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Interest Cancellation is Your Ticket to Financial Freedom

By | home, money | One Comment

“Interest cancellation is one of the secrets of financial freedom. What you’re about to read is unbelievable. It’s legal and the banks and mortgage companies are KEEPING this INFORMATION FROM you and your family,” says Kimberly Daly, a business developer in Silicon Valley.

The word mortgage is derived from two Latin words: mort which means death, and gage which means pledge. What many people have with a mortgage is a pledge until death.

“But don’t worry, I’m going to show you how easy it is to escape this pledge and manage your mortgage and other loans to your benefit. You can build equity in your property and own it in a shorter period of time,” Kimberly said.


Mortgage brokers know next to nothing about helping you manage your mortgage.


Banks and brokers are out to make sure that they get a big commission on your mortgage. What does this mean for you?

mortgage-rate-signature

Interest cancellation can help you save thousands of dollars on your mortgage.

Most people don’t spend as much time and attention learning about their mortgage loan as they do on the property they purchase. But the reality is that, in the end, the loan costs more money than the property itself.


After 15 years of paying off a 30 year loan, you still owe over 90% of the original amount borrowed. And after 24 years, you still owe 50% of the original amount you borrowed.


Few people realize that they make 120 unnecessary mortgage payments in a 30-year loan.

Would you like to slash your mortgage by as much as 80%?

The ordinary homeowner is locked into a crippling mortgage plan. This proven reduction system will help you build equity in your property and pay off your mortgage quickly.

“It’s not what you make, but what you keep. I’m giving you facts and information that banks and mortgage companies don’t want you to know. It’s guaranteed to save you tens of thousands of dollars on your existing mortgage. It’s perfectly legal, but there is a right and a wrong way of doing this. Those who do it right hardly ever talk about it. That’s why 99% of the people have no idea how to pull this off and remain a financial slave to their property for most of their lives,” Kimberly said.

This requires no refinancing of your first mortgage and no alteration to your current standard of living. Conventional banks only offer these options:

  • make biweekly mortgage payments
  • make extra payments
  • refinance to lower your interest rate

mortgage-refinance-cartoon-wise-aldrich-real-life-adventures

But with interest cancellation, you can eliminate next month’s interest now.

What is interest cancellation?

Here’s how it works. By working with the bank’s amortization schedule, you maximize the interest cancellation effect. You can work with the bank’s system to save yourself up to 120 unnecessary mortgage payments.

Here are some typical numbers for a closed-end mortgage. You take out a loan for $340,000 at 3.99% interest for 30 years. Here’s what it looks like:

credit-karma-amortization-calculator-loan-chart

CLICK HERE to calculate the loan amortization chart for your mortgage.

Here’s a new versus an old way to pay off your mortgage. In a closed-end loan, you can eliminate interest. This allows you to control your money so your money isn’t controlling you. This also allows you to get your money working for you instead of you working for the bank.

As long as you’re willing to manage your amortization schedule and principal balance, you can get reap the benefits of interest cancellation.


Let’s say you have a $340,000 loan at 3.99% interest for 30 years. In 20 years, you gave the bank $389,100, but they only applied $179,793 to your original loan. You still owe $160,207!


This is what makes the banker happy. In the first 20 years of your loan, all the damage has been done. The majority of your payments have gone to interest, not principal. Very few people live in a home for a full 30 years. Most people sell their house before the end of their mortgage. So most of their payments go toward paying off the bank, not their home.

With interest cancellation, you can gain control of your money. This is good news that will brighten up your day . . . and the rest of your life. This ONE FINANCIAL TIP can change your life for the better.

How can you apply interest cancellation to your loan?

You can run your numbers for free. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • your monthly mortgage amount
  • a copy of your last or current mortgage statement break down
  • your total finance amount, your principal
  • the length of the loan, or the term
  • your original finance date
  • your finance percentage %

Here’s how it works. Make this month’s payment, plus the principal amount for the following month. For example, in the month of October, you would make your payment of $1621, plus you would pay the $492 principal for the following month. See the amortization schedule below.

CLICK HERE to calculate the full amortization schedule on your loan.

CLICK HERE to calculate the full amortization schedule on your loan.

Check with your bank on their requirements to ensure that your payment of $492 is applied to principal only. And follow up to be sure that it’s applied appropriately. By doing this, you eliminate the expense of the interest payment of $1129 that would otherwise be applied to the following month’s payment.

Interest cancellation is your ticket to financial freedom.

Interest cancellation is your ticket to financial freedom.

In just six months you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the balance of your loan and the number of remaining payments. And you have additional benefits:

  • No refinancing is necessary.
  • This works for all mortgages except for balloons.
  • You don’t have to make extra payments.
  • You can apply additional principal payments at your discretion.
  • You learn how to keep your money in your pocket.
  • You now know how to pay off your loan quickly.
  • You can build equity effortlessly.

Many people are afraid of being responsible for their own money. Financiers and bankers are counting on your fear and lack of knowledge to keep you paying forever.

“Lots of people start doing this, but then they don’t continue. What else is going to pay you hundreds or thousands of dollars for just a few extra hours work each year?” Kimberly asked.

It is worth it to be persistent with your bank to figure this out. You have to be persistent. Once you learn this, you’ll wonder . . .

Why doesn’t everybody do this?

You have to be conscious and stay at the front of your mortgage. The bank doesn’t care. They hope you’re going to be late because they make more. Banks don’t want you to pay off your loan early. There’s no one out there promoting interest cancellation.

“I learned about interest cancellation in college, but I swept it under the table until I got my first home. I had forgotten all about it, but my father reminded me to do this. I started doing it on my own, and continued to do it from then on,” Kimberly said.

Make sure all your numbers match and once you get it, you’re pretty much ready to go.

money 100 rolls interest cancellation

By applying principal only payments to your mortgage, you can save thousands of dollars.

Whatever amortization tool you’re using, it’s important that your numbers match the bank’s numbers. You have to play their game. You can call the bank each month and ask for next month’s principal amount. You do have to care about your money and be proactive about this. If you take a few minutes on the phone each month, it can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month. By making a principal only payment one month in advance, you eliminate the interest in that following month.

You can pay your principal down even faster by applying extra money when you get a bonus or tax return, for example. You can always pay more, but you have to make sure it applies to principal only. Look at the numbers for the next six months and calculate the amount. If you want to make extra payments, you can calculate the principal for the upcoming months you want to pay off and add it up for the upcoming months.

“I want to empower people to take care of their money. Finances aren’t scary. I have done presentations all over the US about this. I’ve shared this information in offices, homes and special events. I encourage you to share what you learned today with your family and friends. It’s simple to manage your money. It’s just a mathematical equation,” Kimberly said.


kimberly-daly-profile-interest-cancellation

Kimberly Daly helps companies acquire new customers and sell additional products or services to existing customers. Her role is a crucial one for any business with the ambition to expand or diversify its clientele. As an effective business developer, she listens to what you want and where you want to take your business, including business-to-business, business-to-customer, and even non-profit organizations.

If you’d like to learn more about interest cancellation, call Kimberly at 817-382-8375.

 

Sell furniture. Quit job. Take road trip.

By | PEOPLE, travel | No Comments

“I got the inspiration for a road trip from my friend, Kenneth Mosher, who did an eight month trip for $8K. He went across the United States. He even bought a plane ticket and backpacked in Hawaii for two weeks. He was a friend, not just a random friend, but one I knew intimately from high school. We just kept bumping into each other over the years. I thought if he could do it, then I could. I knew I asked him questions. He believed I could do it,” Amanda said.

Kenneth Mosher at Garden of the Gods in Colorado

Kenneth Mosher at Garden of the Gods in Colorado texted Amanda, “I’m letting the universe guide me in every step. I’m here on a mission to help others open their eyes to reality and help them fight the battle within themselves.”

“Kenneth called me one day when I was on a break at work. I told him I was at corporate. He said he expected me to end up there. We kept exchanging stories. I felt like I had a preview into the rest of my life already. It wasn’t horrible, but I knew if I kept doing this my whole life, I’d regret it,” Amanda said.

“He said he did this and we had a conversation about it. There was never one trigger. He gave me the spark. I just thought I wasn’t that type of person. I didn’t think I was very adventurous, but I wanted to be. If you’re scared to do new things, what do you do? You just try new things,” Amanda said.

Amanda had a savings goal. Three months was her stretch. She still had student loans, a car payment, and a phone bill. She didn’t wait until all her bills were paid.

“This trip totally, totally intimidated me. I’m not adventurous, but I’d like to be, and this kind of attitude totally changes it. I decided that I wanted to talk myself into it more than talk myself out of it. Around October I started getting it in my mind that I wanted to leave around June. It ended up being May. I started selling my furniture. I made a series of small decisions. I quit my job. I couldn’t turn back. I kept moving forward. At a certain point, you can’t back out,” Amanda said.

“I read The Alchemist before my road trip. A friend recommended it. She told me it was about someone who pursued their dream and found it. When I came across it at a bookstore in the airport, I got it. This was the perfect book to read before my road trip,” Amanda said.

“Some people just don’t take the opportunity because they don’t think they’re the type to do it. Some people label themselves. I could tell myself I’m not well traveled. I’m alone. Some people will tell you when you move you need your next job lined up. Or you tell yourself you won’t travel until you have a friend or a partner who wants to go with you. And don’t forget the biggest one. Solo travel for a woman, you can’t do that! It’s not safe,” Amanda said.

“These are preconceived notions and labels. I needed someone who shattered that mold. For me it was Kenneth,” Amanda said.

“People write themselves out of the equation. I thought some people just had it in their heart. You might think that just other people do this. I just want to inspire you to go,” Amanda said.

You need a forerunner for things in life and sometimes you’re the forerunner.

“If you want to do it, there’s an ideal time. I had a friend who told me he was moving from Ft. Myers to San Diego. At first he told me about all his furniture and how he spent a lot of money on it. It turns out it’s just as expensive to move all the furniture, so you might as well sell it. After we talked about it, he decided to sell his stuff and make a two-week road trip out of it. You have to be prepared to let a lot of things go,” Amanda said.

Amanda Haataia sold virtually everything she had, quit her job, and started trekking solo across the United States.

Amanda Haataia sold virtually everything she owned, quit her job, and started trekking solo across the United States in her Scion. She didn’t consider herself adventurous until she embarked on this road trip.

“One of the highlights was at the Wildflower Cafe in Gardner, Colorado. I met a family and helped them wrangle in their horse. There were four generations from the great grandparents to the grandkids. This family left me the keys to their house. Something like this doesn’t fall in your lap when you’re sitting at home,” Amanda said.

Young boy Amanda met while helping the family wrangle in their horses.

Young boy Amanda met on her road trip. She helped the family wrangle in their horses.

“You never know how something holds you back until you let go of it. If you hold on to anything, everything has its price. You know its value in a good way. But then you start to understand your true value. Until you exercise your freedom, you don’t know you have it until you experiment and try it out,” Amanda said.


Your furniture can hold you back. I didn’t value freedom until I took this road trip. I used to think I was free when I could have dessert before dinner and that was my definition of freedom. 


“Another thing about Kenneth, is that he’s totally different now. A lot of his friends say he’s way better. And these are people who already thought highly of him. Sometimes we want to be better people, but if you’re always in the same environment, you’re not putting yourself to the test to see new values, or even have the desire to find yourself. Once you have the freedom to be however you want to be, you can craft yourself to be who you’re meant to be,” Amanda said.

This is a story of finding yourself.

“I knew I didn’t love my job. I also didn’t think I needed to love it. I picked all the logical things for a new job, but I knew I didn’t have enough information to know what I wanted to do. I felt I would get into another job, and it would be just the same. I felt I hadn’t lived enough. I came across a lot of other people who felt the same way and quit their job. I wouldn’t say I was adventurous until this road trip,” Amanda said.


You have the time to read the books and play out the things you care about. Most things you find out that don’t matter as much as you thought. Some things fade into the background and then other things stand out. If you don’t know what you want, what are you going to chase after?


“Sometimes it seems like a lot of hype about big cities. You can read blogs or read about places, but once you experience cities for their culture, climate, and price tag, then you can say I like this culture or this temperature during the day,” Amanda said.

“I loved Colorado Springs way more than Denver, but everyone hears about Denver. I realize I can get all of Denver for half the price in Colorado Springs. I started to realize how much outdoorsy stuff I like,” Amanda said.

"Jim Bishop's Castle was amazing! I loved visiting with the first best friend of my life, April Ann Amaya, my friend since I was six years old," Amanda said.

Jim Bishop’s Castle was an amazing part of my road trip! I loved visiting with the first best friend of my life, April Amaya, my friend since I was six years old,” Amanda said.

“You start to play with your values, rather than sitting behind a desk. You get all of that without living in one city for five years. You get a preview and taste of everything. Now when I approach my job search, I’ll know more about what I want to do, and some of the tradeoffs of each city. It’s way way better than what you could ever read,” Amanda said.

“I just want to inspire people to take road trips. You have to decide that you want to do it enough. You’ll discover on your own what matters and what doesn’t and it will be totally different from mine,” Amanda said.

I went to Wye Campground in Colorado Springs. I was away from everything. From my tent I could see the Milky Way. It was a great experience.

I went uphill for about an hour. I met some people in a group of five or six people. They had to drop off 2-3 people at airports because they couldn’t handle it. When you go out, you learn what you can handle.

“I had a myriad of experiences. Every day was new. Even if I had a bad day, there was always tomorrow which was so different.” Amanda said.


