Fire and Rain: Beauty and Good Health From the Ashes

My wife and I took a nature walk on the southern slope of the Santa Monica Mountains shortly after a brush fire had ravaged the earth and turned the blackened branches of the laurel sumac trees into hands that clawed at the darkening sky. It was a scene right out of Dante’s Inferno, tempered by the life that lay on the other side of the hill. On that “other side,” stretched out before us were acres of lavender blossoms belonging …

What’s Your Sign, Valentine?

Stumped for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetie? Maybe the answer is in the stars. A recent survey by the website Ebates.com suggests that a person’s astrological sign might give some guidance for what gift might make your honey swoon. For example, if you are buying for a Capricorn, Taurus or Virgo, consider the classic Valentine’s Day gifts like flowers and jewelry. If you are shopping for an Aries, Leo or Sagittarius, you could be a hit with …

Get Ready for Seasonal Gardening Bargains

“Mum” is the word this fall gardening season, literally.  When nurseries and home improvement stores start to sell colorful fall mums (aka “chrysanthemums”), it’s time for frugal gardeners to keep their eyes open for some spectacular end-of-season bargains. In many parts of the country, when the mums arrive at garden centers, those retailers begin marking down their remaining summertime nursery stock, including trees, shrubs, and other perennials.  These fall liquidation sales are often progressive affairs, with initial markdowns of maybe …