Mema’s Tulips

Back in December my the sale on my childhood home closed. It was also my father’s childhood home and so needless to say it was quite an emotional experience for me and for him as well.

Anyone who has gone through this knows that you obviously want to keep some tangible items from the house. The thing that I most wanted was the tulip bulbs. Believe it or not, my grandmother planted them well before I was born and despite neglect and never digging them up they bloomed every year. The day that I was born (April 17th) the tulips were in full bloom and my father took a picture of it. A few days later it snowed in typical Chicago fashion. Needless to say, they hold a pretty big significance to me.

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Back in October when the house entered escrow my father dug up the bulbs and promised to send them to me and was “getting around to it” for some time. While I was on vacation this last week the box arrived and I opened it up today. My original plan was keeping them refrigerated until the fall and then plant them however, god bless my father but he did the absolute worst thing he could have possibly done… left the bulbs in a lot of soil and kept them moist in a plastic bag. They sprouted, all together in a gigantic mess. After a small fit major meltdown I called a master gardener friend and she instructed me to plant them ASAP and consider putting them in a container. A quick trip to Lowes and this is what I ended up with. I was able to separate some but a few were a lost cause since they were so intertwined. Ignore the dead dymondia in the background, that’s a whole other story completely. Fingers crossed that the tulips can be saved!

Feeling Kind of Trashy

fullsizerender-6Today’s post was spawned by this picture from my Facebook “On This Day” memories  from 2015. This is me standing on top of a giant pile of garbage. That year I participated in the City of Burbank’s Master Recycling Program. It was a neat program where you were educated and learned about different ways of recycling and waste reduction.

One Saturday we actually had a field trip to Burbank’s Landfill #3 located on Lockheed View Drive up on the hill. A little bit of background on Burbank’s waste disposal history. My house was built in 1938 and was of course one of the Lockheed bungalows like so many in Burbank. Behind my garage is a garbage incinerator which is how trash used to be taken care of. One of these days I’m going to turn it into a planter or something but I’ve been saying that for a decade. When it does happen, it will be a blog post. A short time after that, landfills #1 and #2 were built and handled the cities trash until 1970. (Source Cal Recycle) After that our current landfill, #3 was built and continues to handle our trash until this day. I was told that back in the 1980s they did a study and estimated there were about 50 years left on the landfill but that is also when Burbank started ramping up its recycling program. Now as it stands today, the estimated closure date of Landfill #3 is 2053 and that number can fluctuate depending on the use of the city. (Source Burbank Public Works)

I didn’t know what to exactly expect that day at the landfill but what I saw certainly was not it. I had visions of a big heap of trash, some old guy hoarding copper and drinking beer watching the entire thing like the local municipal dump of my childhood. For a landfill, it’s actually very clean and since this is located very close to residential homes, etc the trash is covered every day and layering with dirt happens to keep the area nice and tidy. All in all for a landfill, it’s pretty neat and unfortunately not normally open to the public.

Before the recycling program I considered myself a pretty avid recycler. I composted and recycled what I could but I still had 2-3 bags of trash a week. After the trip and viewing where my trash goes it parked something inside of me. Now anytime I throw something away I imagine it sitting in a landfill. The same goes for bulky item pickup too (I seriously have nightmares about my old beat up sofa sitting up there!) With very little effort I was able to reduce myself to one small bag a week. I wouldn’t even set out my trash bin every week if it wasn’t for the smell. (I have pets if you catch my drift!) So, with all that being said what did I do and what can people do help out Burbank’s landfill.

1. Recycle (Obviously) – Burbank is a pretty easy city to recycle in. Everything recyclable can go into one blue bin. There are three options of bins. A 32 gallon, 65 gallon and 96 gallon. The city does not charge for a bigger size so I say get the biggest one you can and set it out only when it’s full. There’s reasoning behind that but that’s another blog post all together.  The Burbank Recycling Center has a list here and a pretty nifty diagram that shows what can be recycled at the curb and at the center on Flower Street.