You realize the extent of flexing your freedom muscles. That’s what a road trip does. You don’t realize how free you can be until you test it. It’s a change in thinking. It isn’t always the experiences. It’s more about the things I was thinking, knowing I can do it.


“I had a lot of first times on this trip: couch surfing, going to a drive thru movie in Pueblo, Colorado. Wait, oh yeah, it’s called a drive in. I had a few times when I woke up and didn’t know where I was going to sleep that night for the first time. I wasn’t worried about it. It was the first time in Louisiana, first time in this state, first time trying new food. It was the first time I did a thirteen hour drive in one day. This was how long it took from Dallas to getting into Colorado. I just had to get to Colorado. Every day was a first for something,” Amanda said.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

“My sense of adventure has gone up. I met a lot of people. Some of the people who hosted me are some of the most open-minded people. That’s why they get involved in couch-surfing,” Amanda said.

“On the road I read the amount that I’d like to, whereas before I couldn’t find the time to read. I flossed pretty much every night on the road. I met my goal to not use heat tools on my hair. Now I can go days without makeup and without caring about it,” Amanda said.


My concern for what other people think about me has gone down. I don’t care in a good way, a positive way. I know which advice to ignore and listen to now. Any time I come to a decision I get practical advice. I listen to my heart. On a road trip like this you wake up in a new day and you have three or four choices. You don’t feel obliged to go with your friend. You have a chance to go with yourself and not be ashamed of it.


“My first Couchsurfing experience was in Pensacola Beach. I texted them just before I arrived. My heart was racing. I told myself if I don’t feel safe, I’ll leave. I knew I could get a hotel. There were about five cars in front of the house. Someone was outside and offered to help me with my things. I told him I’d get my bag later. I asked for Alex. He told me I was at the right place,” Amanda said.

“I grabbed my purse and locked my car. I knocked on the door and there were about seven people inside. I wondered what I got myself into. It took me a while to get comfortable with all of them asking me where I’m from, where I’m going, how old I am, how far I am into my travels, and more and more questions. It was a house with four lifeguards. Apparently Pensacola Beach is not a safe place for surfing,” Amanda said.

If you don’t have the time to travel, you can be a host to Couchsurfers from all over the world.  You can also be picky with who you want to stay there and just accept people from other countries to learn about them. Hosts can choose who they want. If they don’t want to have someone that night, they just decline the request. You arrive and request a day or two, or possibly more. You just see how your vibe is, and how you click. Then you can see if you want to stay for a day or a week.

“One time I put in a request for a day and stayed for four. I stayed three days in New Orleans. I did two different Couchsurfing stays in Houston, two nights each.

One of the guys I met in New Orleans loved to cook. He cooked for me twice a day.He was from Honduras. His dad left the family and his mom had arthritis. He grew up cooking to help take care of the family.” Amanda said.

This man from Honduras loves to cook.

His dad left the family and his mom had arthritis. This man from Honduras learned to cook for his family at a young age.

“Once you get used to it, it gets easier. As I got more into my road trip, I felt more independent. I felt more comfortable on the road. I met travelers and would just crash with them. Couchsurfing it’s totally free,” Amanda said.

Couchsurfing is just a network to help you get comfortable with it. After a while you don’t need it, but at first it gives you references and you feel safer. When you sign up you fill out your about me page, your philosophy, how you participate, what music, movies or books you like, your age, occupation, current location, stuff like that.

If you’re a host, you say if you have a shared room or private bedroom, how many surfers can you have. You explain parking at the location, or things to do in the area. The more detailed you are, the more trustworthy you seem. And you can add photos too.

At the end of a stay you answer a few questions about your visit and what it was like. And you can leave a reference. Then you can read what others said about a host or visitor.


Cleverness can be learned, but does not get you far like true experiences can. I’d love to learn deeper truths about generosity, community and understanding.


“I downloaded Airbnb before my road trip, but I didn’t use it. Even if it’s $20 or $40 to stay somewhere, I valued each day so much that I didn’t want to spend this much. I called Kenneth twice along the way when I ran into something and I didn’t want to ask Reddit. He told me how he found free campsites. Free Campsites was a helpful site. I also used Hostelworld,” Amanda said.

 at 6th Street in Austin, Texas.

During this road trip Amanda met a lot of new friends along the way. Here are a few people she met at a hostel. They snapped a photo together at 6th Street in Austin, Texas.

“I liked staying at Drifter Jack’s Hostel in Austin, Texas. It’s a lot of solo travelers who come together. Everyone is very inviting. Everyone met around the pool table around 10 or 11 in the morning and evening and everyone would go out together. No one knows each other so everyone’s invited. They’re all cool people,” Amanda said.

"This fellow roadtripper put my ride to shame! His van a bed, sink and stove! After losing to pool, I was able to whup his son in Catan," Amanda said.

“This fellow roadtripper I met in Englewood, Colorado, put my ride to shame! His van had a bed, sink and stove! After losing to pool, I was able to whup his son in Catan,” Amanda said.

“I used Podcast Addict for entertainment on the road. I also downloaded the AllTrails app because I wanted to go hiking,” Amanda said.

“I used Reddit and some of the Subreddits.  Its fun to play with. They have a community for everything.  I subscribed to some Subreddits such as r/vandwellers, r/solotravel, r/roadtrip, r/nationalpark and r/travel. The content is invaluable. These were so helpful. If I didn’t know the answer, I would go to a community of people who cared about it,” Amanda said.

“You can ask a question like, ‘how did you eat breakfast on the road.’ And someone will answer. ‘If I wanted to have cereal, I’d buy small containers of almond milk.’ Someone told me to get a memory foam pad. This made camping even a little luxurious. It was helpful finding these communities,” Amanda said.


If you’re looking to talk yourself into something instead of out of it, go to the people who believe in it to get the answers you want. This is how to make something a reality. 


“But even a positive story has its baggage. Do you want to know some of the negatives of the road trip? It would be different for everyone. I even look at them almost positive now. There’s travel stress for sure. There are some days you feel like you should be doing more. You have this expectation when you travel that you should be doing this grandeur thing every day. I’m in this new city and just playing a board game and having a beer with someone while couch surfing. And then another day you just do laundry. You think about adventure, but it’s not 24/7. It’s really tame in a way,” Amanda said.


Nothing prepares you like the road trip itself. I was in a job I didn’t love. I wanted to do a road trip and I wanted to get the information to believe I could do it. If you just want it a little bit, that’s all you really need. Then you realize this applies to everything in life. As long as you’re going down some road. This road trip gave me so many avenues to go down. 


“Shutting down chapters can be sad. I cried several times on the trip and I’m ok with this. I lost my Kindle. I was bored with some of the people I met. The good part is that it was only a day. It’s not an entire life. You have bad days on a road trip, but you don’t feel stuck or attached to that day. If you have a bad day at work it can stick in your head, like this is my life. It’s going to be like this for ten or twenty years,” Amanda said.

“It’s easy to let it go because you can play with your priorities, but you have to experience some bad things to know. After a while with podcasts, I got annoyed with how political they were. I got lonely, but not as lonely as I thought. In fact, sometimes I got overwhelmed with meeting so many people. Pretty much everyone asks the same ten questions. Where are you going? When did you start? Where are you from? How old are you? You get used to it, but telling the same story while traveling gets exhausting. By the 47th person, it’s boring,” Amanda said.

"On this road trip I realized how much I want a horse, and dogs and cats," Amanda said.

“On this road trip, I realized how much I want a horse and dogs and cats,” Amanda said.

 


The benefits are beyond the road trip. You have no idea the extent of what you can do when you’re stuck in a routine. Don’t get me wrong, I love my routines and good habits. You don’t realize how many things you put around your head until you go out and do a road trip. Then I realized I can take this liberation with me wherever I am.


“Yes, this road trip changed my life,” Amanda said.

If you’re feeling sluggish with your life, a road trip might be the reboot you need to start over.

“I’d like to encourage you to do a road trip. You’ll transform from wanting to tell stories to wanting to do things. Just like when you’re a kid in the playground. You’re like a kid. You just want to climb that thing. You just want to go over that mountain. So I’d just meet someone and say, hey I’m doing this, do you want to join me?”

check-mark-black-green   Sell furniture.

 

check-mark-black-green   Quit job.

 

check-mark-black-green   Take road trip.

 

basic-square-checkbox-unticked   New beginning.

 

Amanda Haataia loves listening to music, watching movies and reading books. She enjoys the outdoors and is a card-carrying member of a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. She recently sold virtually everything she owned and started trekking across the country in her Scion topped with an unlocked cargo bag. In addition to traveling across the United States twice (once with family in 2005, and this trip in 2016), Amanda has also traveled to Canada, France, Ireland, Mexico, Spain and Switzerland.

 

2015-National Parks-Federal-Recreational-Lands-Pass

Jax Woodworkers gives away more toys each year

By | artists, gifts, NONPROFITS | 5 Comments

“I’m the last living founding member of Jax Woodworkers. All the others have passed away. I’ve been the Chaplin for many years,” Bobby Clayton said.

Woodrow Connors with Bobby Clayton, two of the four founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.

Woodrow Connors with Bobby Clayton, two of the four original founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.

“My neighbor, Woodrow Connors, had a two-car detached garage in his back yard. That’s where he had all his woodworking equipment. When we moved into the neighborhood, he had been living there several years before us. This is where Woodrow founded the club. I’ve been there ever since the beginning, since the inception. Jax Woodworkers formed with four men, including me. Carmen Fenanelli was a banker and became the treasurer right away. And Ray Reynolds was the other guy. He made a bunch of grandfather clocks and walking canes, plus many, many, many toys over the years. We’re considered to be the founders. But Woodrow was the man, the head man. It started a long time ago,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers started in December 1989 in Woodrow’s garage.

Woodrow Connors with Ray Reynolds, two of the four founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.

Woodrow Connors with Ray Reynolds, two of the four founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.

“Woodrow was already making the crosses. They were designed to be hung in rear-view mirrors inside cars. He brought the idea from the North Jacksonville Baptist Church. He was a member of that church and that’s where he got the idea. He started making crosses in his garage. Each one is made of hardwood. They all have red yarn and a heart that holds the yarn together. His wife, Miriam, used to string the red yarn through the crosses and add the plastic hearts. The crosses were free and not to be sold. He just gave them away. Woodrow made more than 20,000 crosses and today they’re probably all over the world,” Bobby said.

Miriam and Woodrow Connors . . .

Miriam helped her husband, Woodrow Connors, by stringing red yarn through crosses that he gave away for free.

“I have a wood shop in my garage too. I put all my equipment on wheels. When I want to work, I roll everything out in the back and work on it,” Bobby said.

“Woodrow founded the club in his back yard. That’s where we started making toys. I’d walk over there. I was just one of the guys who was helping to get it started. We started with four guys. It grew to 60 plus members. We made thousands of toys and we’d give them all away. None of them are for sale. They’re for small children,” Bobby said.

“We’ve met at different places. We’ve moved around to anyplace that would have us. Now we’re meeting at St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church. We meet on the third Saturday of each month at noon. We eat in the church dining room before we start the meeting. The workers from the church fix us lunch,” Bobby said.

“After we eat, we start the meeting right on time. The president might mention if anyone is sick. Many of the members are older. We also have younger guys and gals and they’re happy to learn from the older woodworkers. They’re very skilled at what they do. Before they retired, some of them were woodworking artists.”

“The president always starts the meeting with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance. That’s important, the prayer part. Make sure you put that down. The secretary reads the minutes from the past meeting. Then the safety officer gives a safety report. Working with saws can be very dangerous, especially with small projects. He reads and speaks from his own personal experience. You don’t put thin plywood in a planer, for example. If you do it will fire bullets. This is just an example. You should never plane a piece of plywood,” Bobby said.

“On the third Saturday of November each year, all the members bring in the toys for distribution. Some of the toys go to Shriners. There are about fifteen agencies that come to pick up the toys during the pick-up time. We divide them between the groups. Some people take them to the hospitals and give them away,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers club members lay out all the wood toys to prepare for pick up.

Jax Woodworkers club members lay out all the wood toys to prepare for pick up.

“The members of Jax Woodworkers make about 5,000 toys a year. In November, we spread the toys out all over the floor. People come with boxes to get the toys. They go fast,” Bobby said.

“One of the club’s biggest expenses is wheels. The wheels are expensive. The toy chairman orders wheels and axles with money collected from annual membership dues,” Bobby said.


Jax Woodworkers Club purchases the majority of their wheels from Woodworks.


Jax Woodworkers members make thousands of toys each year

Jax Woodworkers members prepare thousands of handmade toy cars, trucks, planes and other wood toys for their annual giveaway.

“Every year we make thousands of toys for the various agencies The American Legion, Sulzbacher Center. Some of them I never heard of before, such as a group for babies of prisoners,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers . . .

Jax Woodworkers lay out all the toys for distribution each November for various nonprofits to come pick them up.

“The people who receive these toys are invited back from last year to this year and they tell about giving them away. When the children go into the room with plastic toys and wooden toys, they always run to the wooden toys. People get up with tears in their eyes to tell what a joy it is to get the toys. The men are humble. When you lay 5,000 toys out on the floor, it’s quite a sight. The woodworkers don’t want any credit. They’re just doing the work of the Lord,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers . . .

Jax Woodworkers Club gives away thousands of handmade wood toys each year.

“The woodworkers have such great camaraderie. They’re not trying to outdo the other ones. They’re just trying to do something for the children,” Bobby said.

