Thursday, October 12, 2017

International Coastal Cleanup Day!

A few weekends ago we woke up bright and early and headed out to Topanga State Beach to volunteer for Heal the Bay on Coastal Cleanup Day. This was a global event and half a million people from around the world showed up on beaches, rivers, parks and coastlines for a massive clean up. Half a million, that's amazing!

At first glance California beaches look super clean, but as we began to walk the amount of plastic, bottle caps, pieces of toys, etc., buried in the sand was staggering. Big chucks of plastic are scary, but small little pieces of plastic are even scarier. The tiny, often bright colored pieces break down into smaller and smaller pieces until they are either carried out into the sea or eaten by sea life. This causes massive damage to their digestive systems and more often than not, results in death.

9,600 volunteers came out at 61 sites across the city of Los Angeles from Compton to Malibu, that's about 45 miles. 230,000 lbs. of trash was collected in just under three hours! Our Off The Grid team alone collected 10lbs!

It takes so little effort to clean up when you leave the beach. This simple act saves ocean life, which aids in healing the planet. So let's be mindful of what we leave behind, literally.

Oddest piece of trash we found: a mouse trap
Most repetitive piece of trash we found: cigarette butts 
Off the Grid in the City - Coastal Clean Up Day - Heal the Bay

Off the Grid in the City - Coastal Clean Up Day - Heal the Bay
Off the Grid in the City - Coastal Clean Up Day - Heal the Bay
            Dana ran for this bottle just before the tide came and swept it up to sea.

Off the Grid in the City - Coastal Clean Up Day - Heal the Bay
          A volunteer teaching these little girls the dangers of littering. It's so important that we instill a positive and responsible level of love and respect for our planet in young children. What they learn now will lead to what they know later. They are the future.

Off the Grid in the City - Coastal Clean Up Day - Heal the Bay
              Mike and Julie pulling out hidden trash from between the rocks.

Off the Grid in the City - Coastal Clean Up Day - Heal the Bay
Off the Grid in the City - Coastal Clean Up Day - Heal the Bay
             Getting our trash weighed! We came out to about 10 pounds of trash total.

Off the Grid in the City - Coastal Clean Up Day - Heal the Bay

Off the Grid in the City - Coastal Clean Up Day - Heal the Bay
                A volunteer recommended a great FREE app to keep track of our trash, it's called CLEAN SWELL. We highly recommend it!! Very user friendly. Great for kids too.
Off the Grid in the City - Coastal Clean Up Day - Heal the Bay

~julie
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Thursday, August 31, 2017

FROM SEEDS TO SALAD BOWL

I have to tell you that there is nothing like the feeling of stepping outside your door and picking your own fresh salad. It's so rewarding to see those tiny little seeds, in just a matter of a few weeks, fill your bowl with fresh yummy greens.
Off The Grid in the City - vegetable garden
And it doesn't even have to be outside your door! If you don't have outside space, but you have a sunny window, you can plant herbs and lettuce!

The joy of planting an edible garden has many rewards:

  • You know where your food is coming from, sans chemicals. 
  • It's so easy that you are naturally going to eat more greens -- better for your health
  • You save a ton of money. 
  • No plastic!!!
  • Communing with Mother Nature nourishes your soul. 
I use to be as guilty as the next girl for running into the market on the way home and grabbing a pre-bagged salad or lettuce mix. But once our family started to do out best to avoid plastic, food shopping took on a whole new set of issues! I couldn't believe how much we were actually buying that involved plastic and so much of it was produce. Now when I see people taking those plastic produce bags to fill up I cringe. SO MUCH WASTE! Just throw it in your cart or in your recyclable bag, you're going to wash it anyway right!?!

Planting our own salad garden turned out to be pretty easy. You can find seeds at your local garden store, places with garden centers like Home Depot, or online which gives you tons of options. And they are cheap! We bought a packet of mixed Kale seeds for $2 that yielded so much kale we were able to share with neighbors! We planted them in trays, I should point out that the trays were left over from old garden plant purchases and they are plastic, so we will just keep re-using them forever. A bag of all-purpose garden soil, water and sun is all you need! When the seeds sprout and look healthy, transfer them to your garden or to clay pots, watch them grow and you will magically have seeds to salad bowl. Enjoy!

- Julie

Off The Grid in the City - planting seeds
Off The Grid in the City - planting seeds
               Counting seeds. A tedious, yet therapeutic task. 

Off The Grid in the City - vegetable garden

     Clearing out the old, to make room for the new! All of this will be fed to our composter. (Click here to read about how to start your own composting bin!)

Off The Grid in the City - vegetable garden
Off The Grid in the City - vegetable garden

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

EASY TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE BREAD

Correction, easy to make gluten AND rice free bread. Discovering we not only had a gluten allergy in the house, but also a rice allergy (yes rice), proved to be quite a challenge. Since most gluten free alternatives use rice flower as a substitute, our options were limited. Then add in our effort to go plastic free and our options completely disappear. But with some determination, short search on Pinterest, and an afternoon in the kitchen, we discovered this incredibly tasty easy to make gluten free recipe!