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Side note- the city DOES charge based on the size of your black trash container so if you have a 65 gallon one that you don’t fill up, get a smaller one and save a few bucks a month! The number to public works is 818.238.3800

2. Find ways to recycle specialty items – A lot of times items go into the trash simply because there is no way to dispose of them locally. A few items that I’ve struggled with personally are clothing in poor shape, old CDs of the printer software type variety, and styrofoam. Thankfully now we live in a world with google and where there is a will there is a way. There are ways to dispose of clothing not suitable for donation. I’ve heard that many Goodwill places will still take it but I have yet to find one. I usually end up putting it in a yellow Planet Aid Bin. I know there is some controversy with Planet Aid since they sell textiles however I personally feel that at least selling the goods to companies that repurpose them into insulation, playground paving and carpet pads just to name a few is better than it sitting in Landfill #3. CD’s can be sent to the CD Recycling Center through the mail. #6 styrofoam / peanuts is tricky… the best solution I have so far is I bring it to my friend’s house who lives in LA and her curbside recycling takes it or I save it to reship stuff. (Lame I know). The point I’m trying to drive home is there are solutions, they may not be as convenient as dropping it in your blue bin.

3. Reusing and reducing – Everyone knows the three Rs. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We also all know to donate our old stuff to charity. What we forget is we tend to focus on the last one and forget about the first two, especially reduce. This is something I’ve struggled with but little changes can make all the difference. I stopped buying milk and orange juice in cartons and buy them in recyclable plastic containers instead. Prewrapped individual packs are great, but terrible for the environment. It’s the little stuff like that can make a huge impact.

4. Food scraps and compost – Instead of throwing food scraps in the trash compost or at the very least throw fruit and veggies into your green bin. I’ve been an avid composter for about 7 years and it really does make a difference. I also found personally doing two smaller shops a week instead of a huge big shop prevents food waste because inevitably I will have a night where I’m too lazy to cook what I’ve planned and order Dino’s.

So there you have it. Typing this out I should retitle this post to “How I went from a pretty good recycler to beyond crazy about it.” Anyone else have any tips? What’s your recycling like?

 

Rainpocalypse 2017

The ongoing drama in Washington is a pretty big deal but what’s an even bigger deal? Rain in SoCal. Seriously, the top news story on our local news channel is not about politics, it’s about rain and for good reason, by California standards this is a pretty big storm, “Heavy Rain Blankets Southern California” to be exact. Being from Chicago,  I’m not any stranger to weather but I have to admit almost 14 years in Burbank leaves me with a little bit childlike wonder when it rains. It’s not so much rain hysteria, it’s more that I’m a weather geek thanks in part to growing up with Tom Skilling on WGN. I do all the normal things that people do in So-Cal: sandbag my downward slanting garage so it doesn’t flood, find my one umbrella and of course post on social media the minute it starts raining.

Like I mentioned above, I’m a weather geek and prepping for rain So-Cal style is not enough. What do I do? Well for starters I have at least half a dozen weather apps on my phone, an antique barometer and a weather radio. I’m not paranoid about the weather, I just find it fascinating. Needless to say, my trusty weather radio has been going off all day with flash flood warnings.

 

I also like so many decided to take a long weekend, hunker down with the ridgebacks and binge my favorite mini series, From The Earth To The Moon. Earlier this morning I was convinced that the storm had shifted and crazy rain was not going to happen but I stand corrected, this is some of the worst rain I’ve seen here.

Like many I’ve been on social media for the better part of the day discussing the rain. I’m amazed, so many friends in LA are without power, here in Burbank we’ve had a few flickers, some and some sketchy U-Verse service but nothing major. It really reminds me how fortunate I am and how much I really love this city.

Making New Friends Today

Last week I had a friendship blind date of sorts, I met someone that I didn’t really know for dinner. About six months ago I posted in the City of Burbank Facebook group looking for a recommendation for a fence company. One individual messaged me with a recommendation and sent me some pictures of her fence. We got to talking and we eventually friended each other on Facebook. We commented on each other’s status and met officially by chance at a Burbank Coordinating Council meeting. Since the holiday season is over and things have settled down, we decided to meet for dinner at The Hanger Grille on Magnolia Blvd (which by the way is delicious!) All in all we had a fantastic time and will hopefully get together soon.

