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Results tagged “maryann ridini spencer” from VC Style

2013 Water: Take 1 Short Film Contest Awards: Standing Room Only

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More than 150 attendees packed a soundstage at Brooks Institute as Ventura Water and partners Pagatonia and iThentic presented the 2013 Water: Take 1 Short Film Contest Awards on Thursday, November 14 from 6 to 8 pm.

Grand Jury Award
A jury-awarded Grand Prize of $1,500 sponsored by Patagonia, was presented to "Water Collaborations," directed by Crelis Rammelt (Netherlands).

"We all recognize how valuable our water resources are," said City of Ventura Mayor Mike Tracy. "This contest is one way to encourage the public to think about water and to evaluate where we are going. The films are thought provoking and just terrific."

Best Student Film Award
The Best Student Short Film Award, sponsored by Carollo Engineers and Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, went to "Bottle vs. Tap," directed by Danica Brown, Denise Torres, Jai Litman and Jason Schwien (USA), who received a Go Pro Camera for their win.

Ventura Vision Award
Also awarded by the jury, the NEW Ventura Vision Award sponsored by the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach went to "The Big Ventura River Bottom Clean Up," directed by Community Access Partners of San Buenaventura (USA). In this category, the winner will receive spotlight profile on a Local TV Show.

"This year we added the Ventura Vision Award," said Ventura Water General Manager Shana Epstein. "We have a great response from filmmakers internationally, and the Vision Award is another great way to connect with our local community."

Audience Choice Award
The recipient of the Audience Choice Award, sponsored by EJ Harrison & Sons, was "Water ... The Lifeline of Life," directed by Aniruddha Dhanaji Mane (India). This film received the most votes by the October 3 deadline at watertake1.com, the online website for the program.

In order to elevate water awareness through imagination, education and entertainment, filmmakers from around the globe were invited to submit their short films with a water focus from March 19 -- September 3, 2013 at watertake1.com. Submitted films, in a format of 5 minutes or less, could be in any genre -- documentary, drama, comedy, animation, sci-fi or experimental.

"Water is a resource that impacts everyone," added Water: Take 1 Project Coordinator Rachael Shapiro. "The City can lead by example encouraging residents and businesses to conserve and preserve, but the bottom line is that it's up to every individual to make a difference and makes some changes -- whether it be in their home or in their business or at their schools. At its core, this is what the contest is really about."

A distinguished jury comprised of leaders in water and environmental issues, entertainment professionals and influential members of the community judged over 40 entries. In September, 10 finalist films were named.

The Water: Take 1 online short film contest and program was recently named a finalist for the 2013 Huell Howser Best in Blue Award. This award recognizes excellence in communications and the recipient will be announced in Los Angeles by the Association of California Water Agencies in December.

If you know a filmmaker who would like to submit a film for next year's contest, and/or a entity or business that would like to be a contest sponsor, visit: watertake1.com or contact Rachael Shapiro, Project Coordinator, at watertake1@venturawater.net.


Benefits of Becoming a Green Certified Business

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In this Sustainable Ventura News Story (CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE NEWS STORY), 
Sustainable Ventura News speaks with Environmental Specialist
Courtney Lindberg about how how businesses can become green
certified in the City of Ventura.


It's become even easier for local businesses to be green.

The City of Ventura's Environmental Sustainability

division is now offering Ventura businesses the opportunity

to be recognized for their excellent environmental practices

through a free Green Business Certification Program.


"Green certification offers Ventura businesses local and statewide

recognition for being a leader in protecting and preserving our

environment and natural resources," says Environmental Specialist,

Courtney Lindberg. "The program provides businesses with a unique

opportunity to be recognized for their green practices. Venturans

value our environment and appreciate businesses that share the same



The City worked closely with the Ventura Chamber of Commerce

Green Task Force to get input from the local business community

and to make sure the process was business friendly. The Green

Business Certification Program is currently available to office/retail

and restaurant businesses within the City of Ventura, but other sectors

will be added as the program gains traction. Although the certification

requirements differ for each sector, the main environmental categories

are waste, energy, water, pollution prevention, wastewater, and

general staff education.



"Any interested business can sign up online to start the certification

process," continued Lindberg. "If they choose to, I can meet with them

at their place of business and walk them through the registration process

as well as discuss steps that need to be taken to become certified."


Once a business is certified, they are given a decal to display on their

window and a logo that can be used in their electronic and hardcopy PR

and marketing materials. Since the Ventura certification is affiliated with

a statewide program (@greenbusinessca.org), businesses will also be entered

into a statewide database with other certified green businesses. Certification

is good for two years, at which time the business would need to recertify.   


To get local and statewide recognition for your business,

Contact: Courtney Lindberg, 805-667-6502 or

email: clindberg@cityofventura.net.


Big Bellies in Ventura: Taking a Big Bite Out of Trash

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This past August, The City of Ventura Environmental Sustainability Division, in partnership with the Downtown Ventura Partners (DVP),  installed 30 Big Belly trash and recycling bins. These containers are state-of-the-art, using solar power to self-compact trash, which reduces the amount of necessary pick-ups, saving money. These bins provide easy recycling at each trash container too. This will help Ventura to divert even more recyclables from the landfill, encourage public recycling, and eliminate unsightly scavenging of recyclables.


How do the Big Bellies Work?

      These Big Belly Bins hold about 150 gallons of trash -- five times the volume of an ordinary trashcan.  Recyclables go in one receptacle and trash goes into the other.  Each bin clearly indicates what goes where in case you forget.

     "The solar panels located on top of the Big Bellies, absorb the sun's energy and then trickle charge a battery located inside the machine," states Joe Albrecht, Sales Director, Big Belly Solar, Inc., "The trash compacter has two photo eyes which produce a beam.  When the trash inside the unit breaks that beam, it sends a signal to the machine that it needs to run a compaction. The Big Belly uses 1,200 pounds of force to compress the trash. Then, when the bin is full, it has built in software that alerts service crew as to which bin is full and needs to be emptied."

