Burning down the house

(To fellow WP bloggers, this is the weirdest thing. Apparently this post did not publish, or it published in a draft format that was not at all what my final result looked like to me, and that’s why I’ve reposted it. Strange limbo zone!!)
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Do you smell the smoke?

It’s a rainy SoCal day and I was in a state of cleaning bliss, dusting and polishing and organizing.

I lit dried sage from the garden to smudge in a metal bowl on top of a mirror on my bedside table to bring a little pungent sagey/outdoorsy fragrance.

It seemed safe, right? Metal bowl placed not directly on wood, but on a mirror to protect it.

Apparently NOT safe.

I continued cleaning the other rooms, enjoying the sagey perfume. After a while, I thought that it seemed to be smoking for much much longer than the amount of leaves in the bowl and as I walked toward my bedroom, I was engulfed in smoke!

A MAJOR smudge haha.

I ran over to the window which was closed ‘cos of the rain, and slid it completely open, then to my beside table where I could see the mirror had cracked and the metal bowl had fused to the wood and was too hot to touch.

img_6904

The table was literally seconds away from going up in flames!

The smoke was no longer from the sage; the antique and very dry wood was burning.

Oh, and somehow the carpet had a few burn holes too.

Now there’s a nasty burn mark on my mom’s antique bedside table,img_6903

It took about an hour for the smoke to dissipate. There’s not a smoke alarm in my bedroom and it hadn’t yet reached the dining room area where there are TWO smoke alarms, so that’s why I was oblivious.

Well, one reason why I was oblivious.

The other reason is that cleaning puts me into a Zen-like trance and I was lost in my own little world.

Moral of the story? DO NOT put sage in a metal bowl on top of a mirror on top of a wooden surface. EVER.

I repainted this room recently, and noticed that it no longer reeks of fresh paint, so there’s a sort of silver lining???

img_6738

 

 

7 Ways to Use Lovely Lemony Lemon Balm

The epic rains that soaked SoCal this year gave birth to a springtime of lush floral beauty and emerald lawns, something I don’t think I’ve experienced in the thirty-two years I’ve lived at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

Before that, I lived in the area and there were definitely some heavy rains, but I didn’t notice nor did I appreciate the luxuriant plant life like I do now.

Flowers that previously lay dormant for seasons now burst forth in riotous color and perfume, like the lovely freesias, stock, Jupiter’s Beard, and borage.

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Most exciting for me is the herb garden.

lemonbalm2

Just look at the abundance of this patch of lemon balm. Planted directly under a bedroom window, the lemony fragrance wafts up and in with even the slightest breeze.

Ahhhh.

Heavenly!

Lemon balm was traditionally used to uplift the spirits and to enhance memory. Some of its healing properties were spiritual in nature. This herb was used in spells to heal broken hearts and also to attract romantic love. It was believed that a lemon balm bag put under the pillow could help promote sleep and put in the bath would promote relaxation. (https://www.mountainroseherbs.com)

Easy to grow Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, is considered a calming herb. It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating, as well as colic).  help heal wounds, and treat venomous insect bites and stings. Today, lemon balm is often combined with other calming, soothing herbs, such as valerian, chamomile, and hops, to promote relaxation. It is also used in creams to treat cold sores.
http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lemon-balm

Lemon Balm is useful for nursing mothers that want to reduce overproduction of breast milk or when in the process of weaning and drying up milk supply. DIL added it to her sage tea when she weaned Angel Boy 2.0 and it worked!

lemonbalm1

Add it to any dish that might benefit from a little lemony flavor, including cookies. I’m going to experiment on a vegan Lemon Balm & Lavender cookie, and will let you know how it turns out.

