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Ruthlilycat [userpic]
by Ruthlilycat (ruthlilycat)
at September 2nd, 2005 (11:32 am)

Company banking on pesticide-free nurseries
- Dan Fost
Sunday, August 28, 2005

Organic Bouquet has only nine employees, but its founder, Gerald Prolman, foresees it growing like a weed.

Prolman said Organic Bouquet is part of a growing trend of socially responsible companies, many of them from the Bay Area, that have a mission to both make money and do good.

He points to studies of the LOHAS movement -- an acronym for lifestyles of health and sustainability -- that claims 63 million consumers, or 30 percent of all U.S. households, with buying power of $230 billion.

He's ready to educate those people, many of whom already buy organic produce, about something they rarely think about: pesticide use in flowers.

At least 70 percent of the cut flowers now sold in the United States are imported, mostly from Ecuador and Colombia.

Working conditions there are not nearly as bad as Prolman had believed, thanks in large part to pressure from European shoppers who buy a lot of flowers, yet workers still suffer illnesses that advocates attribute to poisoning from pesticides. Pesticide exposure is especially dangerous in greenhouses, where many flowers are grown.

Yet even as growers become increasingly progressive, organic is still a difficult standard to adopt, especially when the demand is still in its infancy. Prolman has found it more practical to work on a wider sustainability standard that still allows use of some pesticides.

That standard, called Veriflora, was developed in conjunction with Emeryville's Scientific Certification Systems, and it has Prolman selling two types of flowers, organic and sustainable. He sees the Veriflora flowers as building a bridge to organic, and consumers can feel good that they're helping not only the environment, but also the lives of the workers.

Prolman's flowers are priced competitively with nonorganic flowers, with a dozen roses selling for $39.95. A dozen roses at 1-800-Flowers.com sell for anywhere from $29.99 to $49.99.

Organic Bouquet sells its flowers online, in retail outlets -- they're in some Whole Foods stores, but not in the Bay Area yet -- and through an innovative program with nonprofits and other like-minded businesses. Under this arrangement, Prolman sells flowers at a discount to members of the World Wildlife Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other groups. Those groups then get a portion of the profits.

His newest deal was with San Francisco's Working Assets, which will sell flowers at www .flowersforchange.com, giving 2 percent of the proceeds to nonprofit groups.

Page B - 3
URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/08/28/BUG62EE2P81.DTL

Ruthlilycat [userpic]
Spaghetti Squash Pasta with Roasted Tomato Sauce
by Ruthlilycat (ruthlilycat)
at August 27th, 2005 (06:40 pm)

Spaghetti Squash "Pasta" With Roasted Tomato Sauce

From Cathy Wong, N.D.,Your Guide to Alternative Medicine. When I sliced open a raw spaghetti squash for the first time, I thought, "How could this possibly end up like pasta?". But when cooked, the flesh of spaghetti squash can be pulled apart into thin strands that resemble spaghetti. It has a pleasantly crisp texture and a mild taste, making it a suitable substitution for almost any dish calling for noodles. It's also high in beta-carotene, low in calories. This is a delicious recipe by chef Sabra Ricci, made with roasted tomatoes. Enjoy!

Prep Time : 40min
Cook Time : 1hr 30min
Type of Prep : Bake, Roast
Cuisine : Italian
Occasion :


  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 pounds roma tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • pinch of red chili flakes
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cut spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds and place in roasting pan for 45 minutes.

3. Wash and quarter roma tomatoes and toss in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and kosher salt and place on a baking sheet. Roast in oven with spaghetti squash for 45 minutes. Remove squash and tomatoes from oven. Let squash cool for twenty minutes.

4. Saute garlic in remaining olive oil until golden brown. Add roasted tomatoes, basil, wine and chiles and let simmer for 30 minutes.

