A little late for St. Patrick’s day, but today’s taste on tumblr is leafy greens (yes, I know they don’t all taste the same; just go with it). They’re good for you!
I went down to Torrance this weekend to check out the street faire that happens on the fourth Sunday of each month. It’s a fairly small market – especially compared to heavy-hitters like PCC and Long Beach – but it’s only a half an hour from LA. There is a lot of new stuff here, but there are plenty of bargains on the old stuff mixed in. The crowd is a bit older than what you find at, say, Melrose, where you would probably not hear statements like “I just subscribed to AARP” or “Everything was better back in the day” or “This would be a fun thing to have in a pizzeria!” Prices are extremely reasonable, and if you’re looking for jewelry, you might not be able to handle it.
There were some things organized not neatly:
and some tasty type treats.
The market essentially takes up most of Old Town Torrance, where there are a few small antique stores (plus a miniatures store that let me relive my childhood for five minutes). These stores open early on the fourth Sunday for market patrons, and their prices are also generally reasonable and a bit lower than market price up in Los Angeles. There is an enchanting WWII store that is stocked with every possible men’s uniform from the war, plus lots of engrossing ephemera that effectively distracts you from how claustrophobic you might otherwise feel in such a small, dark packed space. A radio display:
Overall, I’d say it’s best for jewelry hunting. There aren’t many good opportunities for clothing (though there are a few) and most of the vendors sell small things and just a few larger pieces. I’d say it’s worth the trip to look around if you don’t have any specific targets in mind; the atmosphere is fun, friendly, and laid-back.
Natural cleaners: they work. But what works best? I let my bathroom get super grimy and disgusting – all in the interest of science, of course – so I could spend the entire weekend testing a few non-toxic cleansers. Now, because we are all friends, and friends share things that are maybe a bit difficult to talk about, I’m going to share with you something that I have only spoken about with my mother. And because it is so horrifying, I had to combine it with the after photo just to prove that I have recovered.
That’s right, I let my bathtub get this awful. It was sort of a gradual decline, and like the proverbial frog in heating water, I didn’t notice just how awful it was until it was almost too late. So armed with my vinegar, baking soda, borax, and determination, I set out to win the battle this using only this natural arsenal.
The claim: cleans tough stains from porcelain and tile. The reality: this worked pretty well. I tried this on half of my bathtub, shaking out a bit of baking soda on the wet porcelain, followed by salt and a damp rag. I put in a moderate amount of elbow grease, but I was still left with some semi-icky staining.
I already use Borax in my laundry. The claim is that it helps soap and detergents work better, and this was pretty well proven on the other half of my bathtub. The same amount of elbow grease applied to borax and soap cleaned the surface much better than the baking soda, so I finished the job with this method.
The claim: hot vinegar cleans soap scum from tile and chrome. The reality: truth. I used this on my faucets and my shower walls, and not only did it clean my kettle when I boiled it, but the vinegar rinsed away old soap and left everything feeling clean.
The claim: tea tree oil kills mildew. The reality: tea tree oil is prohibitively expensive. As in, over $20 for a tiny dropper bottle. So I decided that if I was going to spend any money on this endeavor, it would be to take off the mildewed caulk and replace it. So that’s what I did. Turns out replacing caulk is as simple as scraping it off and putting new stuff on.
And that’s it. Caulking is actually super easy; way easier than grouting. So what’s your favorite natural cleaner? Did you spring for the tea tree oil? Let me know how it goes.
to see yourself on someone else’s pin board/facebook page, even if it is completely authorized. Somehow I voluntarily ended up all over TOMS’ facebook/tumblr/pinterest today and it reminds me that, while there is a lot of good in the world, haters gonna hate. Be gentle, haters. I know I’m not much. And I was having a really bad hair day.
There’s a lot of talk these days about wheat gluten and how it’s probably bad for you. If you don’t have celiac, you might be considering going gluten free anyway because some people think that it makes you put on weight, or makes it harder to lose weight, or it turns to sugar which is bad, or something. You know what? I like bread. Like, a lot. I’m not saying these people are right or wrong, because I don’t know; I just know that I like bread, and in moderation, as long as I don’t down three tablespoons of oil with it, for me it’s fine.
I’ve been making my own bread lately, and it’s really easy. Somehow I ended up trying two varieties on ostensibly opposite ends of the bread spectrum: volkornbrot and white sourdough.
Volkornbrot is a really dense whole kernel bread (which is what “volkornbrot” means), typically 100% rye, that has an amazing chewy texture and rich sour flavor. It can also be made using any whole grains – quinoa, millet, wheat berries, rye berries, spelt, amaranth, or some combination thereof. I used rye and soft winter wheat berries and threw some dill in for fun, which I would do again. The process for making this bread is pretty simple, but before you get too excited about starting this tonight, let’s talk about sourdough starter.
There are already some great (and some really really involved) resources on the internet about sourdough starter, so I’ll keep it brief. Essentially, sourdough starter is a mixture of flour and water that takes advantage of microorganisms in whole grain flour, water, and on your hands to promote the growth of wild yeasts. It’s a situation where good triumphs over evil: if you feed your starter every day by pouring off some and replenishing it with new water and flour, any bad bacteria present will (hopefully) eventually be taken over by the delicious yeasty kind.
