Welcome to the Spring Issue of the Almanac Newsletter!
Sometimes, I refer to choices in my life as being old school because there are aspects of how everyone lived decades ago (sixty years at least) that make sense to me from the food that used to be all organically grown and that everything was reused or repurposed. I like to revisit what worked best in the sustainable lifestyles of the past and adapt those practices in my own life. One of those more recent developments is the reintroduction of the humble napkin ring into my household-- still a work in progress. I wrote about it and my improvised napkin rings.
On an exciting note, I’m doing a soft launch of my Home Sustainable Living Consulting. Offering my personal consulting services is a natural next step as my work is about inspiring and enabling you with healthy choices and trusted resources.
I had no idea there were so many mountain lions in the Los Angeles area! An event I went to about the proposed Liberty Canyon Wildlife Overpass, explained the plight of cougars and other wildlife in all urban environments and what we can do to help them.
Reduce. Recycle. Reuse. The mantra that became ubiquitous over the last decade, alongside buzz words like “green living” and “sustainability.” But for eco-pioneer Priscilla Woolworth, founder and CEO of PriscillaWoolworth.com, these terms were nothing new—Thank you Brandettes for featuring me on your fabulous site!
Every few weeks, I write a newsletter for the LOLA blog, which is an extension of my book LOLA Lots of Love Always. The blog features healthy tips or interviews of inspiring women like outspoken healthcare advocate Fran Drescher or profiles of inspiring entrepreneurs like Komal Ahmad, who has fed over 575,000 homeless people in San Francisco with excess food from corporate events. If you wish to receive the newsletter, please subscribe here.
The gorgeous Mandala on the cover of this issue is just one of the beautiful mandalas in a 2016 calendar available right here.
One of the categories of this almanac I really enjoy curating is Eco Art, because apart from loving art, I love nature and love when artists are inspired by it, or use natural or recycled materials in their work. However, this is not the only art I appreciate. Here I shared art from a broad group of 25 artists.
And talking about artists…did you read the story about the artist who melted 1,527 guns and turned them into shovels for planting Trees? So wonderful! Some of the shovels have even made their way to the Vancouver Art Gallery, the San Francisco Art Institute, Maison Rouge in Paris and other locations around the world.
March 13th, don’t forget to set your clocks forward an hour.
I love this zero-waste food chain in Versailles, France where customers bring their own containers, weighing and filling them with as little or as much as they need, which helps them to substantially reduce their food waste. Read more here.
San Diego rocks! They are giving tax breaks to convert blighted property into veggie gardens and Long Beach rocks too because they have built a wall of mulch to combat noise pollution. As the mulch naturally decomposes, it will add beneficial nutrients to the soil, which helps the trees planted nearby. Everyone benefits!
March 21st is the International Day of Forests. Check out the amazing work that Conservation International is doing to save what is our natural air filters, our water factories, our medicine cabinets, our places of peace: our forests.
April 3rd is the birthday of a glorious and inspiring human being: Dr. Jane Goodall. Send her a birthday wish by supporting the incredible work that she does! Visit janegoodall.org.
April 22nd is Earth Day and EarthDay.org is working to stop the loss of 15 billion trees each year by planting trees that help communities—especially the world’s impoverished communities—sustain themselves and their local economies. For every dollar spent on tree planting, 2.5 dollars is generated in local income and benefits. Help us restore tree cover and rebuild local economies. Every tree counts!
Great news about the Monarch Butterflies: According to the World Wildlife Fund, they are showing greater numbers when wintering in Mexico. Planting lots of milkweed, milder weather and a decrease in logging have made a difference but also in the USA, they have stopped using a pesticide that kills milkweed. Read more here.
The United Nations has proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The focus in 2016 will be on sustaining people and their livelihoods. Biodiversity is the foundation for life and for the essential services provided by ecosystems. It therefore underpins peoples’ livelihoods and sustainable development in all areas of activity, including economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism, among others. By halting biodiversity loss, we are investing in people, their lives and their well-being.
Congratulations to Earth University in Costa Rica! They have the honor of being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Earth University is an agricultural college with a focus on investigating sustainable agriculture in tropical environments.
Wishing you a splendid spring!