5. Remove spaghetti squash strands with a fork and place in a bowl and set aside.

6. When sauce is done add spaghetti squash and toss. Season to taste and garnish with parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Analysis
Per serving: 99 Calories
7g Fat (68% calories from fat)
1g Protein
6g Carbohydrate
0mg Cholesterol
12mg Sodium

Ruthlilycat [userpic]
Container plants in the shade
by Ruthlilycat (ruthlilycat)
at August 25th, 2005 (02:50 pm)

From the pages of Fine Gardening Magazine

Container Plantings in the Shade Yield a Spectacular Garden

You don't need a lot of sun or even access to the soil to have a lovely garden

by Gary R. Keim

Many plants perform well in pots in shady places. Although the terrace garden receives less than three hours of sun a day, it hosts an array of brightly colored plants.
Just when I get a gardening routine down pat, new challenges arise to test my knowledge or shatter my perceptions. Such was the case when I moved from my previous garden -- which had an open exposure bathed in sun from morning to sundown -- to a garden overshadowed by tall trees.

My new gardening venue is a bluestone terrace surrounded by a mixed woods of tulip tree, American ash, and white oak. The 100-foot-high canopy is especially heavy on the south side, casting shade for most of the day. I wanted to make this terrace a home for a collection of potted plants, but I was skeptical about what would do well there.

I've since realized that container gardening in the shade offers numerous benefits. Shaded pots don't dry out as fast as ones baking in full sun, so watering is less of a chore. Of course, with plants growing in pots there's no competition from tree roots, which is often the case with shade gardening. Best of all, I've discovered wonderful new plants and different ways to combine them.

Assess your site's sun-and-shade patterns
Before buying plants, observe how much light and shade your site enjoys. While full sun means direct sun shines all day during the summer, there are several degrees of shade. In light shade, plants get four to six hours of direct sun or a slight pattern of shade all day. In partial shade, plants get two to four hours of sunlight or a pattern of dappled shade. In full shade, there's only reflected, indirect light, while in dense shade there's little indirect light.

Given that the angle of the sun changes during the season, the sun-and- shade patterns on my terrace are highly erratic. I can count on direct sunlight hitting the terrace only when the arching sun shines through the voids between tree canopies; otherwise, dappled light falls as the sun pierces the canopy. At the height of summer, the most sun any part of the terrace received was three hours. Thus, I was dealing with partial- to full-shade conditions.

Look for zesty forms of old standards
Some begonias boast exceptional foliage and flowers. The shiny green leaves of Begonia 'Dragon Wings Hybrid' are accented by dangling clusters of red blooms.
Being a fan of the new and different when it comes to plants, I was tempted to disregard the standard repertoire of shade-loving plants -- begonias, impatiens, and coleus. But then I remembered that it's how plants are used that makes them special. With a little hunting, I found striking cultivars of each. They provided eye-catching color and set the mood for my container vignettes.

One of my favorite discoveries was Begonia 'Dragon Wings Hybrid'. This fibrous-rooted begonia has shiny, medium-green leaves and dangling red blossoms borne in clusters at the ends of arching stems. While it can be likened to a wax-leaved begonia, its lax habit and stature set it apart. I grew it in black-painted, cast-iron urns, combining it with white-variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica 'Variegata') in the urn's center, and variegated ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea 'Variegata') spilling down the sides in long chains of foliage.

I found two exceptional selections of double impatiens. 'Pink Ice' boasts variegated foliage and salmon-pink flowers. The cultivar 'Red' of the Rose Parade Series produces deep-red blooms in great profusion. As a solo planting, it accented a pairing of pots with a red-and-pink color scheme. These larger pots featured a pink-and-green selection of coleus, Lobelia 'Queen Victoria', Fuchsia 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt', Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy', variegated ground ivy, Hosta 'Patriot', and variegated lilyturf (Ophiopogon jaburan 'Vittatus').

Plants with vibrant leaves enliven shaded areas. A lime-green coleus anchors this grouping of similarly hued foliage plants.
Nearly every grouping of pots showcased coleus. With the explosion of new coleus available, there's a cultivar to fit almost any color scheme. Their leaves vary from a single, solid hue to a complex mix of colors. One such planting featured a large pot of coleus (a sport of 'The Line') which I carry over from year to year as cuttings. It anchored a grouping of yellow-leaved plants accented by ones with orange, apricot, and salmon flowers.