Seven Ways to Use Lemon Balm

1. Chop a couple tablespoons of lemon balm and add to your favorite salsa.
2. Chop together with cilantro in guacamole.
3. Lemon balm salad dressing is yummy and so easy! Combine your favorite oil with white balsamic or champagne vinegar, 2 TBS chopped lemon balm, pepper, Pink Himalayan sea salt, and whisk!
4. Pour hot water over lemon balm leaves. Let steep and enjoy!
5. I add a few sprigs to a pitcher of water with ice cubes and sliced lemon.
6. Lemon Balm Pesto:
2  cloves garlic
1/4 cup almonds or pine nuts (or both)
2  cups fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh lemon balm
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (don’t add if vegan)
2  TBS fresh lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
In food processor, add all ingredients except oil and pulse. Pour oil in steady but thin stream while pulsing until very smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with dried red peppers if you like it spicy.

If you Google it, there are loads of DIY recipes on the internet and Pinterest using lemon balm, but I chose this one to share with you ‘cos it’s cool and seems fairly easy:

7. Lemon Balm Extract
Combine your favorite carrier oil (sweet almond oil or sunflower or grapeseed with chopped lemon balm leaves in a small jar. Make sure the leaves are submerged in the oil.Cover and place in a sunny spot for two weeks, turning/shaking every so often while still making sure the leaves are submerged. Strain out the leaves and the oil is now ready to use.

**While it’s generally considered safe for most people, lemon balm might inhibit thyroid function. If you’re on thyroid medication, check with your doctor or pharmacist before using internally. As always, if you’re pregnant, nursing, or have any other questions, talk with your doctor.“Melissa Officinalis produced a significant inhibition of TSH binding to its receptor and of antibody binding to TSH”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14759065

 

Please Help Dearborn Wolf Sanctuary on #givingtuesday

Other living creatures are just like us.

To survive, they need the basics: food and shelter and medical care.

We can relate, right?

And that’s why Mel needs help for his rescued (abused) wolves and wolf hybrids.

From an enlightened reader who made me realize I had not included very important information about these animals: “…They were rescued from fools who keep animals like tigers, monkeys and wolves as pets. And then decide they’re not cute anymore, or they’re too much work, or whatever…”

And it’s really, really, REALLY true…even just a few dollars helps.

*A week of Starbucks. 

*Spare change.

That kind of thing.

It shouldn’t hurt to give, ya know?

If all of my 3,000 followers and friends were able to #give just a little bit, it would help SO much and you’d be doing SO MUCH GOOD.

Thank you for helping!!

*****(Donation info at the end of this post)*****


I’ve always loved wolves; I first became active in the 70s, doing what I could to support their originally being listed as an Endangered Species, and more recently, I spoke at the Fish and Wildlife Services hearing in Sacramento.

I wrote about that experience here: Saving Wolves

The wolf is an amazing animal that deserves to be protected and defended.

And saved.

However,

…Not everybody is as well-funded as Capt. Watson and his Sea Shepherd defenders and protectors of ocean creatures.

…Not everybody has the fundraising savvy of PETA or Defenders of Wildlife.

…Not every organization has a Washington, DC lobbyist.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help others who dedicate their lives and sacrifice everything to save animals in danger.

There are angels all over this country who are committed to 24/7 care of abused and neglected wolves.

There are those heroes among us who DO the work, even though they might not be PR or social media savvy and have a staff to handle all the admin duties.

I admire the men and women who are in the trenches, the boots-on-the-ground caregivers  who feed and love and care for these beautiful and much maligned animals.

Dearborn Wolf Sanctuary can REALLY use our help. 

His mission is simple but very powerful:

” We rescue wolves and wolf-hybrids that are unwanted, abused, etc. We give them a loving home with three acres to run and play, and all the food they can eat.”

I donated a couple months ago, and I’m going to donate again.

Will you help, too? 

Dearborn Wolf Sanctuary is a nonprofit organization.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dearborn.wolfsanctuary

Please contact him to offer any hands on help, too.

