Clean your bathroom without resorting to Poison

...ration is necessary. Cleaning ain’t rocket science, and it’s not like I’m prepping my bathroom for surgery. Stuff just needs to be wiped down to remove dust and other surface dirt. Whatever I clean, however I clean it, will get dirty the next time it’s used, so why all the struggle and germ phobia? All cheap white vinegar is the same, but I like El Pato brand because of the duck on the label. Why doesn’t El Pat...

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California poppy tea

...ding to Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West , the Chumash made a poultice of the pods to stop breast milk. For them, this was (is) the plant’s primary use. Secondary uses include using the root for toothache and a decoction of the flowers to kill lice. How to use:  You can make tea with any of the above-ground parts of the plant: leaves, stems and flowers. You can use these parts fresh or dried. I’ve been using fresh so far. I...

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Deadly Nightshade vs. Black Nightshade

...lkaloids in Solanum nigrum. Cooking eliminates the alkaloids.  Jennifer M. Edmonds and  James A. Chweya, writing for the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, describe the uses of Solanum nigrum and end up advocating for its widespread use as a cultivated food source. Here’s what they say about it’s toxicity in their book, Black nightshades, Solanum nigrum L. and related species, which you can read in Google Books, . . . th...

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Roundup

...as weed control goes, there are some weeds such as crabgrass which are very difficult to deal with, and Roundup used to be SurviveLA’s last-resort option. Fortunately there are alternatives. First of all we are mulching much more than we used to. Newspaper topped with leaves and twigs seems to work great, and the newspaper takes much longer than one might expect to break down. While not appropriate for our dry climate and incendiary native...

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How to make a Calendula oil infusion

...with various strainers, depending on how clean I want the oil. I have a fairly loose strainer that’s good for big stuff, like Calendula blossoms. Tea baskets fit in there as well. And for very fine straining I can line the strainer with cheese cloth or muslin. Strain the oil into a fresh, clean jar. Pour off the oil first, then press the dried matter to squeeze out the remaining oil as best you can. You’ll never get it all back. La...

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Ten Uses for Palm Fronds

...ce our neighborhood. While not pretending I can give closure to this issue, I thought I’d round up as many uses as I can find: 1. Make a mask. When Halloween comes around palm fronds can be made into creepy masks. Get good at this craft and open an Etsy store. 2. Make a roof. Weave them together and you’ve got the perfect roof for your tiki hut. Warning: you’ll need a lot. 3. Make a low quality mulch. Using palm fronds as mulch...

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Mead!

...a gallon of refrigerated water to cool the must. 5. Pitch in the yeast once the must has cooled below 80º F. We used a wine yeast called Lalvin 71B-1122 which we also picked up at our local home brew shop. We rehydrated the yeast according to the directions on the package, letting it sit for 15 minutes before we tossed it in the must. 6. We put the must in a used one gallon apple cider bottle and fitted it with a fermentation lock. Mr. Doug Harv...

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How Not to Grow Potatoes

...d a more bountiful than expected harvest of potatoes this summer season. We grew our ‘taters in a stack of tires. Used treads, due to their ubiquity along the sides of our blighted streets, ought to be named the official city flower of Los Angeles, but we digress. The idea with ‘tater tire stacks is that you add another tire as the plant grows and in so doing encourage the plant to throw out more roots. At the end of the season you ki...

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Revolution: A New TV Series About Extreme Suburban Homesteading

...urse, to grow our food. Our technology, especially the internet and smart phones has radically externalized what used to be  collective and individual cultural memory. It’s notable that this story places so much value on a flash drive as a repository of knowledge that used to be inside our own skulls. The delusional aspects of the pilot episode gives me great pause for the future of this country. But without seeing the rest of the series it...

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A Sports Utility Bicycle

...simple – it took two trips to the Bicycle Kitchen, an extra length of chain, a rear derailleur cable made for tandem bikes, as well as a general tune-up for the old bike we used. If you ride on paved streets remember to use slick tires The Xtracycle has been a significant step in reducing our dependence on our crappy Nissan Sentra, and has allowed us to divest ourselves of the other crappy car we used to own. In fact, using a bike for tran...

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