     Founder and President of BigBelly Solar, Jim Poss, developed the idea for Big Bellies after seeing overflowing trash bins lining the streets of Boston while attending graduate school. He felt that if trash bins could hold more trash (and if the trash was able to be compacted using solar power), it would be a great way to eliminate the problem of trash overflow as well as be sustainable.

      Big Bellies have since been taking a big bite out of trash in cities like New York and Philadelphia. In fact, they are located in 50 states across the country as well as Canada and Europe. In Southern California, they're located in such cities as Santa Monica, Pasadena, Glendale, West Covina, Irvine, San Diego, Los Angeles, among others.

     "Ventura is currently at a 74% diversion rate," added City of Environmental Specialist Courtney Lindberg. "The new state mandate AB341 introduces an increased diversion rate from the previous goal of 50% to a more aggressive a 75% by 2020. We'll definitely be able to reach our target. These trash compactors cost a little more than the average trash can, but they will actually help the City save money. By using non-general fund AB939 money to purchase the Big Bellies, we are directly saving the City money to their general fund by significantly reducing the trash service levels downtown."

      These impressive energy savers, which hold five times (150 gallon capacity) the amount of a normal, 32-gallon trash bin, will help reduce trash pick-up service to once a week vs. 5 times a week. They're also expected to help cut greenhouse gas emissions as a result of fewer pick-ups.

      "The past several years, the City of Ventura has been working on a number of beautification efforts," said City Councilmember Christy Weir. "We've partnered with Downtown Ventura Partners on these new Big Bellies, because not only do they help us save on trash collection, they allow for advertisement panels to be used for public services messages. It's a win-win-win- all they way around."

      "Over the years with the open trash cans, folks dig through the cans and trash gets scattered everywhere," said Executive Director of the Downtown Ventura Partners, Kevin Clerici. "With the Big Bellies,  all trash and recycling will remain secure  vs. scattered on the street. We'll also have our team of Clean and Safe Ambassadors monitoring the bins on regular basis. Another benefit of the Big Bellies is that they will curb the number of times large trash trucks will be traveling on our city streets. It's just a fantastic project."

      Every person can make a difference when it comes to reducing trash in our overcrowded landfills.  So, the next time you're around town and you've got something to recycle, look for these NEW Big Bellies!

-Maryann Ridini Spencer

5 Great Summer Retreats For Body, Mind & Soul

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Vacations are great for the body-mind-spirit because they

allow you to regroup, rejuvenate and reconnect with yourself

and your loved ones. 


Breaks in your every day routine also allow you to create

more balance in your personal and professional life.   


Here are 5 Great Getaway Ideas


1.  Make a date with your significant other.  Try a

new Zagat-rated restaurant that provides an atmosphere

conducive to romance and relaxation. 


2. Plan a weekend getaway.  Check Groupon for great deals.

If you live in Southern California, the Coachella Valley

has some fantastic packages at 5 Star Hotels.  On your

computer or iphone, check out: visitpalmsprings.com. 

Google anywhere you'd like to go and search for deals

in that particular area.


3.  Connect with your significant other, girl or men friends.

Rent a movie and make it a pizza & salad night at home.

Try my Flatbread Pizza and Simple Green Salad.  For more

recipes, visit my blog at SimplyDeliciousLiving.com.

4.  Connect with yourself. Plan a day of pampering at a

local day spa.  Many spas, when you purchase a package

or even just a treatment like a massage, allow you to use

the Jacuzzi, the sauna, and the gym. In addition, many

spas offer manicures, pedicures, facials and hair treatments

and even serve lunch or have lounge chairs where you can

sit outside an enjoy the beautiful outdoors in a serene setting.


5.  Pack a picnic and take a scenic drive along the coast or

to the mountains.  Visit my blog at SimplyDeliciousLiving.com

for recipe ideas.


Whatever you do, let people know that you're taking some

time.  Try to live minus the electronics (computers,

ipads, iphones, etc.) as much as you can.  If possible,

stay away from turning on the TV.  Try and connect

with nature and with yourself and those around you. 


Taking regular breaks keep your spirit aligned and

reduces stress.  Studies have shown that when you

take a break, you're able to deal with life's issues in

a more productive fashion.


Vacations and short trips have also been known to

strengthen bonds with friends and family.  If you're a

creative person, getting away from it all may just well

stimulate the imaginative process.


If you allow yourself some time off from work, you'll

find that when you return, you'll be more productive.




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A taste of Hawaii with "Banana Pineapple Coconut Muffins"

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I love serving muffins for breakfast with eggs, an omelette or quiche.  They're also great
with a cup of Earl Grey for afternoon tea.  Additionally, whenever I serve cakes, breads
or dishes with banana, my husband likes me to mix in a little bit of pineapple.  I made
these muffins for a special Father's Day breakfast.  They were sooooo delicious! 

Banana Pineapple Coconut Muffins

Makes 10 muffins


  • 1 ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 T. cinnamon
  • ¾ c. walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • ½ c. coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 medium to large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 c. pineapple, crushed
  • ½ c. shredded sweet coconut
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 3 T. coconut milk


In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts.

In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together oil, eggs, bananas, pineapple,

shredded coconut, lemon extract and coconut milk. Mix.

Add in half of dry mixture to wet mixture.  Mix.  Add in second half of dry mixture. Mix

Spoon batter into greased muffin tins. Muffin tins will be full. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. 

Insert a toothpick into the center of one of the muffins. If the toothpick comes out clean,

the muffins are done. 

Cool muffins in the muffin tin for approximately 5 minutes. 

Serve warm or at room temperature with butter.

©2013 -- Maryann Ridini Spencer

Banana Pineapple Coconut muffins are inspired by the place my family loves - Hawaii!