How to donate:

Check or money order to:

Dearborn Wolf Sanctuary
31 Cox Creek Ln.
Cascade, Montana 59421

or

PAYPAL:
https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=BRUfIKsNIM2LEE4cF1ysnfQFr2iE8uPkBbYvYAV-4YoQWmLJCkTbo8OuwPm&dispatch=5885d80a13c0db1f8e263663d3faee8da8649a435e198e44a05ba053bc68d12e

THANK YOU for donating and PLEASE share/reblog with your friends and readers…sometimes it takes a village to pitch in and help.

***Would anyone like to work with me on a fundraising campaign to help Dearborn Wolf Sanctuary?

#givingtuesday #cause #fundraising #socialgood #giveback

 

 

Strawberries, Sage, and Stevia

Sorry to most of the rest of the country but here in SoCal, our growing season is pretty much never over.

Here’s the raised bed tugboat man built for me the day before he left. I planted tomatoes, kale, red leaf lettuce, beets, beans, and broccoli — I packed a LOT in a 4×8 space. He was supposed to build a second bed, but this is another one of those “such is the life of a tugboat wife” moments where I need to wait until he’s home again.raisedbed

There wasn’t any room for the eggplants or these spicy jlapenos.

jalapenospotI dug a fresh, new herb garden directly under our bedroom window. I’m hoping the lovely aromas will waft up and in.Herb garden

There’s a couple different kinds of sage; basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, lemon verbena, cilantro, and STEVIA.

SteviaDid you know you could grow stevia?

Neither did I, but when I saw a pot of organic stevia at Armstrong’s Nursery, I had to try it. The leaves are super sweet. I’ve seen stevia extract on the grocery shelf as a sugar substitute but I’ve never tried it.

From Mother Earth News, a few facts about stevia:

If growing your own calorie-free, natural sweetener sounds too good to be true, it’s time to get to know stevia.

Native to Paraguay and other tropical areas of the Americas, the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) produces leaves packed with super-sweet compounds that remain stable even after the leaves have been dried.

Stevia leaves have been used to sweeten teas and beverages throughout South America for centuries.

More recently, diabetics and dieters alike have turned to stevia to reduce their sugar intake because, unlike honey, maple syrup, agave or molasses, this natural sweetener has zero calories and is not metabolized by the body.

Stevia is especially well-suited to sweetening drinks, fruits, salad dressings, yogurt and most creamy desserts. Stevia can substitute for some, but not all, of the sugar used when baking, because it does not provide all of the multiple functions that sugar does.

Many commercial drink mixes and packaged sugar substitutes are sweetened with a derivative of stevia.

This sweetening compound is called Rebaudioside A and is listed on labels as either Reb A or Rebiana.

These are highly processed products developed by large food corporations. Most of the raw stevia used to produce these products is grown in China. These “natural sweeteners” have been stripped of many of the plant’s healthful properties.

On the other hand, growing your own stevia to produce teas, extracts, and tinctures made from high-quality, whole-leaf stevia contains up to seven sweet compounds (glycosides) and an array of antioxidants. Growing stevia is easy in well-drained beds or large containers, and the leaves can be dried for winter use like any other herb. Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by basil.

Here’s a link to making your own stevia powder and liquid:
https://wholelifestylenutrition.com/videos/how-to-make-your-own-pure-stevia-liquid-stevia-part-2/

Last weekend I hosted a community garage sale for a local nonprofit (post to come) and someone brought a box of strawberry slips. I took a few, quickly dug a bed, and put them in the ground. Since we hardly ever throw stuff away, I found a length of white wire fencing tucked away behind the greenhouse. There’s nothing better than organic strawberries! Yum, can’t wait!strawberrybed

The weather is so crazy here, my apple and plum trees are blossoming again.

During the last few days SoCal broke tons of heat records along with a few drops of rain —and then nothing.

But it was a beautiful sunrise over the lagoon, right?sunrise looking toward lagoon

To Pee or Not to Pee

bath5

The walls are NOT this shade of green lol ; they’re more of a ferny green, not so neon!

THAT’s the question.

(I’m so sorry, Mr. Shakespeare)

Here’s the story:

When tugboat man was still here and we were having our house re-roofed, one of the guys slipped and stuck his foot through the ceiling in our upstairs office.