This isn’t the first time I’ve met people this way. About ten years ago I signed up for a now defunct couponing website, “The Grocery Game” and joined their message boards. Eventually with the Facebook revolution a bunch of the “regulars” and I friended each other on Facebook and had a local meet-up. One of the people from that message board actually lives in Burbank and has become a close friend to the point where I go to her house for Thanksgiving almost every year. If it wasn’t for this message board, we probably would never have met. We don’t live in the same neighborhood or run in the same circles. She has kids and I do not and the only thing that brought us together was a love scoring deals with coupons. In October of 2011 another person I befriended happened to be traveling to Texas from New York for business and decided to meet up with a bunch of the people from the message board who live there. A few other people and I found a good deal on airfare and decided to join for a girls weekend. Four of us came from the west coast, and a couple from the East Coast and we all had a fun weekend. (This was when I had super short hair) Before that weekend I had only met one person in that picture. Now I’ve traveled with some of them a few times.

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I really do think online and through social media  is the new way that people make friends. it brings unlikely people together with a common interest that they may not find organically. Thinking back,  I think the last time I made a true friend that didn’t start out online was probably 2010ish and that was through work. Before that it was friends I made in college and in high school/grade school in Chicago. Are they good friends? Yes. Are they friends that would fly to Chicago from Atlanta to help me have an estate sale at my father’s house? Probably not but that’s really the only kind of once in a lifetime childhood friend that would do that and I don’t know if that could ever be found online. Here is my BFF from junior high and beyond Carolyn and I acting like we are teenagers in my dad’s basement making fun of a bunch of 90s flip phones and pagers we found. Why was I dressed up and she was in casual clothes? It’s seriously the nature of our friendship.

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Anyone else met friends online? How do you meet people today? Drop me a line and let me know, I’m curious.

Combating Common Little Free Library Issues

fullsizerender-4 About six months ago after seeing Little Free Libraries pop up in Burbank and all over, I decided to install one in my front yard. As I’ve said in the past my neighborhood is great, there are a lot of people who have lived there for a long time and in general look out for each other however as the “newbie” on my particular block it can be hard to break the ice with people so to speak. I felt it was a way to bring the neighborhood together since we have a ton of young kids that have moved one block down I thought it would be a nice way for people to interact. I had a friend make it and it matches my house. (Naturally there is a dog hook!) I also think (and this is more of a soapbox issue for me) that the branch of the Burbank Library closest to my house has awful hours (12-6 Monday-Friday) and is not conducive to children in school and working adults using it. We have other branches however they require a drive and so the fun of just walking to your local library on a whim is gone. Hopefully someday post recession/Burbank budget crisis this will change. Stepping off the soapbox now…

Before I installed the library I read everything I could because I really wanted to set myself and this library up for success. There’s even a group for just “stewards” (people who have a Little Free Library) on Facebook that is a wealth of information. It seems across the board there seems to be a few common problems with Little Free Libraries, some of which I have come across others which I have not. Here is my take on them and how I have solved the problems that I have encountered.

1. Issues with their municipality/zoning/building codes, etc – I thankfully do not have a problem here. I’ve read several stories of HOAs and cities citing owners and requiring their removal. I didn’t exactly apply for a permit but there are many other LFLs in Burbank and this one is on my side of the property, not the parkway. I could see if it was on the parkway it being an issue. Undoubtably if the city started giving grief to LFL owners you would see me at a city council meeting.

2. Vandalism- Again this isn’t a problem here but I see it all of the time in the Facebook group. My neighborhood is pretty quiet at night and thankfully if something weird is going on outside, my dogs tend to let me know. My library is also near an intersection that is well lit and so I don’t see this issue happening. I know others have installed lights and cameras to combat this issue. I’ve considered installing a light not so much for security but more so patrons can see at night.

