Wednesday, July 23, 2014

CrunchCorps: Oil Cleansing Method

OCM with The Sunshine Grove

I can’t remember how I discovered the oil cleansing method (OCM), I just know I was pretty proud of myself because my crunchiest friend hadn’t heard of it. Finally I had the chance to discover an alternative skin care method and report on it. I was suffering from dry skin on my cheeks and no matter how much moisturizer I used, my skin wasn't healing. I had just plunged into natural deodorant, so finding an alternative for cleansing and moisturizing my face was my second adventure in natural products.

Being new to using oils for skin care, I now realize that I went to the natural food store rather blindly. I did some online research and found what types of oils are best for OCM but didn't quite understand why. The recommendation I found was to mix a carrier oil and castor oil in order to moisturize and cleanse. I found a chart that explained the more castor oil added to the mixture, the more abrasive or cleaning power the mix would have. It is suggested that there always be twice as much carrier oil to the castor oil. I started with ¾ carrier oil and ¼ castor oil.

If you are wondering what a carrier oil is, don’t worry, you aren't alone. I had no idea what classified as a carrier oil or even why it was called that. In a nutshell (pun intended), a carrier or base oil is a vegetable oil derived from a seed, nut or kernel. The oil has a light or no smell and doesn't evaporate. The reason they are called a carrier oil comes from blending carrier oils and essential oils (EO). Because essential oils are highly concentrated and evaporate, they are blended with carrier oils to avoid irritating the skin and not evaporate so quickly.  

I chose sunflower as my carrier oil because of its low viscosity. The skin absorbs it so it retains the moisture without clogging pores. It is also high in vitamin E which naturally is high in antioxidants and promotes healing. I had great results almost immediately. For the first few days my face felt oilier than usual, but I never broke out during the transition period. I wash my face using OCM once a day, usually at night, and then rinse and dry my face in the morning. On occasion my cheeks will still dry out, but I just dab a little avocado oil on them in the morning and it is almost an instant fix. Check out AromaWeb for a great in depth description of carrier oils to choose the right one for your skin. You can find a great resource for troubleshooting OCM here.

So why oil? Conventional cleaners strip away the natural oils our body produces, leaving our skin feeling dry and even tight. Our body works extra hard to produce oil to rehydrate our skin. In response advertisements would have us deep clean our face, then add synthetic moisturizers to rehydrate. Because oil dissolves oil, OCM works to clean and hydrate our skin.

Last summer I traveled to New England. Not wanting to deal with the hassle of flying with oils I decided to keep them at home. My husband is always going on and on about how great the water is in Maine, so I figured between that and the humidity, my skin wouldn't dry out too much. Half way through out trip my face was so dry I started checking kitchen cupboards for olive oil. With just a little bit rubbed into my face I felt instant relief. Now I know to not leave home without my oils!

In a nutshell, massage oil into your face, rinse and gently wipe away the excess oil. It really is that simple. If you are short on time skip the steaming.

Oh, and did I mention oil makes a fabulous eye make up remover?

OCM with The Sunshine Grove

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Vintage Patio

My favorite place to read is in the shade of our crape myrtle. To be honest, it is my favorite place to paint, sand wood, really do anything in the afternoon shade of the canopy. While flipping through a 1961 issue of Better Homes and Gardens I noticed my favorite backyard spot was one of their ’50 Improvements Under $50’.

Years ago my dad put the patio together using locking bricks around the crape myrtle. Because of California’s perpetual drought, having a draining patio in place of lawn helps eliminate run off and of course there’s less lawn to water. In 1961 they recommended cement finishing to accompany the patio bricks, but I've listened to Jeremy talk about the importance of proper drainage to know that gravel helps water drain through the patio, instead of around it.

The wrought iron patio furniture in the magazine is very similar to ours and made me wonder about its history. I found an article in Country Living Magazine that explained how American blacksmiths “popularized wrought iron during the 1920s, and it remained in vogue until the Eisenhower era [1952 – 1961], when lighter, cheaper, rust-proof aluminum caught on.” We brought our patio set from Mexico, so I was surprised to find that wrought iron furniture had deep roots in America.

Do you have summer patio plans of your own? If you do, remember, “material costs, wise buying, and the way you adapt the idea will make the difference.”

Friday, July 4, 2014

Crunch Corps, Reporting for Duty

A few years ago I found myself in a position of needing to decrease my spending and wanting to eliminate chemicals from my body care products. I had been living a post-1940's consumer lifestyle, which included buying into the gimmicks that some cream or lotion would solve all of my problems. I was simultaneously breaking up with my dermatologist who herself always had a new miracle cream for the small cost of an arm and a leg.

