December 2013 Almanac
This month is the big shopping month of the year, a great time to be mindful about where you spend your money and use your purchasing power to influence positive change. A great place to visit is my store priscillawoolworth.com, where you will find a selection of my favorite organic, non-toxic, energy saving, recyclable, sustainable, and fair trade products on the market. In Home Life, you'll find organic bedding, marketing bags and baskets. In Housekeeping, give the gift of non-toxic and chemical free products and in the Kitchen, the handiest glass storage containers, toxin-free cookware and choices of wood salad bowls. The Food section offers a selection of organically dried goods and food staples, and in the Garden, I choose my favorite garden tools and more. In Books and Movies, are many of the ones I love and have recommended over the years in my Almanac. Personal Care has a selection of the most wonderful skin care and toxin-free natural healing products, and in Office-School Supplies, all paper goods are made from recycled paper. Baby offers a selection of non-toxic and organic newborn baby products, and in Kids, you'll find a choice of eco friendly lunch bags, as well as toys puzzles, books and art materials and the Young Teen has fun eco school supplies, and in Older Teen is a selection of non-toxic skin care products. In Women, there are many of my favorite non-toxic skin care and other products I use and love, and in Men, products made with natural materials, classic games and survival gear. The Pet and Fitness sections have a variety of natural and chemical free choices. Energy Saving and Water Saving categories offer products that will help you both save money by wasting less energy and water. Concerns about being ready in the event of a natural disaster prompted me to offer a selection of items in Emergency Preparedness, so that you and your loved ones will be better prepared. I love all things relating to Christmas, especially when they are made with natural materials, as well as favorite holiday books and naturally, cute and useful Stocking Stuffers for the kids are essential!
When my daughters were little, we used to make our own decorations for our Christmas tree. I still have a special box full of their creations. I've always enjoyed Christmas decorations, especially ones that are simple and made with natural, recycled, or homemade materials. I wrote a blog about some of the latest decorating ideas I'm inspired by this month.
I read in National Wildlife Magazine that Mistletoe, considered a widespread plant parasite, actually plays a critical role in the lives of bird and mammal species. The berries are food favorites in the fall and winter for birds and mammals, and three kinds of butterflies depend on mistletoe for survival. Read more here.
Learning to live a more sustainable lifestyle has been a driving force in my life and in my work, and I recently wrote a post for Peaceful Daily about it.
Give Conscious Box to yourself or as a gift, and receive a box once a month with a selection of some of the purest, healthiest and most ethical products on the market. Help those brands grow!
Since I'm interested in learning simple ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle, ones that have a low impact on the environment and where I use less energy and water, I attended a home tour last month of a Zero-Impact house in Los Angeles. The Zero-Impact house had a water recycling system, which took care of 75% of the water needs of the house and was fully insulated, which reduces the cost of cooling or/and heating. It was inspiring to see how changes can be made to a house without sacrificing quality of life or standard of living, but instead, improving it.
To learn more: zeroimpacthome.com
“Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.” From Jack Kerouac, On the Road. My latest Pinterest board is about color as well, which features big in my life at home and in my work.
If you are buying a real Christmas tree this month, did you know that you could buy one that is pesticide-free and organic? Go to greenpromise.com to find one in your area.
To avoid injuring yourself while trimming the tree, learn safe holiday decorating tips.
In case you are considering buying an artificial tree, it takes 7.3 pounds of plastic to make one made-in-China typical artificial tree and a consumer must reuse that tree for 20 years before it has a lower carbon footprint than a real tree. Consider renting a live tree that will be replanted after the holidays or saved for you for the following year: livingchristmas.com. The average conifer will absorb 1 ton of carbon over 60 years, making the air we breathe a whole lot cleaner!
Recycling your Christmas has never been easier: there are more than 4000 tree-recycling centers nationwide. To find one in your area, go to earth911.com. Your tree will be turned into nutrient rich compost or water saving wood chips for someone's garden.
Wishing you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May all your wishes come true.
See you in 2014!
New York's High Line Spur
Back in March 2012, I wrote about the High Line in New York City, and what a positive addition it has been to the city and to the neighborhoods where it's located. The High Line was built on a disused train track, which has been reborn as a beautiful public walkway, fully landscaped with gorgeous trees, bushes, flowers, including areas to sit and rest while enjoying being surrounded by nature in the urban environment. The last phase of the High Line will be completed with the installation of the Spur, a nature-filled rounded structure that will extend over 10th avenue at West 30th street. According to the website, "visitors to this unique area of the High Line will be able to immerse themselves in nature by entering a bowl-shaped structure ringed with broad-leaf woodland grasses, perennials and ferns. The sheltered, and vegetated interior room will be accessible through various openings and entries." Sounds fantastic! I look forward to experiencing the High Line when it's complete in all its glory.
Hoping that the High Line inspires other cities to create urban green spaces wherever possible, as an investment in the quality of life of cities, now and for future generations.
To offer your support, visit highline.org.
