Friday, April 24, 2009

Outstanding in the Field

Marilyn Snee, the incomparable sommelier from Upstairs 2, mentioned I might be interested in writing about Outstanding in the Field, a coordination between local farmers, artisans, chefs and wine makers.  Their mission is to "to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it." They do this through hosting dinners all across the country, in beautiful, natural settings, using local talent and resources. Many of their 2009 dates are sold out, including the two nights in Los Angeles, but if you click here you can see the dates and locations still available and make a reservation online. I will of course be writing about my dining experience, but you'll have to wait until October as that's when the dinner is happening!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Doucette Duvall

In my continual search for cool vintage fabric for home projects, I stumbled across a really great company that makes new clothing out of vintage materials. 

Doucette Duvall is a New York based company that uses all vintage materials and trims in their designs, as well as recycled packaging. While their line is limited to dresses and coats, they offer several different designs that run the gamut from a super short mini-dress to more conservative cuts. My favorite dress from their Fall 2009 collection is the "Dottie." (pictured to the left) 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Noon Solar - Coolest. Bags. Ever.

I think the title says it all, but you many want more details, so here it goes.

While I was watching Current TV (Coolest. Station. Ever.) today, I saw a short clip called "Sun Powered Purses." Now, some of my more fashionable friends may be laughing at the idea of me blogging about purses, since I am certainly not an expert on this topic. In fact, I don't think I've purchased a purse since I was in Hong Kong last summer. (Actually, come to think of it, I bought two purses in Hong Kong. One was an every-so-sexy waterproof nylon purse that looked like a camera bag and really completed my super-tourist look, and one was a Chanel knock-off that I didn't even realize was supposed to look like a Chanel, I just liked the design.) 

That disclosed, these bags actually DO something and look pretty darn good too. Noon Solar, the company that makes these amazing bags, installs solar panels on the outside of each bag that power a battery back that can charge your cell phone or iPod! They are also made of biodegradable materials. They even have a "man-pack" and a "murse" (my descriptions, not theirs) so don't think for a second these are only for the ladies! The "Augusta," pictured above, is my favorite, but check out all of their great designs.  I'm sure you'll find something you love.

Spring Backwards with Vintage Fabric!

Spring is in the air! With warmer weather and blooming flowers also comes the need to Spring clean and perhaps freshen up your home decor.  But, how to do this without sacrificing your New Year's resolution to live less wastefully? The answer is simple - use existing resources! Vintage fabric is a great existing resource that can spice things up without sacrificing your green values or wallet!

How can you use vintage fabric to update your decor? There are many, many, ways, but I'll give you a few easy, inexpensive examples:

Pillows - You probably have a few pillows hanging around that could use a little makeover, or at least a new look for Spring.  Did you know you can have new pillow covers made through most fabric stores or even sew them yourself if you're handy with a sewing machine?  You only need about a half yard of fabric for a typical 20" square throw pillow, and you can keep the existing insert, so you're really only expending labor for what will look like a brand new pillow. The pillows to the left were made using a vintage paisley fabric with a contrasting back and welt fabric.

Napkins / Tablecloth  - A simple way to revamp your table is to add some fun napkins or a tablecloth to your linen line up. I mean, how great of a conversation starter would this vintage mid-century fabric be as a tablecloth or napkins? 

Lampshades - Just because your lamp came with a plain white shade doesn't mean it has to stay that way! You can purchase some fun vintage fabric or trim and have that boring old shade recovered to complement your decor. Check out how great the striped shade looks on the Hampton Table Lamp from Grace Home Furnishings to the right! This lamp wouldn't be the same with a plain white shade. Take some inspiration from the fabulous and bold pairings of designer Jamie Young, whose collection of lamps can be admired and purchased by the public through Layla Grace.

