December 2014 Almanac
For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you may have noticed that I’ve been posting a Product-of-the Day every day since before Thanksgiving. I will continue posting until the third week in December, various products that I carry in my store I feel have a value that may not be obvious at first glance. Each product is good for you (don’t eat too much salt or sugar, even if it’s organic!) and the planet. My mission continues to be to provide healthy alternatives to conventional products, and through my store, the almanac and social media, a platform to educate and inspire. I would love to hear from you. Let me know if you have anything you feel would be wonderful to share here: firstname.lastname@example.org
When I was in New York City recently, I went to a really interesting exhibit at Pioneer Works located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, which featured the work of artist Rachel Sussman, titled The Oldest Living Things in the World. She gave an interview about her work, where she talked about traveling the world to photograph continuously living organisms 2,000 years old and older. She will be a featured artist in this almanac in 2015.
To find out about upcoming events at Pioneer Works: pioneerworks.org
I made it back from my trip in time to hear biodiversity activist Dr. Vandana Shiva (featured here as the Gamechanger in April 2013) discuss the urgency of protecting organic seeds, now and for future generations. The future of the planet and people is intimately linked to the future of food. Watch the interview.
(Vandana appears at the 47.23 mark)
The Berkeley Food Institute hosted an evening lecture about urban foraging. Professor Philip B. Stark led the discussion, which focused on the diversity of foods available in the urban environment. Weeds are edible, plentiful, nutritious and free. Why not forage for some for your next salad or omelet! This month’s Gamechanger, guerilla gardener Ron Finley was in the audience, and shared his inspiring point of view with humor and as well as common sense. By the way, I discovered purslane in my own garden, a weed I had been pulling out for years, which turns out is delicious and highly nutritious. The irony of it is I’ve been trying to grow it from seed, which so far has been unsuccessful! Learn more about what weed foraging is like.
Link to the Berkeley Food Institute’s foraging info page: forage.berkeley.edu
Mandala artist Kathy Klein came over to my house last month, and together we made a mandala from organic produce labels I’ve been saving. The mandala looks gorgeous and will be featured in my upcoming book, L.O.L.A, lots of love always, a book for young women about how to live a sustainable lifestyle and make healthy choices. To learn more about LOLA, go to the LOLA Blogsite.
Find out more about Kathy Klein’s work.
I love reading stories about resourceful people growing food wherever they can. This piece is about a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles that grows its own produce on the roof in galvanized horse troughs (these last forever!). Read about it here.
John Muir is considered by many to be the patron saint of environmentalism, an epic figure whose writings of mystical enlightenment attained during lone treks in California's wilderness glorified individualism, saved Yosemite and helped establish the national park system. However, critics feel that his legacy is all but irrelevant now. Read more here. What do you think? Do you find him inspiring still?
December 2nd is Giving Tuesday, and if you are thinking of donating to food banks, think about giving healthy food. Choose products with less sugar and more whole foods, fruit canned in water rather than syrup, and bags of rolled oats instead of packets of instant oatmeal.
Learn more about what you can do to help.
To learn more about Giving Tuesday: givingtuesday.org
Supporting clean energy has never been easier, whether you have solar panels or not. Learn how you can move the low carbon economy forward.
Please join me in signing this petition to help Mission Blue, led by Dr. Sylvia Earle, a global partnership initiative raising public awareness about the ocean and inspiring people to help protect this vital natural resource. Read about it here.
If you are buying a real Christmas tree this month, did you know… that you can buy one that is pesticide-free and organic? Go here to find a tree in your area.
Recycling your Christmas tree has never been easier: there are more than 4000 tree-recycling centers nationwide. To find one in your area, go to earth911.com. Your tree will be turned into nutrient rich compost or water saving wood chips for someone's garden.
You can recycle your energy vampire incandescent decorative lights ( recyclingcenters.org ) and also, to avoid injuring yourself while trimming the tree by learning safe holiday decorating tips.
The yuck factor about artificial trees. It takes 7.3 pounds of plastic to make one made-in-China typical artificial tree and a consumer must reuse that tree for 20 years before it has a lower carbon footprint than a real tree, so… consider renting a live tree that will be replanted after the holidays or saved for you for the following year livingchristmas.com or do Google Search where you can rent a live Christmas tree in your area. The average conifer absorbs 1 ton of carbon over 60 years, making the air we breathe a whole lot cleaner.
Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season and looking forward to 2015!
I’m looking forward to the New Year very much because I will finally be finishing and releasing my book LOLA!
All the very best and Happy New Year 2015
The Netherlands unveils the world’s first solar bike path! The first section of the solar bike path was opened this past month, and once the rest of the 328 feet are installed by 2016, it will create enough power to generate electricity for three households. The brainchild of the SolaRoad is Dutch research institute TNO, who also plan on transforming roads into energy-generating PV, which could be fed into the grid, or used to power signage and traffic lights.