Don't be afraid to experiment
Although in general I looked for plants known to thrive in shade, there were a few sun-lovers I just didn't want to give up. Some, such as angel's trumpets (Brugmansia 'Jamaican Yellow'), fared well. Plants that require prolonged intense sun, such as Petunia hybrids, lavenders (Lavendula spp.), and curry plant (Helichrysum italicum) did not. And herein lies a valuable lesson: Each shady site is different, so experimentation is the only way to know for sure what will do well in a given situation.

To my surprise, Canna 'Durban' grew well and even bloomed. Of course, even if this canna had never bloomed, its intricately veined, green-and-yellow leaves alone would have warranted its cultivation. Yellow-variegated American aloe (Agave americana) held its own, even growing slightly through the season. Pinwheel (Aeonium haworthii) and mescal (Agave parryi), both succulents, grew well and added their blue note of foliage interest. These made a stunning picture when combined with a selection of hot-water plants (Achimenes cvs.).

Foliage can add structure and color
More than anything else, foliage gives body to container groupings. It provides the backbone and adds color to reinforce the floral display. I think variegated plants are invaluable in shade gardening; they brighten up shadowy areas and their leaf colors and patterns relieve the monotony of green.

One of my groupings relied solely on foliage for impact. At its center was a Begonia 'Exotica', a variegated begonia that lives up to its name. Its leaves are olive-green with deep-pink blotches and a metallic sheen. The thin, deep-maroon leaves of blood leaf (Iresine lindenii) offered textural contrast, and Caladium bicolor 'Rosalie' -- with deep-red-centered leaves edged in green -- echoed the blood leaf. A lone red impatiens added a bit of floral color while reinforcing the red theme. A young specimen of a lacecap hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Mariesii'), with its white-edged leaves, added contrast to this somewhat monochromatic scheme.

I'm glad I've discovered the rewards of gardening with potted plants in the shade. Now I'm excited about the countless possibilities for what I might grow on my terrace next season.

Garden designer Gary R. Keim gardens near Philadelphia.

Photos: Lee Anne White

Ruthlilycat [userpic]
by Ruthlilycat (ruthlilycat)
at August 17th, 2005 (09:39 am)

New community!


Housing bubble, rentals, landlords, mortgages, real estate, housing talk!


Ruthlilycat [userpic]
Instant Persuasion
by Ruthlilycat (ruthlilycat)
at July 29th, 2005 (10:30 pm)

Instant Persuasion
by Laurie Puhn

This was the book talked about in the previous article.  It's getting good reviews at amazon.


Ruthlilycat [userpic]
by Ruthlilycat (ruthlilycat)
at July 29th, 2005 (10:27 pm)

July 31, 2005

Rudeness, Interrupted

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Ruthlilycat [userpic]
More on American Gothic and Grant Wood
by Ruthlilycat (ruthlilycat)
at July 28th, 2005 (12:45 am)

Meaning of 'Gothic' in beholder's eye
Image permeated American consciousness in ways artist never expected

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Ruthlilycat [userpic]
by Ruthlilycat (ruthlilycat)
at July 28th, 2005 (12:31 am)

From Curbside to Canvas: The House as Muse

Published: July 28, 2005

GRANT WOOD'S "American Gothic" is the most recognizable painting in the history of American art, which should make the modest Carpenter Gothic structure in the background the art world's most famous house.

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All rights reserved by the Art Institute of Chicago and VAGA

According to two new books, "American Gothic" began with the house, not the people.

Mark Kegans for The New York Times

Grant Wood narrowed the Gothic window and sharpened the roof's pitch.

But in the mind's eye the house fades, dwarfed by the stern faces of the farmer with the pitchfork and his inscrutable daughter (who is often mistaken for his wife).

Now, just in time for the painting's 75th birthday, two new books about the painting reveal that it was the house, not the people, that inspired a visual triangle so compelling that it brought instant fame to a previously unknown artist and then went on to serve the purposes of art, commerce and parody over and over again.

The house, board-and-batten with a gabled roof and an arched window, has meanwhile lived out its years like some taken-for-granted muse, paint peeling, walls buckling, subject to vandalism and neglect. Built outside Eldon, Iowa, in 1881, it stands vacant, overlooking a defunct rail depot and a parking lot, drawing only the most knowledgeable pilgrims, because there are no highway signs outside of Eldon pointing the way to the house.