Hawaii's Waipio Valley.jpg

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cooking videos, decorating tips and body•mind•spirit inspirations!, CLICK HERE.

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iphone at SimplyDelishLiving Channel (and/or Maryann Ridini Spencer)

WATCH Simply Delicious Living with Maryann® on PBS Television in Southern

California and in First Run Television Syndication. 

For more information, visit:  SimplyDeliciousLiving.TV and RidiniEntertainment.com

Sustainable Ventura's May 2013 Show - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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SustainableVentura.TV's May 2013 show (hosted by Maryann Ridini Spencer), features a trip to the Earth Day Eco-Fest in Promenade Park and visits with the Refill Shoppe (363 E. Main in downtown Ventura) and the Ventura County Medical Center (VCMC) to find out about their reduce and reuse policies.  City of Ventura Environmental Specialist Courtney Lindberg also shares some great tips on preventing stormwater pollution.  WATCH THE SHOW: http://bit.ly/12bK2Cp

Stay in Your Best Zone Podcast

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One of my favorite things  (besides cooking & writing!) - Travel with family and photographing nature's beauty

Take care of You

If you don't take care of yourself, there won't be enough for you -- or for anyone else -- to go around.  So make sure you're getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night and that you're eating right.  When you reach for that candy bar or artificially sweetened food, remember that eating fresh and natural foods minus the chemicals is better for your health.  Read labels.  If the ingredients are one's you can pronounce or can't readily identify, don't buy the product.

When you purchase food look for the "USDA Organic" label because these national standards define organic as those foods that are produced without the use of most conventional pesticides and without synthetic fertilizers. Food products cannot use the USDA Organic seal unless at least 95% of their ingredients are organic.

Additionally, the food can't be genetically modified, irradiated to kill bacteria, or fertilized with sewage sludge from waste treatment plants.  Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given organic feed and no antibiotics or growth hormones. Currently, there are no organic regulations for fish.

Also look for foods that are NON GMO Project Verified and make sure when you buy whole grains; you're really getting whole grains.  Look for labels that say 100% Whole Grain (47g or more per serving) vs. Just Whole Grain (8g or more per serving) at the beginning of the ingredient list.

When buying meat or poultry, it says 'natural,' that may mean the meat just hasn't been fed hormones in the last 12 months before finding its way to the grocery shelf. Ask for 'never never' meat -- as in never used growth hormones or antibiotics. Grass-fed is another step up in terms of flavor, quality, and nutritional benefit."

Plant a Garden

Not getting enough fresh fruits and vegetables?  Plan a garden.  Gardening, a wonderful distraction to everyday life, allows us to focus on the task at hand.  In doing so, it actually helps to decrease stress.  The great thing about gardening is that you'll also benefit from all the fresh locally grown produce.  If you don't find gardening appealing, enjoy another hobby on a regular basis - dance, tennis, and bird watching - any hobby that allows you to escape and live in the moment.

Learn how to say NO

Before you agree to paint a friend's house, host a dinner for 40, join one more networking group, go over your schedule and figure out if it's coming to come with a price.  Saying yes to everything can often create stress and unnecessary activity in our lives keeping us from the things and people that mean the most to us.  Evaluate what each activity will take, the pros and the cons, and how it will impact your precious time.

Take a Trip with a Friend or Loved One - Leave the kids at home

Family vacations are fantastic and important.  However, Mom and Dad have got to have their time away from the kids. Parents need to connect as romantic partners.  If you don't have kids, or the kids are long gone, you still need to get away every now and again.  For a long weekend -- or a week or more vacation.  Planning a fun getaway is a great way to have something exciting to look forward to, dream of and talk about.

A Few of Your Favorite Things

We all remember that song Julie Andrews sang in the "Sound of Music" -- "My Favorite Things."   Well, make a list of what yours are.  It might be enjoying that first cup of coffee of the day outside sitting in your garden.  Maybe it's having a glass of wine at night looking at the stars, talking a long walk by the shoreline or volunteering for an important community event.  Make sure you do at least one or more of these activities daily to put a smile on your face.

Live. Love. Laugh.

Live to your fullest. Love a lot and laugh daily. If you do this, the best in life will come to you and your heart will be open to receiving.








For great recipes, creative living inspirations and more, visit my website and blog at SimplyDeliciousLiving.TV



Clean It Green & Safe with Less Toxic Products

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Did you know that many household cleaning products, while even used "as directed" could be hazardous to your health as well as the environment?

Many household products are toxic and can be hazardous to your health, they can also pose a threat to the environment if they end up getting into our drains and waterways.

On product labels, have you ever read words like flammable, corrosive, reactive or toxic?  If so, in the future, why not consider safer and more "eco-friendly" alternatives.

Looking for less toxic alternatives isn't always easy, either. Even when a product is listed as "safe" or "green," it can be masking as environmentally friendly. This is called greenwashing and can be very confusing to consumers who are trying to make more eco-conscious cleaning product choices.

The best mode of operation is to look for statements that read:  non-toxic, non-petroleum based or free of ammonia, phosphates, dye and perfume, and that read "biodegradable."

Stay away from products using words such as: DANGER and POISON.  Products labeled CAUTION or WARNING contain the least toxic, but can still cause harm.

Green Cleaning Recipes from Care2.com

How to Make a Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit

Shopping List

  • Baking Soda
  • Washing Soda
  • White Distilled Vinegar
  • Natural Liquid Soap or Detergent
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • 6 Clean Spray Bottles
  • 2 Glass Jars

Creamy Soft Scrubber

Pour ½ c. of baking soda into a bowl, and add enough liquid detergent to make a texture-like frosting.  Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, and wash the surface.  This is the perfect recipe for cleaning the bathtub because it rinses easily and doesn't leave grit.  Note:  Add 1 tsp. of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar to keep the product moist.  Otherwise, just make as much as you need at a time.

