Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring, please

Hailing from the land of practically perpetual sunshine, I was blissfully content with all the snow Asheville received this year. While other folks complained loudly, I (just as loudly) wished for more snow.

That was before Friday, March 19th arrived.

Balmy and bursting with warm rays of sun, it was the perfect spring day. I spent it hiking in Burnsville with Giedre, Ben, and Laura. The next day, Drew and I trekked to our neighborhood park, draped a blanket over the grass, and let the sun work its magic on our pasty complexions. Bliss!

Asheville's weather is torn between winter and spring - uncertain whether to dump another mound of snow on its weary residents, or to go ahead and allow spring to meander in over the mountains. Enough snow, I say. Bring on spring.

p.s. In other news, Chinese folks trying to access google.cn (China's censored Google sight) are now being re-directed to google.hk. After China's attempts to infiltrate gmail accounts, Google has stepped out of China and into uncensored Hong Kong, where it is currently sending Chinese Google-users. Hmmm...

From the Blue Ridge Parkway

Friday, March 12, 2010

Just say no

I found out today that my moment of weakness occurs at the Mecca of gum-popping teenagers, food court aromas, and florescent lights: the mall. When I find something I like and the price is awesome, I buy it. Add in the third ingredient - "Is it made in China?" - and you have an upset Viktorija.

I was hurrying by racks of clothes, on my way to the cash register with an adorable dress in hand (I have to mention that I've been eyeing this item since last September, waiting for the day when it would fall drastically in price), when I stopped abruptly. A feeling of dread stole over me. "WHERE is this dress made?" I moaned. Giedre spotted the country of origin first and crowed, "Made in the U.S.!" The dress didn't go home with me because it had been hanging on the wrong rack and unfortunately, was not on sale.

The day was a success - two tops (one made in Vietnam, the other bought on consignment), cargo pants for Drew (Sri Lanka), a pair of $3 leggings, and a used movie made it home. But I realized I'm in dangerous waters when it comes to the mall. It's much much harder to say no to a very cute dress than some random object at TJMax...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

So you wanna clean?

There is leftover chicken vegetable soup sitting in my frig. I found it yesterday when I engaged in a refrigerator-organizing spree (a must for the well-ordered mind ;). After spending hours in the cold, the soup had congealed into a thick gelatin dotted by veggies: carrots, onions, and cauliflower. I think my brain must resemble the soup some days. With so many new ideas (or veggies) flying my way, my brain (the chicken stock) doesn't know which way to turn and what ideas to embrace.

As I've mentioned, I have been all about the food lately. But this past weekend I dumped more veggies into my soup, so to speak. My mom and I went to the Organic Growers School spring conference last Saturday. From the plethora of workshops/classes offered, we chose "Green Cleaning Solutions," "Seasonal Cooking & Living," "Designing a Productive Edible Landscape," and "Native Grasses & Wildflowers to Landscape." Whew. Let me tell you, I walked off the UNC Asheville campus thinking about lavendar cleaners, blueberry bushes, and raw pumpkin seeds (did you know these can be green? It was news to me).

My favorite class was the Green Cleaning Solutions. I've already been waging an internal battle against processed foods, so I figured why not add popular cleaners such as Windex and Pinesol to the mix? To be honest, I've never given herbs their due. They belonged in a garden, sometimes on my omelet, and that was about it. While the pungent, outdoorsy aroma never smelled bad, when it came time to decide between that and a fruity, sensual scent (think shampoo or a bar of soap), I'd always go with the latter.

Did you know...
-Lavendar helps relax tense muscles, is good for colds, and minimizes scarring?
-Rosemary relieves migraines, enhances memory, and acts as a sterilizer?

Nope, me either.

I learned that over eighteen billion dollars has been spent on the cleaning industry. We Americans are obsessed with cleanliness. I know that I am. And that's not always a good thing...

I learned that chlorox was created during WWII for warfare. After the war was over, the surplus chlorox was marketed to housewives. "Make your home shine! White = clean!"

I learned that fabric softener contains formaldehyde, while one of Windex's ingredients turns out to be a corosive. Nice, huh? Why would we want to clean our spaces with this stuff? Check out www.lesstoxicguide.ca for more info on what goes into cleaning products.

On the other hand, I also learned that both lavendar and rosemary can be used to make great natural cleaners. I happen to love the soothing aroma of lavendar, so this is great news for me. Do I mind my floors and countertop smelling like lavendar? No siree!

I left the class with recipes for a lavendar cleaning spray and an herbal disinfectant spray and a desire to overhaul my cleaning process and products. After doing a quick inventory, I realized I have about seven or eight different cleaners for my apartment. That shocked me - my apartment isn't big. I don't have The Answer yet (will I ever?!)...this is just another small step in my 2010 resolution to ask questions.

PS If you were wondering about my soup...the stuff glopped into the pot - no splashing there - but before I gross you out entirely, it did heat up quite nicely and was delicious. ;)