Making a sourdough starter is, in my opinion, quite easy:
That’s basically it. Keep the jar closed but not necessarily air tight – you’re not actually harnessing wild yeasts from the air. If you want to feed your starter with a different flour, whole wheat or rye work well too. Keep the flour and water mixed well and tended. Bubbles are good. Mold is bad. The starter should smell sour but not rancid, and if you can’t be around to feed it every day, it will be okay in the refrigerator for a week or two. This is what mine looks like:
You can also buy a good starter for your starter from some markets (like Whole Foods), in dry form to begin your fermentation, or order it online.
So let’s say you have a starter, and are ready to start making some dough. I got my recipe from one of those books that changed my life: Making It by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen. I cannot recommend it enough. You can see the recipe and buy the book here. I didn’t have any sunflower seeds or barley malt syrup so I omitted them, and I also added a tablespoon of fennel seed with the flaxseed.
I also made a straight up white sourdough.
And proceeded to eat it immediately.
I admit that my loaf did not look like the recipe’s example from whence it came, but the texture was fantastic and the flavor was nearly perfect (flavor has much to do with your starter, and I don’t think I let mine ferment enough after its last nap in the refrigerator). Still, this instructable on sourdough has to be one of the best ever.
I used to think that I was anti-buying things. Then I realized I was just anti-buying new things. If you are too, then you already spend a bit of time on etsy, looking for the everyday items that you’d rather not buy from a big box chain store. To help you along, I’m contributing some things from my collection:
Some clothing, some useful things, some decorative things. Much more on the way. Check it out here.
One of the remarkable things I found this weekend (and I know it’s remarkable because I am currently remarking on it) was this set of watercolor and pen artwork:
I am a sucker for any artwork that displays notes or registration marks, like this old Sascha Brastoff plate artwork:
so I couldn’t resist buying these for $40. What most intrigued me about these was the Allyn & Bacon notation, although this later turned out to be something of a red herring. You know how you have that thing that you had the chance to buy, but passed it up for whatever reason like maybe a boyfriend who told you not to buy it and then years later you totally regretted the fact that you didn’t buy it because it turned out to be way more hard to find than he thought? Yeah, I passed up a Peggy Bacon drawing once, for a really reasonable price. She’s a topic for another discussion, but the Reader’s Digest version is that she was an artist and illustrator in the 20s and 30s whose style I absolutely love. So I saw Allyn and Bacon and thought maybe it was at least partly hers.
Even though that turned out to be not the case, I still like these little paintings. Turns out that Allyn & Bacon is a textbook publishing company in business since 1868, and these are from a series of textbooks called The Searles Readers by Anna Hawley Searles. I’ve found three – presumably for grades 4, 5, and 6 – called “Fun to be Alive,” “Time to Live”, and “Living All Your Life,” respectively. They were published in the early 1950′s by Allyn & Bacon, and I believe my artwork came from “Time to Live.” Anna Hawley Searles worked at the University of Southern California, where her husband Herbert Leon Searles was a professor of philosophy at USC from 1930 to 1957, and was associate director of the Institute of Character Education and Research. That’s about as much as I could find about her, but I am really curious to know what inspired her to write these books. I love how totally positive and zen they seem, encouraging kids to live their lives to the fullest.
The series was illustrated by Constance and Walter Heffron, and I couldn’t find out a great deal about them either. The covers and illustrations are really wonderful:
There’s another spread for sale on ebay right now for $50 here; a revolutionary-era scene.
Last weekend I did something I have never done before. It was a challenge, and I didn’t think too much about it or I wouldn’t have gone through with it. After years of experience with bold and interesting colors, I did the craziest thing I could think of.
I painted my living room white.
I have to blame it on the heat we’ve been going through lately. Los Angeles doesn’t get real hot; we have maybe four weeks a year of 90 degree weather so on the whole, air conditioning or even fans aren’t really worth it, in my opinion. You have to use all that energy, and then where am I going to store a fan for the other 48 weeks of the year? Truth be told, I’m just really cheap and I hate going to Target. Anyway, the warm caramelly color of my living room was making me feel like I was living in a clay oven, so in a feverish fit I pulled out the white paint I usually reserve for mixing and just did it.
I figure I can always paint it back.
at the Long Beach flea market this weekend:
A matching set of plaid Skyway luggage.
I really, really wanted this, but I had to save my cash for my impending red carpet dress purchase:
The Chautauqua Industrial Art Desk was made, as far as I can tell, by Lewis E. Meyers & Co. from the late 1800′s into the early 1900′s as a home schooling aid. With interchangeable scrolls on topics ranging from art to Christianity to, apparently, poster making, the desks were sold door to door and are now pretty rare. They featured a map on the outside of the lid:
I didn’t even ask what he wanted for the desk; these can go for hundreds of dollars without the base of the desk intact, and this was in what appeared to be completely unused condition. If you want one to restore, there are a couple for sale right now here, here, or nearly complete here.
Working as an in-house designer has its advantages. Among these are good benefits, relative stability, and the opportunity to influence a brand over time. But sometimes it can feel a bit stifling, and you can lose touch with the outside world. So my friend Carly and I have started a little side project where we give ourselves assignments that have nothing to do with work and then execute them using whatever method and medium we want. The first challenge was a softball: create a wallpaper using one of your favorite sayings. Carly (who is basically the most adorable person I know) does this all the time; her tumblr is a series of photo/type/illustration bits she puts together. But I’m out of practice, so it was a bit more challenging for me. Anyway, here’s mine. It’s cool to be nice. Includes desktop, ipad, and iphone resolutions.