Window Cleaner

  • ¼-1/2 tsp. liquid detergent
  • 3 T. vinegar
  • 2 c. water
  • Spray bottle

Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, and use as you would a commercial brand.  The soap in this recipe is important.  It cuts the wax residue from the commercial brands you might have used in the past.

Oven Cleaner

  • 1 c. or more baking soda
  • Water
  • A squirt or two of liquid detergent

Sprinkle water generously over the bottom of the oven, then cover the grime with enough baking soda that the surface is totally white.  Sprinkle some more water over the top.  Let the mixture set overnight.  You can easily wipe up the grease the next morning because the grime will have loosened.  When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid detergent or soap on a sponge, and wash the remaining residue from the oven.

All-Purpose Spray Cleaner

  • ½ tsp. washing soda
  • A dab of liquid soap
  • 2 c. hot tap water
  • Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved.  Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag.

Furniture Polish

  • ½ tsp. oil, such as olive (or jojoba, a liquid wax)
  • ¼ c. vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • Mix the ingredients in a glass jar.  Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces.  Cover the glass jar and store indefinitely.

Vinegar Deodorizer

Keep a clean spray bottle filled with straight 5% vinegar in your kitchen near your cutting board and in your bathroom.  Use them for cleaning.  The smell of vinegar dissipates within a few hours.  Straight vinegar is also great for cleaning the toilet rim. Just spray it on and wipe off.


Tea Tree Treasure

Nothing natural works for mold and mildew as well as this spray. Tea tree oil is expensive, but a little goes a very long way.  Note that the smell of tea tree oil is very strong, but it will dissipate in a few days.

  • 2 tsp. tea tree oil
  • 2 c. water

Combine in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas.  Do not rinse.

Makes two cups.

Vinegar Spray

Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82% of mold.  Pour some white distilled vinegar straight into a spray bottle.  Spray on the moldy area, and let set without rinsing if you can put up with the smell.  Smell will dissipate in a few hours.

Visit:  www.Care2.com

This article by Maryann Ridini Spencer also appears at SustainableVentura.TV

Celebrating the LOVE on St. Valentine's Day

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The Legend of St. Valentine

In ancient Rome, around the time of 278 A.D., St. Valentine, a priest during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II, was executed on February 14.  The Emperor decreed that young men could not marry and have families, as the he felt that it would detract from their duties and commitments as soldiers.  Legend has it that St. Valentine performed wedding ceremonies for young lovers in secret. Eventually, St. Valentine was caught, imprisoned and beheaded for these acts of love and kindness. The fact that St. Valentine was executed for love makes him a much loved, heroic and martyred romantic figure.

Just before his execution, he is said to have written a letter to his jailer's daughter, signing it "From Your Valentine."

Throughout the ages, Valentine's Day has been celebrated in many ways across the globe.  It's been recorded that Valentine's Day greetings date back to the Middle Ages, with written Valentine sentiments coming much later.

While some may look upon Valentine's Day as a becoming somewhat of a commercial holiday, it's important to remember the true meaning of how and why the day is remembered.

This Valentine's Day, how are you planning to show your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, mother, father, children and other family members and friends your love?

A beautiful card? A romantic dinner? A gift of a dozen red roses or a box of candy?

Whatever you decide, here are some ideas that I hope will inspire you:

*For a very special Valentine - a great gift for a woman to receive is a locket (with slots for photos inside). That way she can wear her locket close to her heart -- always.   And for a man, a pocket watch, also with room for the photo.

*Poets such as John Donne, William Shakespeare, Dickinson, Gibran and Browning set hearts afire with their words. Purchase a book of love poems (or download them from the internet), and then read and share the poems with your loved one by a roaring fire.

*If you're good at taking photos, building a book of memorable pictures of the places you've visited together, and the places you'd like to visit, can be made and bound on online publishing sites such as lulu.com and blurb.com.

*Create a series of special cards (the size of index cards) on nice card stock. You can purchase these types of cards at stores like JoAnn's, Michael's, Staples and Office Depot to name a few. Decorate the cards by writing and painting on them, even attaching photos. Come up with a series of things that you will do for your loved one and document this on each individual card.   Some ideas could include:  A massage after a long day at work, preparing their favorite meal, packing a picnic lunch to share on an ocean bluff, a day get-away to a spot you'll both enjoy.  Have fun and get creative!

*Surprise your partner with an unexpected weekend get-away (or even a night away) to a romantic bed and breakfast. (Minus the computers and electronics!)

*Prepare your partner's favorite meal and share a romantic movie classic together.

Love is precious and our time on earth is limited.  Remember to tell the ones you love, how much they are loved.  Celebrate your love on Valentine's Day - and better yet, every day.

For simply delicious, easy-to-make recipes and creative inspirations for joyous living, visit my blog at SimplyDeliciousLiving.com.


Listen to THIS "Celebrating Love on St. Valentine's Day" PODCAST, CLICK HERE.

New Year's GREEN Resolutions for 2013

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While your making your New Year's resolutions in your personal and professional life.  Keep the environment in mind!

Here are some green tips to help save the planet that can also help you save on your pocketbook!

•Buy local, fresh, organically grown fruits and vegetables

Save on greenhouse gas emissions and use less gas when you visit the grocery store.  Plan your trips and carpool with a friend.  You'll cut down on local pollution and also contribute to the local economy when you buy local.

•Efficient Transportation

Is your car a gas guzzler?  If so, why not opt for an energy saving vehicle or better yet, if you can, walk, ride a bike or take public transportation!

•Energy Efficient Living

Discover how to make your home more energy efficient, CLICK HERE.

•Green Your Office

You can help save the environment buy employing sustainable practices at the office.  READ MORE.

•Green Cleaning

Clean your home, yourself & your environment using healthy Green Products. LEARN MORE.

