6/29/2011
Salt glaze pottery, primitive colonial furnishings and pewter bring wabi-sabi into your home--while honoring our American traditions.
6/29/2011
Wabi-sabi has infused Western design for centuries—though its advocates rarely knew it. It’s in the plain, efficient homes built by the Shakers, the unsentimental Arts and Crafts style, Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie houses and midcentury furniture.
6/28/2011
Sayra and Dominic live with their 5-year-old daughter in a charming 550-square-foot home in rural Idaho. There are challenges, but they've found that less really is more. "It's like living in a fun clubhouse," Sayra says.
6/27/2011
Follow these simple guidelines to make the most of your small space: contain clutter, find furnishings do double-duty, and make maximum use of color and light.
6/27/2011
This Meatless Monday, whip up a batch of Julia Butterfly Hill's Top Anything Sauce, made with peanut or almond butter, and make a meal out of fresh veggies and quinoa.
6/24/2011
This home in the Florida Keys captures prevailing breezes and takes advantage of passive cooling techniques such as open walls and a reflective roof to keep its occupants cool and comfortable without air conditioning.
6/24/2011
Pick some pretty leaves, paint them and press their likenesses onto an inexpensive shower curtain liner to make a shower curtain much prettier than anything found in stores.
6/23/2011
“Do you sometimes feel like your life is a microfield for everything that’s going on today?” scholar, philosopher and researcher Dr. Jean Houston, one of the foremost visionary thinkers and doers of our time and a founder of the Human Potential Movement, asked the crowd gathered this morning for the LOHAS Forum in Boulder, Colorado. That got my attention, especially when she went on to say that humans now face “the most profound task in human history—choosing whether we grow or whether we die.” At this moment, Houston says, many of us are “encapsulated bags of skin carrying around dreary little egos,” caught up in “lives of serial monotony.” Still, she has hope. Humans, she said, have an opportunity to play a role in “the greatest transition the world has ever seen, the most far-reaching and rapid change in our history.” “We are coded with potentials, few of which we ever learn to use,” Houston said. “We can no longer be half-life versions of ourselves, and something huge is beginning to happen as the world’s mind is discovering itself.”  
6/23/2011
Foodborne pathogens such as E. coli can be spread by uncomposted manure from grain-fed cattle on high-concentraton factory farms. The E. coli outbreak in northern Germany reminds us to look twice at the quality of our manure.
6/22/2011
Chris Kilham—founder of Medicine Hunter, TV personality and author of 14 books on natural health and plant-based medicines—speaks about three plants he's disovered that could make a profound difference in our health -- naturally.
6/22/2011
Take a look at these mouth-watering berries perfect for summer picking.
6/22/2011
  On Wabi-Sabi Wednesdays, I feature excerpts from my book, Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House, which was released last month.  Wabi-sabi’s roots lie in Zen Buddhism, brought from China to Japan by 12th-century traveling monk Esai, who also picked up a few tea seeds while he was there. Zen, with its principles of “vast emptiness and nothing holy,” stresses austerity, communion with nature, and reverence for everyday life and everyday mind as the path to enlightenment. Zen monks lived ascetic, often isolated, lives and sat for long periods of concentrated meditation. To help his fellow monks stay awake during these sessions, Eisai taught them how to process tea leaves into a hot drink. Tea had arrived in Japan. Once it left the monk's hands, tea took on a life of its own. Around the 14th century, the ruling classes developed elaborate rituals that took place in large tea rooms built in a gaudy style known as shoin, with imported hanging scrolls and formally arranged tables for vases and incense burners. Tea practitioners proved their wealth and status through their collections of elegant tea utensils and lacquered serving ware during three-day weekends where up to 100 cups of tea--as well as food and sake--were served. All of the day's revered Tea masters pushed the opulent style, to the delight of Chinese merchants and importers.  
6/21/2011
  At the Healthy Homes Conference in Denver today, I heard Home Depot Foundation CEO Fred Wacker say that the nonprofit sector is so far ahead of the profit sector in addressing healthy homes that it’s embarrassing for the profit sector. I heard Ellen Tohn of Tohn Environmental Strategies say that the government will fund energy-efficiency updates in 1 million homes in the next year, making it paramount that energy workers understand healthy home principles. Poorly done house tightening could trap residents inside with contaminants and create hazards. And I was pleased to hear health care pioneer Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, put quality housing in the same arena as diet, exercise and public policy as a key to achieving individual health. “If you don’t have healthy housing, I don’t care how many times you push away from the table or how far you walk, you’re not going to be healthy,” he said.  
6/21/2011
Summer's here, but the solar panels that President Obama promised to install on the White House this spring aren't. Today the administration announced that it's still working out the details. We'll just have to wait.
6/20/2011
Matt and Kelly Grocoff keep cool in Michigan by taking advantage of their 110-year-old home's natural ventilation strategies. It's as easy as opening a couple of strategically placed windows.
6/20/2011
There’s plenty you can do to protect yourself—inside your home and out—from the potential risks of electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation.
