See How One Couple Squeezes An Entire Farm Onto Their Small Los Angeles Property

By Carolyn Silveira (via Upworthy)

Erik and Kelly decided they’d rather grow their own artichokes than have to work at crummy jobs in order to buy them at the store. So naturally, they turned their urban house into a mini-farm.

I loved this home tour because it’s also a radical reminder of what “home economics” really means. Learn why they actually hate the idea of “self-sufficiency” at 2:00, hear about a time when everyone in L.A. had chickens at 6:00, and check out their exotic milk-crate toilet at 11:00.

Sadness In A Miracle

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Since my last post on our ongoing care situation with Anita Dong-Miller (my mother-in-law), a few radical changes have taken place, some good, some not so good, and even a few downright heartbreaking. To recap, we brought Anita home in November of 2013 to live out her final months in our care as she struggles with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. Now well into our fifth month of providing round-the-clock diaper changing, administration of medications, feeding, bathing, and exercise, Anita’s radical mood swings finally became too much to handle, resulting in a reduction of said meds and entry into hospice care. Continue reading

How to Grow Green Beans Even If You Have A Brown Thumb (via Treehugger.com)

green beans seedling pole beans         CC BY 3.0 Richard Stephenson

Whether you call them string beans, snap beans, or haricots verts, green beans are a great addition to any backyard garden, and because they’re easy to grow and harvest, they can be a good gateway crop for beginning gardeners. Green beans come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and two distinctly different growing habits, so they can be grown to suit just about any garden space in most climates. And in addition to being a tasty garden treat, green beans can improve soil fertility by fixing nitrogen with their roots. Continue reading

In Care of… Anita Dong Miller

WP_20140318_001

By Ian Denchasy

In November of 2013, we made the decision to bring Alicia’s mother home from convalescent care to live on Our Urban Farm. Our main motivation was her doctor’s diagnosis that Anita (her real name) was losing her battle with the triple-headed monster of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia and would soon (within a few months time) turn for the worse and end her stay in this life. Continue reading

2014 Garden Refresh… Time to Thin, Clean, and Replant

With spring suddenly upon us – at least according to theWP_20140301_002 calendar as we really don’t have traditional winters here in Southern California – we decided to combine our minimalistic approach to our outdoor spaces, cleaning out all the old leaves, furniture, and general clutter inhabiting the backyard, area behind our laundry room, patio, and side entrance on the south side of our property. Out went the old plastic lawn chairs, corroded fire pit, and rusty smoker (retrieved by the unseen curbside pickers in the middle of the night), leaving behind only our patio table and matching chairs, chicken coop, and propane BBQ. Our vegetable boxes also remained, but they survived the cut due to both their productivity and attractiveness (and they occupy former lawn space). Continue reading

Minimalism Update: Progress – Finally

2014-01-22 14.19.59 (2)

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” Socrates

In the spirit of our newfound passion for less, here’s an update on where I’m at in implementing minimalism into our cluttered household… Continue reading

1964 Aristocrat Lo-Liner Restoration – Part 6

WP_20140216_002After a three month hiatus to deal with Alicia’s mother moving in for the final leg of her life journey, I finally got back to working on our little camper in the hopes of making a one year anniversary trip back to our first trailer rally at Ocean Mesa campground in El Capitan, CA. The Aristocrat has been covered by a tarp all this time, but a scarily mild  “winter” here in Southern California made its use almost non-existent; indeed, we’ve only had 2-3 days of rain (more like heavy mist) in the past 90 days. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 30 years now and I can honestly say I’ve never seen such unbelievably gorgeous weather, even if the flip side is the worsening of our already severe, years’ long drought. Continue reading

Our Journey Into Minimalism, Part 2 – Our Bedroom and Living Room

2014-01-27 12.11.48 (5)

Our bedroom – post minimization.

In our quest to minimize our household (as detailed here in a previous post), we decided to take a room-by-room approach, starting with our bedroom. This is logical for two main reasons; first, it’s the furthest room back, bordering our backyard, so initiating our house purge here and working forward is a great plan of attack. Second, with both of us susceptible to allergies – Alicia especially – doing a major cleaning and paring of dust collecting items in the room we spend almost one third of our lives in is good from a health perspective. As an aside, our bedroom had become a collection point for dozens, if not hundreds, of small memorabilia items ranging from buttons of our son in his Little League Baseball days, Burning Man schwag, no longer worn jewelry, piles of paper, old clothing, and unused fixtures. Continue reading

Refreshing: Grapefruit Honey Ginger Soda

Though it may be chilly outside, I think the beginning of the year is an excellent time for a glass of homemade grapefruit ginger soda. I came up with this recipe when my partner swore off commercial soda, and after months of holiday indulgence, the light and tangy fizz is most welcome. The soda is sweetened with honey, not sugar, and the ginger provides a note of warmth for winter.

Continue reading…

Five Great Movies You (Probably) Haven’t Seen

Looking for an alternative movie to watch in 2014? Here are a few of our favorite under-the-radar films from the last couple years. All are available for free or low rental fees on either Amazon Prime and Netflix.

1. Monsters

After a NASA deep space probe returns from a mission and crash lands in Mexico, strange (and giant) life forms start propagating all over the country, causing the borders to be closed and its inhabitants to be quarantined from the rest of the world. The only way in and out of Mexico are by exorbitantly priced, infrequent water ferries that only run for six months out of the year. Enter two individuals, Samantha and Andrew, who (through a series of unfortunate incidents) miss their boat and are forced to hitchhike up the middle of the Mexican countryside to the Texas border (sound familiar), trying all the way to avoid the giant alien creatures blocking their path. Continue reading