•Buy Recycled Paper Products

Products made with 100% recycled paper require less water in the manufacturing process.  Recycled products also reduce waste going into our already overcrowded landfills.

•Carry a water bottle and Recyclable bag everywhere you go

Avoid buying bottled water when you can bring delicious tasting tap water with you in a BPA-Free, recyclable container.  You'll save money, your health (drinking water is healthy and you'll save the environment.

A great way to reduce plastic bag use is to keep reusable bags in the car, your purse/briefcase/backpack, etc.,  where you will remember to take them into the store. Use reusable produce bags instead of the plastic bags at the store and Farmer's Market.

•Easy retrofits for water conservation

Installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators in your kitchen and bathroom sinks are simple and inexpensive ways to conserve water. Low-flow showerheads and aerators can reduce your home water consumption as much as 50%.  The cost of heating the water can also be reduced 50%. Using less water and energy keeps money in your pocketbook and saves our natural resources!

•Smart irrigation

A landscape can be both beautiful and water efficient.  Set your irrigation timers at season appropriate watering cycles set to water only in the early morning or later in the evening to avoid evaporation and wind interference.  Get water to the intended targets, the roots of your garden and lawn.


By Maryann Ridini Spencer, From Sustainable Ventura

Got Stress? Great Tips to Make Your Holidays Bright

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Holiday Stress Busters!

The December Holiday season is a great time to celebrate with family and friends.

However, while it's a joyous time, it can also be a stressful and demanding time.  Perhaps you'll have a houseful of guests?  If that's the case cleaning, cooking and entertaining can be daunting.  Maybe you have a lot of gifts to buy in a down economy or perhaps it will be the first season you'll be without a cherished loved one?

What are some ways you can keep the joy and curb the stress?

•Ask for help.  If you're the host for a big event, seek out assistance for shopping, cooking, cleaning and sharing the holiday-related chores.

•Make a list and do check it twice. Planning ahead and designating a budget for gift shopping as well as entertaining items, will allow you to limit your trips to the store and the pain on your pocketbook.

Maintain your health (and your waistline!) during the holidays. Get regular exercise, eat right and make sure you get enough sleep.  Indulging too much in alcohol, sweets and cakes will not only make you feel bad, it can cause guilt and stress levels to rise. (Not to mention panic when you step on the scale!).

•Create an escape. If too much family togetherness is getting you down and you find yourself needing a breather ­-- clear your head and take some time for yourself doing what you like to do. Try talking a long nature walk, reading a good book, listening to a symphony or watching a good movie.

•Spread the JOY.  If you're feeling alone at the holidays, get social and volunteer your time at a church, temple or community event.

•Do your homework before traveling. If you're traveling, check the weather and plan for unexpected delays.  Don't wait until the last minute to pack or get to the airport.  If you're traveling with children, bring games, reading material and other amusements that can keep the children interested if you're delayed.  If you're not a fan of plane food or those high calories, unhealthy snacks you find at airports, you may also want to pack your own meal and bring some healthy snacks along.  Eating right will keep you feeling balanced and positive.

•Get creative. A great way to get in the spirit is to plan a fun arts and crafts or baking day with family and/or friends.  Put on your favorite music, get creative and enjoy the company.

•Surround yourself with LOVE. Fill your heart and your time with those people and things you truly love. Take heed of the past, if you know a situation is going to cause you too much pain or stress, avoid it.  Make this the best holiday season ever!


LISTEN TO the Simply Delicious Living





VC STYLE: Water Take 1 Online Short Film Contest Awards Video News Story

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Thumbnail image for watertake1logo.jpg

On Thursday, November 8, 2012, the first Water: Take 1 Online Short Film Contest Awards Presentation and Party was hosted by Brooks Institute of Photography on one of the sound stages at their Ventura Campus. SustainableVentura.TV's Maryann Ridini Spencer covered the event attended by Ventura Mayor Mike Tracy and Ventura City Councilmembers Christy Weir and Neal Andrews. Those present enjoyed refreshments and mixed and mingled before watching a special video presentation of finalist and winning films. Also present were local contest winners and representatives from Patagonia, Limoneira, Ventura Water and iThentic, all contest sponsors.

Over 125 people attended the free ceremony, open the public with an RSVP.

Water Take 1 online short film contest awards video news story


Sustainable Ventura visits the Ventura Chamber of Commerce's "Haunting at the Harbor"

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On Thursday, October 25, 2012 from 4:30-7:30pm, The Ventura Chamber of Commerce presented the "Haunting at the Harbor" Business Expo at the Four Points Sheraton on Schooner Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The event featured over 60 local businesses showcased in tabletop exhibits, food vendors, a silent auction and raffles and prizes. The "Sustainable Ventura" TV Series was on hand to talk to attendees.



"Sustainable Ventura," hosted by Maryann Ridini Spencer and Ray Olson, airs on Caps-TV VTV's Channel 15, Thursdays at 8:30pm.  It rebroadcasts Monday-Thursday and Saturdays at 9:00am, Sundays at 8:30pm and every other Wednesday at 8:30pm.

Thrifty and Reusable Halloween Costumes

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Halloween costumes, depending upon how elaborate you intend to get, can cost at a minimum, $25 dollars on up per costume.  If you've got several children or family members to outfit, the costume bills (along with candy and other fun fare) can really start to mount.

So why not get creative with reusable, eco-friendly Halloween costumes? How do you start? Look in your closet.  What do you have that might (when paired with certain items), make a great costume? Maybe you have all the items you need or perhaps you may have to buy one piece rather than an entire costume.  Another great resource is check with friends and relatives. See what you can mix and match.  Thrift shops, where others trade in their wares, are also a great place to find the little nuances to add to your costume. Below are some great ideas for reusable Halloween costumes to try:

Princess -Pair a long gown with gloves (short or long). Wear a tiara and carry a star wand. Your Halloween subjects will bow in appreciation.