Sweetgrass is an entertaining documentary that was filmed over 8 years by Ilisa Barbash and her Harvard anthropologist husband, Lucien Castaing-Taylor. The film presents a riveting and poetic portrait of modern-day sheepherders, a Norwegian-American family living a way of life that is dying out. Shot amidst the grandeur of Montana's Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness, the film follows the last shepherds to lead their flocks of sheep up into breathtaking and often dangerous mountains for summer pasture. This film reveals a candid and magnificently photographed world in which nature and culture, animals and humans are all intimately meshed. Fascinating viewing!
Maya Lin is an American architectural designer and artist who is known for her work in sculpture and landscape art. In one of her recent environmental works, Storm King Wavefield, she explores how we experience the landscape, merging the work completely with the terrain, blurring the boundaries.
She is currently working on what will be her last memorial, entitled What is Missing? It will focus on bringing awareness to the current crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss. Maya Lin is a committed environmentalist, focusing consistently on environmental concerns, promoting sustainable building design in her architectural works, while making the environment the subject of her artworks.
Previously profiled artists in the news:
You are a Gamechanger! You have the power to change the world by what you buy. The act of shopping has become a way to take responsibility and supporting brands that make products that are sustainable, chemical free or organically grown sends a powerful message to corporations. You can help make these products become the norm rather than the exception, and be available and more affordable for all socio-economic classes. You can feel good about it because you are making a difference!
Eco Garden - December 2013
MOON GARDENING BY PRISCILLA WOOLWORTH
Check out my blog: Gardening according to the phases of the Moon, and learn why and how the Moon's position affects your garden.
December MOON Phase Schedule:
December 1st: Waning Moon
Garden Chores to be done during the month of December are:
The month of December is a great time to dig up and move plants
Divide crowded perennials
Prune deciduous trees and shrubs, dormant berries, grapes, fruit trees, figs, kiwis and roses.
*Prune the deciduous fruit trees and vines only after all the leaves have fallen
According to the Moon calendar, December is the best month to cut down trees
Plant trees, shrubs, tulips, roses, fruit trees, cane berries, nuts, grapes, and spring bulbs such as daffodils, freesias, and anemones.
Plant low-water plants such as coast rosemary, grevillea, Jerusalem sage, lavender, lion's tail, rockrose, and rosemary.
Attract birds to your yard by planting barberry, beautyberry, cotoneaster, heavenly bamboo and holly.
Fertilize the winter vegetables you are growing and the annuals to promote steady growth with fish emulsion or worm juice, or add nutrient rich compost to those beds
Fertilize cymbidiums with a bloom-promoting fertilizer such as 15-30-15 until buds open
Shop for bare-root roses, cane berries, and perennial vegetables such as artichoke, asparagus, and rhubarb. Plant them as soon as you have brought them home.
Mulch your beds to keep the soil from compacting in the rain and to keep weeds down
Watch for Aphid infestation in your vegetable garden especially in the broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and chard by spraying then daily with a mix of water mixed with a Tbsp of non-toxic soap
When planting your vegetables, keep up the successive sowings, especially of salad greens, beets, carrots and radishes, to extend your harvesting.
Plant calendula, coreopsis, candytuft, clarkia, dianthus, dusty miller, lobelia, lupine, nicotiana, petunia, poppy, salvia, scabiosa, stock, strawflower, snap dragons, sweet pea, verbena and perennials such as carnation, chrysanthemum, columbine, delphinium, foxglove, hollyhock, lavender, penstemon, pincushion flower, poppy, rudbeckia, salvia, statice, and yarrow.
Plant in your vegetable garden: onion, garlic, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, and lettuce.
Following is a Moon Gardening calendar for December and which days are best for specific chores:
December 1st: Prune, water and compost
December 2nd: New Moon
December 8th and 9th: Plant above ground annuals
December 13th and 14th: Plant above ground annuals such as leafy greens
December 3rd till 16th, the Moon is in the Waxing phase, when the lunar gravitational pull brings the water up, which makes it a good time of the month to encourage plant growth and proliferation. Plant seeds, transplant, re-pot, trim and prune for growth. Also, fruits and vegetables that are tender and should be eaten immediately are at their best when gathered at the Waxing Moon, because the water content is higher, salads are crunchier, and juicier.
December 17th: Full Moon
The 4 days before and also 4 days after the Full Moon is the best time to prune, plant seeds (they germinate faster when planted at the full moon because they absorb more water) and fertilize plants as close to the Full Moon as possible. Cut bamboo and sow a lawn or put down sod.
The Full Moon is when water is at the highest level in the month. Best time to pick tomatoes. Harvest grapes to be used in winemaking as close to the full moon as possible because the grapes will retain more juice and bouquet. Gather any herbs to be used for their essential oils at the Full Moon because oil content is more concentrated at this time.