3. Weather Related – Here in California we don’t have a snow problem but we’ve had a rain problem recently. Thankfully my LFL is sealed really well and has a pitched roof so it didn’t leak during the last rainstorm. I know several stewards who have issues. The best advice I can give on this is use the same rules of thumb you would use when waterproofing a house and silicone and a slight overhang are your BFFs!

4. Religious Texts / Inappropriate Books- I don’t exactly live in the Bible Belt and so I’m sure this isn’t as big of an issue here as it would be elsewhere but I’ve had a couple issues with religious pamphlets. The occasional Bible does get left in the library. Usually I leave it in for a week to see if someone takes it, if not I donate it or recycle it depending on the condition as I would with any book that isn’t “moving.” It’s not really an issue with me. Pamplets or religious books that are more advertisement for the religion I recycle ASAP. In October I was on vacation for a week and I came back to a ton of religious books and pamphlets in the library. It was like different groups were trying to one up each other. I recycled those because I felt that this was not the place for them and it was really taking away from the point of the library.

As far as “inappropriate books” I’ve never really had any. Some stewards are very picky about this stuff, I’m really not. It’s not my place to judge what people want to read. If something is outright porn with nude pictures, etc I would take it out however I haven’t had that happen yet. (Please don’t start) But as an example, I left one of the 50 Shades books in and it was gone within a day. As I said before though if a book isn’t moving I usually take it out for a while or if it’s in bad shape recycle it.

5. Book Hoarders/Resellers – This is probably my biggest problem and it really isn’t a large issue for me but is annoying. The entire concept of a Little Free Library is take a book, leave a book. I don’t hold people to this. I get sometimes that you are out and don’t have a book to give, that’s totally fine. The issue I have is with the book resellers. They come with little scanners to see how much books are worth and then take a bunch and drive away. They never contribute books, only take them. To me this really defeats the purpose of the library. It’s supposed to be a community thing, not a resale thing. I took the advice of some other stewards and started marking the inside of the books LFL or something like that. It’s harder to for people to sell them this way. This was getting slightly annoying and so I finally broke down and ordered a stamp. I hate to have to police it but people bring books for others to enjoy and not to be resold so someone else can profit. There are many places to get stamps made and I had a pretty decent coupon from Vista Print and so I ordered from there. Here’s what mine looks like. With a coupon code it came to about $15 and it has 10,000 “uses.” I have a somewhat lower volume LFL so hopefully this should last me quite a while.

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Are there any other stewards here who have any additional tips or issues? Or do you use a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? What do you like about it? What would you like to see improved?Leave me a comment!

Termites!

img_2112This is quite possibly the scariest word for any homeowner. I’ve been lucky so far, I haven’t needed any termite work done since the house was purchased in 2007. Weird markings on my hardwood floor started showing up; I usually blame it on the dogs but these markings would be hard to prove it was them. In the back of my mind I had a nagging feeling it may be termites but I didn’t want to believe it so I put off calling.

Finally someone I do volunteer work with mentioned that they had work done by one of the all natural orange companies who advertises on the radio all of the time.

I called and arranged for an inspection thinking it would be a quick thing. It was actually an hour and a half long process. They were very precise with everything. The only thing that struck me as funny is that they mentioned that my attic was very narrow (which I knew) and that they would need to bring the “little person” to do my attic on the day they do the job. Being 4′ 10.5″ (the .5 totally makes a difference!) myself I found this to be hilarious. They went over everything with me and even showed me the termite dust that fell down when they checked my patio. I love how they circled it to drive the point home and to add to my paranoia. It was a nice touch. 🙂

All in all, the price that they gave me was pretty fair and in line what friends told me they had paid for whole house treatments and I saved an extra 10% by mentioning that I heard them on the radio, yay! Since I’m kind of a environmental junkie and the fact that I have three dogs, tenting my house and being out for a couple of days was not an option. I decided to go with this company because they do the no  tenting orange treatment. A lot of people give really good feedback on it. I pushed out service date for March 8th because I have a charity yard sale at my house the week before and I have a feeling my garage and patio will be filled with people’s donated crap, I mean fine treasures and the crew wouldn’t be able to work around it very well. I’ll report back on my experience after then.