Cowboy or Cowgirl- Flannel shirt with Jeans, cowboy boots and hat. You might even tie a red bandana around your neck.  Don't forget to carry some rope - to lasso in your candy of course.

Halloween Masked Man- Everyone knows the iconic white mask from the John Carpenter Halloween movies.  How to create this look? Black pants, black top and white mask of course.  BOO!

Hippie or 70's person- Think colorful.  For girls and women - pair a long skirt with a flowered top.  Wear several long necklaces and dangly earrings.  A headband around your head or floppy hat also works.  For a man - pull out some ripped jeans and wear a cool t-shirt with a peace sign (or your favorite band logo).  Put on the boots and/or sandals and maybe a funky hat. Now you're lookin' groovy!

Witch - Pair a black skirt and top with pointy hat.  Bring a long a broom  (or for a wand, carry a long glow stick!). Instead of black, you can also opt for being a good witch and wear blue or white.  Whatever it is you choose to do, just remember to say, "Bippity Boppity Boo!"  Now you're ready to caste some spells!

Vampire - I vant to drink your blood!  To transform into a creature of the night that would even give Bram Stoker a scare,  almost any type of dress with creative make-up will do. (If you have a red or black cape, fantastic.  However, the only purchase that might be needed to complete the look - Vampire fangs!  (Even a red lipsticked-mouth with droplets of blood dripping from the corners will  do!).

Maid - Coffee or tea anyone?  A maid's outfit might be anything from a black dress or skirt and top paired with a white apron.  Don't forget to carry your broom,  feather duster or even a silver serving tray!

Hobo -To create the look of an authentic hobo, try wearing some ripped or patched jeans or pants.  An oversized jacket and t-shirt and a funny looking hat add great touches.  Of course, don't forget your hobo stick (a long stick with a red kerchief pouch - which can double as another place to stash your candy!).

Hollywood director - Lights! Cameras! Action!  If you want to get the look of an old time Hollywood director - wear some jeans or black pants, paired with a white or dark top.  Don't forget the beret, dark shades.  You might also want to carry a video camera to document the Halloween fun!

Let your creativity run wild.

Creating your own costume will be almost as much fun as going out Trick-or-Treating!



*Original article by Maryann Ridini Spencer appears in print in the Sustainable Ventura Newsletter & Blog.

Simply Delicious Vacations

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cartoon plane.jpg

It's important for everyone to take a break from life as they know it and revel in the delicious luxury of vacation and of not doing anything  - or doing as they please. 


The complications of life, work and juggling many tasks often lead to stress and stress can definitely take a toll on one's body, physical appearance and health!


While it's important to take little breaks (like weekends) and enjoying regular hobbies and activities, there's nothing more potent than jetting off to a tropical vacation spot or taking an historical tour of a European location.


Vacations are a great way to connect to yourself and to those you love.  Travel that gets commemorated in a picture album is also a way to relive the pleasure of a vacation long after the vacation ends.



I'm still delighting in a recent trip my husband and I took to Hawaii.  I find that whenever I look at the many photos we took, I get a happy, energized feeling.   I almost feel as if we are there!


Some great tips to keep your vacation stress free:


•Get a Vacation Account

Keep a savings account stash of cash just for vacations. Figure out what your budget will allow, then put away a certain amount of money each week on an ongoing basis. You'll be surprise how it adds up. 


•Plan ahead

Research your destination.  Talk to friends who might have traveled to the spot.  Get recommendations for accommodations, food and sightseeing. Research information on the net.  Better yet, perhaps an acquaintance might know some of the locals you can contact before you leave home.  Some of my best experiences have transpired when I've contacted friends of friends.  I've gotten some great, personalized tours of places that could have never been duplicated otherwise.


•Speak at least a few words

Knowing to say hello, goodbye, thank you, yes and no along with "Where's the toilet?" and some other important phrases can serve you well.  While you may not be in for taking a Rosetta stone course, you can always find an English translation dictionary on Amazon.com or in your local bookstore.


•Understand the customs and local you're visiting

Americans have a bad enough rap as it is overseas.  So, why not get caught up on the local customs?  Research the country and towns you'll be visiting.  When you get to your destination, you'll feel like a local and get a great education while you're at it!


•Get some of the local currency before you leave home.  Travel with secure Traveler's checks.

While you may want to pay for everything on your trip with credit cards (a good idea to keep accurate records), you may also want to have a few dollars in your pocket of the local currency.  Traveler's checks are also a great way to go because they're refundable, if lost or stolen and usually within 24 hours.


•Pack well

Find out the weather of the locale you'll be visiting at the time of your visit.  Bring various layers of dress just in case.  It's always a good idea to pack wash and wear and clothing that looks great no matter how wrinkled it gets.  Bring multi-purpose clothes. For women, a dress you can wear during the day with sandals and at night with a pretty scarf or different jewelry to jazz it up. For men, a jacket that can be worn casually and with/or without a tie. (So at night, you can  get into that exclusive restaurant!).


•Let work know you are on vacation (try not to answer emails)

A vacation is when you vacate your usual life.  So put away the computer and texting.  Let the office know you'll be unreachable. Make sure you have someone qualified to cover for you just in case there's a problem at work.  Don't feel guilty.  You deserve your vacation.  It's also a good idea to post your pictures on Facebook when you get home. (It's NOT a good idea to let everyone know you're out of town!). 


•Take lots of pictures

I know some folks that moan and groan that they have to get their picture taken.  However, these same folks love seeing the photos post-vacation - especially as the years go by.  So tell your family, spouse, friend or anyone else on the trip with you to, "Chill!" You're making memories here!  Many new cameras also have video capabilities.  If a picture says a thousand words then a video can, well you get the idea.


•Bring home a memorable item that will represent your trip

I always love to pick up a local artist's painting, watercolor or stencil when I travel.  That way, when I look at them hanging on the wall at home, the memories flood back.

