Archive for the ‘eco living’ Category

Easy-to-make All-Purpose Non-Toxic Cleaning Product

Monday, June 16th, 2014

I’m interested in preventive measures when it comes to the health and the well-being of my family, and in my home office. Since home is where many of us spend 90% of our time, it’s a good idea to make the indoor environment as toxin free as possible. We can’t control what’s happening outside but we can when it comes to the indoors. Did you know that most of the conventional cleaning products available on the market contain toxic chemicals and hazardous substances that are harmful to our health?.

One of the easiest and best ways to reduce exposure to chemicals in your home is by making and using your own all-purpose non-toxic cleaning products, and you’ll save money too. I just made a batch that will last me for months. I’m also trying to reduce the amount of waste my household produces by reusing glass containers. I wash and save the glass milk bottles I get at the market. They make excellent containers for my homemade cleaning product. Or use large pasta sauce jars.


All you need: White Vinegar + Water + Tea Tree Oil + Orange Essential oil (or Lavender or Rose Geranium)

empty bottles

Fill 1/4 of the bottle with White Vinegar, then fill the rest of the bottle with tap water, almost to the top. Add 20 drops of Tea Tree Essential oil, a natural anti-bacterial and 20 drops of Orange Essential oil to make it smell nice. Put the top back on and shake it up.

These 8 bottles are full and ready to be carried back to where they are stored on a shelf, and out of direct sun.

bottles on the move


The all-purpose cleaners smell so good, clean and fresh. Poured into glass spray bottles, they are all ready to be used with  washable and reusable cloth rags instead of wasteful paper towels.

full bottles

Let me know if you have a recipe you love to make and use for cleaning your home or office! Let’s all help each other be healthier as well as save money while doing it.


For more tips and resources about living a sustainable lifestyle:

For housekeeping products:




12 ways I save water at home

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Water is essential to our quality of life. We can’t thrive without it. In California, we are in water crisis. For the first time in the state’s history, the water supply and delivery system may not be able to meet our growing needs.

There are several ways I have learned to reduce the amount of water my household uses by saving good water that is usually wasted, which in turn, also saves money by reducing my water bill. I’ve gone beyond turning the tap off when brushing my teeth, the 3 minute shower and turning the dishwasher on when it’s full.

Following are the other 9 ways I save water in my home:

In the back of the toilets, I’ve hung Toilet Tank Banks, which saves 0.8 gallons of water with every flush:



Available from Amazon

In the shower, I keep a Rubber Bucket, to collect the freezing cold water because I don’t want to get in until it warms up! After my shower, I empty the bucket in my garden on my non-edible plants, such the hedge:



Available from Amazon

The bathtub is used primarily for soaking and not for bubble baths, so I can easily use a Sump Pump to pump the water out through the window and into another part of the garden that doesn’t include edibles. Occasionally, I’ll fill up the water barrel outside my bathroom window and use that water when the garden needs it:



Available from Amazon



Water Barrel:  Available from Amazon

In the kitchen, I keep a Recycled Plastic Kettle near my sink, which I pour unfinished glasses of water into. When the Kettle is full, I pour that water into my orchids or other non-edible plants:



Available from Amazon

In my kitchen sink, I use my largest stainless steel bowl when rinsing fruits or vegetables under running water. I pour that water into one of my raised vegetable beds. In this image, I used a ceramic bowl!



Available from Amazon

In my kitchen, I also use a Salad Spinner to wash my greens such as lettuce, kale, spinach, dandelion, parsley, herbs, etc. That water gets added to the raised vegetable beds or any other plants that need water in the garden:



Available from Amazon 

In my garden, I have another Water Barrel to collect water coming down from one of my gutters when it rains. That water is used to irrigate the non-edible garden beds:

water barrel #1


Available from Amazon

In my garden, I’ve been switching to drip irrigation, which saves water from evaporation, which occurs when using a hose or conventional sprinklers:


I also have a water purification system by Lifesource, which takes care of the needs of my whole house, filtering out chlorine and retaining natural and beneficial minerals such as calcium and magnesium. To find out more, contact



Monday, April 29th, 2013


Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth


We, the peoples and nations of Earth:

Considering that we are all part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings with a common destiny;

gratefully acknowledging that Mother Earth is the source of life, nourishment and learning and provides everything we need to live well;

recognizing that the capitalist system and all forms of depredation, exploitation, abuse and contamination have caused great destruction, degradation and disruption of Mother Earth, putting life as we know it today at risk through phenomena such as climate change;

convinced that in an interdependent living community it is not possible to recognize the rights of only human beings without causing an imbalance within Mother Earth;

affirming that to guarantee human rights it is necessary to recognize and defend the rights of Mother Earth and all beings in her and that there are existing cultures, practices and laws that do so;

conscious of the urgency of taking decisive, collective action to transform structures and systems that cause climate change and other threats to Mother Earth;

proclaim this Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and call on the General Assembly of the United Nation to adopt it, as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations of the world, and to the end that every individual and institution takes responsibility for promoting through teaching, education, and consciousness raising, respect for the rights recognized in this Declaration and ensure through prompt and progressive measures and mechanisms, national and international, their universal and effective recognition and observance among all peoples and States in the world.

Article 1. Mother Earth

(1) Mother Earth is a living being.

(2) Mother Earth is a unique, indivisible, self-regulating community of interrelated beings that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings.

(3) Each being is defined by its relationships as an integral part of Mother Earth.

(4) The inherent rights of Mother Earth are inalienable in that they arise from the same source as existence.

(5) Mother Earth and all beings are entitled to all the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as may be made between organic and inorganic beings, species, origin, use to human beings, or any other status.

(6) Just as human beings have human rights, all other beings also have rights, which are specific to their species or kind, and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.

(7) The rights of each being are limited by the rights of other beings and any conflict between their rights must be resolved in a way that maintains the integrity, balance and health of Mother Earth.

Article 2. Inherent Rights of Mother Earth

(1) Mother Earth and all beings of which she is composed have the following inherent rights:

(a) The right to life and to exist;

(b) The right to be respected;

(c) The right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions;

(d) The right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being;

(e) The right to water as a source of life;

(f) The right to clean air;

(g) The right to integral health;

(h) The right to be free from contamination, pollution and toxic or radioactive waste;

(i) The right to not have its genetic structure modified or disrupted in a manner that threatens it integrity or vital and healthy functioning;

(j) The right to full and prompt restoration the violation of the rights recognized in this Declaration caused by human activities;

(2) Each being has the right to a place and to play its role in Mother Earth for her harmonious functioning.

(3) Every being has the right to wellbeing and to live free from torture or cruel treatment by human beings.

Article 3. Obligations of human beings to Mother Earth

(1) Every human being is responsible for respecting and living in harmony with Mother Earth.

(2) Human beings, all States, and all public and private institutions must:

(a) Act in accordance with the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;

(b) Recognize and promote the full implementation and enforcement of the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;

(c) Promote and participate in learning, analysis, interpretation and communication about how to live in harmony with Mother Earth in accordance with this Declaration;

(d) Ensure that the pursuit of human wellbeing contributes to the wellbeing of Mother Earth, now and in the future;

(e) Establish and apply effective norms and laws for the defence, protection and conservation of the rights of Mother Earth;

(f) Respect, protect, conserve and where necessary, restore the integrity, of the vital ecological cycles, processes and balances of Mother Earth;

(g) Guarantee that the damages caused by human violations of the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration are rectified and that those responsible are held accountable for restoring the integrity and health of Mother Earth;

(h) Empower human beings and institutions to defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all beings;

(i) Establish precautionary and restrictive measures to prevent human activities from causing species extinction, the destruction of ecosystems or the disruption of ecological cycles;

(j) Guarantee peace and eliminate nuclear, chemical and biological weapons;

(k) Promote and support practices of respect for Mother Earth and all beings, in accordance with their own cultures, traditions and customs;

(l) Promote economic systems that are in harmony with Mother Earth and in accordance with the rights recognized in this Declaration.