Recommended days for these garden chores:
December 17th, 18th and 19th: Plant for root growth, divide perennials
December 20th and 21st: Harvest, cultivate, weed, and control pests
December 21st: Winter Solstice
December 23rd and 24th: Harvest, cultivate, weed, and control pests
December 25th; Christmas Day
December 25th and 26th: Water and compost
December 27th and 28th: Prune, water, and compost
December 29th and 30th: Harvest and cultivate
December 18th till the 31st: the Moon is in the Waning phase, when the energy of the earth is drawn down but the gravitational pull is high, creating more moisture in the soil and this energy goes into the roots making it a good time of the month to sow crops that produce their yield below ground and control plant growth by pruning, weeding, and controlling garden pests, as well as dividing perennials. This is the best time for garden maintenance because the growth cycle of plants decreases. Fruit trees do best planted at this time of the month because the position of the moon encourages development of root growth and tree bark, essential to their success. This is also the best time to cut wood, because it resists parasites and cures better. Farmers pick their apples, cabbages, potatoes and onions at the Waning Moon, when water content is lowest and so the harvest stores better and keeps longer. Best time to dry herbs, flowers and fruit and the herbs are at their most potent. Also, add potassium fertilizer to plants that need it because it will be better absorbed at this time. Mow your lawn to slow growth. First time composting, start your composting during this period because the Waning Moon phase helps aid in the decomposition of plant matter.
Get ready for January 2014 Gardening according to the phases of the Moon! Subscribe to my Almanac and get your free monthly update.
I hope this calendar is helpful to you :-)
All the best
Root cellar storage rack for fruits and vegetables. Store your garden harvest for months of enjoyment.
Eco Books - December 2013
Whole Larder Love: Grow Gather Hunt Cook by Rohan Anderson
For anyone interested in local, sustainable, fresh, organic, humane, or slow food, you'll learn how to hunt, fish, forage, and grow your own food and how to prepare it. Whole Larder Love goes beyond farm-to-table to encompass garden, forest, field, stream, and storeroom-to-table. Author Rohan Anderson vividly illustrates the benefits of a lifestyle geared towards providing for yourself from the natural world.
Birds' Nests of the World by Mamoru Suzuki
This is a fabulous reference book not only for ornithologists and bird watchers who are interested in learning more about nesting and breeding habits of birds around the world, but also for the whole family. I'm in awe of all birds and their extraordinary nests from the Baltimore Oriole, to the Crested Oropendola, and Pied Monarch. You'll be smitten by this book!
Brambley Hedge: Winter Story by Jill Barklem
Brambley Hedge: Winter Story is a charming story with beautiful illustrations about the mice of Brambley Hedge who are preparing a magnificent Snow Ball, a huge feast and a dance in the grand ice hall. Children would be delighted to read this precious and wonderful book and will no doubt treasure it forever.
Creamy Cauliflower & Fennel Soup and Carrot-Zucchini Bread
December is such a busy month for many of us, so the two recipes I've chosen are very quick and easy to make. I love them and will definitely be making them again this month. The soup is wonderful and satisfying for lunch or dinner, and the ingredients used are at their peak over the winter. The second recipe, Carrot-Zucchini Bread is unbelievably good sliced, and toasted. I like it with a little unsalted butter and a dollop of raw honey. If you are having guests to stay over the holidays, this bread will keep everyone happy and well fed.
Creamy Cauliflower and Fennel Soup
From Eating Local by Janet Fletcher
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced
1/2 large cauliflower, florets only (about 3 cups)
4 fresh thyme sprigs
5 cups of vegetable broth (I added 2 organic vegetable cubes to 5 cups of water)
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed in mortar or spice grinder
*Real salt and freshly ground pepper
- Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the sliced onion and sauté until it softens, about 5 to 10 mins. Add the sliced fennel, cauliflower and thyme and stir. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20 mins, or until the vegetables are soft.
- Remove the thyme sprigs. With an immersion blender, carefully puree the soup. A food processor works as well. After the soup is pureed, add the crushed fennel seed, and season with salt and pepper.
Ready to serve deliciousness!
From Eating Local by Janet Fletcher
Makes 2 8-inch loaves
3 cups unbleached all-purpose organic flower
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon *Real salt
3 large eggs
1 cup of light olive oil
1 3/4 cups of sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup carrots, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
1 cup zucchini, grated on the large holes of a box grater
- Preheat oven to 325 and line two 8-inch loaf pans with parchment paper
- In a medium bowl, add flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix together.
- In a large bowl, whisk the 3 eggs until light and foamy. Add the olive oil, sugar, and vanilla, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the carrots and zucchini.
- Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir it all together using a wooden spoon until blended. Divide the batter between the 2 loaf pans.
- Bake bread for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and carefully pull the loaves out of the pans and let them cool on a wooden cutting board.
Delicious sliced plain or toasted with butter, honey or jam.
* Real salt is a mineral rich salt harvested in central Utah. It's in its natural state, without additives, chemicals or heat processed of any kind.
Search for your local Feeding America food bank in your neighborhood and help feed America. A food bank is a charitable organization that distributes food to those who have difficulty purchasing enough food to avoid hunger.