Book Review of “Farewell, My Subaru”

My husband loves gardening and has fantasies about owning a large plot of land and being a farmer. He drives me nuts, asking if he can keep worms on our second floor apartment balcony in La Jolla. My answer is no!

For now, he gets his little square box in the church community garden. I’m not a nature girl but did find a book title that caught my eye in the library. It was “Farewell, My Subaru”, written by Doug Fine. It caught my attention because that’s the brand of car I drive. The cover photo was cute, with a garden growing under the hood of the car.

Doug was previously a journalist who bought a piece of land as a bachelor with the intention of settling down and going green all the way.

This book was an entertaining, light-hearted read. His adventures began with car trouble, a flash flood, purchasing two goats and some chicks. The goats got into mischief but he grew attached to them. He had to convince the inspector that his property was a farm. He moved on to trying vegetable oil fuel, installing solar panels and a well, hunting and gardening.

As with many small town stories, there were local characters, including his hippie neighbor. Of course, they saw him as the character. He scared off the FedEx delivery man by wearing home-made body armor to fight off a rattlesnake. The locals got a few chuckles from this newcomer as they watched him adjust to his new life. He had to ask for help and learned by trial and error. He eventually figured things out and even found love along the way.

Doug loves his new life and wrote this charming book about his adventures. He included interesting facts along the way with some statistics. I still have no interest in farming but I’m sure if we moved to a small town, I’d find myself adjusting over time. At first, I’d probably look like the lady from “Green Acres”.

Somehow, in centuries past, people survived without cell phones, computers and telephones. They lived off the land and were productive with their hands. They actually spoke to each other verbally and wrote letters.

For garden enthusiasts, this is a fun read. There were a few swear words and adult themes in it so I wouldn’t give it to children but it could be an amusing gift to give.

The Many Uses of Salt – The Miracle Worker

I was recently reading about salt and discovered how the phrase “worth your salt” came about and what the etymology of the word salary is. Throughout history, salt has been a very valuable mineral with a myriad uses and today, salt is used in more than 14,000 ways – some of which we do not realize, and most of them not in the kitchen.

The use of salt is know to have been used by the ancient Egyptians where they evaporated seawater to harvest salt which they used to preserve their meat, fish… and mummies! The early major trade routes mostly developed around the trade of salt.

The word salary comes from the Latin word for a soldier’s pay salarium, which in turn came from the word sal, the word for salt, because a large ration of salt made up part of the soldiers’ salary in ancient Rome. And that’s how we came by the phrase worth your salt…

So what about the different kinds of salt? Here are some of the main types:

Unrefined: It’s in its natural state with all trace minerals. It is only washed and strained.

Refined: It is purified and stripped of any trace minerals. It also changes it’s chemical structure from large granules to smaller crystals.

Table: It’s refined salt, but to avoid lumping in humid environments, it has anti-caking agents added, and fortified with iodine to prevent thyroid disease.

Kosher: It is refined salt but without anti-caking agents, and usually has coarser grains. It dissolves more easily, has a smoother flavor, and is considered saltier than regular salt.

Sea: It is the result of evaporating seawater. Because it retains its trace minerals, it is considered healthier.

Here are some interesting and useful uses of salt:

Wine Brine

You know when you need a bottle of chilled wine really quickly and you don’t have one in the fridge? A little salt will do the trick. What happens is that the salt lowers the freezing point of the ice, so the water becomes even colder, thereby chilling the water. Here’s what you need:

½ cup of salt
1 bucket of ice
Enough cold water to cover the ice

Place a bottle of wine in an ice bucket and fill it with ice and add the water and salt and your wine should be perfectly chilled in 10 minutes!

Drain Jane

So your kitchen sink is draining slowly and you want it move more quickly. It’s probably a buildup of sludge over time, but don’t stress it because Drain Jane should take care of it. Here’s what you need:

1 gallon boiling water
1 cup baking soda
½ cup salt

Pour the salt down the drain and pour in the baking soda after that. Leave it overnight, or at least for several hours. Chase it with the boiling water and watch it gurgle and with pleasure and run off!

Fresh or Foul?

How do you know if an egg is fresh or past its prime? Once again, salt can help. Here’s what you’ll need:

2 tablespoons salt
2 cups water

Stir in the salt and water and put an egg into the liquid. If it sinks, it’s fresh, if it floats, it’s not. Really simple.

Other quick tips:

What other interesting things can salt do?

Surprisingly, it can sweeten fresh fruits. Just sprinkle a pinch of salt to elevate their sweetness quotient!
Dishwasher not getting lipstick stains off your glassware? Rub the stains gently with some salt before you put them in the dishwasher.
Loosen dandruff flakes in your hair before you shampoo for a cleaner wash. The salt might also help you reduce the amount of shampoo you use since it will help create more lather.

Design Well-Being Into Your Work Space in 4 Simple Steps

Step 1. De-clutter

Where do you work? Look around you. What inspires you? What distracts you? What will you see that will make you get back to work and what will you linger over and make you daydream for a while?

Get rid of the un-necessaries. File away the paperwork you don’t need and empty the bin. Let the clarity of the area around you clear your head.

Step 2. Co-ordinate

What colours can you see? Do they make an impression on you? Does the white feel clinical and cold or calm and professional? Does the red perk you up or distract your attention? Does the blue calm your nerves and reassure you during moments of angst and overwhelm, or does it not even catch your eye?

Create a colour and decorative scheme that promotes productivity. Get rid of overwhelming colours or displays – it’s a delicate balance to find sources of inspiration without being overly distracted. Make sure your displays send you the right messages – work hard, smile, do one thing at a time.

Step 3. Promote wellbeing

What can you see out of the window? Is it next door’s brick wall or a stunning view of the park? What natural light do your windows give you? Are you aware of the progress the day is making or are you stuck in artificial light, popping pills to cope with the headaches?

Get the window desk with your next promotion. And if you’re the boss then promote yourself immediately and move your desk into the natural light. Avoid direct light on computer screens as this will cause glare but make sure you position yourself in a way that will benefit from morning sunshine and the changes in the sky on a late afternoon. Even if it is just to watch the rain.

Step 4. Understand ergonomics

What are you sitting on? How are your feet positioned? Your arms? Your back? Is your neck stiff? Are your eyes aching from staring at the screen? Roll them round, stretch them into every corner of your eye socket. Stick your tongue out and stretch your mouth open wide. No one is watching. (Well except the cute guy from accounts… )

Even your boss knows you should be seated comfortably. She doesn’t want you ringing in with back pain or RSI. It’s your responsibility to make sure you’re comfy at work though. How many hours are you there? How much time do you spend in that chair? How much of your life has your butt been on that perch? Work it out. Then adjust your seat. Or add a cushion. Or get the Swiss Ball out and blow it up again (if you can find the pump).

We’re working silly hours. Some of us work long into the night, some of us get up at the crack of dawn and some just wish the 9-5 away and wait for the weekend. It’s time to recognize how much time you spend at your desk and make it a better happier, healthier place to be. For no other reason than accepting sickly, miserable and uninspiring spaces is just a ridiculous idea.