All the best,
The world's largest concentrated solar power plant
A giant solar thermal plant called the Noor complex, in Morocco, is using energy from the Sun to power the city of Ouarzazate at night. It’s such great news that Morocco has pledged to get 42% of its electricity generation from renewables by 2020 and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 760,000 tons per year.
Morocco's previously useless slice of the Sahara is proving a blessing for solar power because solar thermal technology only works in hot sunny countries. And while the price of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels is falling, its growing capacity to store energy is arousing greater interest. International Energy Agency expects them both to play a part in an energy revolution, which is likely to see solar as the dominant source of electricity globally by 2050.
Morocco's leadership in this area may provide the model for other countries to follow in pursuing development of their energy sectors in a sustainable manner.
Hello Nevada... See the article here.
On a smaller scale and also inspiring: The Shops at Adams Gateway, located in Los Angeles. Outside of the box thinking has produced a unique and colorful mini shopping village out of recycled and repurposed shipping containers. From disused containers has sprung an organic produce stand, a vintage clothing stand, a record shop, and more small businesses slated to open soon, all of which are benefitting the community. Repurposed shipping containers are a big trend worldwide and so much so that in Taiwan, the government hosts a shipping container architecture festival every two years!
One of these shops is Daily Organics, which is owned by Renee Gunter, who provides fresh locally grown organic produce because “ everyone deserves access to healthy GOOD food!”
#ShowtheLove is a new short film that features actors Jeremy Irons and Maxine Peake who have joined forces in this powerful video meant to inspire us to protect the people, places and life we love from climate change for generations to come.
Former children’s Laureate and ‘War Horse’ author Michael Morpurgo, also helped create this beautiful five-minute film. Jeremy said: “So much we love is still under threat from climate change. December’s historic agreement in Paris might lead some people to believe that the job is done - but Paris simply set the direction of a journey we must now all take together.
“I took part in this film to show my love for the world that climate change threatens. My grandchildren won’t be safe and secure unless we take proper care of our one and only planet. Climate change is hitting the world’s poorest people first and worst – so we owe it not just to our own families, and to families everywhere, to act fast to protect them. By watching and sharing this film, we can spread the message that if we act together, it’s not too late to build a cleaner, fairer future.”
Carroll Ballard (The Black Stallion, Fly Away Home) directs the exciting story of 12-year-old Xan (Alexander Michaletos), who decides to return the cheetah he raised from a cub to the wild instead of allowing pursuers to place it in captivity. Harsh South African landscapes, stalking lions, crocodiles, river rapids and a mysterious drifter (Eamonn Walker) who may intend to turn the big cat in for cash - all will test Xan's courage and resolve. Join him in this tale of growing up and letting go. It's a journey you won't want to miss.
The late Andrew Wyeth was a visual artist whose favorite subjects were the land and people around him, both in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and his summer home in Cushing, Maine.
He was born into a family where drawing was like breathing. As a child, when the other kids were going to school, (his frail health kept him at home) his education was the fields, the cornfields and the woods he wandered through. His solitary walks were the primary means of inspiration for his landscapes. He developed an extraordinary intimacy with the land and sea and strove for a spiritual understanding based on history and unspoken emotion.
When I was a child, I spent many wonderful moments with Andy and his wife Betsy when I visited Maine in the summertime, where they both opened up my eyes to all the natural treasures that can be found on a walk on the beach.
Andrew Wyeth left behind an extensive body of work of more than 3,000 paintings, including the iconic “Christina’s World.”
“I love to study the many things that grow below the corn stalks and bring them back to the studio to study the color. If one could only catch that true color of nature - the very thought of it drives me mad.”
Artists previously featured in the news:
Christiana Figueres: The woman tasked with saving the world from global warming
Christiana Figueres is passionate about fighting climate change. As the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, she emerged from the Climate Change talks or COP21 in Paris this past December feeling optimistic, and said : “One planet, one chance to get it right and we did it in Paris. We have made history together. It is an agreement of conviction. It is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an agreement of long-term vision, for we have to turn this agreement into an engine of safe growth. Successive generations will, I am sure, mark the 12th of December 2015 as a date when cooperation, vision, responsibility, a shared humanity and a care for our world took center stage.”