Plastic Paradise follows Angela Sun's journey of discovery to one of the most remote places on Earth, Midway Atoll, to uncover the truth behind the mystery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Along the way she encounters scientists, industry, legislators and activists who shed light on what our society's vast consumption of disposable plastic is doing to our oceans, and what it may be doing to our health.
As told by David Douglas Duncan, there are very few artists who have shown their love of animals as Pablo Picasso did. From Lump the Dachshund, who became a faithful companion the moment they met, to the house goat, which remained lying down when somebody passed it by, unless it was Picasso; the animal rose and tore at its leash to be stroked.
The small owl that lived in Picasso’s studio, fixing everyone with its piercing look, would grind its beak and go into a little dance until Picasso allowed it to sit on his hand. Other animals featured were pigeons and doves, bulls, fish, cats, monkeys and horses. Maybe Picasso’s works were mirror images of his immense sensitivity to nature and of the great love he felt for all life.
Pablo loved to surround himself with birds and other animals. Generally speaking, they were exempt from the mistrust that he had for his human friends
- French author Francoise Gilot
Previously profiled artists in the news:
Eco Garden - December 2014
MOON GARDENING BY PRISCILLA WOOLWORTH
Please check out my blog about Gardening According to the Phases of the Moon, and learn why and how the Moon's position affects your garden.
December MOON Phase Schedule:
December 1st-5th: Waxing Moon
December 6th: Full Moon
December 7th-20th: Waning Moon
December 21st: New Moon
December 22nd-January 3rd: Waxing Moon
Garden Chores to be done during the month of December are:
The month of December is a great time to dig up and move plants
Divide crowded perennials
Prune deciduous trees and shrubs, dormant berries, grapes, fruit trees, figs, kiwis and roses.
*Prune the deciduous fruit trees and vines only after all the leaves have fallen
According to the Moon calendar, December is the best month to cut down trees
Plant trees, shrubs, tulips, roses, fruit trees, cane berries, nuts, grapes, and spring bulbs such as daffodils, freesias, and anemones.
Plant low-water plants such as coast rosemary, grevillea, Jerusalem sage, lavender, lion's tail, rockrose, and rosemary.
Indoors, force Narcissus bulbs for the holidays
Attract birds to your yard by planting barberry, beautyberry, cotoneaster, heavenly bamboo and holly.
Fertilize the winter vegetables you are growing and the annuals to promote steady growth with fish emulsion or worm juice, or add nutrient rich compost to those beds
Fertilize cymbidiums with a bloom-promoting fertilizer such as 15-30-15 until buds open
Shop for bare-root roses, cane berries, and perennial vegetables such as artichoke, asparagus, and rhubarb. Plant them as soon as you have brought them home.
Mulch your beds to keep the soil from compacting in the rain and to keep weeds down
Watch for Aphid infestation in your vegetable garden especially in the broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and chard by spraying then daily with a mix of water mixed with a Tbsp. of non-toxic soap
When planting your vegetables, keep up the successive sowings, especially of salad greens, beets, carrots and radishes, to extend your harvesting.
Plant calendula, coreopsis, candytuft, clarkia, dianthus, dusty miller, lobelia, lupine, nicotiana, petunia, poppy, salvia, scabiosa, stock, strawflower, snap dragons, sweet pea, verbena and perennials such as carnation, chrysanthemum, columbine, delphinium, foxglove, hollyhock, lavender, penstemon, pincushion flower, poppy, rudbeckia, salvia, statice, and yarrow.
Plant in your vegetable garden: onion, garlic, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, and lettuce.
Following is a Moon Gardening calendar for December and which days are best for specific chores:
December 1st-5th, the Moon is in the Waxing phase, when the lunar gravitational pull brings the water up, which makes it a good time of the month to encourage plant growth and proliferation. Plant seeds, transplant, re-pot, trim and prune for growth. Also, fruits and vegetables that are tender and should be eaten immediately are at their best when gathered at the Waxing Moon, because the water content is higher, salads are crunchier, and juicier.
The 4 days before and also 4 days after the Full Moon is the best time to prune, plant seeds (they germinate faster when planted at the full moon because they absorb more water) and fertilize plants as close to the Full Moon as possible. Cut bamboo and sow a lawn or put down sod.
The Full Moon is when water is at the highest level in the month. Best time to pick tomatoes. Harvest grapes to be used in winemaking as close to the full moon as possible because the grapes will retain more juice and bouquet. Gather any herbs to be used for their essential oils at the Full Moon because oil content is more concentrated at this time.
