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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Bring on Fall

I was in a Fall kind of mood yesterday, so I got to decorating the house and baking pumpkin bread.

The fact that is was 85 degrees outside did not deter me.

I’m going with the “if you build it they will come” theory on Fall weather. Just looked at the forecast for the rest of the week. It’s not working out so well.

Politics in a Social Media World

I’ve been thinking about politics and social media quite a bit lately. Some people don’t appear to mind mixing the two, but for most others, it seems like it’s a big no-no. At least once a day, I see a friend lament about too many Facebook political posts. Or another friend makes a well-informed, valid point, followed by and apology for getting political. I understand. I have done it too.

And I know many of you don’t want to see it from others, or go there yourself. I get it.

Personally, I don’t mind political posts. I find it interesting and enjoy reading other points of view. Yes, even if their views are different than mine. But then again, I’ve never been one to shy away from a spirited political discussion. I find our political process engaging, and frustrating, and fascinating. I’m so thankful to live in a country where it is all possible.

However, not all political posts are good and/or welcome. Here, I would like to offer up a few suggestions for better mixing of politics and social media – not rules, but rather guidelines for making your politic posts go down a bit more smoothly.

First and foremost, if you get the majority of your news from only one source and just spout off talking points from that one source, it’s probably best to keep it to yourself. Even I know the Fox News talking points – it’s not fair, and it’s not balanced, so don’t kid yourself. Neither is MSNBC by the way, so I’m not just picking on the far-right. That’s why I get all my news from the ridiculously smart and talented Jon Stewart. Kidding…well kind of. I do watch the Daily Show, well daily, but I also get news and information from the paper, articles, books, internet sources, and yes, occasionally cable news networks.

Second, if you have expertise/passion/experience in a particular topic or issue, share it. None of us have time (or if we do, take the time) to research every angle of a political point of view or do homework on every one of the propositions. So for me, I like links to articles my friends have found, or their opinions about something that they have expertise in. As a matter of fact, I’ll go one step further – if you have experience and expertise on a particular topic, I think you should feel some sense of obligation to share with others so that they can make more informed decisions at the polls.

But please, if you have not done any research or don’t have any experience aside from one segment to saw on the news, maybe just pass instead of hit “share”.

Third, keep it positive, or funny, or preferably both. A bunch of “he’s a socialist”, “he’s an idiot” or “let’s just go start bombing people” posts really do nothing…for anyone. And also, they make you look like kind of a jerk.

And finally, proper grammar and punctuation go a long, long way. A quick double check before hitting “share” makes the world a better place.

Onward friends, until November…

Source: via Allison on Pinterest

Spotted in OC: 7g Recycling Bins

I just saw these today in the parking lot of the Lowe’s in Rancho Santa Margarita.

I had to take some pictures and then go home to investigate further.

Turns out, these are placed there by a company called 7th Generation Recycling. 7G partners with local non-profits, religious organizations, schools, community groups and others to recycle clothing, shoes & household textiles. The company’s collection efforts ensure that the recycled clothing benefits people in our local communities as well as people in Third World Countries.

It is a “green” business, not a non-profit like, say Goodwill or Salvation Army, so keep that in mind if you do donate. But 7th Generation Recycling appears to be a social responsible business that helps promote charitable recycling drives to benefit non-profits and local community programs.

What I do like about these bins is the convenience factor. When I have donations I can just put them in my trunk and the next time I see these out and about, I can toss it in the bin – rather than making a special out-of-the-way trip to a designated donation site.

You can place in the bins any used clothing item and household textile such as pants, dresses, hats, shirts, drapes, curtains, blankets, towels, sheets, handbags, belts, and paired shoes. Stuffed Animals also acceptable. Yay, we have no shortage of those I’d like to see passed on. 😉

Textiles must be dry and in clean condition. Material that is wet or mildewed or contaminated from any liquid is not acceptable. Rubber, plastic toys, carpets, and floor mats are not acceptable.

So, if you have a few bags of clothing, shoes, or accessories taking up space in your home, toss it in your trunk and maybe you will find one of these bins in your local area. Or, swing by this one here in the Santa Margarita Marketplace in RSM.

Wordless Wednesday: Macy’s Store at Irvine Spectrum

The other day on the Ferris Wheel at the Irvine Spectrum I spied…solar panels on the top of Macy’s.

They made me smile. And think I should probably shop at Macy’s more often.

Journey to Solar – Part One, Making the Decision

We are in the process of going solar at our house. I want to document our journey to demonstrate how simple, easy and cost-effective it can be. And hopefully inspire some of you to consider solar panels for your own home.

We are a few steps down the road at this point, but I’ll start back at the beginning with Step One – making the decision to go solar.

The reasons to choose solar energy are numerous and well documented. Let’s just say for me, it breaks down to either powering our home using solar (a clean, non-polluting, completely renewable energy source) or continuing to run off fossil fuels (a finite source that pollutes our water and air, and is a primary contributor to climate change). It’s kind of a no-brainer.

With that said, I will focus primarily on the financial aspects of going solar. Quite simply, it can save you A LOT of money.

In general, when looking at solar purely from a financial perspective, it makes sense for those who own their homes, are planning to stay there in the near future, and generally have an electric bill that is over $150 per month.

For us, our journey to solar started shortly after we moved last year and received our first electric bill – over $400! I couldn’t believe it. I had never seen an electric bill over $200 in my life.

Since then, we have implemented some energy-saving, cost-cutting measures, like switching all our bulbs to CFL or LED, turning off appliances not in use, and installing a new dual-speed pool pump (that alone has saved us about $75 a month). With these measures, we have reduced our bill to about $300.

Still, way too high, and using far too much energy from the grid.

So, I started interviewing solar companies.