Article 4. Definitions

(1) The term “being” includes ecosystems, natural communities, species and all other natural entities, which exist as part of Mother Earth.

(2) Nothing in this Declaration restricts the recognition of other inherent rights of all beings or specified beings.

Our Global Kitchen

Sunday, April 28th, 2013


The Natural History Museum in NYC has a show on till August 11th, 2013:


Our Global Kitchen

Food Nature Culture



The topic of food interests me a great deal and especially the future of food. Which foods will be the best to grow in 20 years? Which are the most nutritious for us and can be grown successfully? Which ones help the environment rather than deplete it?

Our Global Kitchen was full of facts beginning with vertical farming, an innovative indoor farming model that will allow for food to be grown within closer proximity to cities where 70% of people are expected to be living in the future. It will be able to produce fresh, healthy food year round, protect food from weather extremes, bring food closer to the city or be right in it therefore reducing transportation from farm to city and will recycle the water and nutrients therefore reducing waste. Vertical farming will be joining urban farms that can be found today in yards, roofs and balconies! I love urban farms and urban farmers.

2013-04-20 15.32.28



About the dreaded waste… of which each of us is producing and adding to our overfilled landfills: discarded food is the #1 source of waste reaching landfills, and methane from decaying food is a significant cause of global warming. Composting your kitchen scraps is one solution but also being evermore mindful about the amount of food you buy.  In fact, buying less could help… Buy only what you really need. Our consumer society should  turn into a ‘mindful” consumer society.



The future of food


Our population is expanding, while standards of living are also changing and our environment is increasingly strained. How will future food production meet the growing demand? Will our diets change?

Which foods will become fashionable in the future is impossible to predict. Most likely, some exist now and are underutilized. About 2,500 plant species have been domesticated for food. But today, almost half our food calories come from just three grains: wheat, maize and rice.

These following 8 food resources could provide solutions to problems of meeting the growing demand of producing more food without depleting natural resources:


Peach palm ( Bactris gasipaes) grows well in Central and South America and produces a large, nutritious fruit.




Emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum), a neglected crop that is being grown in Turkey, requires less fertilizer and fewer pesticides than the breeds that are currently being grown.



Insects, of which there are 2,000 species already eaten worldwide, including mopane worms (Gonimbrasia belina) in South Africa. Insects are high in protein and require much less land, water and food than animals raised for meat.

mopane worms



Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is a grain from the Andes, which contains all the essential amino acids the human body needs for protein and has no gluten.



Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) uses nitrogen from the air as fertilizer because of specialized bacteria in its roots, which are dense and help prevent soil erosion in China.

sea buckthorn


Minor millets are cereals that have been grown in Asia for 6,500 years. Many farmers in India and Nepal are now switching from growing crops like maize and rice back to traditional varieties bred to grow on local mountainsides.

minor millets


Algae and seaweed, which are already popular in Japan, are highly nutritious and can be grown in both fresh water and salt water.


Giant swamp taro ( Cyrtosperma chamissonis), which grows well in the salty, sandy soils of many Pacific islands, is rich in vitamins and minerals. Yellow varieties are high in beta carotene, which can help prevent blindness.





What to eat all this delicious and nutritious food with?


A history of forks:

Forks arrived in Western Europe shortly after AD 1000, when a Byzantine princess from Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) married a nobleman in Venice, Italy. Instead of eating with her fingers, the princess cut up her food into small pieces and ate with little golden forks with two prongs.

Americans adopted forks sometime in the mid 1800′s, much later than Europeans. Before then, Americans often used either their fingers or stabbed food with knives, to the horror of their European visitors.

A history of knives:

Our early ancestors began using stone cutting tools some 2.5 million years ago. Hundreds of years ago, European hosts didn’t provide utensils, so people had to carry their own, which was usually just a sharp knife.