Here are the ingredients you will need:
  • Milk (we used Almond)
  • Honey (or any other natural sweetener)
  • All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Apple Cider Vinegar 
  • Dry Active Yeast
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs
Click here for a for a step by step how-to! Next we will share Mike's homemade peanut butter and grape jelly recipe, featuring fresh grapes from our grape vine! Happy baking!
Off The Grid in the City - Easy to Make Homemade Gluten Free Bread

Off The Grid in the City - Homemade Gluten Free Bread
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

DIY DRAINO

DIY Draino - Chemical Free - 3 Ingredients - offthegridinthecity
Three ingredients to unclog your drain!
  • 8 cups of boiling water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda (we recommend always using Arm and Hammer)
  • 1 cup white vinegar 
Also, I recommend chopsticks or something of the sort, to poke the drain with. That's all you need! Now for the steps...

DIY Draino - Chemical Free - 3 Ingredients - offthegridinthecity

First things first, boil 8 cups of water. I used a measuring cup and poured the water into my tea kettle. I recommend using a kettle because it will be much easier to pour the water.

Once the water boils, pour 7 cups of the boiling water down the clogged drain. I poured the water from the kettle, into the measuring cup, down the drain.

Next, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain. This is where the chop sticks come in handy. The baking soda needed a little extra push down. Don't worry if it doesn't all go down, the next step will take care of that!

Now, pour 1 cup of white vinegar down the drain. (Cue fun sizzle effect.)

Then pour the remaining 1 cup of hot water.

All done! An easy chemical free way to clean your clogged drain! Not to mention it makes the sink sparkle.

- Dana

Saturday, February 18, 2017

COMPOSTING MADE EASY!

Starting Composting is Easy!  All you need are scraps, a pail, a bin and you're on your way to making your own dirt.  To me, it seems magical, I compost scraps and eventually it turns into black dirt.  Compost reduces trash, is great for your gardens and allows you to do your part and make a difference.

Let's get started.
composting - off the grid in the city
Any small pail with a cover would work IF you religiously empty your scraps in the outdoor compost bit every day.  This is too much for my busy schedule so I got on the web and searched "Composting Pails" and found a wide variety of looks and prices. I bought this stainless steal 3 cu. ft pail which Julie says looks nice in the kitchen.  (Very important.)  The pail also included a charcoal filter on the lid so odors can be minimized/reduced to zero.  I usually empty the scraps every 2-3 days which is fine especially during the winter months.  In the summer, as the temperatures rise, both odors develop and fruit flies can hatch and fly out of the pail.  (This didn't bother me much as I told Julie that in high school, I bred fruit flies to see what happens when crossing different strains of fruit flies. Julie did not find it interesting, I think she gagged.)  So try to empty the pail daily or every other day!  (I'm still trying to remember my daily composting chores!)

Next up! Any large, sturdy bin or container with a lid would work.  Our city, Los Angeles, was giving out composting bins (for free) at Griffith Park. I immediately went down and picked one up.  Many cities across the country might have similar programs, so do a little research!  They had a short informative seminar on how to compost which was very helpful since I had never composted before.  The compost bin has a locking top and no bottom, which threw me at first, but of course this process is outside on a dirt area of your yard.

That's it. Your step towards making dirt for your garden or potted plants has begun! It's that easy.
composting - off the grid in the city
Now for the process. What goes into your composter?

This is easy too.  There are really only 2 types of "ingredients" for the compost bin.
GREEN - compost that contains carbon.
BROWN - compost that contains nitrogen.
These should be approximately equal parts of each. Here are some examples:
composting, composting tips, composting 101, off the grid in the city,
Turn the pile and moisten with water about once per week. You will have compost in as little as 4-6 weeks to a year!  (All depends on temperature, container size, and conditions.)


Other Tips!
-  Location with equal sun and shade
- Chop your ingredients to speed up decomposition
- Use a variety of greens and browns.

Dirt Additive:
Fungi and microorganisms are needed to break down the organic material in the bin.  Since our soil is more like sandy/clay, I figured our soil did not have the right beasties to start the decomposition process.  So to avoid complete failure on my first attempt, I added composting soil to my first batch, which can be found at most home and garden stores.

Dirt Additive: Ringer Compost Plus #2 - $6.99
Dr. Earth Compost Started #3 - $16.99
Jobes Organic Compost Starter #4 - $14.62

Total Coast:
Stainless Steel Pail - $20.00
Bin - FREE
Additive Soil - $17.00
_______________________
TOTAL: $37.00

Of course, once you get the hang of it, you can make your own compost bins and begin more advanced methods to speed up the process and even dirt recipes. YUM!

Coming up next: Let's Add Worms!

- Mike