“One of the main places we get our wood is Rulon in St. Augustine. They supply us with wood. They’re in the business of making ceilings and wall systems for properties all over the world. We’ve developed a relationship with Rulon to get their wood. So we get choice wood, quite often poplar and black walnut. Rulon makes fancy commercial ceilings,” Bobby said.


“One of our members, Greg Fisher, found out about Rulon from a friend who was getting wood from them. Greg went to see Rulon to tell them what Jax Woodworkers Club does and our need for any wood they could give us. Rulon was happy to give us wood to make toys for needy children. They have been doing this now for over six years. Each meeting there is a pickup truck full of wood for our members donated by Rulon,” said Web Master Bob Corona.

Rulon International Jax Woodworkers Club Jacksonville Florida warehouse St. Augustine Florida Jacksonville community

Rulon International is committed to giving back to the community. They have been donating wood to Jax Woodworkers Club since 2010.


“I like this club because it gives us an opportunity to be of service to the Lord to see the children light up when we give them a toy. Aside from that, I personally enjoy getting a hold of a plan, making the toys, and sharing ideas on how to make different ones,” Bobby said.

“The woodworkers also build a lot of stuff for show-n-tell that’s not given away. We have show-n-tell at every meeting except December when we have our Christmas party. The callers make the calls to remind people about the meetings a few days before,” Bobby said.

“Making toys is our main goal, but at each meeting we do show-n-tell. The show-n-tell officer chooses a topic such as drill press or table saw. They’ll bring stuff in that they made with this equipment. We have a table full of stuff that has nothing to do with giveaway toys. Some guys come in with cabinets they’ve built or airplanes. We take it in and show it. You leave your name by your piece and someone will call you up to explain how you made it. And then people ask questions like, ‘what kind of glue did you use’ and so on,” Bobby said.

Bobby Clayton talking about a ukulele he made at Jax Woodworkers Show-N-Tell

Bobby Clayton at Jax Woodworkers March 2014 meeting during show-n-tell, describing how he made this ukulele.

“I made a ukulele once. I brought it in and showed it and played it. I’ve brought clocks in and showed them. I’ve probably made about twenty different clocks, one big grandfather clock. We have three grandfather clocks in our house. My father had an old clock made in Mississippi. it’s a little over three feet high. That’s what got me interested in clocks,” Bobby said.

“A few years ago a gentleman called the Jax Woodworkers Club to find out if anyone would be interested in purchasing a grandfather clock kit that his father purchased in 1991 from the Wisconsin Clock Company. That same year his father passed away leaving the kit in limbo for nine years. I negotiated a price that included all the basic parts including the movement and, to my surprise, a nine-tube striking system. I didn’t keep a record of how long it took to complete the project, but I would estimate between six to nine months, of course, part time,” Bobby said.

Bobby Clayton built . . .

Bobby Clayton has a number of clocks chiming every quarter hour throughout his home. This grandfather clock that he built from a kit, is the largest of his collection.

Sawdust Trails can be any Saturday of the month except during our monthly meeting. A member will host a gathering at their home. These events usually have about fifteen to twenty people. People volunteer and invite people to come to their house for breakfast on Saturday. This gives the other members a chance to see their workshop and learn something. We call this Sawdust Trails,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers Club members Naylor Sawdust Trail gathering men Jacksonville Florida

Jax Woodworkers Club members at Jim and Wilma Naylor’s Sawdust Trail gathering in March, 2016.

“In December we have a Christmas party. People dress up in costumes. If you want to bring a gift, you can. If you do, then you get a ticket and pick a gift that looks attractive. It’s fun. We sing Christmas carols. All the wives are invited and many of them come. There are mostly men who do the woodworking, but some women do too,” Bobby said.


“Margaret Miller was the president for years. She kept us together. She stepped down to let others have a chance. She’s a woodworker. She makes some pretty good stuff. We have a mission statement, by-laws, and a full slate of elected officers,” Bobby said.

Margaret Miller holding an award she received in recognition for all her years leading Jax Woodworkers Club. The plaque was presented to her at the club's June 2015 meeting.

Margaret Miller holding an award she received in recognition for all her years of leading Jax Woodworkers Club. The plaque was presented to her at the club’s June 2015 meeting.

“We need help to get the word out there about Jax Woodworkers. Our club has many elderly members and young people are more into technology, so getting new members is difficult. I was president for six years. It was an honor and a privilege to be part of this great organization who, for over 25 years, have worked hours and hours to see to it needy children receive toys at Christmas. These members with beautiful hearts are a gift to the community,” said Margaret Miller.


Woodrow Connors went to join his Maker in Heaven on February 6, 2009. He was 95 years old. But this hasn’t stopped Jax Woodworkers from carrying out Woodrow’s vision of making more and more toys each year.

Woodrow Connors has made, and given away, more than 20,000 of these crosses. He gives them away for free. "The Gospel is free. Jesus didn't charge anything. How can i?" Woodrow said.

Woodrow Connors has made, and given away, more than 20,000 of these crosses. He gave them away for free everywhere he went. “The Gospel is free. Jesus didn’t charge anything. How can I?” he said.


“Woodrow wanted to expand the club. There’s another woodworkers club in Jacksonville at Woodcraft. They sell woodworking equipment and wood. There are many woodworking clubs all over the country. If you look up woodworkers, you can find many of them out there,” Bobby said.

Jax-Woodworkers-Corinthians-Bible-verse-reap-sow-gifts-wood-toys-handmade-airplanes-cars-trucks-wheels-DrLorraine

“I truly appreciate my daughter, Lorraine Haataia, and the work she did to pull this story together,” Bobby said.

Recipients of toys made by Jax Woodworkers Club include, but are not limited to, the following organizations:

Argyle-United-Methodist-Church-logo-Fort-Worth-Texas

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childrens-home-society-of-florida-embracing-children-inspiring-lives-logo

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Methodist-Childrens-Village-growing-kids-character-child-care-Jacksonville-Florida-curriculum-instruction-kindergarten-teachers-enroll

.

Northeast-Florida-Community-Hospice-compassionate-guide-logo

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shriners-hospitals-for-children-logo-love

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St. Andrew Episcopal Church

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Sulzbacher Center Way Home logo

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Jax-USO-logo-Jacksonville-support-services-home-mission-families-homefront-military-armed-forces-volunteer

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Wolfson-Childrens-Hospital-Baptist-Health-pediatric-Florida-Jacksonville-community-patients-quality-health-mission

spark joy glass bookcase konmari marie kondo

Does this glass bookcase spark joy?

By | clothing & accessories, home | One Comment

A few months ago I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book proposes a radical concept: touch every item you own, one by one, and ask yourself, “does this spark joy?” This is rule #1 in the KonMari method, a term Marie Kondo coined by combining parts of her first and last name.

Her book sparks joy for me. And it delivers on the promise in her title. It offers “life-changing magic.” It motivated me to start going through different categories of things in my home to find and keep only the things that spark joy. Kondo’s book inspired me to tidy up my clothes which were stuffed in a closet in my bedroom. Plus my office closet was full of dozens of jackets and coats, including many I hadn’t worn for years.

By the time I was done tidying up my clothes and jackets, all my favorite items fit into the bedroom closet. And it freed up a bunch of space in my office closet. I was now able to use this closet to store work-related things that spark joy.

In addition to tidying up my clothes, I also found the KonMari method useful in other categories of things I owned. I was so pleased with the results that I decided to tidy up our furniture. We had a number of pieces that were tolerable, but now I had this acute awareness that many of the pieces did not spark joy.

Because I enjoyed her first book so much, I bought her second book, Spark Joy, when I saw it at Recycle Bookstore in San Jose. I love buying books from them. Not only do they have great prices and selection, I love to visit with the resident cat.

Recycle Bookstore is a great place to buy and sell both used and new books

Recycle Bookstore is a great place to buy and sell both used and new books

As I started looking at all the furniture pieces in our home, I realized that some of them sparked joy, while others clearly did not. Kondo recommends going through things by category. So if you have a lot of books, which I do, you go around your home and collect all the books you have from every room and stack them up all in one place. And then you quickly go through them one by one keeping only those that spark joy.

I need to be honest here and let you know I cheated. I didn’t go around our house and collect all our furniture pieces and put them in one room. My husband is generally cooperative when I ask him to move heavy stuff, but this would have pushed him over the edge.

I did, however, take photos of a lot of our main pieces and put them in a Google photos folder where I could see the images all together. This also made it a lot easier when I was out shopping and wanted to visualize what something might look like in a particular location.

Does your furniture spark joy?

After taking a closer look at all the furniture throughout our home, I realized that we’d have a more joyful home if I made some changes.

Some of the pieces had to go, but some of them just needed a paint job or a new location within our home. I had a glass bookcase in our dining room, for example, that served as a nice display case for cookbooks and glassware, but I knew this space was underutilized.

What this dining room wall really needed was a buffet/hutch. It would make the entire room much more functional.

But this glass bookcase sparked joy for me and I didn’t want to get rid of it.

spark joy glass bookcase KonMari method Marie Kondo

this glass bookcase sparks joy for me, but the location does not

As I was taking stock of all our furniture, I started a wish list of what I wanted to get to make our home more comfortable. I decided which pieces sparked joy and would stay. And for all the pieces that didn’t spark joy, I thanked them for the purpose they served in my life, as Kondo recommends, and then I listed them on OfferUp and Craigslist.

One of the pieces on my wish list was a storage cabinet for the bedroom. I wanted something that was about 5 or 6′ tall, about 3′ wide, and no more than 12″ deep. I wanted a piece that could provide more storage for clothes in the bedroom. And I was hoping to find something white.

Ironically, I went to thrift shops, estate sales and used furniture shops, including Not Too Shabby, before realizing I already had the perfect piece! It was the glass bookcase in my dining room.

It turns out that this case was just the right shape and size. It fit all the requirements on my wish list for this piece, but I didn’t see it right away because I was so used to seeing it in my dining room.

chalk paint restoration illumination tami shabby chic spark joy

chalk paint is a great way to transform a piece of furniture

Another thing that clouded my vision from seeing this piece in our bedroom was the dark stain. I wanted something tranquil that would fade into the white walls. I wanted it to feel light, clean, serene.

Tami Shidawara-Vasquez is a talented artist and owner of Restoration Illumination. I met her after purchasing one of her pieces at Not Too Shabby. She enjoys projects like this where she can do her magic with Annie Sloan chalk paint and wax. She specializes in giving pieces a new look, and sometimes an entirely new purpose.

9 Ideas to Repurpose Junk Into Treasure

spark joy glass bookcase konmari marie kondo

Since reading Kondo’s books, I handle clothes differently. Now when I come across a clothing item I know I won’t wear again, I immediately set it aside to sell or donate. I typically try to sell things at Crossroads Trading first, and then donate the rest to Goodwill.

When I first read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I couldn’t put the book down. It kept me up half the night. And the same thing happened when I read Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.

Does it spark joy? It’s such a good question. What’s the point of hanging on to things you don’t love?

Because this bookcase has glass on the front and sides, it turned out to be a beautiful display case for sweaters. Not only does it provide extra storage for clothes, I can see many things in one glance. This makes it easier to get dressed. And because I already tidied up, now I’m searching for what style I want among items that spark joy. I’m no longer wasting time slipping in and out of things I wouldn’t wear anyway.

Finally, the glass on the sides allow the light from the window to shine through into the hallway. It seems that this piece was custom made for this spot, but accidentally got put in the wrong room when we moved in several months ago. When we take the time to slow down and appreciate everything and everyone in our lives, one by one, something magical happens. It’s enlightening.

spark joy glass bookcase KonMari method Marie Kondo shabby chic

glass bookcase repurposed into shabby chic clothing display case

Speaking of light, the curtains are still a work in progress. I hung blackout drapes so that my husband and I can sleep in the dark, but haven’t gotten around to tidying up the window treatments yet.

Tami suggested swapping out the hardware for glass knobs. This coordinates well with the existing glass knobs in the house, plus it adds a bit more character to the glass bookcase.

spark joy glass bookcase KonMari method Marie Kondo shabby chic restoration illumination

glass bookcase repurposed into clothing display case

The clothes add color to our bedroom while maintaining the peaceful feeling I want in this space. The clothes are much more comfortable in their new space. I’m so happy with how this piece turned out. The entire project, both inside and out, sparks joy for me! And my husband likes the improvement as well.

Although Kondo recommends folding most clothes into rectangular shapes and storing them upright, these bulky sweaters work well in this case since they’re in short stacks.

I’m so happy this lovely lady came into my life. Kondo’s tidying up methodology awakened me to a magical power from within.

People around the world are obsessed with the KonMari household decluttering method.

People around the world are obsessed with the KonMari household decluttering method.

Think for a moment about all the things you’re surrounded with in your daily life. Does this spark joy for you?

How a mompreneur used online learning to startup a biz

By | artists, BUSINESS, gardening, parenting | 2 Comments

Most people don’t think of YouTube or Pinterest as online learning sites, but when used properly, they’re a rich source of knowledge.

Tami Shidawara-Vazquez started her business after she had her second child. After maternity leave from her FedEx job, she was looking for ways to earn some extra income. She was trying to think of things she could do at home. This is when this Silicon Valley mom decided to become a mompreneur and educate herself through online learning.