By the 1500′s, most knives were made of steel, which reacted to acidic foods, affecting flavor. By the 1900′s, stainless steel arrived and revolutionized mass-produced utensils.


Note: I took loads of notes at the show, and quoted directly from the material that was posted as I found it to be just perfect. I extend many thanks to the unknown writers and researchers who put this wonderful show together.


Monday, April 1st, 2013


I just spent a couple of wonderful days exploring Death Valley, California. It’s immense and awesome. The scale of it is hard to capture in photos. Best time of year to go is February to May, when the temperature is mild and the wildflowers are blooming at different elevations.

Bring a hat




and water


Stop by China Ranch’s Date Farm


Young Date Palm frond


From a Date Palm


It’s sounds nuts but it’s 178 feet below sea level in Death Valley…


Natural treasures seen in Devil’s Golfcourse


Naturally occurring at the Devil’s Golfcourse


Got up at 5:30 am to photograph the sun coming up at Artist Palette. So worth it!


Treasures seen at Artist Palette


Honey Mesquite beans are part of the history of Death Valley and the Native Americans who lived here for thousands of years. Mesquite grows along the valley floor and along springs. The bean from the Honey Mesquite tree ripen in May, and the Indians would gather them from the thorny branches. A portion of the beans would be stored for future use in excavated pits, lined with grass and then covered with stones to protect from rodents. Now the Indians were ready to move up into the Panamint Mountains to escape summer’s scorching valley temperature.


Mesquite beans are very brittle when dried, so they can be ground into meal. The pods have a high sugar content-25% to 30%- and the meal can be mixed with water to make a cereal, or baked into bread. The seeds can be soaked in water to yield a sweet, lemon-flavored drink. Native Americans have ground Mesquite beans and another nuts and seeds for thousands of years with a mano (pestle) and a metate (mortar).


The word for Mesquite in Shoshone is “o’phi”, and this plant is also a valuable source of wood for fuel in the desert.


Death Valley gorgeously located: Amaragosa Hotel and Opera house. It’s crying for an angel to come and rescue it.



Complete awesome-ness: Zabriskie Point. Stunning. Immense. Jaw dropping.


Meditative hiker @ Zabriskie Point


Rocking in my hiking gear while taking photos of Zabriskie Point with my daughter Lucie.


Back home with my treasures from China Ranch:  Date Palm part and Sage


Native Americans in Death Valley

Indians had been living in Death Valley for thousands of years before the first pioneers struggled through in 1849. The Indian name for  Death Valley was Tomesha meaning “ground afire.” The Indians had learned that the best way to live in this area was to leave the valley during the summer. As the hot weather arrived, they followed the lines of ripening vegetation upward into the surrounding mountains where they would gather seeds and Pine nuts. In the fall, they would return to the valley where the climate would remain mild during the winter.

The Indians of Death Valley are descendants of the Southern Shoshone tribeseman who wandered westward a thousand years ago from the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains.


Note: All the information about Native Americans in Death Valley I learned at the museum located in The Furnace Creek Ranch.




My First Almanac Blog/Newsletter

Friday, March 29th, 2013

I can’t believe it’s already been 5 years since I started writing my monthly Almanac Blog/Newsletter. I had just launched my online store 4 months before, in January 2009, which had been a huge undertaking. My initial idea for the Almanac was to put out a print version quarterly, according to each season but decided that an online version once a month was more realistic. I must have been insane to take on so much! I really wanted to promote the products in my store, and show what a fantastic alternative they were and still are to many conventional ones.  I also wanted to promote the work of other eco minded people and raise awareness of the efforts they are making to make our environment a healthier place to live. Over the years, my Almanac has grown and  evolved, to include plant based recipes to eco film recommendations, great books to read, a garden calendar according to the phases of the moon, an inspiring sustainable design, an artist who works with natural or recycled materials or is inspired by nature, and more recently, a person of the month. Along with new tips and resources shared every month in my 3 PW tips,  these first  3 eco-tips are still my favorite. Simple tips for simple living:

1-Turn off lights in rooms you aren’t using and teach your children to do the same. 2- Bring your own reusable bags when you do any shopping. 3-When you wash your vegetables, save the water in a bucket and reuse it in the garden.