6/20/2011
The Monterey Bay Aquarium updates The Super Green List, a guide to helping you choose healthy and safe seafood from more sustainable waters.
6/20/2011
James E. Churchill’s advice for finding and preparing chicory, mint, catnip and blackberries, found in a 1970 issue of Mother Earth News, is timeless—and very timely right now.
6/20/2011
Ann Harvey Yonkers, founder of Washington, D.C.'s FreshFarm Markets co-op, nests eggs in a bed of wilted fresh greens for a delicious meatless summertime brunch or dinner.
6/17/2011
Geothermal heating and cooling systems rely on the earth’s constant underground temperature of 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit to provide comfortable indoor climates. The technology works in any size or style home, in nearly any setting on earth.
6/17/2011
Last October, President Obama filled us all with hope when he announced he would install solar panels on the White House by this spring. The panels haven't materialized, and the White House isn't talking. Call Obama and find out what's up.
6/17/2011
Mother has always known best, and these tips for reusing what would otherwise be garbage are as relevant today as they were in 1970.
6/17/2011
This small project could gain you big time savings. Simply screw a few hooks inside a pretty cigar box, give it a knob and hang it near the door. Never search for lost keys again!
6/16/2011
Americans are being asked to turn up the thermostat 3 degrees on June 21. If you find you don't notice the difference, why not keep it up? You will notice the difference in your electric bill.
6/16/2011
Housekeeping tips mined from the second issue of Mother Earth News--published in 1970--are surprisingly relevant today. Use these to make this task--which we all have to do sooner or later--more efficient and enjoyable.
6/16/2011
Blume Distillation debuts appropriate-scale biofuel distillation equipment that will allow farmers, entrepreneurs, municipalities and communities to produce their own alcohol fuel from a variety of readily available fuel stock sources.
6/16/2011
Cable set-top boxes in the United States consume 27 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity—equivalent to the annual output of nine coal-fired power plants. Cable providers have a lot of energy-efficient improvements to make.
6/15/2011
The nation's largest community-owned solar array in Rifle, Colorado, will provide clean energy for up to 350 residents, who don't even need a roof to enjoy the benefits of renewable energy.
6/15/2011
Outdoor kitchens, dining areas and living rooms are a great way to expand your home's living space. Designers offer advice on how to make the most of the great outdoors--in your own backyard.
6/15/2011
In a wabi-sabi garden, plants are chosen because they belong in that garden and in that climate, and they’re allowed to strut their stuff if they’re considerate of the plants around them. Both plants and guests are encouraged to meander and explore.
6/15/2011
Wabi-sabi is underplayed and understated, a quiet, undeclared beauty that waits patiently to be discovered. It’s a fragmentary glimpse: the branch representing the tree, shoji screens filtering the sun, the moon obscured behind a ribbon of cloud.
6/14/2011
Barter markets--great big swap meets where you can trade what you don't want for things that you do--have become commonplace in Spain and are spreading throughout Europe. This video shows why we may want to start those over here.
6/14/2011
Despite their widespread use, nanoparticles are not well classified, regulated or even understood. Fortunately, the FDA is signaling a turn toward more accurate classification and rules for their use.
6/14/2011
After a wildfire destroyed their off-the-grid compound in Colorado, Betty and Rolland rebuilt—better than before—following Rolland’s creed: no plywood, no plastic and nothing that smells bad when it burns. The wildlife around their home approve.
6/14/2011
When the dining table is laden down with mail, laptops and other clutter, the entire house feels messy. Follow these seven steps to keep your dining table free of detritus. (Set it for dinner right after breakfast, if you have to.)
6/13/2011
Save money and keep harsh chemicals out of your kitchen by making your own dishwasher detergent. It takes just seconds to make a powdered or liquid version.
6/13/2011
Kansas City's 18Broadway project is a superb example of how to capture and store rainwater to grow food in the heart of downtown.
6/13/2011
After years of caving to the chemical industry, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has delcared formaldehyde—common in particleboard, plastics and textiles—a known human carcinogen.
6/13/2011
  Julia Butterfly Hill understands the need for extreme measures when it comes to environmental activism. In the late 1990s, she spent 738 days living in a redwood tree named Luna, to bring attention to the plight of the world’s ancient forests. Through her vigil, she  negotiated to permanently protect the 1,000 year-old tree and a nearly three- acre buffer zone. She says that our forks are also powerful change agents. “I love food!” Hill told Natural Home & Garden. “I love preparing meals that are both decadently delicious and happily healthy. I’m a joyous vegan, and I celebrate how fabulous this lifestyle is for my body, my world, my planet, and for the animals as well.” Hill eats animal-free food that’s organic, local, in season, and free of added junk—food that she calls “a celebration of life.” Her recipe for delicious vegan lasagna takes about a half hour to prepare and provides plenty of opportunity for interpretation. If you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, substitute 1 teaspoon each of the dried herbs or 2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning.