“I started making cakes for events.  I love creating sculpted cakes. It’s an art form for me. The kids go crazy for it when they see the cake come out. They love it. I love the reward of seeing kids’ and adults’ faces. They’re so wowed by it. It’s fun to see their reactions,” Tami said.

online learning train cake mompreneur startup

Tami made this train cake for a boy who was turning five years old.

“I also like the fun of trying to figure it out. Most of the time I’m creating something I’ve never done before. I have to Google the theme or go on Pinterest to see how other people have done it. Pinterest is my usual go-to place for ideas and online learning. Sometimes I find helpful DIY videos and tips,” Tami said.

“But doing cakes was hard with the kids. It was too hard to do baking and decorating with kids who need constant attention. They were always trying to sneak a lick of frosting or stick their fingers in the cake. It was too hard to juggle a cake business with kids that age,” Tami said.

online learning flea market

Tami Shidawara-Vazquez (left), pictured here with her friend, Violeta Sy (right) at the DeAnza Flea Market in 2013.

Tami started looking for other things she could do. That’s when her friend, Violeta Syintroduced her to shabby chic.

“Violeta was thinking we could do the flea market together. I started painting furniture and some wall decor. We went to DeAnza Flea Market together to see if our stuff would sell. She did really good. I did ok. It was a fun experience. I met some people who really encouraged me. I got some really good feedback from customers. It made me want to keep going and learn new stuff and try new techniques. It worked out and I started doing more and more pieces,” Tami said.

painting online learning kids toolbox helmet safety Restoration Illumination

Tami’s oldest son practicing safety-first with his bike helmet on.

The first project she did was an old wood toolbox that her boys did with her. Tami picked up this toolbox at a garage sale. They sanded it and stained it. Then they planted succulents in it. Ricardo was five and Mateo was three when Tami kicked off her wood restoration business with this first project.

handmade toolbox succulents online learning painting gardening children projects

This handmade toolbox is one of the first wood painting projects Tami did with the boys.

Tami chose Restoration Illumination as the name of her business because she wanted to restore things and give them a new life. “Restoration” is a means of giving an old item a new life. “Illumination” is a way of seeing things in a new light. She also liked that the name rhymed. Check out some of her pieces on Instagram at Restoration Illumination.

Tami liked the idea of starting a business where her boys could get involved. online learning painting kids boys family business

Tami liked the idea of starting a business where her boys could get involved.

Online learning opened up a whole new world for this former FedEx manager. She taught herself how to do shabby chic by watching YouTube videos and clicking through Pinterest links. By following along, she learned the techniques. From there she discovered farmhouse style, French Cottage, industrial, Funky Junk, and Trash to Treasure.

Online learning offers the flexibility that this mompreneur needed to gain the skills to build her business. As she was learning new techniques, she taught her boys the basics along the way.

boys painting helping work family business mompreneur online learning fun kids activities summer

The boys are always eager to help out. Tami loves watching them paint even when she has to redo their work.

“I have a home workshop. I started working in my back yard with just a couple projects. As I started getting more projects in, I started using the carport. I took over the carport and then as I added on even more projects and the work started coming in more, I took over one part of the garage. Then as it grew even more we built a little overhang. It’s been three years now. I’ve taken over the whole back yard,” Tami said.

boys power tools safety adult supervision family business

“My boys love any chance they get to use power tools. They know that safety is first. They can’t just play with them. They know that they’re actual tools and they can’t use them unless an adult is with them,” Tami said.

In addition to learning from YouTube videos and how-to articles, Tami also learns from shows on HGTV, DIYNetwork, and Great American Country.

Restoration-Illumination-Tami-Vazquez-Family-momprenuer-Bonding-chair-thankful-love-home-business-online-learning

“My older son enjoyed prepping and sanding this vintage chair for restoration. This was one of our earlier projects,” Tami said.

Tami is a big fan of Joanna Gaines, the “Magnolia Mom,” and host of HGTV‘s Fixer Upper show. This is one of Tami’s favorite shows for online learning.

“I’m inspired by Joanna’s down-to-earth personality and style. She renovates homes that others wouldn’t want and helps them to see the potential in it. They’re low-key and fun to watch. I love how when she’s staging, the kids come over and they have dinner together. I love how she involves her kids and makes time for family,” Tami said.

Tami is also a fan of Flea Market Flip, a competition where two teams have $500 to spend at a flea market. They have three projects that they have to do and one day to complete all three projects. Whoever has the most profit in the end wins $5,000.

“I love seeing what the teams come up with. They have a list of projects to do. I like seeing what they pick and how they turn it into something very unique or something with a new purpose. I like seeing the whole thought process of what they do,” Tami said.

boys flea market fun online learning painting selling furniture

Tami’s boys like going with her to the flea market because they get to find something fun for themselves, like Pokémon cards or Legos.

Salvage Dawgs is another one of Tami’s favorite shows.

“They go into old historic buildings that are being torn down. They get to go into a building and save pieces from inside before it’s demolished. They’re saving history and repurposing it. They find a lot of great stuff, a lot of architectural salvage. They usually show one project they’re working on and how they repurposed it for their shop,” Tami said.

“I watch shows after the kids go to sleep or when they’re at school. Or I watch after dinner is done and the homework is done. The boys get bored with the shows. They prefer to watch cartoons or play video games,” Instead of watching TV, I like to do things with them outside, things they can get involved with. Gardening is one activity that they do at school and we do at home. They were interested in planting a garden. They picked out some plants from Los Altos Nursery,” I like the gardening. It’s an activity plus it gives them a sense of pride that they’ve picked it out, they care for it and they get to watch it grow. It also gives them the responsibility to keep checking on the plants,” Tami said.

“The reason I started this business was because I wanted to take care of the kids and be with them at home. When I’m at home and working outside, the kids can be playing outside or they can be helping me out and I can still watch them while I’m working,”  Tami said.

jug repurposing boys garden gardening online learning

The boys love using their repurposed milk jug to water the garden they planted in their back yard.

“I started selling on Craigslist. As people came to buy things like a dresser, I would ask them if they needed anything else for other parts of their house. I got people interested in doing more work just by asking. Then I’d get referrals from them and it grew from there,” Tami said.

Most of Tami’s repeat customers are people who purchased one item from her and turned to her for help in finding more pieces. Tami especially enjoys working with these clients and shopping for them, finding the perfect piece. She likes working with customers who want to do an entire room in a new theme.

“Now Ricardo is helping more. He’s seven. When Mateo helps out, it’s more for fun and I usually have to redo it. He just turned six. Ricardo is getting to the point where I can use his work. He does signs and distressing. He’s good with banging up wood and distressing with hammers and chains. He’s good at it and he likes to do it,” Tami said.

“Sometimes they’re eager to help out and surprise me. I’m just afraid one day I’m going to come in the house and find out that they distressed all the furniture with hammer and chains,” Tami said.

online learning lettering Restoration Illumination mompreneur

Tami is especially excited when customers think it’s an authentic piece, but it’s something she just painted.

“You can learn a lot on YouTube! I love what I do. I can easily work twelve to fifteen hours a day,” she said.

Today, Tami considers herself a junker who loves shabby chic and French Cottage design. She also likes farmhouse style, especially for kitchens. She enjoys creating decorations that pull everything together.

If you’re interested in seeing some of Tami’s repurposing projects, check out:

9 Ideas to Repurpose Junk Into Treasure

“If you’re a working mom looking for a way to spend more time with your kids, I would definitely say to do something that you’re passionate about. That makes it really easy to love your work. If you need more skills, online learning is a great resource and a lot of it is free. It’s easily accessible, right at your fingertips. Even my boys use online learning for school to learn reading, spelling and math. If it’s something your kids can do with you, you can get them involved and use it as a bonding experience. It’s a chance to help them learn new skills. The more you can get them involved, the more time you get with them, and maybe you can even start a family business. The main thing is to just do what you love and try to keep the kids involved. But don’t get so wrapped up in your work that you’re not present with them. You need to be there not just physically, but for their needs as well. If they ask for help with homework or they want to show you something they did at school that they’re excited about, don’t put it off.  Make time to be there for them when they need it,” Tami said.

RestorationIlluminationLogo

9 Ideas to Repurpose Junk Into Treasure

By | gardening, home | 3 Comments

Tami Shidawara-Vazquez is part of a movement of people who love to repurpose to help keep stuff out of landfills. She’s especially interested in furniture and other things made of wood.

When a piece of furniture is damaged, a lot of people put it out on the curb. Tami likes to find things that people are ready to trash, especially if she can get it for free. What some people see as broken, she sees as raw inventory that she can repurpose into something new.

OrganizingLadyVintageCarMirror

vintage car mirror repurposed as a decorative shelf

She likes to fix things, paint things, and transform them into something different. She hopes to inspire people to see things past their current state. Here are nine ways she repurposes trash into treasures.

1. Repurpose old parts to light up your home

When Tami saw a Pinterest picture with vintage car mirror repurposed as a little shelf, she knew she wanted to do a similar project.

She started with a cabinet door discarded from a kitchen remodeling project. She has accumulated all different shapes of cabinet doors, but for this project, she chose this thin cabinet door because it was an appropriate frame for a tall candle.

She’s always looking for new ways to use cabinet doors. She decided to do a wall sconce. She thought using a car mirror would be a great idea because most people have never seen something like this.

RestorationIlluminationCarMirrorCandleHolder repurpose

vintage car mirror and cabinet door repurposed into candle sconce light

People are always remodeling kitchens, so it’s easy to find old cabinet doors. She got a door, painted it and distressed it. It was hard, however, to find a deal on a vintage car mirror, but she finally found one at an estate sale.

“Sometimes it takes a long time to find some things, but if you’re patient, you can find interesting things when you least expect it.” Tami said.

This wall sconce can provide ambient lighting in just about any room.

Tami often responds to Craigslist posts when people are getting rid of things. Sometimes things are already spoken for when she replies, but sometimes she’s the first person to respond, or they agree to keep her on file and call her later.

In this case, she connected with a contractor. She let him know that she likes to repurpose stuff and she’d be happy to haul away unwanted items such as: leftover wires, fence boards, cabinet doors, drawers, windows and doors.

2. Repurpose drawers to create focal points

Tami loves giving new life to old drawers. During remodeling projects, people typically toss out old drawers because they don’t think there’s any use for them.

“But, the possibilities are endless. You can paint them, stencil them, decoupage and Mod Podge them to totally customize them to match your decor. You can hang them on a wall, put them under a bed, put your kids art supplies in them on the top of a table, or just about anything else you can think of,” Tami said.

repurpose drawer beverage water kitchen chalk paint stencil

repurpose a drawer into a practical decor for entertaining

Tami often gets drawers from contractors who are remodeling a kitchens. They have to pay to have trash hauled away, so they don’t mind at all if she does it for free.

drawer repurpose decorative box enjoy life pine cones chalk paint stencil

repurpose a drawer into an uplifting centerpiece

There are endless combinations you can do with drawers. You can put anything in them and put them in any room of your home. You can put towels in them in the bathroom. In the living room you can use them for drinks, newspapers, or recycled papers. On a craft table, you can use them to store your paint, brushes and paper. You can also utilize space under desks or other underutilized areas.

“Drawers are like a blank canvas. You can do anything with them,” Tami said.

3. Repurpose boards to organize with style

One of Tami’s customers saw a picture on Pinterest of a bathroom towel hook. She loved it and wanted to recreate it. The Pinterest photo linked over to a post that explained how to do the project with suggestions on where to find the supplies, including buying the vintage-like door knobs from Hobby Lobby.

“They offer a good deal on these knobs. People at flea markets often charge more for authentic vintage knobs like this,” Tami said.

With the original inspiration photo, Tami was able to transform some scrap wood and trim into a towel holder for her client who needed to increase towel storage in a small bathroom.

Restoration Illumination door knob vintage towel holder repurpose shabby chic

repurpose door knobs into towel holders

Tami got a board that she cut down to the sizes a bit longer than the door knob plates. Then she got some wood trim and mitered them for the decorative top. She painted the boards and knob hardware with Annie Sloan white chalk paint. She painted the door plates so that it all blended together. Then she distressed it to make it look old.

repurpose door knobs into towel hooks

repurpose door knobs into towel hooks

Tami’s customer was so excited. She absolutely loved them. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to find these in a store so she was thrilled that Tami was able custom make these for her.

4. Repurpose boxes to create more storage in your home

Tami searches for all sorts of things at estate sales and on Craigslist. She usually starts searching around Wednesday for estate sales coming up, typically on Friday, Saturdays or Sundays. If she finds estate sales that she likes, she signs up for their email updates.

Tami found this interesting crate at an estate sale. She had to flip it upside down to turn it into a table, so she had to take the bottom off and put it on the top. She wanted the Chinese characters to be the right way up. Then she stenciled the “HK” and “SF” letters on the top.

Restoration Illumination Repurpose Crate stencil table storage

repurpose a crate into a side table

“Crates provide great storage. They’re one of my favorite finds because you can do so much with them. You can hang them on a wall, put wheels on them, make ottomans out of them, or turn them into tables. If you stack up a pile of them, they make a great backdrop for wedding photos.” Tami said.

Tami did this project on her own just for the fun of it. She ended up selling it at a booth at Not Too Shabby.

5. Repurpose vintage pieces into multifunctional works of art

“I found this piece folded up against a closet door at an estate sale. The vinyl top was ripped. I couldn’t even tell it was a table. I saw the wood and I was curious. I looked at it closer and discovered it was a card table. I loved the potential of the wood. I knew I could make some sort of wall art or a sign out of it so I bought it,” Tami said.