You might also pick up a beautiful piece of furniture that you can ship back or some other item that has meaning just for you.


Vacations are all part of Simply Delicious Living, so enjoy your trip, even if it's a weekend jaunt, you deserve every moment.  To find out more about simply delicious living, visit my blog at simplydeliciousliving.com



Listen to Simply Delicious Vacations Podcast in iTunes, CLICK HERE.


Saving the World A Drink At A Time: The GREEN TASK FORCE Hosts GREEN DRINKS

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"Green Drinks" is a term known in the environmental world as a fun,

meet up for like-minded business professionals in relaxing, celebratory

settings where they can network, exchange ideas and forge valuable

working relationships.

Well known in international environmental circles, Green Drinks is a network

of unstructured meet-ups where environmental professionals and concerned

locals get together in a relaxing setting to network, exchange ideas,

and forge valuable relationships.  At last count, Green Drinks events

are hosted in over 600 cities worldwide.   


The mixture of attendees at Green Drinks events usually include professionals

in the areas of: general business, academia, government, non-profit, medicine,

home décor, construction and other fields.  


On Wednesday, August 1, The Ventura Chamber of Commerce's 

Green Task Force (GTF) organized this year's first Ventura-based Green

Drinks event at EcoLogic Life, downtown's designer showroom for

sustainable home decoration products. The event was a smashing success

with over 50 attendees. Tutti's on Main provided the delicious food.

Alquimia Tequila provided the green drinks, made from organic agave, no food

coloring included.

Green Task Force Co-Chairs.jpg

LtoR:  Diane de Mailly and Courtney Lindberg, Green Task Force Co-Chairs

"Green Drinks has been around for a long time," said Diane de Mailly,

President, DDM Metering Systems and GTF Co-Chair. "Recently, the

GTF was asked to step in and organize these events in Ventura.  We know

they'll be a big success moving forward because Ventura is such an

amazing community dedicated to the environment.  We plan to make

Green Drinks a quarterly event."

"What the GTF strives to do," added Courtney Lindberg, Environment

Specialist with the City of Ventura's Environmental Sustainability

Division and GTF Co-Chair, "is to promote green business development. 

We bring local businesses together and educate them about sustainable

practices, covering such topics as waste recycling, energy, water

conservation, pollution prevention and staff education. We highlight successes and

learn from our mistakes so that we can grow as a community with

green business practices part of our every day consciousness."    


Green Task Force LtoR: Courtney Lindberg (Environmental Specialist,
City of Ventura's Environmental Sustainability Division and Green
Task Force Co-Chair), Janis Shinkawa (Veterinarian, Buena Animal
Hospital), Diane de Mailly (President DDM Metering Systems
and Green Task Force Co-Chair), Kirsten Davis (AdvoCare)
and James Davis (Associated Electric)


"If you had to paint Ventura one color, it would probably be blue,

the color of our ocean.  If you added another color, it would be

green," Rick Cole, City Manager, City of Ventura. "This is a

remarkable community and environmentally-oriented to its core.

We all pay attention to the motto 'Think globally, act locally.'

Whether it be on a global scale, or a local scale, waste costs money

and pollutes the planet. It's also something we don't want to pass

onto the next generation."

In addition to Green Drinks, the GTF organizes a series of quarterly

"Best Practices Workshops" where local businesses share their

green ideas and practices with others in the community. To date,

there have been workshops at Red Brick Pizza focusing on sustainable

practices and the YMCA focusing on lighting retrofits.

Room.jpgVIEWVIEW Event Photos on Facebook, CLICK HERE.


In May 2012, The Green Task Force teamed up with the office of

Assemblymember Das Williams's for the Second Annual Green Jobs

Summit held at City Hall.

"The Green Jobs Summit brought a number of businesses together to talk

about ideas and sustainable principles," said James Joyce,

Field Representative, Office of Assemblymember Das Williams.

"Through working together on the Summit, our office developed a

great relationship with The Green Task Force.  There's so much

synergy. It's great to be a part of it."


Stay tuned and read this newsletter for information on future

Ventura-based Green Drinks events.



VIEW Event Photos on Facebook, CLICK HERE!

Semi-Annual Table Top Business Expo "Olympics By The Ocean" at the Four Points Sheraton Podcast

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On June 7, 2012,  the Ventura Chamber of Commerce, presented the Semi-Annual Tabletop Business Expo "Olympics by the Ocean" at the Four Points Sheraton.  The City of Ventura's Environmental Sustainability Division and Ventura Water were some of the sponsors of the event.

LISTEN TO the Sustainable Ventura podcast (hosted by Maryann Ridini Spencer), from the event and hear interviews with local businesses sharing their green practices!


CLICK HERE: http://bit.ly/LsfoMc

Subscribe to our RSS Podcast Feed

Listen to us in iTunes

STOP: Smell the Flowers!

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STOP and Smell the Flowers!


Do you find yourself rushing off to work in the morning, and getting home late every night?

Are you taking meals in the car or at your computer?

When you look at your calendar for the week, do you find that you are ever overwhelmed by the endless schedule of activities?

As the years pass by, do you find them getting shorter and shorter with dreams and vacations always put on the back burner?

It's important for your health, well-being and success to stop and smell the flowers - or the coffee - EVERY DAY!


*Look at your calendar. Is every meeting and every appointment absolutely necessary?  You might find you can combine a few meetings and/or eliminate one or two.

*Are you driving all over town without any plan?   Try to organize your meetings in certain areas of town back-to-back.  You might also want to coordinate meetings out of the office only 1 day a week.  This will save on time and gas money.

*Make a part of every evening and weekends an opportunity to spend quality time with your family.  Prepare dinner and weekend meals together.  Use this time for uninterrupted conversation minus the electronics.  Plan family activities.

*Enjoy the moment - the wind on your face, the taste of morning coffee, the sun on your shoulders.