It turns out, we can go solar for no money down, lease the panels for around $200 per month, and reduce our electric bill to about $40. That means, we can start saving money every month, right away, with NO MONEY OUT OF POCKET. Not only that, but as the years go by and Edison’s rates continue to increase (vs. our fixed-lease rate for our panels), we save even more money. I’ll give you more details and the full breakdown in my next post.

The next step is to select a solar contractor to perform the installation.

After looking at many companies, and meeting extensively with three, I settled on Solar City.

So far, I am very happy with my decision. Solar City’s service is excellent, their technicians are timely, and they take care of the entire process for you – including engineering, financing, permits, installation and ongoing monitoring of your system performance.

Now, we are on our way. Actually, the van showed up today to get us moving forward. I was so excited. I felt like a kid on Christmas.

In my next post, I’ll break down the three main ways you can pay for solar, how the math works in our case, and how it may work for you too.

For a good overall summary of the process, check out this short, informative video, “Affordable Solar Power and Better Energy”.

(Point of clarification: Solar City in no way compensated me or provided me with any type of discounts for this recommendation. I selected them solely because I felt they were the best provider in California.)

Wordless Wednesday: Be Present

Art is everywhere in Laguna Beach – sometimes hidden down paths overlooking the beach, reminding us to live in the moment, and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Remembering September 11th

I had planned to share a post about recycling today, but on the anniversary of September 11th, it’s hard to focus on writing about much else.

The funny thing is that today was just a normal day filled with the regular activities of school and work – nothing out of the ordinary. And unlike last year (when I watched non-stop TV and cried almost the entire day), I didn’t really do much to commemorate the anniversary.

The thing that is remarkable to me is that this day was completely unremarkable. Back on this day in 2001, I didn’t think that would ever be the case. After the events of that day, I wasn’t sure if life would ever get back to any sense of normal again.

I remember watching TV while nursing my three-month old son. I looked down at his innocent face and thought “My God. What kind of world did I bring you into?” And I just started to sob, and sob, and sob. I felt so sad, so hopeless, so scared. I felt like life as I knew it would never be the same.

But then, something remarkable happened. In the days and weeks following that terrible day, we became united. We pulled together in a way that I have never seen before. We picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and started to rebuild…together.

All that working together – it actually worked. We did go back to work. We went back to school. We went back to life.

And my little baby is now an eleven-year-old boy with a normal, happy life. He feels safe and secure at home, at school, and traveling around this country. He has visited New York City and The Memorial Museum. Although he will never truly understand what that day meant to those who lived through it, he understands the kind of destruction that hate and intolerance can cause.

Which gives me hope for his generation, hope for his future, hope for the country.

President Obama said today during September 11th Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial “The true legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division. It will be a safer world; a stronger nation; and a people more united than ever before.”

I truly hope that is the case. Although at times it does not feel like that, in the long run, I do believe that it will be. For me, September 11th is a day when we should focus on the UNITED part of the United States of America and look to see how we can strengthen that in our own lives and communities.

We will not ever (nor should we) agree – on things like religion, politics, or even which fast food restaurant we will frequent. But in spite of the disagreements, I hope that we still respect, still listen, still love.

We can focus on our common goals – healthy children; stable jobs; clean air and water; and a democracy that really does work by and for the people. I want all of these things for me, for you, but most of all for these two. They deserve it, and so do we.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Farmers’ Market Report: Huntington Beach

I love discovering new Farmers’ Markets. There are many throughout Orange County. My goal is to find and report on each and every one – well, eventually.

Last week, I happened upon the Huntington Beach Farmer’s Market at Huntington Pier.

Held Friday afternoons in Huntington Beach at the Pier Plaza parking lot (just north of the HB pier), it runs from Noon to Five.

The Farmers’ Market runs year-round, except during the U.S. Open in late July.

There is plenty of organic produce:

Other offerings include sustainable seafood, locally-grown flowers and some great healthy snack items.

My favorite find of the day was Delaverde chips, salsa and guacamole.

Wow, this stuff is good. Made locally with small distribution just in OC, this is a real find. The guacamole is the only guac. I have ever purchased that actually tastes like homemade.

It’s locally made, with fresh ingredients, and preservative-free. If you visit the HB Farmers’ Market, make sure you pick some of this stuff up. You won’t be disappointed.

This Farmers’ Market is often held in conjunction with a shopping fair of hand-crafted gift items such as jewelry, clothing, rugs, artwork, plaques, home decor and much more from around 50 – 100 crafters. We ventured to the craft fair next door and checked out lots of locally made goods as well.

And shopping right on the beach with a beautiful ocean breeze – you can’t go wrong.

So, which Orange County Farmer’s Market to visit next? Anyone have suggestions? Would love to hear about the markets you have visited in your area and what you recommend.

Wordless Wednesday: Photo of the Summer

Yay, my first “Wordless Wednesday” post. For future posts, I intend to share photos of all the beautiful, natural, green things I find in and around the OC. There’s lots of material there.

In honor of the last day of summer for our family, our photo of the summer:

For the most part, these posts will be wordless, but here is a short story of how this photo came to be – We were enjoying the last week of summer vacation down at Victoria Beach in Laguna. My daughter and I walked down to the beach to watch my son and husband paddle in on their paddleboards. While waiting, my daughter (who dances EVERYWHERE she goes), started dancing on the beach.

She was just dancing for the pure love of it – without a care in the world. I quickly broke out the iPhone and started snapping photos.

Many of them didn’t turn out, but then there was this one. I added the caption “Dance like no one’s watching” on Instagram because that is exactly what she was doing – just dancing for the joy of dance, the joy of the ocean, the joy of a beautiful sunset, the joy of summer. The photo above is the #nofilter version.

We will miss you, summer 2012, thank you for bringing us moments of beauty like this.