Restoration Illumination Card Table vintage repurpose

look for ways to repurpose “damaged” pieces

“I removed all the vinyl and sanded it. I went to Graphics Fairy to look for some royalty-free images. I found one I liked and scaled it. Then I did a chalk transfer and hand painted it. I love French graphics and how the lettering looks really old on this one,” Tami said.

Restoration Illumination Card Table Sign Art stencil repurpose

repurpose a vintage card table into multifunctional art

“I liked this project so much that I decided to keep it in my own home. I only recently started keeping pieces for a while. People often see my stuff and think that my whole home is decorated in this style, but it’s not. Most of the things I do sell right away. They never make it into my home. I can’t keep everything.”

“I have “visitation rights” to some of my favorite pieces. I love seeing them when I go back to do other projects at their homes. It’s fun to see how people use pieces in their homes. It’s often different from what I envisioned.”

“I plan on keeping this one for a while. It’s something I can use for shows to display how to repurpose tables. It also shows the sign work I do. It’s a good example of my style.”

 

“You never know what you’re going to find at a flea market. You can often find rare things at a decent price.” Tami said. She enjoys both buying and selling at DeAnza Flea Market.

Tami occasionally sets up a booth at arts and crafts show such as the Harvest Festival. She loves seeing all the other art and meeting other creative people and seeing the things they’ve come up with.

6. Repurpose furniture to add color to your garden

“I have tons of chairs and many of them are broken. But just because they’re broken doesn’t mean you can’t use them. I had so many chairs, I knew I should start doing some thing with them. I was looking for ways to use them around the house or yard,” Tami said.

“I recently painted a red chair and I thought it would be fun to do some chairs in other bright colors. I had a big pot that happened to fit into the frame of this one. The pot rests in the seat frame,” Tami said.

Restoration Illumination Yellow Garden Chair repurpose chalk paint distressed art

repurpose a chair into garden art

This chair was originally a worn brown stain. She painted bright yellow Annie Sloan chalk paint and then she distressed it. When she does pieces for the outdoors, she tops it off with a coat of Minwax water-based Polycrylic protective finish.

7. Repurpose damaged furniture into new storage

When people have a chest of drawers that’s broken in some way, most people throw them out.

“But dressers are so fun. You can make a kitchen island out of them. You can put wheels on them and roll them around,” Tami said.

Tami got the idea for this bar upcycle from a picture she saw on Pinterest. She fell in love with the idea of doing a similar project.

Restoration Illumination Cabinet repurpose chalkboard paint chalk paint farmhouse

repurpose a chest of drawers into a beverage cabinet

“I started searching for a dresser that I could convert into a bar. I found this one at a Kuzak’s Closet estate sale. I chose this piece because the top drawer had a drop front which made it ideal for a beverage bar. The railings on the middle drawers were broken so I removed them, gutted it out and made a shelf inside. I cut out a section of the bottom drawer and added chicken wire. I like when you can see inside a drawer. I love adding farmhouse style features,” Tami said.

Restoration Illumination Cocktail Cabinet repurpose chest of drawers shabby chic farmhouse

click here to learn more about his bar upcycle that Tami purchased from a Kuzak’s Closet estate sale

Tami painted the main part with Annie Sloan white chalk paint and the sides with chalkboard paint. You can keep it fresh by changing the words. This bar upcycle project can easily change moods for different events, seasons and gatherings. By changing a few words and accessories, it easily converts into a cereal bar, coffee bar, or anything else you desire.

8. Repurpose small-scale pieces for kids play stations

To create a kid’s play station, you can repurpose an old cabinet, nightstand, or any small-scale piece of furniture. Tami used a pegboard to hang the toy tools. She spray painted it with a glossy metallic silver paint to create the illusion of a magnetic board.

You can also use small-scale furniture to make a little kitchen island, an oven, a produce stand, a lemonade stand, or just about anything else to spark a child’s imagination.

Restoration Illumination Workbench children's play station tools repurpose

repurpose a cabinet into a workbench

This was a nightstand that Tami converted into a kid’s workbench. She saw an idea on Pinterest and she thought it would be super cute for her kids.

At the time her youngest was around three years old. It was a great place for him to store his play tools. He was able to put his little tool box in the bottom. Her boys love getting involved and helping. They love to watch, sand and paint.

“Sometimes I would have to repaint projects. They thought they were helping, but they were really making more work for me. But after a while, they got really good at it. I wanted to get them involved and allow them to be creative. It’s a bonding activity that we can work on together. I love doing projects with my boys.”

Now that they’ve outgrown the toddler tool station, she’s going to repurpose it into a kitchen playstation that she’ll sell. Things can be repurposed even after they’re repurposed.

9. Repurpose vintage items to enhance a wedding theme

Suitcases can be used for a lot of different purposes. Some people cut them in half and mount them to a wall for a shelf. You can decoupage them, paint them, or turn them into tables.

Paris Suitcase Repurpose Restoration Illumination stencil decoupage

repurpose a suitcase into a gift card box for a wedding

Tami turned this vintage suitcase into a gift card box for a wedding with a Paris theme. For weddings, she likes to use suitcases for card boxes. The paper used for this decoupage project was from an antique French hotel directory from early 1900s. All of the letters are in French, so all the pages were vintage to start with. She stenciled “Paris” over the pages to top off the French theme with a stencil she purchased from Maison de Stencils.

After the wedding, this sort of storage box can serve as a wedding souvenir and home decoration for years to come.

Restoration Illumination LOVE sign repurpose wood sign art wedding chalk paint

repurpose wood pieces into a sign

“I have tons of wood around my house so I try to find ways to use them such as for signs or candle holders. I wanted a positive word, so I chose love,” Tami said. A sign is also something that can be used for a wedding and easily be used as  year-round home decor.

“If something looks like trash, try to find another way to use it and repurpose it, give it a new life, another chance. It’s a shame to see things getting dumped. There are others who would love to get their hands on it and repurpose it,” Tami said.

Once you get a hang of the idea, you begin to see things for their possibilities, and come up with ideas to transform things in unexpected ways.

Tami checks Pinterest every day to get ideas and inspiration on how people are repurposing. She does searches with keywords like: shabby chic, junk, flea market and farmhouse.

Restoration Illumination Logo shabby chic farmhouse junk repurpose

If you’re interested in commissioning Tami for a project, contact her at Restoration Illumination.

Today is not Opposite Day: This is the truth

By | holidays | No Comments

Today is not Opposite Day. If you observe this holiday, you know this statement is always true. Nearly every day of the year is not Opposite Day, but for the one day that is, January 25th, you do not say, “Today is Opposite Day.” To play along, you must say, “Today is not Opposite Day” because you must say the opposite of what is true. If it is yin, you must say yang.

Yin Yang by Fallen-Eye Opposite Day yin yang male female man woman

Yin Yang by Fallen-Eye

Do opposites attract?

Law of Attraction believers operate under the presumption that we attract into our lives what we focus on. Does like attract like, or do opposites attract? Which is it? Regardless of your belief, opposites create distinctions in an otherwise meaningless world. What would be the point of asking for iced tea if hot tea didn’t exist? Today is not Opposite Day, so you do not need to remember to focus on opposing thoughts. 

You have to remain alert on this day, or else you might be tricked into feeling like an April Fool. If someone asks if you’re irritated and you are, you smile and say, “No, I’m quite pleased at the moment.”

Are you a planner or procrastinator?

My husband and I recently traveled to Southern California. One day we took the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to the mountain station at 8500 feet. When we got to the top, we saw tourists shivering in shorts and t-shirts. They obviously didn’t do their homework about the temperature of their destination. Perhaps they had more important things to do.

Fortunately, there was an indoor cafeteria where they could warm up, but they missed out on hiking to see other breathtaking lookout areas around the mountain peak. Today is not Opposite Day, so you do not have to remember that planners must also master the art of procrastination.

millennials testing true false like dislike opposite day multiple choice testIs it true or false?

Starting in elementary school, we begin a long series of tests in which we must determine if statements are true or false. And we play a similar game on other tests as we try to select “right” answers among multiple choices.

These standardized tests shape our thoughts. They teach us that right answers come from elsewhere, not from within. And these thoughts shape our lives. True or false? Today is not Opposite Day, so you do not have to remember that as long as you know what’s true, you also know what’s false.

God is light. In him there is no darkness at all 1 John 1:5 Opposite DayCan you see light when it’s dark?

Our eyes are incapable of observing the pure brightness of the sun or perceiving absolute darkness. We don’t live in either extreme.

Most of us don’t live on the edges of anything. By definition, most people are average. We live our lives in a dim middle-zone reality, somewhere between dawn and dusk. As light increases, darkness subsides. Today is not Opposite Day, so you do not need to remember that darkness is merely the absence of light.

Are you filled with love or fear?

My sister has a fear of flying, especially in small aircraft. Her husband is the opposite. He’s a pilot who’s passionate about flying. For more than five years after getting his pilot’s license, she didn’t go up in the air with him. But eventually, her love for him helped her to overcome her fear.

How an artist leverages her passion to suppress fear

2 Timothy 1:7 Bible verse God spirit fear power love self-discipline Opposite Day

Because he loves planes, he doesn’t fear them. He respects them and takes precautions to make sure he’s safe. His desire to be up in the sky inherently helps him overcome fears that might otherwise keep him grounded.

Love and fear are opposites. There are many shades of concerns and emotions in between, but these feelings have roots of fear or love. Fear is evidence of a block in the flow of love. Love is the absence of fear.

Love is to fear as water is to fire. Love extinguishes fear. Today is not Opposite Day, so there’s no need to remember that your fear of love is not real.

Are you wise or ignorant?

Fear and ignorance are siblings. If you love something enough to learn about it and understand it, your fear naturally subsides. Understanding moves you in the direction of empathy and love. We don’t have time to learn about everything, so we live in a world where we fear many things we don’t yet understand. And we move away from the things we fear.

Knowledge doesn’t obliterate fear, but it can help to minimize it. My brother-in-law has studied planes and practiced flying for years. He could still experience fear in a plane if he had an engine go out, but even then he would have had the training to know how to handle the situation and take hopeful action to glide safely to landing.

He has prepared for what to do in the case that something does go wrong. The world is neutral. The plane has no intention to harm him and neither does the earth. Today is not Opposite Day, so you do not have to remember that it’s wise to know that you can overcome ignorance at any time.

Are you responsible or carefree?

You are the only one who qualifies to play the director and starring role in your life. At any given moment, you either care or careless about the opportunity you have to design your own stage and write your own script.

You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think.

Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

You are not responsible until you adjust your thinking and overcome your fears of judgment. You cannot control what others think. Therefor, what they think should not concern you. Until you begin walking, you can not attract followers. This is the step-by-step way to begin. Today is not Opposite Day so you do not have to remember that it’s responsible to learn how to live carefree.

theatre practice actor man open sign closed Opposite Day

Are you open or closed?

When you have a strong desire for something or someone, you open yourself up to many things. I remember preparing for my first trip to China. I knew my husband would be working there and I wanted to join him on his venture. Although I loved the idea of having another opportunity to live abroad, I had never traveled to Asia. I heard things like, “you can’t trust the food,” and “don’t drink the water.” I was afraid of getting sick there. Prior to moving to China, I didn’t speak a word of Mandarin. I was also afraid of what might happen if I couldn’t communicate with doctors.

As I was preparing to travel to China the first time, I read blog posts by people who had traveled there, and books by expats who had lived there. The more I learned, the more my fears were calmed. The more I understood, the more excited I became.

After moving to China and immersing myself in the language and day-to-day life in Shenzhen, my fears transformed into greater curiosity and a deep appreciation for the culture and people. I made close friends and formed bonds that will last a lifetime. The thought of living in China started out as a fear, but turned out to be one of the best experiences in my life. Today is not Opposite Day, so you do not have to remember that you have the strength open anything that appears to be closed.

Is great weather hot or cold?

When someone says, “it’s a beautiful day,” do you imagine a blue tropical beach or white ski slopes? To me, “a beautiful day” is somewhere between 80-90 degrees near a beachfront with an easy breeze. I’ve had 90 degree days when I wanted to be outdoors, but I’m with someone who feels miserable in hot weather and wants to hunker down in air conditioning.

Opposite preferences can cause conflict, but they’re necessary in order for us to attach meaning to our world and relationships. Cold is absence of heat and nothing more. Today is not Opposite Day so you do not have to remember that great weather is both hot and cold.

Do you believe that objects are neither good nor bad?

Today, practice believing that nothing is substantially good or bad. I’m no expert on gun control, but I do understand that physical objects in our environment do not take action on their own. They are instruments of our thoughts and actions. If guns kill people, do spoons make people fat? Today is not Opposite Day, so you do not need to remember that objects are neither good nor bad.

There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so William Shakespeare Hamlet Opposite Day

Can you believe that people are neither good nor bad?

If a soldier from one country kills a soldier from another, is he a hero or villain? It depends on your perception and how you have been programmed to see the event. Hollywood, or anyone else, will tell you. Even if you’re there as a witness, you’re not qualified to judge. Today is not Opposite Day, so you do not need to remember that bad people are good people.

Are you judgmental or appreciative?

Judgmental people criticize and point out what they don’t like in the world they see. Appreciative people are more accepting. They tend to look for what they like in the world around them. Everything, in and of itself, is a meaningless illusion that we’ve created from prior experience.

One person sees a dog and feels love, while another feels fear. Meanwhile, the dog is sniffing around minding his own business. He did not bring love or fear with him to dole out to the people around him. They arrived with their feelings based on prior experiences with other dogs.

