Category Archives: Southern California

summer lavender

Does anything smell better than a summer stroll through lavender? It’s taken a learning curve for me to grow it—bright sunlight and the right kind of soil. It likes its own space, Lavenderdoesn’t like to be crowded into a pot or a flower bed. I guess you could say it doesn’t like to share. But what I’ve discovered is to prune, prune, prune. Deadhead all the brown stuff and do it quickly, otherwise the part that’s just bloomed and wilted will take over your entire plant(s). As for the soil, I was told to add in limestone or sand to let it drain, drain, drain. So don’t spend years making the same mistakes I made. With a little research you can come up with the right mix to grow lavender. Just remember it doesn’t like to be neglected. But when it blooms, the fragrance is well worth the fuss. And you can’t beat the purple color that invariably brightens up a spot where white daisies and hydrangeas thrive. If you’re hesitant to grow lavender, take the plunge. What used to be a failure in the garden, is now a summer staple for me. I love the aroma. For that alone, I make the extra effort.

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Filed under Blogging, Daisies, Drought, Flowers, Gardening, Life, Nature, Posts, Southern California, Summer, Vickie McKeehan

Summer garden envy

 

GardenReadReading and Nature

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.
~ Gertrude Jekyll

I envy people who live in other regions of the country who don’t have the drought conditions to deal with on a daily basis. It’s tough to grow anything dealing with water restrictions. Maybe that’s why I post so many pictures of gardens, dreaming mine could be this great.

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Filed under Drought, Gardening, Southern California, Summer, Vickie McKeehan

Summer possibilities

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Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.

~ Henry James

Photo credit: Soothing Dew

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Filed under Love is life, Posts, Romance, Southern California, Summer, Vickie McKeehan, Writers

Could you really go green?

It was not until we saw the picture of the earth, from the moon, that we realized how small and how helpless this planet is – something that we must hold in our arms and care for. ~ Margaret Mead

 

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So many PSAs out there suggesting we make going  green and cutting back during the drought a part of our daily lives. But could you really take the necessary steps to make an impact to save the planet and go green even if the drought wasn’t an issue? Could you make significant  changes in the way you do things to make enough of a difference to cut down on greenhouse gases, sending waste to landfills, and cutback on the energy you use to do all those things you still love doing?

Here in Southern California we’ve had to rethink the way we do everything. That’s why a year ago we took a few first steps to do our part to go a little greener. It might not be much but every little bit helps, right? Here are four simple things we do now that have become habit.

1. Cut back on water. Our household has learned to use much less water, both outside and inside. Yes, my plants have suffered. But keep in mind I’m not the world’s best gardener anyway. Inside the house, I don’t start the dishwasher unless it’s completely full. I don’t let the water run while washing dishes.  We take fewer showers, choosing to shower every other day instead of daily. We’ve shut off the faucet while brushing our teeth instead of letting the water run like we used to do. Score!

2. Recycle. We recycle everything. Glass, aluminum, plastic, paper, cardboard. Leftovers. When you consider that there’s 60 million plastic bottles in use in the US every day and only 23% of those are recycled, that leaves an astonishing amount out there that ends up in the trash heap and ultimately in landfills. To cut back on plastic, we invested in BPA-free reusable water bottles. We take them with us everywhere we go. Filling them up cuts down on the cost of buying the individual plastic bottles. We also recycle furniture by finding new homes for things, like a couch we had for years that went to a single mom to furnish her new place to live. Score!

3. Cut back on electricity usage. We follow all the energy alerts or what is called Save Power Days. Save Power Days is where you sign up voluntarily to reduce your electricity usage on certain days between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. During these days we delay running the dryer or any other large appliance. We set the thermostat to 78 degrees and open the windows and doors (which lately in the heat of summer has  sometimes made for a sweltering sauna.) We also power down our electrical devices for two hours. The more electricity you save during these energy alerts the more bill credits you can rack up. Score! Buy-Local1

4. We shop locally. Shopping locally means supporting businesses in our neighborhood which translates to saving on shipping. We buy as much  as we can that’s grown or made locally. I live near a lot of fields where produce is grown that ends up at the local farmer’s market. And there are fruit stands open here year-round. We shop at thrift stores whenever possible. That means taking gently used items and giving them a new home and saving cash! Score!

So far, so good, right?

Now comes the problematic area.  To save on fuel it’s recommended we take public transit more often, at the minimum, once a week. To be honest, we drive most everywhere we go. If the trips are fairly short it seems less of a hassle to just jump in the car and get it done.  We do take the train on longer trips, but other than that, it’s the car for most everywhere else. Let’s face it, it’s hard to break that reliance and convenience of having your own wheels, able to come and go as you please, whenever you please, without waiting on a bus timetable.

