Friday, July 25, 2014

Riding in the Bike Lane

I love riding my bike around town, but let’s be honest, without bike lanes I just don’t feel safe riding the streets. In my college years my roommate and I used to take our bikes down Pacific Beach and ride our bikes down to Mission Beach while blasting music from our am/fm radio. Yes, a radio. It was the early 2000s, okay? We weren’t counting miles as much as taking in the waves and sun while we peddled around town with her little dog in her bike basket and the radio in mine.

When I rode my bike for the first time on the newly opened West Anaheim bike trail I had a similar thrill. Sure there weren’t any ocean waves, dogs in bike baskets or a radio, but there is nothing like being able to ride your bike free and clear of traffic. The new bike trail is nestled between a neighborhood of 1950s Ranch homes and a nursery that offers a nice green view. At each major cross street a signaled cross walk adds security for safe crossing.

The 1 mile paved trail runs between City Park off Lola Avenue and Maxwell Park off Orange Avenue. Riding the length of the parks adds some mileage, and if you add a ride through Schweitzer Park to the West Anaheim Youth Center you can get in about 3 miles round trip. Between the view of the parks and the nurseries, there is plenty of green space on the bike ride, but I didn’t expect to see any wildlife. I’m not talking about neighborhood cats and dogs either. While riding alongside Carbon Creek, I was taken by the beautiful site of two egrets wading and flying over the water.

It brings a smile to my face to share the bike trail with my neighbors, feathered or not.

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 d├ęcor, 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.