When you remove judgment about what’s happening now, you free yourself. If you can wrap your mind around this concept, you will tap into an innate superpower.  Today is not Opposite Day, so you do not have to remember to appreciate people who are judgmental.

Are you asleep or awake?

The only way you can understand sleep is to have an idea of what it is to be awake. Observe someone dozing. Note that his eyes are closed and his conscious mind is numb. If you poke him, he will awaken in fear.

People operate at various conscious levels, some more asleep and some more awake. Perhaps you know people whose eyes are open but their consciousness is not fully activated. Although today is not Opposite Day, there’s a chance you can experience an abrupt awakening.

Wake Up film Jonas Elrod trailer Opposite Day awake asleep spiritual awakening

Click here to see the Wake Up film trailer

Are you opposed to Opposite Day?

You don’t have to wait for Valentine’s Day to tell people you love them. And you don’t have to wait for Opposite Day to hone your thinking. Holidays are mere reminders of your culture’s values.

Today is not Opposite Day, but you can be aware of the concept and fire up a debate at any time. Go strike up a conversation on something polarizing such as: religion, politics, abortion, animal testing, euthanasia, gay marriage, standardized testing, medical marijuana or concealed guns. Experiment with answering the opposite of what others expect from you.

Is synonym the antonym of antonym?

Get tooled up for Opposite Day. Not all words have opposites. There’s no opposite of dog, for example, unless you’re using it as a verb instead of a noun. A guy might refer to a gal as a dog if he perceives her to be unattractive, for example. If you’re unsure about a word’s opposite, look for its antonym at PowerThesaurus.org. I’m particularly fond of this thesaurus because it gives you the opportunity to contribute by voting on synonyms and antonyms that make the most sense to you. You can help clarify the nuances of polarity.

Knowing what you don’t want is useful

Thinking about opposites can help you gauge what’s important to you. When you go through unpleasant experiences, it helps you become aware of what you do not want. It’s a warning that you need to do a U-turn or recalibrate your direction. This sort of mental gymnastics can help you get your thinking in good shape. When your thinking is grounded in the truth, the curtains will open and your stage lights will come on.

Today is not Opposite Day. This is the truth.

Please like me on Facebook. like dislike button Opposite Day

Please like me on Facebook. We need each other’s opposing views.

 

 

Experience the gourmet farm-to-table lifestyle in Maui

By | eating, gardening, restaurants | 2 Comments

If you’re headed to Maui and you want to try some of the best local foods, you’ve come to the right place. Following are several ways you can experience the farm-to-table lifestyle on the island. A few dedicated people have grown a family of several small companies that successfully thrive on living local. On a recent trip to Maui, I had the opportunity to interview Robert Comstock, the General Manager of Pacific’O Restaurant. Here’s what I learned:

“We have such a cool company,” Robert said. “We’re a lifestyle company. We keep everything contained to our passions. There are a lot of aspects. In Hawaii it’s called Ohana. It means family. We enjoy working together and spending our holidays together.”

Pacific'O restaurant on the beach

Pacific’O restaurant on the beach

Native Hawaiians had a sustainable system where the farmers traded with the fishermen so that they could all have a complete diet. It’s called Ahupua`a. It’s a Hawaiian word that means a self-sustaining unit from mountain to sea. We strive to live by this principle and we give people a number of ways to experience it:

Entertain the family at the Feast at LeLe

It’s hard to think about traveling to Hawaii without going to at least one luau. The Feast at LeLe is a sit-down dinner featuring five courses from the Pacific island nations of Aotearoa, Tahiti, Samoa and Hawai’i. This farm-to-table dinner includes a sunset show spotlighting music and dance from these four Pacific islands. At this table-service feast you get to eat authentic food from each different region.

Sunset Feast at LeLe in Lahaina, Maui

Sunset Feast at LeLe in Lahaina, Maui

Every table is intimate and offers a panoramic view of the West Maui sunsets. LeLe is the ancient name for Lahaina. This is the beach where the royal family of Maui would feast and entertain.

Splurge at Pacific’O fine dining restaurant in Lahaina

When you ask questions at Pacific’O, you’ll be happy with the answers you get.

Ask about their view. If you’re looking for beachfront or sunset dining in Maui, this is as good as it gets. “The location has been a big part of our success,” Robert said. “Other local restaurants such as Lahaina Grill are also rated highly, but they don’t have our view.”

Pacific'O on the beach

Pacific’O on the beach

Ask about the competition. “Pacific’O is the first privately owned restaurant to own its own farm in Hawaii. Today there are only a handful of farm-to-table restaurants in all of Hawaii,” Robert said. If you want to eat at a quality restaurant, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Ask about their menu. Chef Anton moved to Maui shortly after graduating from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in San Francisco. Prior to joining the Pacific’O team, he spent ten years honing his craft in some of Maui’s highest ranked restaurants: the Sheraton Maui Resort, Gerard’s, Kimo’s and Star NoodleExecutive Chef Anton Haines has established himself as one of Maui’s rising star chefs by creating delectable menus based on in-season locally sourced foods.

Pacific'O Executive Chef Anton Haines

Pacific’O Executive Chef Anton Haines

Ask about their fish. “We are the top purchaser of fresh fish on Lahaina,” Robert said. “Giving cash back to the economy has several benefits. The money goes straight back into the fisherman’s pockets. Because the fish are caught and eaten locally, the distribution has very little impact on the environment.”

PacificOFish

Local fish, such as Onaga, are caught one day and delivered first thing the next morning to Pacific’O.

“The main benefit for you is that you get fish that’s been out of the water for only a day. The fish served here is about 85% local. The difference is that you see fresh clear translucent cuts, not the cloudy fish you see that’s older. When you taste the local fish here in HI, it’s lighter.  The government’s version of fresh fish is 20 days. You typically see fish wrapped in foam and you have to just trust what the labels say,” Robert said.

StahlerFreshGroundPepperCartoon“Once the fish comes in, it hangs for about 20 hours to give the chef some working time with the fish, and then it goes to your plate. Not only does it support the local people, once the fish are filleted and broke down, the rest of it is composted back into the compost tea at their farm. Nothing is wasted.”

Ask about their ingredients. Pacific’O has set the standard for farm-to-table cuisine on Maui. Local fruits and vegetables supplied by their own 8-acre farm in Kula, and free range eggs come from The Neighborhood Farm in Launiopoko. At any given time, about 30-70% of the produce comes from their own O’o farm. There’s nothing else quite like it on the island. The rest is locally sourced as much as possible. But in order to provide a full menu, they apply their own 70-mile rule, because they do get some foods from the big island.

Ask about their farms. If you want to learn more about where their food comes from, you can visit the O’o Farm and The Neighborhood Farm.

Enjoy a farm-to-table gourmet lunch outdoors at the O’o Farm

Enjoy a truly unique island experience at the O’o Farm in Upcountry Maui. Explore the gardens, learn the ways of all natural growing and sit down for a gourmet lunch prepared in your presence. The vegetables are harvested with you and then prepared in an outdoor kitchen.  It’s a pure expression of Hawaiian cuisine benefitting your body and soul. It’s as fresh as fresh can be! This is a guided tour of the farm where you can learn about sustainable growing practices. Even if you don’t have your own farm or backyard garden, you’ll appreciate this tour.

O'o Farm Tour Lunch Upcountry Maui Hawaii

Forage and feast at O’o Farm in the misty forest of Waipoli in Upcountry Maui

In 2000, surfing buddies turned successful restauranteurs, Louis Coulombe and Stephan Bel-Robert purchased over 8 acres of near-virginal upcountry land to grow natural produce for the Lahaina restaurant, Pacific’O. Louis, who’s passionate about flying, first noticed the property when he was paragliding. The property which had been a hippy commune years before, but it wasn’t maintained. It was overgrown with wattle trees.

OoFarm

O’o Farm in Upcountry Maui, Hawaii

Louis and Stephan made a plan to set up natural growing practices and started executing the plan to clear the property and to plant exciting products for the plate. At first the diversified farm was largely experimental with a citrus and stone fruit orchard and a few coffee trees. Since then, they’ve diversified quite a bit. Today they focus on growing the things that are expensive to purchase and things that grow well in the Kula environment at 3200 feet.

Their goal is to provide vegetables locally sourced from Maui water, dirt and sun. It takes top dollar to even grow the plants, but it was especially challenging in the beginning since this place wasn’t set up for agriculture. They only have one hose for 8.5 acres, for example. The water comes from a water shed. It rains up there hundreds of inches a year. The farm is located in a place called the misty forest where mist drips off the trees.”

The chefs here don’t just see interesting pictures in a culinary magazine and decide to ship in ingredients from all over the world. When they want to add something to the menu, they first have to grow the crop, and know they can sustain it before they release the dish.

Get a caffeine buzz at the O’o Farm Seed to Cup Tour

Since roasting coffee was part of Louis’ weekend relaxation anyway, he decided to try roasting coffee beans for their own operations. Stephan is French and enjoys his coffee too. That’s how Aina Gourmet Coffee began. In 2009, Stephan, Louis and their chef partner James McDonald opened Aina Gourmet Market, a local foods marketplace with a full coffee bar serving 100% Maui grown and O’o Farm roasted coffee. They created a relationship with Ka’anapali Coffee Farms to grow five varietals on about 250 acres. O’o Farms purchases the beans and roasts them on their farm.

OoFarmAinaCoffeeTourCropped

Aina Gourmet Coffee Tour at O’o Farm

They built a world class coffee tasting room with an amazing view. Now they have a Seed to Cup tour on the O’o farm. You can walk through their tree groves and see the different stages of coffee trees. You can pick berries and then move up into the tasting room where you observe a live roast. It only takes about 15 minutes. And then you get to taste the coffee. The beans are single varietal, like a single varietal wine. They don’t over roast.

CLICK HERE to buy Aina Gourmet Coffee

CLICK HERE to buy Aina Gourmet Coffee

Wake up to Aina Gourmet Coffee in a luxurious resort

Coffee connoisseurs enjoy their morning brew as much as wine enthusiasts enjoy an evening glass of red. They describe their sips in terms of body, acidity, flavor and finish . . . ranging from mild to wild. Aina roasters focus on creating the perfect conditions to attain the right balance of flavors. All Aina Gourmet Coffee is 100% Maui grown and 100% O’o Farm roasted.

“Aina Gourmet Coffee is our brand of coffee. It’s grown on Ka’anapali Hillside by Ka’anapali Coffee Farms. We take their beans to our farm and roast them up there. We also grown our own coffee at O’o Farm but only enough to sustain the farm guests,” Robert said.

Aina Gourmet Coffee  is served at at Aina Gourmet Market in the Honua Kai Resort & Spa at Ka’anapali Beach, and also at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalu Resort. Both markets are very busy and have a big following. We also make our coffee in a French press at Pacific’O and we sell it whole or ground in half-pound and one-pound bags at every venue we have. From ground to roast is about 2-3 days. With this turn-around time, you don’t lose any essence of the coffee itself,” Robert said.

Get to know some local chicks at The Neighborhood Farm

Participate in the Egg Farm & Gourmet Lunch tour at The Neighborhood Farm in the scenic West Maui Mountains. This is a free-range chicken farm in Launiopoko. It sits on 15 acres of agriculture land at the top of the hill. This educational chicken tour is for both locals and tourists interested in learning about how to farm chickens.

Free Range Chickens

During the first part of the tour, you enjoy spectacular ocean and mountain views, learn about the history of the area and meet local chicks. These beautiful free-range hens are kept outdoors so they can enjoy fresh grass and bountiful bugs every day. The 750-1000 birds enjoy coops with million-dollar views. They’re contained by soft electric fences to help keep the predators out. This is a concept of how you can raise eggs locally, without large-scale commercial farming. The farm provides eggs for local restaurants and grocery stores.

The second part of the tour is followed by a meal served in the seaside ambiance of the Pacific’O restaurant in Lahaina. It’s about 10 minutes from The Neighborhood Farm. This gourmet meal features dishes from freshly gathered eggs. Contact Pacific’O to make reservations for this lunch tour.

Harvest produce at the O’o Farm volunteer program

If you’re interested in volunteering at the farm, you can pair up with a farmer to do some real harvesting. You get lunch and you get to spend the day working with Head Farmer Richard Clark and Orchard Manager Ancil Clancy.

Which of these experiences suits your taste?

These interdependent sister companies make up one small lifestyle company that has grown from the ground up, literally. If you cherish your health and the well-being of our planet, support farm-to-table businesses like these. Because of the popularity of their food and tours, it’s a good idea to make reservations at least several days in advance.

Tools like Yelp, UrbanSpoon and TripAdvisor give local businesses the opportunity to thrive among big and impersonal, but well-known franchises. Yelp and UrbanSpoon even allow you to search for “farm-to-table” restaurants by location no matter where you are in the world.

ValleyIsleKombuchaIf you’re willing to take the time to read through customer review rants and raves, you’ll often find that local businesses do a better job overall of providing personalized service. And you have the opportunity to experience the local culture as well as support people in pursuit of the dreams and passions. How many people have the opportunity to do this when they work for a franchise?

“We know who not to purchase from,” Robert said. “We only buy from people we know really well. We have Valley Isle Kombucha on tap here at Pacific’O to support a local producer.” When you choose to support lifestyle companies, everyone benefits.

“We’re all fisherman, all the owners and management. Stephan has a sailboat in the harbor. We go spear fishing on the back side of Lanai. It’s nice when you can park your boat in front of your restaurant,” Robert said.