Almanac#1-2106 LOVES

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Seven years ago when I started my business, I made these boards that I hung above my desk. They are still there because my message hasn’t changed:



I also wrote out my Mission and Goals at the same time. I see it every day because it’s pinned to my vision board behind my desktop. Here it is word for word:

1-To provide alternatives to plastic bags through reusable market bags, produce bags, biodegradable bags and reusable sandwich wraps ( I don’t like most biodegradable bags anymore since they pollute the environment, unless they are made with 100% natural materials like corn or natural starches. I do believe in composting all my vegan kitchen scraps and turning them into nutrient rich material for my garden).

2- To provide support to cooperatives around the world, as well as connecting to their cultures, and raise awareness of their struggle to overcome many challenges to survive.
(I still feel this way and look to support women’s cooperatives in my store and when I go shopping).

3-To provide products that provide shelter and care to our animal friends, with birdhouses, bee houses, and non-toxic shampoo for dogs, a scratch pad for cats and several books celebrating animals. (Sadly, I didn’t succeed at having a section devoted to pets since I found it difficult to find products I wanted to carry. I donated the dog shampoos since then to an animal shelter).

4- To provide a selection of non toxic home care products to teach and encourage people to rid chemicals from their home environment with natural alternatives, such as Bon Ami cleaners, natural sponges and non toxic dryer sheets. (I have stopped carrying many of the cleaning supplies because they are now widely available in most supermarkets, including the classic and wonderful Bon Ami line. I have also learned how to make my own cleaning products for a fraction of the cost of buying them in the store).

5-To provide sensible educational materials, games and books for parents to share with their children. (I still feel the same).

6-To provide inexpensive products that help you save money and energy through using less water and electricity.( I still carry these products and have learned new ways to waste less water).

7-To provide support to businesses that are making useful products using recycled materials.( I still believe this very much so and have always shown my support to small businesses that have come up with a wonderful and healthy alternative to a conventional product and especially when they use innovative and creative ideas in reusing, recycling and repurposing materials).

Clearly, seven years ago I didn’t know about how laden with toxins women’s beauty products are or I would have offered a non-toxic skin care line right from the start. It took me a few years to find one that I really love, which is Odacite’. I use it every day. In fact, I still won’t carry a product in my store that I wouldn’t use myself.

My updated wish list is as follows:

* That all paper products are made from recycled paper, whether it’s books, magazines, school and office supplies, home supplies such as Kleenex, paper towels and toilet paper

*That all beauty and skin care products are made free of chemicals

*That all cleaning products are non-toxic

*That as many products as possible are made using recycled materials

*That all food is grown without the use of pesticides, chemicals and are GMO free

*That we reduce and remove the use of plastic in our lives, and instead use reusable market bags, reusable produce bags, glass storage containers for food and glass water bottles.



Solar Panels Rock!

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Finally, I have Solar Panels on my house! It’s just grand, marvelous and absolutely fantastic! It’s taken me years to find the right company and Real Goods Solar has done such an amazing job. I’m chuffed that I rented the solar panels, so it hasn’t cost me anything to have them installed. The way it works is that Real Goods Solar gets the tax credit and rebates, which I would have received if I had bought the panels. As soon as my local utility provider ( LADWP) signs off on my system, I’ll start saving money because my rate will be locked in, which is especially good because LADWP is planning on raising their rates about 6% a year over the next few years. Feels so good that I’m going to be getting energy from the sun and sharing the energy I produce with my neighbors (courtesy of our utility provider). Happy times.


Roof prep


Solar panels rock


more roof prep


Almost done…and I reckon I’ll need to trim that big tree back to get the optimum amount of sun.


Hip hip hooray!



























