Monthly Archives: November 2009

star light, star bright, our xmas decorations use no light…

following up on my post yesterday, here is a perfect example of what i mean by living in a modern world…i found these plastic ornaments at the goodwill 3 years ago. they were in a box marked $2.50 – score! the shiny ornaments bring color and sparkle to our house and a smile to the faces of all passersby in the daytime. but best of all, we are using zero energy (no lights!).

i placed them under our awnings and roof lines to protect them from the elements (which, in southern california really only means wind and rain). the front of the house is themed in silver and the back patio in gold.

we’ve already received many compliments from our neighbors. and while i understand the tradition of lights and lawn decor (please buy LED lights!), i like the minimal, yet whimisical and modern vibe it brings to our 50s house.

i was unable to get a wide shot of the house, but i hope you can get a sense of what i’m trying to achieve…

i hope by using and reusing these decorations (and not using energy), i will offset the fact that they are plastic. and obviously, buying them at the thrift store already saved them from their fate in the landfill! and that is living in a modern world:  doing the best you can whenever you can to save energy and reduce waste.

happy holidays!


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“living in a modern world” – what does it mean?

i’m getting a late start on my xmas decorating, so i wanted to explain the title of this blog (and will post photos tomorrow of holiday glee). as a lover of modern design, it is nearly impossible to live a plastic-free life (what would i do without all of my alessi?).

this morning, i paid attention to how many things i touched/used that were made from plastic (even as i type this, my clear speck case on my laptop is prime example of what i’m talking about). plastic is everywhere…

living in the modern world means trying to buy intelligently as possible. i look at long term use; good design; buy used whenever possible; recycle everything that is recyclable; reduce our waste; think about where things come from and know that the cheapest option usually isn’t the best one (for the environment, for the workers who make it, etc.). our house is almost completely furnished with items from craigslist, yard sales and ebay. none of these are original ideas, just my way of living.

tomorrow’s post of our holiday decorations will be a bright and shiny example of what i’m talking about…

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the dry brine verdict is in…

i almost forgot to post a photo of our thanksgiving “linner” … word around the table was that dry brining produced a crispy skin, a flavor infusion (rosemary and lemon zest) throughout the oh-so-moist-and-tender meat…so, i would say it was a hit! certainly more than my stuffed pumpkin experiment (but there’s always next year). and for your dining pleasure, the turkey was served with asiago mashed potatoes, green beans and a vegetarian dressing (complete with veggie sausages!). dessert was supposed to be pumpkin pie – but turned into pumpkin gingerbread instead – delicious nonetheless! and the tablecloth was a bright and cheery gift,  perfect for our casual holiday meal! tune in tomorrow for the first of the holiday decorations – i’m giddy with seasonal cheer!


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“back to the land”…

as we continue to digest the holiday that was thanksgiving, the new york times published this gorgeous, photo essay by maira kalman, reminding us of the quiet beauty of simple and rustic foods. of plants packed with nutrients. of the beauty of a perfectly cooked egg. of old values and habits that would feed body and soul. of slowing down and reconnecting with the bounty our earth can provide. of subsidies that would ensure access for all to good, natural food (and if you saw “food, inc.”, you know this is a difficult wish).  but in the meantime, get your hands into some soil. slow down and eat slowly. and dream of agricultural democracy…

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safe thanksgiving tips for our four legged friends…

tomorrow will be a day of friends, family and food. and while you are cooking and putting all your finishing touches on the festivities, please keep in mind these simple tips to ensure a safe thanksgiving for your furry family members – a great list from the aspca and this quick list from petfinder of foods your dog should avoid:

  • alcohol
  • avocados
  • chocolate (all types)
  • coffee (all forms)
  • garlic
  • grapes and raisins
  • macadamia nuts
  • moldy or spoiled foods
  • onions or onion powder
  • salt
  • yeast dough
  • xylitol (sweetener)

for our dogs, a stuffed Kong toy will provide hours of entertainment and distraction from all those smells and sounds and activity that surely will be filling our house tomorrow.

happy thanksgiving!

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if you’re already thinking about xmas…

thanksgiving hasn’t even come and gone yet, but i’m already filled with excitement about my holiday decorating this weekend. i have two huge boxes of ornaments and decorations that i’ve collected and used and reused most of my life.

the big question this year seems to be a fake vs. a real tree. some of my friends think fake is better because you save a tree. i am of a different mindset…to me, a christmas tree is a crop. it is grown to be purchased. as the tree grows, you are helping the environment (with CO2 consumption). and if you buy from a local, organic farm (vs. a national retailer), the carbon footprint is far less and you are helping the local economy. an organic farm will also not use pesticides. most cities have tree pickup and then use them for mulch (completing the cycle of tree life). but most of all, i try to make my purchasing decisions based on what is going to happen when you throw that item away (and you will eventually throw that PVC tree away…) and it sits in a landfill forever.  but don’t take my word for it, here is an interview from clint springer, Ph.D., a botanist and global warming expert at saint joseph’s university in philadelphia:  real vs. fake?

and from “mr. green” from the sierra club:

and besides, nothing beats that fresh xmas tree smell! i think this year we might try a living tree…i’d love to hear your thoughts!

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what’s (really) for lunch?

the reality is, we all can’t get to a farmer’s market every week. sometimes you just run out of stuff or living in a modern world, you just need to run to the grocery store to do your shopping. if you are like me, you can spend a lot of time in a store aisle trying to make healthy food choices and trying to decipher all the nutritional claims. while i do try to follow the rule of thumb of buying the majority of my items in the outer perimeter of the store, sometimes you have to go up and down those inner aisles to get what you need. here is an interesting and helpful summary of all those “healthy” promises being made by food manufacturers: raise healthy eaters

and while this website is geared towards parents, there’s a lot of good info for all of us.

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