Franchises are basically branded distribution systems. In most cases, their main focus is on maintaining the consistent taste and feel of their brand. Most are more concerned about their profit than your health. Why eat mediocre food from afar at a franchise when you can eat wholesome locally grown fresh food at a farm-to-table restaurant?

 

WholesomeWave-Logo

 

Happy birthday tip: Plan something spectacular every month

By | birthdays, gifts | 2 Comments

Think about how many obligatory trinket and gadget gifts you’ve received over the years . . . the ones you forget about within a few weeks. Most are a waste of money, right?

What if there was something you could give yourself that would change the course of your life? Too good to be true? Not so. You don’t have to spend any money, but you have to do something that’s even more difficult for most. You have to invest a little time thinking about your future. One of the best gifts you can receive on your birthday is one you give to yourself.

“It’s my wife’s birthday tomorrow,” my friend told me. “So last week I asked her what she wanted as a present. ‘Oh, I don’t know ,’ she said. ‘Just give me something with diamonds.’ That’s why I’m giving her a pack of playing cards. Jokes4Us

When was the last time you got your car aligned? It was probably more recently than the last time to aligned your activities, habits and lifestyle with your passion, dreams and deepest desires. The more your daily activities align with these, the more likely you are to be happy, productive, likable, and in the long run, more successful. This can be the happiest year of your life.

Lots of people wait until New Year’s Eve to make a resolution or set new goals. But consider this: your birthday is your own personal New Year’s Day. This is an ideal time to reflect on the prior year of your life. What went well? What do you want to increase in your life? What do you want to decrease or eliminate?

How to get happy now via habits, goals and resolutions

If you create a clear vision and top it off with strong desire, you can have an amazing year. Begin with what you want your life to be this time next year. Can you really change your life in a year?

Think big. A woman (with a little help from a man) can create a new life in nine months. As an intelligent adult who knows you better than anyone else, you should certainly be able to make a few adjustments in your life’s direction in the next 9-12 months, right?

TipForaHappyBirthday
In the next nine months, you could move to a new location, get a new job, or turn your hobby into a business. You can improve a relationship or get yourself out of a bad one. You can save up to travel to that place you’ve been wanting to go. What do you want to do? It’s your life and it’s your new year. Why not make it a good one?

It’s helpful to set monthly milestones that get you closer to where you want to be. If you’re unhappy with your long work commute, for example, there are many ways to solve the issue:

  • find a new job
  • work with your employer to work from home some of the time, or all of the time
  • find a new place to live
  • turn your favorite hobby into a business with a plan to quit your jobl
  • learn a new skill so you can work toward a promotion or new occupation
  • use public transportation or a carpool to get to work so you can make better use of your commute time

Any one of these could be a monthly milestone to help you reach your goal.

This CAR game will drive you crazy

It’s easy to look at an issue, such as a long commute, and feel stuck. If you feel stuck in a job, home or relationship, think about this. Assuming you make it to your next birthday, you’re going to be busy living life each and every day. You’re going to have some happy days and some stressful days. Life is a roller coaster. So why not spend your up and down days taking action to build a happier future for you and the people around you?

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The Roller Coaster by Angela L Walker

Lots of people choose to mask their dissatisfactions with nonproductive pastimes such as:

  • drinking too much
  • overeating
  • zoning out on video games, movies or TV
  • following rabbit trails on social media
  • watching spectator sports

Perhaps some of your closest friends or family members attempt to indulge and subdue you with similar junk on your birthday: pizza, cake, ice cream, sodas, alcohol, gag gifts and so on.

If you cycle deeper into these escapes year after year, it’s easy to let an entire year go by without changing anything. You will have all the same problems next year that you have now, and possibly even more. Would you like to put your head down in the sand or up in the sky?

What goes up and never comes down?

Your age. Jokes4Us

There’s no such thing as bad habits

Your life is like a garden. Weeds are always growing. Life weeds are the issues that inevitably come up in relationships, work, health, or finances, for example. You have to continue to weed your life garden in order to refresh your mind, body and soul.

If you decide to concentrate on your most pressing issues one-by-one, in search of solutions, you can eventually find ways to resolve them. Choose to pull the weeds out of your life. If you do, you can look forward to this time next year with excitement and anticipation. Everyone gets one day older every day, but few continue to grow and mature into their full potential day after day. Do you want to be average or above average?

TantrumCartoonNickAndZuzu

As you plan your most important milestones for each of the upcoming twelve months, have a vision in mind. Close your eyes and picture yourself one year from now. What would you like to be, do or have? How is it different from now? What bridges do you need to build to get there?

As you consider the changes you need to make, it helps to set milestones for the upcoming twelve months. Be reasonable. Don’t underestimate or overestimate what you can do in the next 30, 60 or 90 days. The most important thing is that you get started and create movement in the direction you want to go.

How to have a very happy birthday

Once you begin taking actions to create change, momentum builds and propels you forward, helping you find the ways and means to skip steps and accomplish goals faster than you originally anticipated. The more you engage others in your vision and the more activities you take toward it, the luckier you become.

This can be your happiest birthday ever. Now that you have the gift, it’s up to you to decide what to do with it.

This is your life. Are you who you want to be? Is it everything you dreamed that it would be? Switchfoot

CLICK ON IMAGE TO SUBSCRIBE NOW to Rascal Radio. This is the world’s first online personal development radio service. By putting the right thoughts into your mind every day, you can start living the life you’ve always wanted to live. You only have one life. You’re worth it.

 

fear is not real ACIM Jan Clayton Pagratis

How an artist leverages her passion to suppress fear

By | artists, love, PEOPLE, transportation | 2 Comments

“At 2000 feet above the earth, as if dangling from a thread, all my attention is on the landscape below,” Jan says. “I haven’t forgotten my fear, but I set it aside as my husband dips the wing of the small aircraft so I’m better able to photograph the sights below.”

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My Silver Lining No.3 by Jan Clayton

Her husband, Periklis Pagratis, began flying about six years ago. He earned his private pilot’s license in 2008. More recently he became a Certified Flight Instructor and is now teaching others to fly. He owns a small airplane and flies often. When he first began flying, Jan worried all the time and would be in despair every time he went up.

“It took a while, but I knew the fear and anxiety that I was experiencing was my issue, not his,” Jan said. “I didn’t want my fears to inhibit his love and passion for flying in any way. Because I love my husband and wanted to participate in the activity he loves most, I began to fly with him last year. Overcoming fear is a process that seems to have no end. It’s still difficult for me.”

If you have a fear of flying, heights, darkness, dentists, needles, public speaking or something else, it may seem impossible to get over it. Embracing fear, on the other hand, is possible. When your passion or desire is strong enough, you can find ways to suppress fear. When you do, you have a chance to do something positive.

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Merge No.1 by Jan Clayton

“I try to do this with a mix of diversion, trust and faith. I keep my brain occupied with something positive other than the concern about our safety. I trust my husband to handle that. My faith is strengthened by the magnificent beauty of the world around me, especially when viewed from above,” Jan said.

The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth. The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them. Antoine de Saint-Exupery  in his book Wind, Sand and Stars

“My fear of flying in small aircraft slapped me in the face about five years ago when my husband became a pilot. I was destined to come face-to-face with this fear and learn to deal with it,” Jan said. “I knew I’d eventually have to fly with him. He flies all the time, but it took me almost five years to build up enough courage to go up in the air with him. When I finally made the decision to go, I took my camera. It wasn’t a conscious decision to overcome the fear, it was just a way to distract myself. Once I was up there, I saw so many gorgeous things going on in the landscape. I was captivated. I tuned into it immediately. It all happened by accident.”

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela


“Although my fear is ever present, once we’re in the air and I see the landscape below, the voices in my head quiet down. The landscape below captures my attention and I’m compelled to get down to work with my camera,” Jan said.

Her latest body of work is derived from fear, love and passion, all of which are enduring emotions in her life: fear of flying, love for her husband and passion for making art.

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Tidal Salt Marsh No.2 by Jan Clayton

“At first, the idea of coalescing my passion with my fear seemed like an odd mix, but coming to the canvas from a new angle, literally a bird’s eye view, has magnified the breadth of the work,” Jan said. She’s inspired by artists who have passion along with commitment and perseverance.

One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks this passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. Robert Rauschenberg

“It’s a strange conundrum to be aloft and detached, suspended in the air for an hour or so, then back on the ground with the surface of the earth underfoot. Seeing the earth from a different vantage point is so fascinating. The bird’s-eye-view gives me unique information about the subject. In this case, it’s the landscape. There’s so much to take in. Because we’re moving and the light is changing, I never know when or from where the next opportunity for a great photograph will appear,” Jan said.

There’s a constant state of movement you experience when flying in a small aircraft, not only because the airplane is moving, but also the surrounding natural world is changing.

“My preference is to be in the air very early dawn or late afternoon to dusk. From an artist’s perspective, the light at this time is the most beauful. The sunlight rakes across the landscape horizontally and defines the shapes of the trees, grasses, and other objects with long shadows. The colors aren’t bleached out by the sun’s harsh rays, but instead are almost glowing. The view from above is breathtaking. The waterways meander their way down to the ocean. The reflecting light on the surface of the water is in stark contrast to the land and saltmarsh. The tides are moving, waves are pounding, clouds are building, the earth is rotating and the light is fleeting.”

“The first time I flew over Tybee Island, I realized just how small the island really is and just how vulnerable it is to the whim of the ocean, the weather and the inhabitants. When viewed from above, all the problems that people have with each other, all our differences seem so small and insignificant. Sometimes we forget that we are nothing but small invisible parts of a bigger picture.”

“This bird’s-eye-view vantage point is enlightening on so many levels. Perhaps my work will inspire others to become more interested in the history or ecology of the area. It inspired me. I have a deeper appreciation of the importance of keeping our environment healthy. Georgia has a stunning coastline filled with wetlands and barrier islands. There is beauty and diversity. It’s wonderful to be able to share the scenery from above and through this perhaps a few more folks will gain an interest in the Georgia estuarine marshlands and its importance to the health of our planet,” Jan said.

“Change is constant and focusing on what divides us is futile while focusing on what unites us is beneficial. It’s worthwhile to preserve healthy relationships with others and our natural surroundings,” Jan said.

Being an artist is celebrating life. Henry Moore

If it weren’t for her husband’s passion for flying, she never would have experienced these new landscapes. Her current work is a combined effort of her finding a new way to apply her passion from a new perspective–up in the air.

Jan Clayton Periklis Pagratis fear flying artist

Jan and Periklis

She’s not really over the fear, but it changes her focus when she’s up in the air. She gets excited about what the landscape offers on that day. Despite her fear, now she wants to fly because each photograph adds to the overall body of work.

Currently, this collection contains photos of the area just below Tybee. She wants to go back up so she can shoot Tybee, St. Simons and Hilton Head. And she has her sights on other locations as well.

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St. Catherine’s Sound No.1 by Jan Clayton

Jan constantly draws inspiration from her daily interactions with the people in her life, her natural surroundings and the media. To her, art is about life. It’s about processing experiences and interconnectedness with others and the environment. It is an endlessly fascinating and continually developing process of discovery, intuition, improvisation, and finally reconciliation.

Jan Clayton’s works are featured at Kobo Gallery, located in the heart of the historic district in Savannah, Georgia. You can also see more of her collection on her website at at JanClayton.com.

fear is not real ACIM Jan Clayton Pagratis

Dreaming of ways to minimize your allergy symptoms?

By | health, housecleaning, Sleep | No Comments

If you have sleep issues caused by allergies, it’s a good idea to look for solutions before your minor symptoms snowball into bigger health issues. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways you can strengthen your immune system and combat allergies symptoms such as: sneezing, coughing,  snoring, dry mouth, itchy eyes, runny nose or difficulty breathing.

Sleepy Woman

After having a bad “allergic” reaction to Tempur-Pedic memory foam mattress topper, I decided to consult with an expert on ideas for how to make our bedroom a better place to sleep. In case you or someone you care about is sleeping on a Tempur-Pedic product, be sure to check out this post:

WAKE UP and read the label on your mattress

After I got rid of the memory foam mattress topper, I called Kirsten Flynn of Sustainable Home to ask her to do a checkup on the rest of our bedroom. Before she came to our home she sent me some terrific advice about mattresses. Check out her answer to the following question:

I’m shopping for a new mattress, preferably natural/organic if it’s affordable. Any advice?

Although we had already gotten rid of the Tempur-Pedic about a month or two earlier and our symptoms had drastically improved, I had a gut-feeling that our Gateway Mattress and box springs may need to go as well. It was simply based on some of the symptoms my husband and I experienced since the time we got the bed.

So when Kirsten sent some information about organic mattresses (ones that have not been sprayed with flame retardants), I immediately started searching for a new bed and we even purchased one from The Futon Shop before she came to do the consultation on the rest of the bedroom.

When Kirsten got to our home, she asked a number of questions to understand our lifestyle and what might work best for us. After doing a walk-through, she concluded that the main thing we needed to do was to minimize the accumulation of dust in our bedroom.

We live in a city and we like to keep good air flow through the apartment. She mentioned that this allows a lot of the outdoor air to enter our sleeping space. Although I didn’t think of it as an issue previously, as soon as she mentioned it, I suddenly saw dust everywhere.

Not only is there a lot of dust from the road outside, it’s exponentially worse on the days when the landscapers come through and use their blowers to clear away leaves and other debris. Kirsten mentioned that they cause even more pollution when they use gas-powered blowers rather than electric. The gas powered blowers put out exhaust causing even more harm to the environment, and especially to the operators.