Gone were the days of walking into Target for milk and Q-tips, but leaving with half a new outfit, dog treats, a work out DVD destined for dust, tube socks, and $10 worth of stuff from the $1 section. Oh, and forgetting the milk. I took it upon myself to look at my life and decide what I could make, what I could live without and what I actually needed to buy.

I turned to the pre-1940's for guidance. I learned to preserve food, make my own skin care products, re-purpose things I already owned and embrace growing our own food. It might not seem less expensive to start living this way. There are upfront costs of supplies and jars, but in the long run, I did save money and time. Also, there is nothing more powerful than know what you are putting on your plate or skin. I’m not saying it was easy, but it is more satisfying.

Even though I was consciously using more natural products, I kept my medicine cabinet filled with chemical laced products, because what if this whole natural thing doesn't work out? When I realized I hadn't touched those products two years later I finally made room for the things that mattered in my bathroom. The products that make me feel good because they soothing my skin, de-frizzed my curls and were chemical free.

I created Crunch Corps to share the ups and downs of using natural products. Because most of the products I use come from the kitchen, the trial and errors of creating a perfect recipe for skin care, are much like creating a perfect edible recipe. I've had successes and failures, with plenty more trials to come. I hope you’ll join Crunch Corps and the journey to a more chemical free live.

Learn basic food preservation: There are a whole lot of people who are afraid of putting up their own food because of food safety. I took a half day workshop to settle those fears with a Master Food Preserver and now I’m hooked. If you don’t want to commit to canning, make a small batch of refrigerator jam. Not only does it taste better than what’s in the store, but you know what is in it.

Skip the checkout line: Just because summer officially started doesn't mean it is too late for a little spring cleaning. Gather the things you might want to donate or offer at a garage sale and first see if they can be repurposed. Do you have some chipped glass bowls that you love? Turn them into planters. What about that dress made with amazing fabric but doesn't fit quite right? Could you take it to a tailor, or even try yourself to refashion it?

Cut the chemicals: You are doing your body a favor when you use more natural skin care products or even make your own. By eliminating chemicals and plastics from your daily routine you aren't polluting your pores. Next week I’ll be sharing my favorite natural skin care routine.

In the meantime check out the Environmental Working Group: Download the app and scan the products in your skin care routine. You will be surprised to find what might be lurking in the products you use.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Destination: Palm Springs

Palm Springs via The Sunshine Grove

Jeremy and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary this weekend by taking a little road trip to Palm Springs. We headed to the land of mod with Mid Century Modern on our minds. And of course some pool time to cool off from the 100 degree temperatures.

It had been years since I had been to Palm Springs, and Jeremy’s first time. We had an easy drive for a Friday afternoon considering Southern California traffic. It just so happens that as you drive in to Palm Springs the first building you see is in the Mid Century Modern style, which I was pretty excited about. We returned to the Tramway Gas Station the next morning for our self guided tour map of Modern Palm Springs. The majority of the sites were residential homes, but there were other public buildings on the tour like fire stations, libraries, and hotels. We found a couple of shops selling modern décor, but I was really hoping for some great vintage desert shopping.

Palm Springs via The Sunshine Grove

Palm Springs via The Sunshine Grove
We took a few strolls downtown and were bummed the historical society was closed for the summer. That’s right, closed for the summer. They did have great vintage relics in their windows which made us want to know what treasures they might have inside.

Although we thoroughly enjoyed our time lounging in the pool and walking through town, we had a blast at the Tonga Hut, two days in a row. We stopped in for cocktails on Friday night and then returned Saturday for champagne brunch. We took advantage of the air conditioning in the upstairs lounge while enjoying fabulous rum cocktails. I was excited to find that they served Asian style “salsa and chips” of wantons and sweet and sour sauce and their fruit bowl served over ice.

Palm Springs via The Sunshine Grove

On our drive home we took a detour to see the Cabazon Dinosaurs. As a kid I remember thinking how huge they were! Now that I’m all grown up, they are still big, but not as large as I remember them. It was fun to experience something from my childhood with Jeremy. The cherry on top was getting to climb to the top of the T-Rex together, which was something you couldn’t do when I was a kid.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Anaheim Packing District

Greetings from the Packing House Anaheim, CA via The Sunshine Grove

On the corner of Anaheim Boulevard and Santa Ana Street sits a Sunkist packing house. From 1919 to 1955 the Packing House served as a part of the Anaheim Orange & Lemon Association where orange growers would deliver their fruits to be packaged and transported around the country on the railways. It makes me wonder how many oranges from the orange groves that used to grow where my house sits traveled through the Packing House. How I remember it as an ice house. You pulled around back and requested bags or even blocks of ice that were carried in trunks or truck beds to celebrations around town. These days the celebration is at the Packing House.