*When you're eating a meal - Sit down to a table or to nature, and enjoy your meal. Taste it.  Eat natural, fresh foods and produce. You'll feel better and find you need less food to satisfy you. 

*Meditate and Pray every day.  Give thanks for what you have. 

*Write down your goals and dreams.  Look at them often.   You'll find by doing this, you'll begin to see them transpire in your life.

*If you are unhappy or depressed, look inside honestly and work to change what is ailing you.  Seek counsel if necessary.

*Whether at home or at work - ask for the guidance and support you need - Delegate when possible.

*Plan ahead for vacations, weekend trips and special getaways that you can look forward to.

*Start TODAY to create love and happiness in your life.  It starts with you. Express your love with a card, a text or a small token of your affection.

*Put a smile on someone's face and SMILE a lot!

A friend of mine recently lost a young family member in an accident.  Another person I know lost their parent suddenly.   Don't let a tragic event find you wishing you spent more time with a friend or loved one.

Take heed that it is the QUALITY of life, and the deep personal relationships that bring meaning - not the superficial material things we can't take with us.

Enjoy simply delicious living EVERYDAY. 

Visit my blog at SimplyDeliciousLiving.com for joyous living inspirations and great easy-to-make, simply delicious recipes and cooking videos!


Listen to STOP: SMELL THE FLOWERS Podcast in ITunes, CLICK HERE.


Become the Superhero of Your Own Life: Master Change

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I looked up the word "flexibility" in the dictionary just to read how it would be defined. One definition read:

"The ability of a material to deform elastically and return to its original shape when the applied stress is removed." - Wikipedia

I chuckled when I read that. The image I saw in my mind was of the Superhero Elastagirl in the Disney/Pixar Cartoon, The Incredibles.  Her body could stretch and contort and revert back to normal with ease.  And seeing that image made me think of the fact that CHANGE requires FLEXIBILITY.


And while we humans might not be able to stretch like Elastagirl (pictured left), in today's world of new technology, mergers and acquisitions, downsizing and job evaporation, in order to survive intact, a person has to definitely remain open and able to adapt -- be flexible -- when necessary.

Some of the most important things you can do when change happens:

Acknowledge the change. There may be some moments of wanting to drown your sorrows in mindless television or eating some good ole' comfort food but then recognize you have to regroup and get organized.

Think positive. Look at change as an opportunity to grow and expand.  Life after all, moves forward.  Change is one guarantee we can all count on.

Write your thoughts and goals down.  Figure out next steps.  Plan and brainstorm with friends and associates. This is the time when nurturing relationships come in very handy.  If you've built a strong network of friends and business associates, you'll be able to talk to individuals about how they dealt with various changes in their own lives and what advice they might be able to give you.

Get the support you need. 

Be kind to yourself.  Plan some activities and events that you love that will cheer you up.  Be extra conscious of doing this while you cope with change.  Doing what you love with the people you enjoy will keep your spirits on an even keel.

I remember, years ago, I was producing and writing for a TV show. When the show got cancelled, I found myself out of work.  I was terrified.  However, a wise friend told me to relax and have fun while I mounted a new job search.  Getting stressed about it wouldn't do me any good.

So I heeded that advice.  I took a few days off for a well-deserved rest in a relaxing location.  I followed that up with spending my days networking and sending out resumes.  And I also took time to go to the gym, watch movies that I never had time to watch and read some wonderful books.  I kept busy with friends and family and eventually found an amazing job.

During times of critical change, make sure you eat right.  Exercise and get enough rest. Meditation can also work wonders. Surround yourself with positivity.

When you feel better and have the right energy, attitude and motivation it requires to remain FLEXIBLE to maneuver around life's twists and changes, YOU BECOME the SUPERHERO of YOUR OWN LIFE!


Enjoy Simply Delicious Living, Today and Everyday!



The Way of Transition:  Embracing Life's Most Difficult Moments by William Bridges

The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Express Yourself with Arts & Crafts!

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Getting creative with arts and crafts

is a wonderful way to express yourself. 

Not only is it fulfilling,

it can give you a wonderful sense

of accomplishment, boost

self-esteem and

unleash a more playful

side of you.


Spring and the Easter and

Passover holidays are a great

time to share and give thanks with

those you love.  Create a memorable

homemade gift with love to bring to

your holiday celebration or to use

as a unique table centerpiece.


One fantastic way to create that special gift or centerpiece is to

get creative painting terracotta pots.



Purchase a terracotta pot at your favorite

gardening or thrift shop.


Select a size of your choosing and

then gather your favorite spring colors.

Perhaps a vibrant pink, sunny yellow,

lime green, sky blue and orange sorbet.


Then pull out a painting brush and get creative!


Create spontaneously or you might want to draw a design

on paper first. 


Choose a base color for your terracotta pot.  Paint it. Then take

a pencil and draw your design onto the painted pot. Later, fill in

the design with paint colors of your choice.


Once the paint has dried, you can fill the pot with such items as:



A pretty plant

Hershey's kisses

Jelly beans and other easter candies

Cookies or muffins wrapped decoratively


I still have a terracotta pot that I was given years ago as a gift (with chocolate chip cookies inside), that I use in my office to hold telephone books and other sundry items.



Getting creative with painting terracotta pots doesn't just

have to be reserved for spring either. Make painted gifts

and centerpieces with terracotta pots any time of year or for any holiday.


It's a great activity to do alone - or with your family

or friends.


Spread some smiles & have a simply delicious

Easter and Passover!


Listen to this Podcast in iTunes!

VC Style
Maryann Ridini-Spencer produces video stories about environmentally friendly and healthy living in Ventura County.

She co-hosts "Sustainable Ventura" with Ray Olson on CAPS-TV's VTV, Channel 15 as well as "Simply Delicious Living with Maryann" on Time Warner Cable ON DEMAND.