Here are a few tips that Kirsten suggested to help reduce the dust in our bedroom and to minimize some of the allergic reactions my husband and I were experiencing:

Wash bed linens and other textiles regularly

You’re probably already familiar with the benefits of washing your bed sheets regularly. It helps to minimize the risk of bed bugs as well as any allergic reaction you may have to the dust and particles that accumulate on your pillow and sheets.

Keep your window treatments simple, and easy to wash. If you prefer to sleep in a dark environment, buy washable room darkening curtains or blinds that are easy to clean.

Minimize the number of soft surfaces where dust can settle

CD1631CCommon soft surfaces in the bedroom include: clothing, curtains, bed linens, stuffed animals, cushions on chairs or benches.

One of the biggest issues Kirsten found in our bedroom was the fact that my “closet” was out in the open. She suggested that I find ways to cover the clothing. Although we have a small walk-in closet, it’s not big enough for both my husband and me to store all our clothing, luggage, shoes and so on.

InterMETRO natural cotton canvas cover

One thing I love about this sort of open rack storage system is that it makes it easy to see all my clothes at once. The shelves are easy to adjust, unlike closet shelves which are usually screwed into the wall. We’ve had this wire shelving garment rack system for years. These sturdy racks break down into flat parts making them very easy to move. But the biggest issue is that they’re completely open.

She suggested that I cover the open clothing racks since each individual clothing item becomes a place where dust can settle. There are many places for dust to enter the room and settle in between the open shelves of the clothes. She suggested that I find a way to cover the clothes better to help keep the dust from accumulating in the clothes.

With a little searching, I found this InterMETRO natural cotton canvas cover. It was just what I needed. I also incorporated Sterlite stacking drawers to keep dust off my folded clothes.

Minimize the main source(s) of dust

Some of the common things that increase dust in your bedroom include: pets, children, clothing, shoes, open windows or doors, and possibly even food. You can curtail most of these sources from the inside of your home, but you also need to consider what’s going on just outside your bedroom doors and windows.

off-the-leash-1-dogs in bed

If you’re like me and you like to open your windows, you’ll have extra dust in your home. If you have pets, you’ll have extra dust in your home. If you wear shoes indoors, you’ll have extra dust in your home.

We all have personal preferences. You may want to keep your windows open, sleep with your cat or wear shoes in your home, but consider making slow changes toward a cleaner sleeping environment.

All my clothes were open to collecting dust and I had a lot of shoe boxes and shoes stacked on top of boxes. Not only do the shoes and their boxes collect dust, but shoes can bring other toxins and bacteria from outside into your home.

Why your home should be a shoe-free zone

Can you begin by making your bedroom a shoe-free zone, for example?

Clean the floor

Kirsten recommends vacuuming frequently using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. If you have hard surface flooring, you can vacuum up the dust and then wet-clean the floor. Wet-cleaning is the best way to remove all the dust.

Vacuuming also helps to pull dust out of carpeting. Keep in mind, however, that no matter how much you vacuum, you’ll never be able to get all the dust out of the carpeting. It settles deep into the carpet and padding, and just keeps getting dirtier over the years.

housecleaning cartoon

If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, it’s best to replace it with hard surface flooring. But if you’re renting or don’t have the budget to switch out the flooring, the best solution is to vacuum frequently.

Dust regularly

Dust tends to accumulate on nightstands, headboards, and on less accessible areas such as the tops of armoires, mirrors and door frames.

You have to decide what “regularly” means to you. If you take steps to reduce the sources of dust in your bedroom, then “regularly” can be less often. If you want to spend less time dusting, try to simplify your bedroom as much as possible. Less stuff means less dusting.

When you’re dusting, be sure to use a nontoxic spray. Check EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning for ratings on common household cleaners.

Use an air filter

Kirsten suggested that we purchase an Austin Bedroom Machine air filter so that we could keep the air as clean as possible. According to Austin, clean air offers a number of benefits:

  • sounder sleep
  • reduced snoring
  • stop sneezing
  • reduce nighttime allergies and asthma attacks
  • strengthen your immune system
  • reduced coughing and wheezing
  • eliminate dry mouth and runny nose

Buying a quality HEPA air filter might seem a bit extreme at first, but think about it for a minute. Smokers and people who live in highly polluted areas increase their risk of health issues. The cleaner the air, the better. If you have allergies and you’re extra sensitive to air borne pollutants, clean air may be the one thing you need most to help get a good night’s sleep.

I’m a big believer in drinking pure water to flush the inside of my body:

Drink distilled water daily to detox and defend your body

The same logic applies to flushing out your lungs. If you sleep in a clean environment for about a third of the day, it gives your lungs and body a chance to rejuvenate every night.

But what about the cost? A good air filter is a small investment in comparison to the cost of poor health, not only as it relates to your daily productivity, but also to the cost of long term illnesses that occurs because your body doesn’t have the chance to regenerate each night.

Looking for other ways to minimize your allergy symptoms and improve your indoor air quality throughout your home? Check out more suggestions from Kirsten at:

5 Ways to Improve your Air for a More Sustainable Home

Even Rodney Dangerfield believes that everyone deserves a good night’s sleep. “I asked my wife, ‘last night, were you faking it?’ She said, ‘No, I was really sleeping.'” Just-One-Liners

 

AAFA logo - Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Ted’s Aquaponics Pods Could Feed Thousands

By | gardening | One Comment

Not long ago, Ted Zimmerman learned that human waste, or treated “sludge,” was being used as fertilizer on crops near his home in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. WFMZIf this is what we have to do to grow food now, he thought, there must be too many people. Sludge can be treated to varying degrees of ‘safety,’ but even biosolids that are considered Class A have associated odors and potential risks.

Ted was already paying about $4 per head of organic lettuce delivered to his door by a local enterprise specializing in local and organic produce.

“Even when stores label their stuff as organic, you really don’t know where it’s coming from or how many people have handled it,” he said. He started looking for ways to grow his own food in a small area and came across the concept of aquaponics. He determined he could grow his own lettuce for less than $4 per head and know where it was coming from.

Ted did some research, learning a lot from Sylvia Bernstein, the author of Aquaponic Gardening and owner of The Aquaponics Source, a supply store.

And then he built his own pod system. The outdoor-only expanded clay media-based system came first, followed by the indoor system which allows him to grow year-round. The indoor “winter pod system” is an 8x8x8 cube that uses vertical growing structures from ZipGrow and a standard piece of 4″ pipe. Inside he can grow anything green and leafy, but not things like tomatoes (which require many more grow lights).

Outside he grows summertime produce such as tomatoes and zucchini in direct sunlight in the larger media-based pods.

The roots of the plants are constantly in water, but the plants don’t drown because there’s so much oxygen available in the water. He uses every opportunity to spray, tumble or split the water. Surprisingly, in the daytime plants take in carbon dioxide and in the evening they give off oxygen.

Ted designed his growing pods into two main parts: the bottom contains fish and the top contains plants. This humid pod supports about 15 tilapia and 9 koi in a 175 gallon tank made from repurposed Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs).

IBC containers in truck

IBCs are stackable containers mounted into a pallet that can be moved using a forklift. Ted purchased some used IBCs and cut them in a 75/25 split. He uses the bottom (larger) parts as fish tanks, and the tops as plant containers. He purchased 275 & 325 gallon food grade Coca Cola containers for about $100 per container.

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As Ted was experimenting with his first pod, his biggest learning curve was the fish. He didn’t know much about them. The koi cost about $4.75 each and within the first few months he lost about four of them. Although he learned that the colorful ones are stronger than ones with less color, he decided not to use koi again since they’re too sensitive to changes in water temperature, quality and PH. “And you can’t eat them,” he said.

“You can grow more plants, but you need more fish. Tilapia work best because they and grow and mature quickly and you can pack them in at about one fish for every three gallons of water and then harvest them as they grow. Where I live in Pennsylvania, it’s a little cold for tilapia for quite a few months of the year, but I keep them heated to about 68° F in the winter and they survive.” He purchased a STC-1000 digital thermostat and created a thermostatic pump controller to help control the water temperature. It turns the water pump on and off as needed to protect the fish.

aquaponic cycleWhat Ted struggled with initially was trying to keep the temperature consistent in the environment. A 20 degree temperature change is too much for koi to take. If your koi ponds are underground, the ground helps to stabilize the temperature.

“You have to keep them warm enough. They won’t eat or spawn if they’re too cold, and they don’t like it when the water level goes up and down a lot. Heating the water is easy, but cooling it is harder. If you use catfish or bass you can grow more cold-weather plants like kale. They tend to like colder temperatures.” The next stage of Ted’s system may very well be an earth-sheltered greenhouse at 56° F, which is ideal for trout and bass. It would also be much less expensive to operate since the earth provides both heating and cooling.

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“We named all the fish,” Ted’s daughter, Kyra, chimed in. “I like ‘Cash’ and my sister likes ‘Poker.’ We named one ‘Pizza,’ because it looked like a pizza with black olives on it. We named another one ‘Noki.'” The girls went on to talk about Speckles, Pebbles and a few others that died during the learning process, to everyone’s horror.

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Ted buys seeds from SeedsNow.com which sells all organic, legacy heirloom seeds. His family of four enjoys butter crunch and salad bowl lettuce, for example. He changes the crop seasonally, growing things like tomatoes, basil, zucchini, summer squash and oregano. Heavier and quick-growing plants such as squash and pumpkins work better outside in the ground, Ted learned.

Gardeners learn a lot by trowel and error! Garden Digest

2013 10 03 aquaponics first year end

In the summer he doesn’t use the vertical indoors system. Instead, he uses a horizontal flat bed. Tomatoes have to be trellised because the growing media is very light and won’t hold the plants upright. If you aren’t already a gardener, you can begin by learning some basic gardening skills. Some plants sprout either male or female flowers, for example, and they won’t produce unless you have both.

How well is your garden growing? Only thyme will tell. GardenDigest

Kyra likes that she can have fresh lettuce all the time. She also likes having pet fish. “A spider got in in the summer pod and made a big web. He eats all the flies. We named him Noah,” she said.

Noah, the spider.

Noah, the spider.

The indoor plants require some fertilizer such as iron and carbon. The lettuce grows really well. Ted can grow a head of lettuce in about 22 days. “It can grow as fast as it wants to. When you grow in a pod, you don’t need to spread plants out as far. There’s enough nutrients for the plants,” he says. In just a few months, Ted was already growing more greens than his family could eat.

Ted Zimmerman's Aquaponics Grow Pod equipment

The units are even more cost effective in a city or restaurant district. When a lot of food is grown in a concentrated area, it’s very cost efficient. “They’d have to be in rows. I’d use all horizontal beds. The ideal width is about three foot rows with fish tanks at either end,” Ted says.

His great dragonfly hatch happened late last year. The first dragonfly, ‘Henry,’ was soon renamed ‘Henrietta’ when they discovered dragonfly larva within one of the outdoor tanks. Since there are no pesticides or other contaminants, both good and bad insects are in abundance and must be controlled or balanced to a degree. Dragonflies are good guys. They eat mosquitoes and many other insects.

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“If I can do this on a small scale, I can do it on a larger scale. Once it’s plumbed and up and running, it only takes about a half hour of interaction a day to run which is less than it takes to care for an outdoor garden.” Ted says. “Aquaponics is easy on the environment. You can do it with natural or unnatural light. Mirrors help to bounce the sunlight.”

Kyra likes the worms and ladybugs in the outdoor gardens. The girls help put worms in the dirt which helps to aerate the ground.

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Ted invested about $2,800 to build his first system. He has his own workshop with saws and other basic tools. He admits to being a handyman. He built everything from scratch, so if you don’t already have the equipment, it could cost more.

Ted lives on about 1/4 acre. He hasn’t had any resistance from neighbors regarding his growing pod or solar-electric power (essential to offset the electricity for pumps and lights). His neighbors can see the pods but they’ve never said anything.

If you’re familiar with the Biosphere project, you know it’s difficult to create a fully closed-loop system, even with large scale biodiversity. But SkyyGreens has figured it out.

SkyyGreens Aquaponics, a skyscraper farm in Chicago, is producing sustainable organic foods in the center of the city. It’s a closed-loop system that uses 90% less water than typical farms and cuts out the majority of the cost of transporting goods from farm to table. “This is the sort of thing that every city needs,” Ted says. “Grow food within the same building that it’s being consumed.”

Scientists at the Epcot Science Project at Disney World in Florida are engineering super tomato plants. They won a Guinness World Record for the most tomatoes harvested from one plant in a year. Their sixteen-month old tomato plant produced 32,000 tomatoes within a year! PhotoGardenBee

Why did the gardener quit? Because his celery wasn’t high enough. GardenDigest.

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If you grow vertically, you can grow more on less land. Ted is already experimenting with this aspect using ZipGrow towers. If it’s scalable relative to the building size, you can decrease your cost. When you’re selling more, you scale up. When you’re selling less, you can scale down.

Ted would like to commercialize his pods into a farmers (pod) market where people could come to buy not only fresh, but “still-alive” produce and fish. He’d also like to help restaurants design their own greenhouse pods. In restaurant pods, chefs or customers could select fish or produce prepared and eaten on the spot. Ted’s homemade pod design may eventually feed thousands.

If you’d like Ted to help with your aquaponics project, you can reach him at bigfeats@rcn.com.

 

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