. This morning we feasted on local orange juice, local organic cage free eggs topped with local organic peppers and local cheese. I had some local grapefruit and we all nibbled on local organic blueberries. Local enough for you? (As always, something has to come from Ralph’s and that is where Donny picked up the Stubbs bbq sauce. And the coffee came from Peet’s. I can’t complain since he picked up the rest of the groceries on a bike ride from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.)

This weekend my mom, two other women friends and I are headed to the Melrose Trading Post. It not only sells used & vintage items, but also helps contribute to Fairfax High School. Every other California school dealing with the budget cuts do bake sales or car washes, but this flea market is a great way to give back to the school, while also recycling.

26 June 2008

Blue is the new Green

So I finally did it. I chose to forego my car and ride the Big Blue Bus to/from work almost every day for the last 2 weeks. I take the #2 bus, which is two blocks from house. I ride about 10 minutes to Broadway and 4th Street, which is downtown Santa Monica by the 3rd Street promenade. I walk across the street and usually wait a few minutes. I then transfer to the #5 bus, which is another 15 minutes to my office. It is quite easy to get the hang of, once you know where the bus stops are.

MONEY: In the short term I am spending more money, but as gas increases that margin gets smaller. In the long term I am probably saving money since I am driving my car less – about 180 miles less per month, which should translate into less repairs.
I have also read that our local transportation could possibly be hit with severe budget cuts. This could adversely affect fares, routes and availability of buses. The BBB is looking out for the well being of our community and I believe that since the senior fare rate has stayed the same since the 1960’s. The City of Santa Monica is urging us to voice our opinion to help keep state funds directed to our local transportation.*
BUS: $2.50 per roundtrip** CAR: $1.70 per roundtrip (.17 p/mile*** x 10 miles) Difference: extra .80 per day

TIME: Losing precious minutes in the morning before I leave home is a hard sell to my brain & body. I give up time in the shower, time with Donny, sleep and the chance to make a good breakfast. Once I get on the bus I'm fine and I don't even mind changing buses anymore.
BUS: 40 minutes one-way CAR: 20 minutes one-way Difference: extra 40 minutes per day

PERSONAL: Instead of walking just a few feet from my house to the car and then from my car to the office door, I walk about 10 blocks a day getting to/fro the bus stop. It’s not a huge amount of exercise, but it’s more than I was getting before. I also find that riding the bus is less stressful. Los Angeles drivers are crazy, which makes most drivers, me included, quite anxious. Aside from having to watch for my stop, I can basically just kick back and read a book or surf the internet on my sidekick, something I shouldn’t or can’t do in my car. July 1st California drivers will not be able to use a handheld wireless telephone. By riding on the bus I can freely check my email and chat on my phone without having to worry about getting pulled over.

ENVIRONMENT: Here are some great things to know directly from the BBB: Currently, half of the Big Blue Bus fleet operates on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) which put 80% less pollution into the air. The remainder of the fleet operates on a clean bio-diesel fuel and has p-traps that capture emissions before they reach the air. The Big Blue Bus recycles everything including bus batteries, tires, plastic and paper and keeps our water clean by recycling the bus wash water and using biodegradable soaps to clean. Of course, the greatest way we contribute to the environment is through removing cars from the road by providing trips to our customers. I also recently read that by taking the bus to work everyday you could reduce 3% of your total CO2 emissions.

SOCIAL: My colleagues have had some interesting responses. “I wouldn’t ride the bus. I have a car.” or “You live that close?” or “Where are you walking from?” A possible vendor may have been placating me, but she thought riding the bus was “remarkable” and “inspiring”. The social aspect of riding the bus has been the most interesting. I enjoy being around people that are different ages, genders, races and live different lifestyles. I have always thought that the beauty of NYC is that everyone takes the MTA, no matter if you are wealthy or poor or are going to school or to a nice dinner. The Big Blue Bus has a very mixed group of riders too. Rush hour seems to be more eclectic, which is not surprising. I like listening to what people are going through or dealing with. Today the driver and a another passenger were talking about the housing market and how they knew people who lost their houses. Last week some kids were chatting about graduation and their final week of school. I’ve also seen some of my neighbors and recognized regulars who ride the same line as me everyday. It makes me feel like part of an actual community, rather than just living in a little bubble with just Donny and our close friends. It also feels good to contribute to a good company. The Big Blue Bus has been in service for 80 years and is a charitable organization. They participate in food drives, community service and were part of helping displaced people from the Katrina hurricane.

I have no doubt I will continue to ride the bus to work as long as possible. My job often keeps me at the office for long hours, but I feel pretty safe riding the bus late at night. I look forward to more exciting adventures on the Big Blue Bus.

*Please consider contacting: Sheila Kuehl at senator.kuehl@sen.ca.gov or 310-441-9084, or District Assemblywoman Julia Brownley at Assemblymember.Brownley@assembly.ca.gov or 310-395-3414

**Equal to the cost of a day pass, which is unlimited rides for 1 day.

***Figures based on premium $4.76 p/gallon and 28 MPG (city) for a Mini Cooper (manual). Premium gas required for BMW engine.

12 June 2008


In my unprecedented amount of free time, I have been reading books & magazines about 250% more. Fancy that. (See new GoodReads widget sidebar.) In this quest for information, I have been re-introduced to my favorite travel guide series – there is a new edition out for Los Angeles. I first found the eat.shop guides last year when I was preparing for a trip to Europe. I had already found my hotels and I knew the major museums to peruse, but I really wanted a guide to just tell me the raddest, hippest, cutest shops and restaurants in Paris. Because there is seriously nothing I love to do more (aside from helping the environment, of course!) than to Eat and Shop. Each listing is paired with wonderful color photographs of literally just food and stuff. The great part about these photos is that they are mostly close-ups and are so crisp and colorful that they just pop out of the page and make you want to buy or eat it immediately.