Environmental Working Group

Friday, September 7th, 2012

A few days ago, I had the pleasure and great honor of giving a tea in my home for Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  It was so wonderful to hear him speak about all the work the EWG does to better our world and also to have the opportunity to discuss issues that matter to us such as how very important it is that we all vote YES on Prop 37 in the upcoming November election (prop 37 is only being voted on in California), which will require labeling on all foods and drinks containing GMO’s. I feel that we should have the right to know what’s in the food we buy and that it’s about time!

We also discussed how we can only hope that Johnson & Johnson’s announcement a few months ago that it will be removing potentially harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, from its line of consumer products by the end of 2015, will inspire many more (all!) companies that make consumer products to do the same. I mentioned that it feels like a new age of enlightenment to me, these last 10 years, because over these years, we have been made aware of the toxins in many of the products we all grew up using yet never questioned if they were healthy to use, but only how effective they were.

Blthye Metz, my co-producer on #StopMonsanto film, being photographed photographing me introducing Ken Cook to the intimate group in my living room.


In case you don’t know about the EWG…

Quoting from their site: “The EWG was founded in 1993, and is a national public interest group dedicated to using the power of information to protect public health and the environment.

Their Mission is to protect the most vulnerable segments of the population-children, babies, and infants in the womb-from health problems attributed to toxic contaminants. The EWG works on replacing federal policies, including government subsidies that damage the environment and natural resources, with policies that invest in conservation and sustainable development. The EWG also wants to give us all the tools we need to make the best product buying decisions for our families.


The EWG’s research brings to light unsettling facts that you have the right to know about. it shames and shakes up polluters and their representatives. It rattles lawmakers and regulatory agencies, persuading them to rethink science and reshape public policy accordingly. It provides practical information you can use to protect your family and community.

As a 501 non-profit, EWG is nonpartisan and does not support or oppose candidates or political parties.”

Their website is


Selection of the helpful and informative guides the EWG shares with us.


EWG is a treasure and an invaluable trustworthy resource I go to regularly, and whenever I can, I share monthly updates about in my almanac blog on my site.



Creative Activist

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

A Creative Activist is defined as an individual who is inspired to use media and the arts to create awareness of crucial issues and ignite positive action. I am definitely a Creative Activist and I have written this blog about why I feel it’s vitally important that we all get out and vote in November, and vote yes on Prop 37. I usually like to stay out of anything politically related, but in this case, I am making an exception. Voting is one of the few ways we actually can make a difference in this beautiful country of ours-the others being when we do jury duty and also, what you spend your money on.

Did you know… that Corn and Soy are the most GMO grown foods in the United States? I am including an informative link about GMO sweet corn that is enlightening :


Please join me in supporting Prop 37 and our right to know what’s in our food:

No matter what side of the fence you are on, I feel that we all should have the right to choose the food we buy for our families and know what’s in it.



Check out this list of all the companies that have donated towards defeating Prop 37. I can’t believe that some of the ones I have been buying from for years are on the list…So disappointing.


Labeling will not increase the price of food:

Quoting the Huffington Post: “To fight the initiative, seed giant Monsanto Co, soda and snack seller PepsiCo Inc and other opponents of the labeling measure have put up $25 million already and could raise up to $50 million.

Foodmakers, like carmakers, know that what starts in California has a fair chance of becoming the national law, or at least the national norm.

Unbeknownst to many Americans, some of the most popular U.S. GMO crops — corn, soybeans and canola — have been staple ingredients for years in virtually every type of packaged food, from soup and tofu to breakfast cereals and chips.

Supporters of the ballot initiative, who include food and environmental activists as well as organic growers, say consumers have the right to know what’s in the food they eat and want GMO products cut from the food chain.

A “yes” vote from the Golden State – home to about 10 percent of Americans – could upend the U.S. food business from farm to fork if it prompts makers of popular foods to dump GMO ingredients.”

read the whole piece:


Did you notice what I have had posted on my facebook page from years ago when I first joined?

Each of us have the power to change the world by what we buy.

I still believe that.