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Archive for February, 2010

Organize Closet

  1. Keep two boxes in your closet. One box for ‘Donations’ and the other for ‘Tailoring’. It’s an “as-you-go” sort of organizational trick where you make decisions about an item while you’re getting dressed. If you happen to try something on and it doesn’t look or feel right. Decide right then and there– Can the item be tailored? Or does it need to be donated because it doesn’t fit or it’s outdated? Once the boxes are full take them for donation and/or tailoring. Do not hang the item back up without making a decision first.
  2. Sort like with like. Hang coats with coats. Dresses with dresses. Shirts with shirts. You get the idea. It makes it easier to find items and allows you to mix-and-match separates easily while you’re getting dressed in the morning.
  3. The 12-Pair Shoe Organizer. Stackable, compact, and fits shoes perfectly; even heels and wedges. Grab multiple shelves and either line them side-by-side or stack them two high. You could get really OCD and have one for casual shoes; one for heels; and another for sneakers. The top of the shelf is a flat service which is perfect for boots.
  4. Hang a full-length mirror over your closet door or have a mirror hanging near your closet. It’s an essential part of putting together an outfit.
  5. Keep two open boxes on the top shelf. One for random clothing accessories such as scarves, gloves, broaches, etc. And a second box for belts. Never underestimate the power of accessories to transform a wardrobe. I’ve found that keeping accessories within easy reach allows you to grab a box and have fun adding the finishing touches to your outfit.
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Leaf blower in the air

Leaf blower

It’s called the outdoors, does it really have to be rid of every speck of dirt and debris? Isn’t “outside” supposed to have dirt? Leaf blowers are all the rage with gardening companies. The pictures above were taken in front of our house and is a usual sight on “gardener” days. The haze in the photos is actually particulate dust matter filling the air. It seems excessive and unnecessary for them to break out gas-powered tools to decimate the ever-so-delicate branch off of a rose bush or use a leaf blower to gather a pile of dirt that was perfectly fine sitting in our garden. The main culprit is the leaf blower and the noise and air pollution it creates. It’s obnoxious how it blows everything: leaves, grass, dirt, clots of dirt, and more dirt. It seems that a rake and broom would be sufficient, but they don’t have such tools in their truck, it’s always the b…l…o….w……e….r!! It’s the most extreme form of gardening I’ve ever witnessed. I remember when we first moved in and our landlord mentioned that we had a weekly gardener and I had pictured an elderly man in overalls with hand-held hedge clippers. Sadly, what I pictured was a romantic image that probably doesn’t exist anymore.

My landlord has been in touch with the gardening company and I’ve personally talked to them on numerous occasions, but we haven’t been successful at getting them to stop using the leaf blower (a.k.a. the dirt blowing machine). They’ll cease for a month or two, but then start again. Even though Los Angeles passed a law in 1998 that makes it illegal to use a gas-powered leaf blower within 500-feet of a residence (LAMC 112.04c), the law isn’t enforced by the city which makes it difficult to get them to stop. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to find a gardening service that don’t use gas-powered blowers.

I’ve witnessed leaf blowers being used around elementary schools and nursing homes in my neighborhood, so I decided to do some research and was very surprised to learn of both the environmental and health effects of these tools. According to the California EPA Air Quality Resources Board, each leaf-blower engine, although seemingly tiny, churns out the equivalent of the same smoggy pollution as 80 cars, each driven for 12,500 miles every year.

The website, Zero Air Pollution (ZAP) has statistics of the serious health implications created by leaf blowers. The statistics below are from the ZAP website:

  • Leaf blowers distribute debris and Particulate Matter (“PM”) for long distances.  PM consists, in part, of fine dust particles, dried bird and other animal feces, pesticides, insecticides and other chemicals, street dirt that can contain lead and carbon, and allergens such as molds, pollen, and animal dander.  PM is particularly harmful to those with cardio vascular and pulmonary problems, including asthma.  Once airborne, there is no way to contain PM. 
  • Particulate Matter (“PM”) contains both fine and coarse particles, all of which are re-suspended into the air over and over again by blowers.  They may remain, unseen, in the air we breathe for hours to days at a time.  Even when below current standards, PM is associated with increases in mortality and morbidity.
  • No studies have been done on the impact of blower use on the spread of pesticide residues.  However, there is a widespread use of pesticides in California, and the use of pesticides on home lawns is heavier than comparable area use in agriculture.
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  • The medical literature shows that airborne particulate matter affect[s] lung function, and that chronic exposure to air pollutants can impair lung function permanently.
  • Road dust contains lead at highly toxic levels and up to 20 known allergens.  In residential areas, road dust contributed 5-12% of the allergens in the air. Blowers often redistribute this road dust, especially when used in or near gutters and on streets.
  • The use of multiple gas-powered leaf blowers on residential properties is increasing.  One home can have up to eight exposure incidents near their residence in a singe day.  Other reports indicate leaf-blowing use on three neighboring properties at least five days per week. 

I’ve been battling our gardening service for almost a year and will continue to keep my landlord in the loop– he is working with me on the issue. What can you do? The best advice I can give you would be to keep at it. The gardening companies work for us and are employed by us, so we have a say on how they tend to our yards. I’ve found some useful resources and links, including downloadable flyers, from the ZAP.org web site. I’ve included the ZAP.org action list and links below:

  1. Educate and Instruct Your Gardener
  2. Educate Yourself
  3. Educate the Public
  4. Educate the Press
  5. Educate Your Legislator
  6. Speak Out and Report Violations
  7. See the Presentation Materials Index for dowloadable material.

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Hindsvik Plywood Room

  1. Plywood Flooring and Bed Tutorial. I really love the simplicity of the headboard and side tables.
  2. Homemade soft pretzel recipe.
  3. Inkjet refills. I just had my inkjet cartridges refilled at Costco. Brilliant service that only costs $7.99!
  4. Eco nail polish. Sheswai lacquer is FREE of formaldehyde, toluene, and dbp’s, making it less toxic. 
And the caps are made from sustainably harvested wood, grown on family owned tree farms.
  5. Use Seafood WATCH for ocean-friendly seafood recommendations.

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Jolis Paons Phonebook Dress and Terraniums

  1. Phonebook dress: Jolis Paons created this paper dress out of  phonebook paper! Pleated, sewn, and glued by hand.
  2. Video: Jamie Oliver talks about food, kids and the all-American diet on TED.
  3. Mint.com: Start the new year right by managing your money the free way.
  4. Uniform Project: Started in May 2009, The Uniform Project pledges to wear one dress for one year as an exercise in sustainable fashion. There are 7 identical dresses, one for each day of the week. Every day she reinvents the dress with layers and accessories, the majority of which are vintage, hand-made, or hand-me-downs. The project is a fundraiser for the Akanksha Foundation, a grassroots movement that is revolutionizing education in India.
  5. Video:

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goodbye Marco

Marco Love

On Saturday, we had to put our dearest family member, and beloved cat Marco to sleep. It was a horribly sad and difficult decision. Unfortunately, his 21-year old body couldn’t keep up with his tenacious heart and spirit. Although I thought that I had prepared myself for the tragic day, it seemed to happen so fast and now my home and heart feels such a huge loss; a hole where his life used to be. There’s a certain part of my kitchen, where his bed and food bowl sat, that I have a hard time even being near.

I miss him more than words can express. Marco was such a huge part of my life and a big part of my husband’s life; he wasn’t even a cat person until he met Marco. *sniff* It’s been so hard. I feel such grief, sorrow, guilt– wondering if we did the right thing at the right time?– mostly I miss Marco like crazy. We love you, Marco. And… miss you so much.

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Preserve Tableware

One of my all-time favorite companies, Preserve, has released plastic tableware that you can use for years and years. Nothing chaps my hide more than plastic, one-time use dishware. Erg….! Basically, this is plastic tableware that you can use everyday or use in place of disposable dishes.

The firm design and shape of the products are ultra durable and made of 100% recycled #5, BPA and melamine free plastic. Available at Target, Whole Foods, and also online at the Preserve web site. They have both an “everyday” line perfect for use at home, school or work– heavyweight so you can reuse forever (or return to Preserve and they will recycle it for you). Or the “on the go” set for parties, picnics, camping and anywhere else you would have used disposables– sturdy enough to reuse hundreds of times and dishwasher safe.

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