I’m happy to say he wasn’t hurt at all.

Later on that day, the roofer’s drywall friend came over to do the repair.

Hub requested that I cover all the furniture and the rug in the vicinity of the hole to protect it from dust and stuff ‘cos he knows how freaky OCD I get about dirt, and the whole roofing experience triggered all THOSE issues.

After I found some old sheets and draped the area, I went downstairs to wash dishes while hub chatted with the repairman.

Hub came down to the kitchen to get a glass of ice water and my bat ears (that’s what I’m called cos I hear EVERYTHING) picked up the sound of the upstairs toilet flushing.

I looked at hub in horror.

“That wasn’t the drywall guy flushing the toilet, was it?”

“Yes, it was.”

“Do you mean that he USED OUR BATHROOM?”

“Yup, why?”

“Did he ask you if he could use our bathroom?”

“Yes, why?” As he’s looking at me quizzically.

“And did you say yes?”

(Now I hear the sound of running water.)

“Yes, why?”

I’m hyperventilating, my mind’s eye scanning each and every surface this person must have touched; the toilet seat, the flushing handle, the water faucet, a towel (a TOWEL!), and the light switch. Oh, and the door knob. Both of them.

I’m seeing germs, I’m seeing hoards of stranger germs (stranger danger STRANGER DANGER!) multiplying and spreading all over the bathroom and overflowing down the stairs to invade each and every corner of our house.

I’m thinking of the horror stories I’ve heard about stuff being stolen—or OMG WHAT IF HE WENT NUMBER TWO?

I’m not really a snob (I’m NOT!) but this was not someone we hired; it was a friend or acquaintance of our roofer and we didn’t know his name or anything about him.

What if he had some kind of disease?

I couldn’t even handle that.

Not even.

Whew.

In a very controlled voice, I asked…”Don’t you know that as a general practice, one never allows strangers to use our personal bathrooms?  I mean, we don’t even really have a guest powder room or anything. This is private.”

“No, I didn’t know that.”

“Do you mean that in the twenty-five or so years that we’ve been together, you didn’t know that that was one of the things I just cannot abide?”

(Did I just hear him whisper to himself that right now It feels like 40 million years?)

“No really, I didn’t know that, but why not?”

“WHY NOT? Because it’s just not done, that’s why!”

“Well, what was I supposed to say?”

“I don’t know, what I say is either, I’d prefer that you didn’t, or It’s not something I’m comfortable with or maybe, I have a crazy wife, so you probably shouldn’t.”

I mean, here’s the thing…there are two kinds of people; those who don’t care if strangers use their toilets, and those who think it’s not appropriate for a stranger, especially one who’s there to do a job, to use the customer’s facilities.

Most contractors bring their own porta potty for jobs that take a few days, or they leave to use the restroom at a restaurant or anywhere else but here.

When he finished the small job of fixing the ceiling, I donned my ubiquitous yellow rubber gloves, a respirator mask (not really), and a gallon of bleach, and rushed into the now possibly-infected-with-stranger-danger-germs bathroom.

To add insult to injury, do you know what I found?

HE LEFT THE SEAT UP.

Yup. He left the seat UP.

I yelled that to hub, “HE LEFT THE SEAT UP!!”

I could hear hub muttering to himself; I don’t even want to know what he said.

Ick. Yuck. I spent the next hour totally disinfecting every surface.

Don’t think I’m like this when friends or family visit; of course not, not if I know them, their genetic makeup, their social security number, their address, their medical history…JUST KIDDING!

According to a discussion of this very topic on Angie’s List, here’s one contractor’s thoughts: David Webber, who owns David’s Home Cleaning in Raleigh, N.C., says he would never think of using a client’s bathroom except in a dire emergency, even though he can sometimes be on a job for eight hours.

“It’s like a personal, private space,” Webber says.

On long jobs, he’ll take a break to use a restroom off-site.

