More Lavender!

Today I refreshed my pillows, dresser drawers and my suitcase with this year’s lavender harvest from the best lavender farmer, telemark skier and good-time gal I know, Lavender Lori.  You can order lavender from her, plus read her blog at http://lavenderloriparr.wordpress.com/.   I like what she is up to.

I have to buy a few more bags to fill with fresh lavender.  One for my sleeping bag, one for the coat closet, and one for my main wardrobe closet.

Another great use for lavender I discovered today:  sprinkle lavender on carpet, rugs or hardwood floors Continue reading


Freshen Up with Lavender

The Farmer Market season is on! Fresh produce abounds–I love kale, hydroponic tomatoes that taste like August in late June, arugula shoots, and beets.  Last week I bought a fresh pound of lavender from my LOCAL go-to lavender supplier, Lavender Lori. It’s time to replenish and refresh my lavender from last year.  Out with the old and in with the new! And buy local!

Here are some ideas: Continue reading


Going Vegan

In January of this year as part of my “Lighten Up” project, I completed 14 days of the Master Cleanse.  This was no small feat.  You see, I work in a restaurant surrounded by freshly baked French baguette, plates of butter, accessible soup, and late night staff meals like baked cheesy pasta, burgers, and mashed potatoes with horseradish.  And trust me, everything is delicious.  The biggest challenge of the Master Cleanse is the mental aspect.  Life goes on the same way for the most part, except for the two hour long bathroom routine in the morning.  I went snowboarding once–it was too much to have to go to the bathroom after each and every run.

After the fast ended, I found myself much more sensitive to foods that I hadn’t been before.  Sugar would keep me up all night, even just one little piece of chocolate, I could feel alcohol actually absorb into my tissues and bread left me feeling thick around the middle.  I thought I was going to become “one of those people”–someone who is allergic or affected by every food under the sun.  No bread, no alcohol, no sugar, no fun.  I had been vegan for a few months before I started, and I went right back to that, just limiting those foods that left me feeling worse off for eating them.  It was a good process to actually acknowledge how certain foods reacted with my body.  I even felt a little yearning to go back on the Master Cleanse–my blood sugar was stabilized, I didn’t feel guilt or anxiety about eating foods, and it was easy.  I didn’t have to plan meals or go shopping for anything but lemons and maple syrup.

Then just a few weeks ago, I decided to try a protein-rich diet advocated by Tim Ferriss in his book, The Four-Hour Body.  Don’t believe everything you read.  What is good for one person, may not be good for you.  Be an expert of yourself, and listen intently to the feedback.  I was kind of excited to eat meat again, but when I didn’t go to the bathroom for three days, I knew something was wrong.  And I felt gross.  So it’s back to the vegan plan for me, which is more exciting than eating meat.  The protein-heavy plan induced panic, guilt and anxiety in me, so that the emotional fights I had with myself certainly weren’t helping me lose weight or feel good about myself.

I re-watched Fork over Knives, the movie that inspired me to change my diet in the first place.    The diet statistics are astounding and reveal some pretty scary facts about our wonderful Western diet.  I don’t think becoming vegan is going to reduce global carbon emissions.  I am not a vegan because I am against ranching or farming.  I like leather and natural textiles.  I choose to be a vegan simply because it works for me.  I feel like everything I eat is good for me–the guilt and anxiety disappear.  For my long-term health and insurance-free life, it is a good choice.  And maybe I shouldn’t say “vegan,”  because I still like a dash of cream in my coffee, oyster happy hours with Vanessa, and the once-a-month gourmet burger.


rainy day

Lighten Up

It’s time that flies by, these days of rain and clouds.  I am holding out for May flowers, for sun-drenched days in the middle of the year.  It is almost the middle of the year!  I think this is a good time to check in, plan ahead and do a little personal inventory of the “new” year.  We all set intentions and embark on some sort of resolution in January.  In these months, it’s nice to revisit and take note of what is working and what is not.  I wanted to write a letter every week.  (Every letter is an act of love.)  I think I have written one letter.  Maybe that’s not working so well.  I want to write a letter every week, believe me, so maybe saying every month would be more honest for what I can actually do.  Continue reading


White Vinegar Uses

It’s White Vinegar Wednesday in my house today.  The hard water here coats the inside of my tea pot with white mineral chunks and crud.  Every few weeks I like to make it look new again.  Fill the pot full of white vinegar–don’t dilute it.  I left mine just above medium heat for about 15 minutes.  While it is on the stove, toss a cup or so of baking soda in the shower/sink drain.  When the vinegar just about boils, pour it over the baking soda.   Let that sit for a few minutes and then run the hottest water possible down the drain.  I boiled a big pot of water for this step.   It helps break up any remaining baking soda solids. Just rinse the tea pot well with lots of water, and get ready to brew another cup.   Two chores done at once!

I like to mix up my own glass cleaner using vinegar.  A simple recipe:  2 cups water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap.  And I use newspaper, not paper towels to get streak-free, lint-free results.

And an all-purpose surface cleaner that I have been using for years:  2 cups water, 1 teaspoon Borax, 3 Tablespoons white vinegar.  I have the recipe written tight on the spray bottle that I have been re-using for years.

And of course, I love white vinegar in tangy salad dressings.  Use with olive oil or grape seed oil and mix briskly with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  This is a great vinaigrette base.  The mustard acts as an emulsifier, binding the vinegar and oil into a solution.  Mix according to taste preference.   Then, add maple syrup, herbs, honey, salt and pepper, raspberry juice, citrus, soy sauce, etc.  to create your own style of dressing.  You can use different vinegars to change the taste, if you like.  I like rice and balsamic vinegars, especially.  The white vinegar definitely has a more punchy style–a little goes a long way!


Set a Timer!

I am not the neatest person on the planet. I enjoy some creative clutter, but need my space to be neat to get anything done. I love staying in hotel rooms for the housekeeping service. And room service. Someone to make my bed everyday, clean towels! When I feel like procrastinating and that sluggish feeling of not getting anything done, I set a timer. I’d rather spend twenty minutes than an hour doing housework. I have an orange, magnetic timer from Anthropologie that has a nice old-fashioned buzz.  My kitchen has metal cabinets, so magnets are great and save counter space. It’s also a nice way to display things I love. There are lots of cute egg timers in different shapes, but use your cell phone, microwave, stove. Just make sure you can hear it!

Sometimes I just need to do the dishes and make my bed to restore order to my sense of space—20 minutes and I can be out the door, or onto something that I really want to do. Be realistic about the project and how much time you need. My bathroom shelf is begging for reorganization. I’m guessing if I spend just half an hour, I could get a lot done. I set timers for chores, mostly, but use a timer for paying the bills, reading before leaving for work, the timing of the French Press (4 minutes, they say). I forget things, too, like the beans slow cooking on the stove, or the roasting beets in the oven—set a timer so you don’t burn the house down!