70s Pyrex, Curtains and Ugly Washer Hookups

On Thursday night, I received a Facebook message from a stranger whom I purchased some Pyrex from off of my local Buy/Sell/Swap Facebook page last month. She still had a few pieces leftover from her onslaught of buyers and wanted to know if I wanted to take a look at the remaining pieces and buy them for $2 and $5 if anything grabbed my attention. I’m not a Pyrex hoarder collector by any means but I like the look of it in my dining room so I immediately said “heck yeah!” I jokingly said when I posted a picture online of my last haul from her that I was getting my 1970s housewife on. Today was no different. My apologies to my father whom I spent the better part of the 90/00s mocking 70s decor to. He’s totally getting the last laugh here. I really didn’t have a plan in mind when I bought the stuff but somehow it all worked out pretty well on one of the built ins in my dining room.

For whatever reason this sparked something in me and I decided to drag out my sewing machine and sew a valance that I’ve been wanting to put in my kitchen for two years now. Of course, the one time I decided to drag out the machine in years it decided to have it’s reoccurring problem of eating bobbins again so I used iron on tape instead. The result wasn’t 100% awesome, but it’s better than the curtain rod without fabric I had hanging there for 2+ years.

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I also with some of the leftover fabric decided to make a cover with velcro for the unused water lines in my laundry room… I feel like I owe a bit of an explanation for this. It’s not some random house quirk that I can blame the previous owners on (10 years later I still do that), it’s kind of my fault. When the house was first purchased, the washer and dryer were on opposite walls with a microwave hanging on a suspended shelf on the ceiling over the dryer. I so wish I had taken a picture of this because it was really bizarre. When I decided to upgrade to a front loader set, I decided to stack  the washer and dryer so that I could have more space for storage, a built in ironing board and so the dog could have a dedicated eating space. This was when there was only had one dog, oh how times have changed! Long story short, this left very unsightly washer hookups on the opposite side of the stacked set where the washing machine used to be. Instead of caping the lines and filling in the hole I decided to leave them “just in case.” I figured it would be good for the future and to give future owners many, many, many years from now flexibility. In my mind this is perceived added value but I know it’s not really true. Instead of installing some cool door to hide the lines or even running to Home Depot and buying one of the plastic covers I let it sit for five years, unsuccessfully covering it with a hanging duster and dryer brush. Finally I have a little cover made from a bubble mailer, fabric and a glue gun. I would have used plywood but that required a trip to the store and the lazy factor set in. Classy huh? But it worked and it’s better than what was there before. Or at least I think so.

The Carving Board & Assigned Seats at AMC

Since today is seemingly the only break from the rain this weekend, I decided to check out a relatively new place to eat in Burbank and see a movie. A dear friend makes fun of me and states that I only like about 10 restaurants in Burbank which isn’t exactly true… I’m just a creature of habit and really dislike Olive Garden and BJs which they love. Another friend had posted about The Carving Board so I decided to give it a shot. Upon walking in there I immediately realized that based on the atmosphere alone if I was in Silverlake I would have already said I’m out because I already felt a little too hipster being in the place. (This article from a few years ago caused strong emotions for me and made me want to shout “keep your hands off my Burbank hipsters!” 🙂 ) It had all the right hipster elements, too small/hard to read menu, meals not on plates and weird pieces of wood instead of actual table numbers but hey, at least there were regular seats and tables.

I had the Bentley sandwich and it was good, 5/5 stars and not to oversaturated with dressing. The chips that came with it were kind of forgettable but I wasn’t about to pay an extra $2 to upgrade to some kind of sad looking fries. For two people the bill was $32 which is pricier for a order up counter type place but not unreasonable given the quality of the food.  As much as I felt like I should turn in my Burbank card just by being there, I will be going back.