Kristopher Toth, owner of Toth Painting Solutions in Parma, Ohio, says he doesn’t expect to use his clients’ bathrooms.

“I think it’s a courtesy; I don’t think we can just assume we can use their bathroom,” Toth says.

What say YOU?

Do you let repairmen use your bathroom? What is YOUR criteria?

PS Had a date/publish issue with WP so I’m reposting.

Enchanting DIY Seashell Planter

Having two blogs is like having two toddlers running around the house; trying to spend quality time with one of them and feeling like I’m neglecting the other one produces a lot of stress!

It’s exhausting!

Hmmm, maybe that’s why I only had one human child—because I didn’t have to worry about dividing my time or attention, he didn’t have to share me.

I was getting my nasty gray roots touched up at the salon and saw the cutest little planter at everyone’s station — I couldn’t wait to get home and recreate it.

seashellplant2

It’s so easy and didn’t cost a penny, which is the best kind of DIY, am I right?

What you need:

  • Seashell
  • Potting soil
  • Succulent (taken from a larger plant in the garden)

Seriously, it took about five minutes start to finish.

Fill the shell with damp soil, insert the plant, water again gently, and that’s IT.  I know you’re supposed to let a succulent sit around for a few days to callous before you plant it, but I didn’t because I’m too impatient.

It’s so easy and SO adorable. I used a very small seashell, only about three inches long.

seashellplant3

Not only is it great for someone (like me) with a lot of allergies, but how about as…

  • Housewarming gift
  • Hostess gift (along with a bottle of wine, of course)
  • Place settings
  • Wedding favors
  • Easy-to-do craft with children of all ages

seashellplant

(Photos were taken with three different types of lighting.)

Happy New Year 5776!

shana-tova

The Jewish New Year marks the beginning of ten days of repentance culminating with Yom Kippur.

That’s about all I remember from attending a few years of Sunday Hebrew school until we moved to sunshiny SoCal, where I could concentrate all of my brain cells on yummy tanned surfer boys.

Even though my grandfather was a rabbi, the whole religious thang didn’t have much of an impact on me, other than the Jewish princess aspect because I am a VERY devout Jewish princess-y type.

Although you wouldn’t think so if you had been around yesterday, when I was tugboat man’s helper as we blew sixty (SIXTY!) bags of eco-friendly insulation in our attic.

I would allow no photos of me in a respirator, safety goggles, and work gloves, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

It was NOT a pretty sight.

More like Cinderella than Princess.

But now we’re pretty much done with our whirlwind month of home improvements; new roof, insulation, termite spraying, and the removal of five trees so we can plant fruit and palms.

This leads us to my secret (had you forgotten?) that I promise to reveal next week.

Until then, Happy New Year and eat some apples and honey (although I’ve forgotten why it’s relevant.)

I feel like Sisyphus

Welcome to my own version of Hell.

roof1I feel like Sisyphus, except for the part where I’m being punished for being deceitful, that is.

The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight.

They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.

For the past month, except for a brief few days camping and hiking in Pinnacles National Park, I’ve been cleaning and re-cleaning and cleaning again.

The same things.

Futile and hopeless labor.

Over and over and over again.

First we had five trees removed and I cleaned the yard of debris.

Over and over again.

Now we’re having our roof replaced in advance of the forecasted horrible, terrible, El Nino this winter pouring rain down upon our droughty lands.

The last time our roof was replaced was in 1985, prior to purchasing this house.

No one prepared me for the MESS and the NOISE.

Tearing off the two older iterations of roofing shingles.

Dirt, dirt, and more dirt IN THE HOUSE.

Even with all the windows closed in this one-hundred degree heat.

This is the stuff of OCD night terrors, because I JUST CLEANED IT.

roof dirtDirt on the screens, in the window tracks, coming in through the vents.

And there’s me, the embodiment of Sisyphus, vacuuming and vacuuming and well, you get the picture.

Are you asking yourself why don’t I simply wait until it’s all over and clean it just one time?

Good question.