6/10/2011
  I had such a great time talking with attendees at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington, this past weekend about how to make green cleaners. As always, I learned a new trick or two, and I promised everyone I’d recap our conversation here for easy access. Today let’s talk about some of the unexpected food items—most of which you already have in your kitchen cupboards—that can be used to clean your home. Use tea to remove old furniture polish and prepare wooden furniture for polishing. Simply soak a rag in room-temperature tea, then run it over the wood. The tea’s tannic acid makes your wood shine while removing all the dirt. Once that’s done, you can use mayonnaise to make the piece shine. Just rub the mayo into the wood, then follow with a damp rag and a few drops of vinegar to remove any residue. Olive oil is also a great natural furniture    
6/10/2011
  Existing homes that are certified as “green” sold for 30 percent more than homes without such a designation, according to an analysis of the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan region released today by Earth Advantage Institute, a nonprofit green building resource. Newly constructed homes with a sustainability certification sold for 8 percent more than non-certified homes. This result continues a four-year trend in which new homes with third-party certification for sustainable construction and energy performance have consistently sold for more than newly constructed homes that had not been certified. The term "certified home" includes homes that received an Earth Advantage New Homes, ENERGY STAR, or a LEED for Homes designation, or a combined Earth Advantage/ENERGY STAR certification.  
6/10/2011
After working four jobs to make payments on their larger home, Debra and Gary downsized--to 320 square feet. The family lacks for nothing, and guests are always welcome. "I've got everything I need," Debra says. And their $20K house is paid off.
6/10/2011
  I envision this chandelier—made entirely of items recovered from the recycling bin—hanging over a dining table on the patio. Making it is a pretty big project, though, and I would have to call in a friend with a jigsaw to help. (I don’t have the tools—or skills—that former Natural Home & Garden art director Susan Wasinger, who dreamed up this project, does.) Aside from the saw, the materials for this one are simple: used baby-food jars, a few yards of twisted wire, a couple repurposed barrel hoops and a length of rusty chain. And happily, I can make the “lite” version–pretty votive holders—which lets me stop before power tools are needed.  
6/9/2011
  No party is complete without cake, and this delicious Sunshine Cake has been the crowning glory of every Summer Solstice party I’ve ever thrown. Sharon Kebschull Barrett, one of my favorite herbal chefs, developed this recipe for her 1999 book Desserts from an Herb Garden (one of my bibles). Lemony, with a surprising hint of rosemary, this cake just tastes like summer—and the bright yellow color celebrates the sun.
6/9/2011
Sweet Iced Tea is a delicious Southern tradition, but store-bought concoctions are often full of high fructose corn syrup and other nasties. This recipe incorporates fresh herbs, which add natural sweetness and help knock down the sugar content.
6/9/2011
Sangria is the perfect summertime libation for a thirsty crowd. Fresh fruits and herbs combine with wine and liqueur for a colorful, festive "punch" that packs a punch.
6/9/2011
Noxious fumes aren’t conducive to happy cleaning. Give all your homemade cleaning solutions an invigorating and healthy boost by adding a few drops of pure plant essential oils such as lavender or lemon. Heavenly!
6/8/2011
My old wabi-sabi home stood witness to celebration, sorrow, our children’s first words and fumbling first steps, dinners shared at the end of each day. It provided all that a home could and should, and now it's my lesson in non-attachment.
6/8/2011
When my former boss suggested we photograph my annual summer solstice party, I quietly panicked and then got busy. Borrow some of our ideas and gather your tribe to celebrate the longest day of the year--lavishly or lazily, traditionally or not.
6/8/2011
Let's quash, once and for all, the notion that only harmful chemicals can kill germs and bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract are natural antibacterials that keep your home clean--and safeguard your family's health.
6/8/2011
There's only one rule for wabi-style flowers: strive for a natural look, with seasonal blooms and branches arranged as they are in the field. Don't worry about perfection. Your "arrangement" is a humble admission that we can't improve on nature.
6/7/2011
Highlights from the "Make Your Own Green Cleaners--for Pennies" workshop at the Mother Earth News Fair: How to use vinegar and baking soda to clean just about everything.
6/7/2011
Swamp Hut is a complex of four 8-by-12-foot huts surrounding a deck with a fireplace. This an off-the-grid, light-on-the-land summer getaway could easily be replicated in your favorite vacation spot.
6/7/2011
A new study has found that biodegradable plastic's rapid rate of decomposition could cause the release of methane, a greenhouse gas. The study's authors suggest that petroleum-based products might be preferable. We need better alternatives than that.
6/7/2011
These money- and waste-saving alternatives to paper and plastic products eliminate the temptation to resort to disposable for your summertime outdoor dining needs.
6/1/2011
Alabama Chanin makes sumptuous fabrics from scraps, Mona Hoffman imagines the people she's crafting each lamp for as she makes it, and potter Shiho Kanzaki believes that attitude is everything. These are a few of my favorite wabi-sabi artists.
6/1/2011
Sen no Rikyu's simple, unpretentious ceremony using rustic, local tools usurped the elaborate, ostentatious Tea ceremonies that were the norm in 16th-century Japan. His "aesthetic of the people" made Tea accessible to all--and endures to this day.



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