After lunch we ventured over to the AMC 16 to see the new M. Night Shyamalan movie, Split to see if he’s out of director jail yet. (Spoiler alert – he is). Like most theaters AMC seems to be taking a cue from the Arclight in recent months and doing assigned seats. I personally love it, but it caused a pretty heated discussion on our local Facebook page where people feel that by assigning seats they are being treated like children. News flash: If the usual people I see texting, talking or translating the movie for their friend in a different language are any indication, they really deserve to be treated as such. Last time I was there a couple of weeks ago to see LaLa Land, two couples almost came to blows over assigned seats (one refused to get up from the seats that were not assigned to them and then proceeded to talk about it during the entire movie). Today there was a similar issue with everyone in the row ahead of me needing to move one over so that they could be in their assigned seats. Really, this just confounds me. When asked to pick a seat when purchasing their ticket do they think it’s an option? Do people fly on airplanes and not understand seat assignments? I really, really just do not get it. The Oatmeal does this really funny comic about movie theaters and I’m whole heartedly starting to agree with it. Anyone up for a letter writing campaign? 😉

A Lesson in Shopping Local

Let me start off by saying if it wasn’t already clear from the “about me” section of my blog, I looove Burbank. I’m also a huge believer in shopping local (especially in Magnolia Park) and giving back to the community. This widely circulated meme has made me burst into tears on more than one occasion.

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With all this being said, I have a dark confession to make. As much as I advocate shopping local and I really do (just look at my monthly card statement and see my Dino’s Pizza and Audrey K Boutique charges – it’s kind of alarming) I’m super lazy when it comes to everyday stuff like food and household goods and pretty much buy everything from bananas to toilet paper online. Why? Well, part of me figures most of the time would be a big box purchase anyway from a Ralphs, Target, etc  (the sales tax though, I know, I know…) and the second part is time. Not so much that I don’t have time to shop but laundry detergent will get to my door faster with Amazon Prime than me remembering to go to Target and buy it. It’s a sad but true fact. Because of this, I have some pretty odd combinations of things from Amazon shipped and the occasional lost package. For someone who worked retail and customer service for over a decade of my life I really dread calling customer service when something goes wrong. When I had a package show up as delivered and it wasn’t this week the impending feeling of doom set in. I waited a day hoping that it would show up and even flagged down my mail carrier asking her if she’s seen it… alas she had not so it’s time to call Amazon CS. When I spoke to “Van” I explained that I was home when it was “delivered” and my dogs make for excellent doorbells and so the chances of someone sneaking off with it are pretty unlikely. Then the questions started, the highlights of the conversation were as follows:

CS: “Did you check under your doormat?”

Me: “Uh, it’s a giant prime pantry box”

CS: “What about a neighbor, maybe the driver didn’t feel safe leaving the box?”

Me: “Nope don’t think so they probably would have let me know and honestly my house is the house that UPS, etc usually leaves stuff with because I’m home during the day.”

CS: Is it in your backyard perhaps?

Me: No, it’s not.

CS: Well what about under your car?

Me: I drive a Prius, it wouldn’t fit under there.

**Awkward laughter from the rep after each answer**

We go back and fourth like this for a few minutes. Now this is not a knock on Amazon CS, it’s easy to make fun of this conversation but I understand that they really do have to ask these questions. Finally she offers me a refund, I ask her if she can just replace the items and she says no just a refund. I tell her fine and she puts me on hold. A few minutes later she comes back and actually tells me that her system is making her “give the post office a chance” and I need to call back on Monday. No offer to follow up, just see if you can find it and call back. I was a little stunned because in the rare times I’ve had something go missing I’ve never had this result but I ended the call and asked Siri to remind me to call back on Monday. All in all, I’ve wasted about 20 minutes of my life over three 12 packs of SURGE soda, fabric softer and Jet Dry. As I type it I feel even more ridiculous than I did ordering it.

The lesson? Maybe I should just grab some fabric softener tomorrow at Handy Market with my Tri Tip Sandwich.