Christiana feels that this whole climate thing is a very interesting learning ground for humanity. Being an anthropologist, she looks at the history of mankind, and that where we are now is that we see that nations are interlinked, inextricably, and that what one does has an impact on the others.
Resource: The New Yorker Magazine.
Did you know that there is a connection between the Moon and the tides, and planting and gardening? Planting according to the phases of the Moon is the oldest form of gardening known to man. When planting your garden, the Moon’s position has an impact on how well your seeds will germinate, grow and develop based on how much moisture is in the soil.
Understanding this and timing your gardening chores according to the phases of the Moon is the basis of Moon gardening. Calendars are available here for March, April and May, including what to buy in season at your local farmer’s market and suggested vegetables to plant.
The Secret Abode of Fireflies: loving and losing spaces of nature in the city by Nanni Singh
Trees and forests are The Secret Abode of Fireflies. They are home to the magical and the mysterious in nature. This book is about the love and the loss of this magic in our lives. It is about loving the presence of trees and natural spaces in our lives and about losing them rapidly. It focuses on the quality of human life in cities that are fast growing to be concrete jungles with diminishing spaces for the natural. The roadside tree, the city forest, the neighborhood park – are all under the threat of destruction. In India’s quest to look and feel ‘international’, there is no room for the ‘natural’. At the risk of inevitable higher air pollution, lower ground water tables and diminishing monsoons, natural spaces must go, sacrificed at the alter of our appetites for the insatiable temptations of modern life.
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben
In The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben shares his deep love of woods and forests and explains the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in the woodland and the amazing scientific processes behind the wonders of which we are blissfully unaware. Much like human families, tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, and support them as they grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling and creating an ecosystem that mitigates the impact of extremes of heat and cold for the whole group. As a result of such interactions, trees in a family or community are protected and can live to be very old. In contrast, solitary trees, like street kids, have a tough time of it and in most cases die much earlier than those in a group.
Drawing on groundbreaking new discoveries, Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities; he describes how these discoveries have informed his own practices in the forest around him. As he says, a happy forest is a healthy forest, and he believes that eco-friendly practices not only are economically sustainable but also benefit the health of our planet and the mental and physical health of all who live on Earth.
The Hidden Life of Trees is available from my store.
Children's Book of the Season:
Animal Architects by Daniel Nassar
A fantastic, original exploration of how animals build their homes and the fascinating structures they create. From gladiator frogs to chimpanzees, learn about how animals all over the world build their homes. Each spread contains a beautiful, colorful illustration of each animal and its home, plus a unique fold-out information panel, with stats and a simple architectural diagram showcasing the creation of the 'architect'. Look inside chimpanzee nests, beaver dams, termite mounds, stork nests and many more - and get to know the clever animals who build them!
Animal Architects is available from my store.
From Minimalist Baker
This easy to make and DELICIOUS recipe is vegan, gluten free and loaded with veggies like carrots, broccoli, tomatoes all swimming in a perfectly spiced coconut milk broth. You can switch out the veggies and use snow peas, string beans or red peppers instead. The coconut quinoa is simple, healthy and equally yummy.
All ingredients are organic
Ingredients for the Curry
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger (or 1 tsp. ground)
1 cup broccoli florets, diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. chili flakes
2 14-ounce cans of light coconut milk
1 cup of veggie stock
Pinch of Himalayan or mineral salt
Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
Ingredients for the Coconut Quinoa
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
1 cup of white quinoa, rinsed in a fine mesh strainer
- Heat a large saucepan or pot to medium heat and add the 1 Tbsp. coconut oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, carrot, broccoli and a pinch of salt and pepper and stir. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add curry powder, cayenne pepper, chili flakes, veggie stock, coconut milk, pinch of salt and stir. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat slightly and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes in the last 5 minutes, so they don’t overcook.
- Rinse the quinoa, and then add it to a medium saucepan over medium heat and toast for 3 minutes. Add 1 can of light coconut milk and ½ cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is light. Fluffy and the liquid is absorbed. Set aside until serving.
- When serving, I added several spoonful’s of the coconut quinoa to a small bowl and then added the coconut curry over it, and sprinkled with chopped cilantro. You can sprinkle with mint or basil instead and also fresh lemon juice.
- This is great for leftovers too!