But we do manage to conserve fuel in other ways, like combining our errands into one major shopping trip. Although public transportation here is first rate and will get you to local shopping malls and back without too much waiting time between buses, as cooler weather gets here, we do plan on expanding our foray into taking the bus. I’ll let you know in future posts how it goes.

The changes we’ve made may seem small now. But it wasn’t always that way. All in all, I think our greening effort is a good first start. As with any change, the more routine things become, the easier it gets. Hopefully, over time, we’ll be able to incorporate even more ways to go green.

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Filed under California, Life, Nature, Southern California, Vickie McKeehan, Weather, Writers

All the leaves are brown

National Forest Service

Dead Pine trees in Fresno

All over the state of California the drought is taking its toll on the flora, leaving trees and shrubberies, flowers and plants, dying alongside roadways and hillsides.. The lack of water is stressing them out causing their thirsty condition to become vulnerable to attack by all kinds of insects, particularly beetles. The dried up remains causes fire dangers in areas that used to be known for their greenbelt, garden-like settings, their picturesque mountaintops, and now it pretty much looks like scorched earth. Forests are browning, fruit orchards are yielding less fruit, which will eventually have an impact on what we pay at the supermarket for our produce.

According to the U.S. Forest Service 12 million trees have died  during the last year. I look around my neighborhood and there are dead and dying trees everywhere. The drought is a sad reality. Pray for rain. As for me, I’m thinking of holding a rain dance ceremony pretty soon.

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Filed under California, Drought, Gardening, Nature, Photos, Southern California, Summer, Vickie McKeehan, Writers

Out of trash comes a historical landmark

“Anyone can do something with a million dollars. Look at Disney. But it takes more than money to make something out of nothing, and look at the fun I have doing it.”

~ Tressa Prisbrey

Photo Credit: Bottle houses

In 1956 a California woman by the name of Tressa Prisbrey known as “Grandma” to most, began her foray into architecture. By using predominantly discarded beer bottles and other found material from the local dump, the sixty-year-old grandmother started turning her tiny one-third acre property in Simi Valley into something she’d always dreamed of having—she wanted to get rid of the trailer she’d lived in and build an actual house.

Never one with a lot of extra cash on hand, Tressa’s first choice was to use cinder blocks. But cinder blocks were too expensive for her budget. Instead, Tressa improvised. She began looking around her area and started foraging for discarded bottles. Thanks to a nearby landfill, colored glass bottles were a plentiful resource.

Long before recycling gained traction, Tressa took her castoffs and built the house she wanted. She mixed her own cement by hand, and with perseverance, she eventually added fountains and walkways for curb appeal around the original house.

Between 1961 and 1980, Tressa didn’t let up. Her property became known as “Bottle Village.” They called it a village because over the years Tressa built a wall to close it off from the smelly turkey farm adjacent to her property. Tressa eventually added sixteen buildings, themed rooms, a shrine, and a mosaic sidewalk. Somewhere along the way, Tressa’s daughter developed cancer, so Tressa made her a rose garden out of recycled headlights from assorted junk cars left at the dump. Up to 1982 she would give tours of the place, charging 75 cents a head. Visitors often were so blown away by what she’d built out of trash that they gave much more.

Tressa died in 1988 without realizing she’d created a legacy of folk art that would stand until the 1994 Northridge earthquake hit. The earthquake severely damaged the property wrecking much of Tressa’s hard work. After that, community artists rallied and tried to save Tressa’s work but with little success. Still, in 1996 the property became California Historic Landmark No. 939. To this day, a group of artists maintain the Preserve Bottle Village Committee website in hopes of raising enough money to restore Tressa’s project for all to see and enjoy.

Bottle Village remains a testament to one woman’s creativity at a time when she had very little money to work with and relied on her artistic vision.

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Filed under Artists, Bottle Village, California, California Historical Landmark, Creativity, Southern California, Vickie McKeehan, Writers

Niguel Botanical Preserve

 One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.

~ William Shakespeare

 

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Photo credit: Niguel Botanica Preserve dot Org

 

 

Photo by Traci Lehman Website: Walk Simply http://www.walksimply.com/niguel-botanical-preserve/

 

Tucked away off the beaten path of the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) and Crown Valley Parkway is 18 acres of  natural preserve. What started out as a vegetable garden in 1981 has kept volunteers busy for three decades upgrading the grounds to what it is today—a beautiful collection of walking trails past hundreds of species of plants. Seven days a week from sunrise to sunset you can enjoy the rose garden while taking in the view of Saddleback Mountain all free of charge. It’s a great place to pack a picnic and plan to spend an August afternoon. There are rattlesnakes in the area, so watch out for the signs posted warning of their presence.

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Filed under Blogging, California, Nature, Nature Preserve, Posts, Southern California, Summer fun, Vickie McKeehan