I’ll give it some thought and get back to you with an answer as soon as I finish vacuuming.

Again.

See what I mean about Sisyphus?

OMG and then this HAPPENED right now as I’m writing this…a roofer stepped through and crashed into the ceiling in the office.

Now I am officially CRAZY.

roof fall

The Best of…for #ThrowbackThursday

An easy-to-read compilation of a few of my highest rated, most searched for, best read, and favorite posts:

1. Yummy Old Fashioned Strawberry Cake Roll:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2014/08/19/yummy-old-fashioned-strawberry-cake-roll/

2. Lululemon:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2013/11/07/breaking-news-see-through-yoga-pants-from-lululemon-get-em-while-theyre-hot-2/

3. Hello Kitty is my Soul SIster:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2013/05/28/hello-kitty-is-my-soul-sister-princess

4. How To REcover a Torn Outdoor Swing Cushion:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2013/05/10/how-to-recover-a-torn-outdoor-swing-cushion/

5. One is the Loneliest Number #Blogher14:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2014/07/30/one-is-the-loneliest-number-blogher14/

5. Seashell Vase:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2012/09/05/instead-of-flowers-how-about-a-seashell-bouquet/

7. Our Love Story:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2014/07/24/just-a-cup-of-coffee-the-love-story-of-princess-rosebud-and-her-captain-part-one/

8. Boys DO Make Passes at Girls Who Wear Glasses:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2013/10/30/boys-do-make-passes-at-girls-who-wear-glasses-oh-yes-they-do/

Have a lovely Thursday!

DIY Shabby Chic Rustic Planters

DIYSHABBYCHICRUSTICPLANTERDETOUR RANT: It’s so annoying. They turned off the electricity in our entire neighborhood for some stupid repairs to transformers or something and that means no internet, which means I had to seek out a public location and buy a carrot/celery/beet/wheat grass juice so I can use their wifi.

This is NOT one of my favorite things to do, especially in the summer when tourist season is in full swing and the entire downtown area is jammed up with whiny children and obnoxious parents WHO DON’T SEEM TO KNOW HOW TO SAY NO.

I’m trying to ignore the coughing and sneezing (please keep them home when they’re sick, OK?) and whinging and FOCUS.

OM.

Also, ‘rents? If you could PLEASE teach your children NOT to put their dirty shoes on sofas where people sit, that’d be great.

Back to today’s post after the brief ranty detour to once again complain about untrained parents. It’s hard to blame the kids when the ‘rents ignore them to stare lovingly at their smartphones.

What a sad generation of neglected children we’ve created.

OM.


#1 You know by now that I never throw anything away without first trying to find another use for whatever it might be.

We all have variations of those caddies that swing awkwardly from the shower nozzle with those worthless little suction cups, right?

What else are we supposed to use to contain shampoo and conditioner and scrubs?

They’re useful but after a while, the paint flakes off and they get rusty and need to be replaced.

Don’t throw them away!

Instead, transform them into an EASY wall planter for drought tolerant succulents or other plants if you’re lucky enough to live in a rainy part of the world.

I transplanted donkey tails and a variety of other succulents clipped from around the garden.

When these little plants grow and fill in, they’ll cover the plastic containers and spill over to add interest to the fence right off the deck.

I like the rustic look and I didn’t spend a single penny!

showercaddy

#2  When I completely purged my son’s room (Empty Nest Moms, This One’s For You) I found this obsolete artifact from the 90s, a CD holder (remember those?) and tucked it away into the garage until I could conjure up another use for it.

Three little plastic containers (saved from purchasing seedlings) fit perfectly.

Another planter!

So easy! Turn it on its side and line the bottom with a coconut planting mat cut to size (I think I bought the mats at a dollar store.)

More drought tolerant plants, added some Spanish moss, and attached to the fence.

CDplanter

The moral of this story? Don’t throw anything away EVEN if your husband tries to sneak it in the trash. Almost everything can be reused, reharvested, and upcycled.

Namaste.showercaddy3