Valentine’s Day cards and crafts

1 Feb

Valentine’s Day is a sweet holiday, especially if you keep it simple.  Here are some ideas for cards and crafts that you can make for your family and friends.  And if you have kids, they will love making them with you too.

I thought these tea bags were adorable and very simple to make. I am making a box for my friend with different inspirational and Valentine’s Day messages.  They will be a nice start to her day!

Write a special tag for each tea bag!

Create a special tag for each tea bag!


These homemade cards are super cute.

You glue a miniature envelope to a piece of card stock, decorate it with hearts and sayings and tuck your gift into the envelope.  Movie tickets, tickets to a play or a favorite restaurant gift certificate are all excellent gift ideas.

Miniature envelopes hold your gift for a friend!

Miniature envelopes hold your gifts for friends or family!

Handmade soaps are fun to make and always appreciated. Here are some ideas for heart-shaped ones with messages of “Love”.

"Love" soaps

Soaps made with love!

And for only $10 each, you can send these sweet E-Valentines from NRDC that help save wildlife while bringing joy to everyone on your list.  My daughter is sending her grandfather the “Glad You’re In My Pack” card that helps protect wolves.  And for my Mom, she will love the “You’re Purrfect!” card that helps keep bobcat kittens safe.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

My Dad will love this one!

My Dad will love this one!

Purrfect for my Mom!

Purrfect for my Mom!


Environmental Awareness

3 Oct

Several things have been running through my mind lately — from lessening my daughter’s exposure to environmental toxins to wasting less food.

When I pack my daughter’s school lunch, I use the same reusable containers everyday to cut down on waste.  And I found other great tips on lunch boxes from NRDC’s This Green Life.

I give leftover food to our dogs instead of throwing it away (except for dangerous foods for them like grapes, chocolate and avocado).

Today’s breakfast is chicken, salmon and cobb salad and for dinner they get broccoli, carrots and noodles. It is estimated that 40% of the food we produce in America goes uneaten.   That is a lot of waste.

We have also been eating more locally-grown, organic foods from our farmer’s market or local supermarket. That way we lower our carbon footprint and reduce our exposure to pesticides.

To avoid exposure to BPA, I rarely buy food in cans.  And there are other easy ways to lessen BPA exposure.

I have also been supporting a local, small business, Redbread,  who makes their own breads and jams (and the most delicious cookies!). Follow them on Instagram — @redbread.  Or on their twitter feed.

And now to end with a feeling of hope that came over me today just from reading two tweets!

One from Ian Somerhalder that simply said:

“In Wholes Foods’ parking lot- EVERY SINGLE PERSON has their own recyclable bags to shop with-it’s happening.We’re finally getting it;)”

And the other from that said: “Grassroots pressure is making it much harder for Enbridge to get away with pushing tar sands on Michigan.”

As Ian said, we’re finally getting it.  We are rising up and doing what needs to be done to help our planet. This gives me hope!


3 Sep

My family did a “buy local” challenge where the goal was to spend money only on local items for a day.

We bought several items made or grown in Malibu and Los Angeles and the balance came from Northern California.

For breakfast we had organic strawberries from the Thorne Family Farm in Malibu and organic blueberries, blackberries and raspberries from Driscoll’s in Watsonville. Yogurt from Brown Cow Farm in Antioch, bread from La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles and butter from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company in Willows.

So far so good!

Except mid-day, I realized there is no local coffee!  Hot water with honey was not quite an adequate substitute for caffeine!

Dinner was the highlight of the day.  Organic, sustainably farmed chicken from Petaluma Poultry and vegetables from One Gun Ranch in Malibu — cooked with Malibu olive oil.  And to drink — a delicious Semler cabernet sauvignon.

A great end to “local day” was sleeping outside on the deck under the stars with the fresh air on our faces.

Ethical treatment of farm animals

12 Aug

The ethical treatment of farm animals has been on my mind a lot lately.  Sheryl Eisenberg of NRDC’s This Green Life has written a great article about what to look for when buying eggs, dairy and meat.  I always try to buy grass-fed beef when we eat red meat (although I just learned today that grass finished is also a good term to look for).

And I look for eggs from chickens that are pasture raised.  The animals deserve a better life and we need to protect them.  Plus it is healthier for us if they live in better conditions and don’t need antibiotics because of bad living conditions.

An idea my husband came up with the other day is to buy only local items one day a week.  We are lucky because our market has a pretty good selection of fruits and vegetables grown in our area.  And we can drink wine from a vineyard nearby or water from our tap.  Best of all, we can watch the stars from our deck that night!

Taking inspiration from the Olympic swimmer, Natalie Coughlin, our next goal is to grow some of our own food!

Please let me know if you try a “buy local” day in your area and how it went!


Wildflowers in Malibu

29 Jul

When our daughter was very young, we would go on dog walks with her and our 3 German Shepherds in the hills of Malibu.

To encourage her to walk longer distances, we started learning the names of all the wildflowers.  At the time, her favorite colors were red and yellow. So I printed a book for her (on an old letterpress printer) of all the red and yellow flowers we saw on these daily walks. Here are some of her favorites.


Deerweed — her very favorite flower — has spiky branches filled with tiny red and yellow flowers.

Charlotte also found the Bush Monkey Flower intriguing. If pollen is deposited inside its petals, they will close. But if fooled, its petals will open again. You can try playing this game with a pin and some patience.

Indian Paintbrush does not grow as abundantly as other flowers so it was always a thrilling surprise to find it on our walks.

Charlotte loved saying Big Gum Plant.  And she loved touching its sticky yellow flowers.

Charlotte believed that these Golden Stars were magic wands for fairies.

Red-Stem Filaree will always have a special place in our hearts.  Even before Charlotte was born, we discovered its needle-sharp corkscrew seed — one of nature’s most stunning creations.

I hope to someday print the other books I would like to do in this series — one with all the white wildflowers and one with all the purple flowers.

Biking in Italy

16 Jul

Charlotte and I just got back from a 7-day bike trip in Northern Italy! We started in the small town of Mantova, staying in a beautiful hotel, Ca delle Erbe and we ended the trip in the spectacular city of Venice!

There were 13 of us plus others from the US and Europe (Switzerland, Norway and England).  We had some ups and downs along the way (my mother liked to say Charlotte had a “crash” course in bike riding) but we had a lot of fun and laughed a lot — especially at dinner each night on the boat after riding our bikes 40-50 kilometers!

And we were definitely inspired by the good food! We all loved a mediterranean barley salad so here is my version:

Cook 1 cup of pearl barley in 3 cups of chicken broth for about 50 minutes. Toss in chopped tomatoes, persian cucumbers, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, pinenuts and olive oil.  Olives would be another good addition.  Or some basil pesto.

Sometimes Others Know Best

27 May

My daughter and husband were tired of seeing my gray and black workout clothing everyday! Image

So for Mother’s Day they bought me some new workout clothes in bright colors.  My first thought when I opened the presents was “I don’t wear purple, I don’t wear red…eek!” But because they had given them to me for Mother’s Day, I decided I better try to be nice and appreciative.



And I ended up loving the bright new colors and have gotten a lot of compliments.  So sometimes others know best!  We all get stuck in our ways at times and need someone else to pull us out of our comfort zone.  These are the times when I end up getting the most out of life.  When I take a chance and do something a bit different from my usual routine.

P.S. Check out the website Lorna Jane for fun workout clothes.