Recommended days for these garden chores:
December 3rd and 4th : Plant above ground annuals
December 6th: Full Moon
December 7th-21st, the Moon is Waning, and the energy of the earth is drawn down but the gravitational pull is high, creating more moisture in the soil and this energy goes into the roots making it a good time of the month to sow crops that produce their yield below ground and control plant growth by pruning, weeding, and controlling garden pests, as well as dividing perennials. This is the best time for garden maintenance because the growth cycle of plants decreases. Fruit trees do best planted at this time of the month because the position of the moon encourages development of root growth and tree bark, essential to their success. This is also the best time to cut wood, because it resists parasites and cures better. Farmers pick their apples, cabbages, potatoes and onions at the Waning Moon, when water content is lowest and so the harvest stores better and keeps longer. Best time to dry herbs, flowers and fruit and the herbs are at their most potent. Also, add potassium fertilizer to plants that need it because it will be better absorbed at this time. Mow your lawn to slow growth. First time composting, start your composting during this period because the Waning Moon phase helps aid in the decomposition of plant matter.
Recommended days for these garden chores:
December 7th, 8th & 9th : Plant for root growth, divide perennials
December 10th -14th : Harvest and cultivate, weed and control pests
December 15th & 16th : Water, compost and fertilize
December 17th- 19th : Prune, water, compost and fertilize
December 19th & 20th: Harvest, cultivate, weed, and control pests
December 21st : New Moon
December 21st: Winter Solstice
December 22nd-January 3rd : the Moon is in the Waxing phase again!
December 26th : Plant above ground annuals for hardiness
December 30th & 31st : Plant above ground annuals
December 31st : Happy New Year!
Get ready for January 2015 Gardening according to the phases of the Moon.
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Garden product of the month:
Hori-Hori Digger and Felco Pruning Shears
My two favorite tools that I use the most in my garden are the Hori-Hori Digger and Felco Pruning Shears. They are both brilliant and make garden jobs easier to do from digging in the beds, to opening up new bags of potting soil, emptying root bound pots to pruning, trimming and pinching all plants that need it:
Eco Books - December 2014
Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration With Nature
Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy uses a seemingly infinite array of purely natural materials, from snow and ice to leaves, stone, and twigs in the creation of his one-of-a-kind sculptures. Goldsworthy's approach is to interrupt, shape, or in some other way temporarily alter or work with nature to produce his fragile, mutable pieces. To create "Broken Icicle," for example, Goldsworthy was only able to work on the sculpture in the early morning, when temperatures were below freezing. As with most of his works, ultimately, the materials used to create this piece returned to their natural state, leaving no trace of the artwork's existence save for the stunning photos in this book.
The Better World Shopping Guide By Ellis Jones
According to the latest research, the average American family spends nearly $22,000 a year on goods and services – that’s 22,000 votes for the world you want to live in.
Now in its fourth edition, The Better World Shopping Guide is the most comprehensive guide available for socially and environmentally responsible consumers. Drawing on over 25 years of research, this perennial bestseller rates every product on the shelf from A to F so you can quickly tell the "good guys" from the "bad guys" — turning your grocery list into a powerful tool to change the world.
Greener Christmas by Sheherazade Goldsmith
The only guide to celebrating a greener Christmas shows you how to make your home merry, bright, and eco-friendly! Part craft, gardening, and cookbook, part home décor and entertaining guide, A Greener Christmas lets the whole family get in on projects that are simple, seasonal, and of-the-moment. Welcome guests with candlelit lanterns, hand-stitched stockings, and cozy homemade wreaths. Trim your homegrown tree with shiny recycled tinsel, spicy dried citrus fruits, and wood-scented pinecones. Give heartfelt, environmentally friendly gifts like homemade herbal teas and mulled wine sachets, all wrapped up in gorgeous, reusable packaging.
Mr.Cornell’s Dream Boxes by Jeanette Winter
Joseph Cornell loved to draw and paint and collect things. With these drawings and paintings and collected treasures, he made marvelous shadowboxes—wonderlands covered in glass. And who did he most like to share them with? Children of course! For they noticed all the details and took in all the magic Mr. Cornell had created.
from BabyCakes gluten-free bakery
This recipe from the famous BabyCakes Bakery is amazing! Gluten-free has never tasted so good but… you still need to watch the calories. I made mine in an 8 x 8 inch pan, which makes for thick and dense brownies. Sprinkling powdered sugar on it once it’s cooled makes it look especially festive and pretty. Even more delicious when eaten with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of freshly whipped cream. Enjoy!
- All ingredients used are organic -
1 cup garbanzo-fava bean flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup gluten-free, vegan chocolate chips
1 tablespoon powdered sugar for decoration
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8" x 8" pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, potato starch, arrowroot, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Add the 1/2 cup oil, applesauce, vanilla, and hot water to the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips just until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
- Pour and spread the batter evenly into the pan.
- Bake the brownies on the center rack for 30 mins, or until an inserted knife in the middle comes out clean.
- Let cool and decorate with powdered sugar. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
Go Zero Waste
By choosing food whenever you can that comes in glass jars, you can reuse those jars for storing food to forcing narcissus in time for the holidays. The jars I reuse the most often can be found at my store.
By using paper made from recycled paper when wrapping gifts, you will be saving thousands of trees this holiday season. Add your personal touch by decorating the same 100% recycled kraft paper that I also love to use.