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Raw Living Expo: Inspirational & Simply Delicious

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     The energy is high and the faces are friendly at the 6th Annual Raw Living Expo being held at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza, 880 S. Westlake Boulevard, Westlake Village, from Friday, January 31 to Sunday, February 2, 2014.  The expo features product booths, raw food cooking demonstrations, informative lectures, workshops and classes, music and dancing, movement and yoga classes, and a "Best of Raw" Gala Awards Dinner.

     The mission of the expo is to "invite humanity to add more raw, organic plant foods to the diet to increase health, decrease our eco-footprint, and raise our spirits."  You don't have to be a vegetarian, vegan or raw foodie to attend.  In fact, if you keep an open mind, you'll definitely pick up a few tips and enjoy some of the delectable dishes!

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     Nathan Crane speaks about "How to Write, Publish and Promote a Best Selling Book"


     The first lecture on Friday at 9:00am, kicked off with "How to Write, Publish and Promote a Best Selling Book in 90 Days or Less," with author/publisher Nathan Crane (Panacea Publishing).  The talk was extremely informative, and while I'm a published author, I especially gleamed some very helpful tips including a simple truth worth remembering,  "Write when you feel inspired.  That exciting energy emanating from you will always translate to your readers."

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     Culinary Artists & raw food advocate Diana Stobo conducts a Nut and Seed Milk Demo

     For the first food preparation demo in the Plaza De Cataluna Chef Demo Stage, Culinary Artist and raw food advocate, Diana Stobo, conducted an "Amazing Nut and Seed" Milk Demo Class.  After attending the demo, even though I'm not easily sold, I couldn't wait to pick up her book, "Get Naked Fast!" and even bought a nut-milk bag to make my own nut milk.

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     A sampling of the product booths include fare and merchandise from such exhibitors as: Garden of Life, Divine Organics, Whole Foods, Living Light, Lydia's Organics, Vitamix, Berry Breeze and many others.  For a complete list of exhibitors, visit:  rawlivingexpo.com/exhibitors. To view a complete event schedule and for tickets, visit:  rawlivingexpo.com


     Inspired by today's event, I decided to make this especially delicious and healthy "Raw Veggie Salad."


     To make this recipe, you'll need a Julienne Slicer or Mandoline Slicer!


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Raw Veggie Salad

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 c. organic spinach
  • ½ c. shredded carrots*
  • ½ c. shredded zucchini*
  • ½ c. shredded butternut squash*
  • ½ c. beets*
  • 10 raw almonds
  • ¼ c. raw pistachios, shelled
  • ¼ c. walnuts, shelled and sliced
  • 1 Key lime
  • 2 T. raw honey
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

*Julienne Vegetables - Wash and slice carrots, zucchini, butternut squash and beets on a Julienne Slicer or Mandoline.  Using a slicer makes the raw veggies so soft and delicious.


Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, add spinach, carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, beets, almonds, pistachios and walnuts.
  2. Toss well.
  3. Slice key lime in half and squeeze the juice over the salad.
  4. Drizzle honey over salad.
  5. Add in salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Toss well.
  7. Serve immediately!

For an EASY PRINT OUT of this recipe, CLICK HERE.

©2014 - Maryann Ridini Spencer, SimplyDeliciousLiving.com


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

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WATCH THE NEWS STORY, CLICK HERE.

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.

TO WATCH THE NEWS STORY, CLICK HERE.

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

ethic."

 

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.

 


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"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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WATCH THE SUSTAINABLE VENTURA VIDEO NEWS STORY, CLICK HERE!

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.

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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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LISTEN to Maryann's 5 GREAT SUMMER RETREATS POSCAST:

http://simplydeliciousliving.libsyn.com/5-great-summer-retreats


SUBSCRIBE to Maryann's RSS
Podcast FEED:

http://simplydeliciousliving.libsyn.com/rss


READ Maryann's MONTHLY NEWSLETTERS, CLICK HERE.

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! 
Enjoy!


Banana Pineapple Coconut Muffins

Makes 10 muffins

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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!

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LIKE Simply Delicious Living with Maryann® on Facebook, CLICK HERE.

SIGN UP for our FREE monthly newsletter - lots of great articles,

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

WATCH US on YouTube on your computer, on your mobile device or

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.

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***

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.

MOLD KILLERS

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.

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


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.