Love your neighborhoods’ mature, tree-lined street? Want to keep them beautiful? Read on…

In the Los Angeles neighborhood where we live, beautiful 40-foot-plus Liquid Ambers line the streets and turn beautiful shades of gold and red in the fall/winter. Now I have no idea exactly how old these trees are, but I’m guessing they are in the 40-50 year-old range. Liquid Ambers have a lifespan of about 60 years (in an urban environment.) This means that in another 10-20 years we won’t have that beautiful fall foliage unless we do something now. Of course, mature trees are not only beautiful to look at, and therefore increase the value of a property, but they serve many other purposes including keeping our streets cooler, cleaning the air, blocking wind and/or rain, providing homes for squirrels and birds, etc.

What can we do? Plant more trees of course…but the trick is it can’t be done all at once. In order to ensure a beautiful tree canopy trees need to be planted at regular intervals so that there are always young, mature and old trees around so that as the old ones die they are replaced, etc. Fortunately for those of us that live in Los Angeles, there is a free service called “Street Trees” (and they even offer Liquid Ambers). It’s super easy to do and it took us less than 3-weeks to receive our tree. By the way, the service I am talking about is different then the free service offered by DWP. Street Trees plants trees on curb medians, DWP gives you trees to plant on your property (residential or commercial.)

How to get a free Street Tree:
1: Call 800.996.CITY and tell them what tree you want based on their available trees
2: They come out and mark on your curb where they will plant the tree (there are strict rules about where they will plant the tree – must be 5-feet from driveway, 10-feet from property line) so if you live on a traditional size city lot, there is probably only one or two places they’ll plant a tree
3: They’ll plant the tree shortly thereafter

If you decide to plant a tree yourself, make sure it is at least a 15-gallon tree because trees smaller than that have a hard time surviving on the curbs. And remember, that if you are planting trees on or around your property, try to vary their maturity (I say maturity and not age because trees have different life-spans, so a young Oak can be the same age as an old Liquid Amber) or if you are planting a grove of the same type of trees vary their ages or plant young trees over many years. This will ensure that you will always have a beautiful mature tree to look at.

Maintaining an urban forest takes work. This issue of too many mature trees that are all the same agein urban forests is a big one. There have been many articles about how Los Angeles’ skyline will be changing in the next 15-20 years as many palm trees come to the end of their natural lives. However, Los Angeles and our neighborhood are not the only victims fo this problem. So, do your part to keep your cities’ urban forest intact. Thanks!

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Why buying vintage clothing rocks.

Ordinarily the statement above would be worded more like “vintage clothing rocks.” PUNTO, PERIOD, FINAL STOP, NO NEED FOR FURTHER EXPLANATION.

However, today this statement does require an explanation and here’s why. I went shopping this weekend and bought a couple of new blouses, and when I pulled out my wallet to pay I thought “this feels weird.” It wasn’t until today that I realized why. “Why?” you ask? Well, I’ll tell you why. I just realized today that I bought practically no new clothing in 2006. Now before you say anything, let me explain. I did buy some new stuff…when I took up running last year I bought running shoes, a pair of super-wicking running pants and socks, I also bought a couple pairs of flats for work and I bought a hat. But other than those items, I didn’t buy any other clothing/clothing accessories new.

However, I DID buy clothing but everything I bought was “previously-loved” via purchases at various thrift/vintage/resale stores. The really cool thing was that I didn’t feel denied at all, and let me tell you, back in the day I used to be quite the clothing shopper.

I think the reason I didn’t feel denied at all is because, to go back to my headline, VINTAGE CLOTHING ROCKS. I think that what’s really fun about shopping used clothing stores is that it gives you the opportunity to find pieces that (probably) no one else will be wearing. Also, if you use clothing as a way to express yourself, you can always find super interesting pieces at thrift stores. Like the knee-length sleeveless wool dress encrusted with crystals in a spider-web pattern (wore that one to a masquerade party) or the floor-length quilted cranberry-colored velvet coat with iridescent silk-lining (have worn that one everywhere from the Kaiser Ball in Vienna to a house party in West Hollywood)…the list goes on and on.

Also, the quality of vintage clothing is amazing and affordable. I have a bespoke wool hair walker coat from a high-end department store that (fortunately) fit me and is incredibly beautiful and cost only $15 but looks like it cost $1500. Sometimes you can’t even get the quality you can get in vintage stores anymore no matter what you pay. The quality of many textiles has been severely degraded by the use of pesticides and fertilizers and fibers like commercially grown cotton are just no where near the qulity of older cotton or organically grown cotton garments.

So go shopping, but before you hit the usual stores, maybe stop by your local thrift store and see if you can’t unearth any treasures! Maybe you’ll find that you don’t miss shopping the usual places anymore…I know I did!

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Getting over the wardrobe blahs

I use to be a “I have nothing to wear” shopper (even though all of my closets would be overflowing with clothing…both new and second-hand) and I realized that a lot of my shopping was due to wardrobe boredom. In order to curb my shopping habit so that I could save more money (good for me) and consume less (good for the environment), I implemented the three strategies below. Also, if I ever do get the itch to go shopping I ALWAYS make a trip to one of my local second-hand stores before I ever go to a regular store. The vast majority of the stuff my husband and I buy is second-hand. Click here to read my post on Why Vintage Clothing Rocks.

The strategies:

1) Try falling in love with your clothing all over again. All of the clothing experts say “throw out anything you haven’t worn for 6-months” but then what do you do then? Then you have to go shopping (whether new or previosly-loved), however, my strategy employs one step before purging “unwanted items.” When I look at an item I haven’t worn in some months I take it out, visualize how much I loved it when I first got it, reappreciate its good qualities and then I FORCE myself to wear it. If I still don’t like it after that day I do one of two things: 1) if the reason I don’t like it is because the styling is out of date, but the quality of the garment is good, then I store it and reevaluate it next year or 2) if I know I’ll never wear the item again, usually because my style has changed or the item no longer fits me well, then I donate it.

2) No more neutrals: Now that I have all the “staples” (pants, jackets, blouses that fit me well in the black, brown and neutral color-ways) I ONLY buy colorful things that I LOVE. Limiting myself to color and to items that I not only like but LOVE is a good way to limit myself.

3) Keep new items back-burnered for a week: When I was younger, whenever I would buy somethig new I would immediately wear it the next day. Now I hang my new item in the closet and when I get dressed I look at the item and imagine what I’d wear it with and get dressed with that in mind. If I find from this excercise that I have similar items already, I’ll return the new item.

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