Packing House North Entrance via The Sunshine Grove
The last few years have transformed the site from a rough, empty building to a beautifully redesigned and functional space housing over 20 eateries and community meeting spaces. Although the days when the building was used to sort and pack oranges are gone, the exposed beams, large ceiling windows and original wood floors compliment the new modern touches.

Hammer Bar at The Packing House Anaheim, CA via The Sunshine Grove

Walking in the North entrance you have a view of most of the first floor and atrium. To the front you have the concierge and to the side Studio la Fleur, a little flower shop on carts. To the right you have the Hammer Bar which I think is one of the best put together spaces. The actual bar area is an old trailer hitched to a vintage tractor. Sitting in the bar you feel like you are in a greenhouse, surrounded by plaid and metal vintage camping décor. Cocktail glasses hang from rakes, with copies of Popular Mechanics laid out for reading while lounging on old tractor seats. My favorite cocktail? A Twist of Cane: rum, fresh-pressed cantaloupe, lemongrass syrup and Aloe Vera liqueur.

Adya and Lemon Drop at The Packing House Anaheim, CA via The Sunshine Grove

On the South West side of the building you will find the first of many eateries. Adya isn’t just any Indian restaurant, it focuses on Indian street food. Chef Shachi Mehra’s fare has been a huge favorite; I have yet to hear anyone try something they didn't like. Many people assume Indian food means curry, but this isn't true at Adya. Even if you don’t think you are a fan of Indian, you might be surprised by the Malai Tikka chicken and goat cheese naan – my favorites! Bonus – everything except the bread is gluten free.

Dark 180, buy'n bulk and The Kroft at The Packing House Anaheim, CA via The Sunshine Grove

Chances are you won’t be disappointed by the other food options either. The eateries aren't traditional sit down restaurants, but this isn't a food court either. Community seating between the restaurants allow for variety that can meet your party’s palette. Choose from sushi and ramen from OrangeTei, fish and chips from The Chippy, waffle sandwiches and craft beer at TheIron Press, shabu shabu at Rolling Boil, comfort foods at The Kroft and coming soon is Georgia’s southern cuisine. And don’t forget to grab dessert! Although I haven’t tried it yet, if the line speaks for how good their pops are, Pop Bar serves gelato on a stick with dipping options like chocolate and nuts. Since ice cream is my favorite treat, you’ve probably seen me in line for Han’sHomemade Ice Cream. Crafted from cream from local dairies, this ice cream is delish. I suggest the peanut butter ice cream with chocolate ribbon.

Outdoor seating and Chippy at The Packing House Anaheim, CA via The Sunshine Grove

I love the culinary and dietary variety that come together under one roof at The Packing House. Raw Chef Jenny Ross’ Lemon Drop serves cold pressed juices, smoothies and a variety of other raw and vegan foods. Have you ever thought a delicious breakfast would be slices of avocado topped with berries? Me neither until I tried it. Since I’m not a full time vegan, I can walk downstairs and visit Wheat & Sons Butcher/Rotisserie for locally sourced grass fed meats. I’m thinking a perfect summer day would include a fresh squeezed juice, then a whole chicken or sausages for barbecuing in the afternoon.

The Packing House East entrance via The Sunshine Grove

Don’t forget to visit the outside spaces for relaxing in the shade. Railcars that used to pull up next to the building to transport citrus throughout the country now sit stationary as outdoor eating spaces. Just outside the East of the building is a grassy area with plenty of seating including rocking chairs and a fireplace. Take a seat on North side of the building’s first floor rocker or ground level lounging areas and enjoy the view of Farmer’s Park.

Sustainable Sam and Farmer's Park via The Sunshine Grove

When I first walked inside of the Packing House on opening day I was impressed. What I saw far exceeded my expectations and I thought, “This is ours.” The way the Packing District (Packing House, Farmer’s Park & Packard Building) has been developed is one with the history of Anaheim. There aren't many historic buildings left in Anaheim, and to give these life again is celebrating the past, present and future. During the media tasting welcome address, Shaheen Sadhegi of The LAB Holdings, who has developed the area, said the Packing District was designed with “localization, customization and personalization” in mind. He referenced how post WWII America’s interest was in mass consumption, but these days people are looking to make their own goods or buy local goods. That to me is part of what building a community is all about.

The Packing House Anaheim, CA via The Sunshine Grove

There’s a group of us that frequently run into each other at restaurants, Center Street or even the Anaheim Brewery. These meetings aren't always planned, many times they are just by chance. We call each other neighbors even if we live streets or miles apart. My neighbors and I have been excited to see so many strangers at the Packing House. We imagine there are other groups of friends, probably thinking the same thing about us. Now we have a new place to bump into each other, and even meet new neighbors. 

440 S Anaheim Blvd
Anaheim, CA 92805