Anyway – back to the new Los Angeles guide. I was in my new favorite boutique in Venice called Firefly, which is basically one of those all-purpose shops for women who love adorable things. Usually I don’t love adorable things, but they have great recycled stationary, plenty of goodies made with recycled materials, and just all around cute stuff for your home and body. Firefly is featured in this second edition of eat.shop, so they are naturally selling the guide. Just by flipping through it I found many shops featured sell recycled or vintage clothes – many of which I have never heard of, which is exciting. In a city like LA where there are so many big chain options, you really want to know about the hard to find, totally unique shops.

In the preface the writer talks about the different listings being homegrown, distinctive, posh or street-style. I kind of love that because so many of us are all of those things on different days. It is also nice how many different areas this guide manages to cover. The writer refers to LA as being sprawling and that is exactly true. How many guides feature 12 shops in the Venice area alone?!?

As you know, this website is all about locally-grown products, but supporting local vendors is just as important too. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take into consideration where they get their ingredients or products from, but most locally owned restaurants take pride in showcasing what our local farms have to offer. I often find that a locally owned shop is more welcoming and they tend to remember you after repeat visits, which just makes me feel good. The eat.shop guide is definitely for a traveler seeking a special visit to Los Angeles or an Angeleno who wants to find the best shops around. If for some reason the adorable 4x4 square book is too daunting or you just want to save paper, you can buy PDF’s of the guide on their website for almost 35% off.

Stay tuned as I visit & review some of the shops highlighted in
eat.shop los angeles: second edition.

10 June 2008

Time vs. Convenience

Sometimes it can feel like living locally means driving more.

I venture out to so many different Farmer’s Markets during the week to get everything we want. Culver City has the trail mix Donny likes. La Cienega sells shrimp from Santa Barbara. Santa Monica sells blueberries I love to snack on. And Venice sells fresh squeezed organic orange juice in a ½ gallon that I’m drinking right now. I also end up having to shop around because vendors don’t show up or like today at the Santa Monica FM Lindner farms didn’t have Bison jerky and won’t have it for a few more weeks. It takes a lot of time and energy to go to all of those different places each week. It’s hard to manage all of that shopping, a full-time job and sustain a healthy relationship.

I’m worried about it because I haven’t been working for the last few weeks. I have had the time & luxury of going to 4 or 5 different markets in the week, plus additional excursions to the Whole Foods. How are we going to do this when I go back to work – tomorrow?!?

Donny is tired. He drives a lot for work – A LOT! I get it. He doesn’t want to drive to Beverly Hills on a Sunday just to see if they are selling whole chickens. He just doesn’t. And I understand that now, but there has to be a balance because we do need food.

When I go back to work Donny will just be finishing a job and then he will be in charge of this whole food debacle. But he wants it to be easy. He wants to just make one trip to one supermarket and not have to go anywhere else. Or he'll want to eat at California Chicken Cafe 6 nights a week. And if that happens we won’t really be eating locally. In my opinion the waste overload in landfills has come from the convenience of what happens when you one-stop shop. Convenience in packaging, in only buying from certain conglomerate companies and convenience in pre-made, instead of fresh.

In August we will have a Whole Foods market within walking distance from our home. We are both really looking forward to it opening, but that is still 2 months away. Until then only time will tell as to how we are able to keep up with local eating.

05 June 2008

Homemade Party

So we finally had our housewarming party. After a week of cleaning & organizing, 2 trips to the farmer’s market, 2 stops at the Ralph’s, and 2 passes at the Whole Foods, we were ready. We had a mostly local/organic/homemade menu: 2 pitchers of Bloody Marys made with my own tomato juice, a pitcher of Mojitos, Mimosas, onion dip, a plate of fromage & charcuterie from Joan’s on Third (our favorite gourmet deli in Donny’s old hood – not local food, but a great local vendor), smoked salmon tea sandwiches, pretzel rolls, red velvet ice cream cone cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, brownies and a fruit tart.

I also purchased compostable cups & straws made out of corn, sugarcane plates and silverware made out of vegetables from BiodegradableStore.com, of Eco-Products. Please note**these products are not local. In fact, they are not even made in the US. After many hours of research I have found that almost every single option for biodegradable or compostable tableware come from Asia. Many companies will confuse you by saying they are distributed in the US, but do not be fooled. Those that are honest and upfront about where they manufacture are also forward that they have all fair trade workers. Greenfeet does sell Nat-ur Corn's silverware that is made out of corn from the US, but since I was making a last minute purchase, it was cheaper to buy everything from just one company. Now, there is still a question about where to dispose these products once they are used. Most of them call for commercial composting, but others say you can cut them up into small pieces and throw in your own outdoor composter. One company called, EATware, even boasts that you can eat their products. If you are not in the mood to snack on your plate – they claim to have a composting turnover of only 2 weeks if you leave it in water. Since local is not an option, here is a list of the other websites I compared products/prices: Branch, Treecycle, and Earth-Friendly Home. I can’t comment on any of these companies, but I can say that Biodegradablestore.com was very helpful and easy to order from. They also seem to have the largest selection of options and quantities.

All of our guests responded well to our request to consider the environment when gifting. We excitedly got some potted flowers/cactus, a fish named Milkshake and several bottles of California wine. Katie & Junio even recycled a book to us. Though it did travel 3000 miles from their home in Brooklyn, NY, we were its fifth recipient. And our favorite was a gift certificate to Whole Foods.

About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Blog Design | 2007 Company Name