Steven Biel, a Harvard historian and author of the new book, "American Gothic: A Life of America's Most Famous Painting" (W. W. Norton, $21.95), said the first time he visited the house it was "simultaneously really underwhelming and cool."

When Wood encountered the house for the first time, it was August 1930, and he was in Eldon to teach a painting class. Legend has it that the artist, then 39 and out for an afternoon drive, was so struck by the house that he stopped to make an oil sketch.

Thomas Hoving, a former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and author of "American Gothic: The Biography of Grant Wood's American Masterpiece" (Chamberlain Bros., $13.95), writes that it was the oddity of a large, Gothic-style window in a small frame house that caught Wood's eye. "He thought it was silly and pretentious and roared with laughter," Mr. Hoving said in an interview. Perhaps to accentuate this fact, Wood elongated the house's proportions, narrowing the window and further pitching the roof.

It was only later, after he had returned to his native Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that Wood made a new pencil drawing and added two tall, narrow figures to the foreground. The house "gave me an idea to find two people who, by their severely strait-laced characters, would fit into such a home," he explained in a 1933 interview. His models were his sister, Nan Wood Graham, and his dentist, Dr. Byron H. McKeeby, who posed separately. That October, the painting won a third-place prize at a juried exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago and entered the annals of art history.

According to Helen Glasson, 77, whose grandparents were living in the house when Wood drove by, he changed the curtains from crisp lace to a single dotted shade. Wood had a reason for redecorating, as Mr. Hoving points out in his book: the shade's dotted pattern mimics that of the woman's calico apron, yielding a visual pun that tethers the house to the couple it chaperones.

Other puns include the way in which the figures are "literally bonded together," Mr. Hoving writes, by the sloped roof of the house, each side disappearing behind a long, narrow head; the echo of the farmer's gold collar stud in the house's gold lightning rod; and the way the tiny peaks of her rickrack apron imitate the peaked shape of the window, the lines of which are echoed in the front seams of his overalls, themselves a near mirror-reflection of the pitchfork.

The house passed from owner to owner until the 1960's, when it was periodically empty or rented. It enjoyed a brief moment of celebrity in 1985 when the owner, Carl Smith, who had inherited the place from his mother in 1971, refused offers from the state to buy it, citing concern for his tenants. In 1991, the centennial of Wood's birth, Smith donated the house to the state, and the State Historical Society of Iowa has tended to it ever since, providing a series of renovations and offering low rent - it's currently advertised at $250 a month - to its tenant-caretakers.

The most long-lasting of these so far was a former Eldon postmaster, Bruce Thiher, who lived there from 1997 to 2003 and is able to report on one view of the house Wood never saw: the interior. "It's what I would call very plain, completely unornamented, almost Shaker style," Mr. Thiher said. He described an oddly angled circular staircase connecting the ground floor to the room behind the famous Gothic window - which, it turns out, mirrors another, facing the backyard. "Now, when you look at that painting, Grant Wood took certain artistic liberties," he added, referring to the second floor. "In the house itself, the gable is much lower than in the painting - you can only stand up just barely at the apex." At various times the town has talked about restoring the house - for at least the 37 years he has lived there, said the mayor, Roger Gosnell - and two years ago it received a state grant to build a visitors' center across the street. A local group is busy raising additional money.

"We've had soup suppers, silent auctions, bake sales, sold T-shirts and tote bags - you name it, we've done it," said Linda Durflinger, a town councilwoman. If all goes as planned, the center will be up by the end of 2007.

Shirley Slycord, who lives in the mobile home just across the street from the house and occasionally trims its shrubs, feels slightly more blasé. "It's really no different from any other house," she said, speaking by telephone.

Ms. Slycord said people often drive up and want to take a picture. Sometimes they hand her their cameras and ask her to capture them in front - always in the standard pose, of course.

crinklenose [userpic]
Cooking for one
by crinklenose (crinklenose)
at July 22nd, 2005 (11:41 pm)

Does anyone know any good recipe books/recipes/ways to find recipes and recipe books for cooking for one?

Ruthlilycat [userpic]
Cutting Cords to Toxic Relationships
by Ruthlilycat (ruthlilycat)
at July 18th, 2005 (01:40 am)


Cutting Cords to Toxic Relationships

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