One of my favorite sources of vintage fabric is from an Australian company called Retro Age Vintage. They have a really nice selection at reasonable prices. For the most variety, try browsing through eBay, as they have literally thousands of vintage fabric and trim listings. Feel free to email me with any questions or pictures of your own vintage fabric creations!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Urban Chickens

The first thing I said when my husband broached the idea of getting chickens was, "I'm sure it's illegal." I mean, we live on a 6,500 square foot lot right in the middle of the city! However, he had been to someone's house in Silverlake that had chickens, so we were pretty sure we fell under the same zoning laws. I wasn't convinced. I thought these people were just law breakers, something I just do not do. I don't even like to bend the rules.  It's just not worth the potential headache, especially when dealing with angry neighbors.

So, I did a little research. I was shocked to find that in Los Angeles you can keep an unlimited number of hens as long as they are 20 feet from your dwelling and 35 feet from your neighbors' dwellings. I pulled out my trusty measuring tape, and sure enough, we had plenty of room. (This page, from The City Chicken website, has a good summary of existing laws in different cities.)

Now that I knew we COULD keep chickens, we had to decide if we WANTED to keep chickens. We did a ton of research, and spent hours perusing such great websites as My Pet Chicken and Backyard Chickens. What we saw had us convinced. We picked out of one of the cool coops from Omlet. This seemed to be the best choice for us as they are specifically designed for both the first time chicken owner and city chicken owner. Besides, they looked cool and seemed really easy to clean. We waited while it made it's trek across the Atlantic and in the meantime researched what breeds of chickens we were going to get. We got the coop, ordered the chicks, and they are now living in our house until they can go outside into the Eglu. (To read more about this ongoing adventure, check out  Now and Hen.)

There are many reasons people to choose to keep hens. Some, like me, probably just really love animals, and look forward to interacting with them. Some like to eat them for dinner. They are great for bug control in the garden, and provide excellent fertilizer. You will also get delicious and fresh organic eggs. 

On a more philosophical and possibly political note, it is really ironic that "keeping chickens" has become a "new trend" that seems to be most popular with those who can afford organic eggs at Whole Foods. So much of the green/organic movement is really just going back to some of the same self-sufficient practices that our great-grandparents would have done as second nature.  (Unless, of course, your great grandparents were the Vanderbilts or the Morgans, but they probably had a gentleman farm with chickens on it that someone else attended to at least.) 

Ok, rant over. This was supposed to be about chickens, so let me finish by saying that if I can do this, so can you! Trust me, once you start seeing cute pictures of baby chicks and the hilarious antics of hens, you're going to want a flock of your own! Check out these great links for more info:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April Showers...

bring May flowers, and possibly fruits and vegetables, too!

About four weeks ago I decided to help my husband with his backyard gardening.  Up until this point, I have been what could best be described as a "supportive assistant." He has been the one attending workshops and doing heavy labor.  I have made a few trips to Anawalt and OSH to pick up things he needed.  I've also picked up containers of manure for him from the barn. (Africa, my horse, has been an "unknowing assistant" in this garden project.) I have been mildly interested in the project, but hadn't quite caught the bug.

That all changed when I planted some seedlings.  I volunteered for this task to spend some time outside in the sunshine.  It also seemed to be safe from what I really fear in the garden - snails, bugs and worms.  I mixed together the soil as directed and carefully planted some seeds - carrots, arugula, purslane, lettuce, garlic and tomatoes**.  I put them aside and didn't think much of them.  A few days later, though, they started to grow!  This was very exciting to me. They are now thriving and I think they need to be transferred to their permanent home soon.  

Here are some pictures:

If you want to get your gardening groove on, check out these links:
  • Silverlake Farms - This link takes you to their outstanding gardening workshops, but they can also design and plant your garden for you!
  • LA Community Garden Council - If you live in an apartment or want to take a more communal approach to gardening, check out this link.
  • LADWP - Our own water and power company offers workshops as well as great info on their website in areas such as composting and water-wise gardening.
  • LA Bureau of Sanitation - Offers composting workshops and bin sales in Griffith park.
  • Garden Nerd - A really great website! The title says it all
**Sadly, the tomatoes never sprouted. I'm blaming this on bad seeds.