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Archives for August 2010

Shannon Hayes On A New Back-To-The-Earth Movement: “Radical Homemaking”


Shannon HayesShannon Hayes says you can find real wealth in the simple life. She blogs and farms with her husband and two daughters in West Fulton, NY, where they raise all-natural grassfed animals.

Shannon traveled across the country to find people whose lifestyle was similar to her own and included them in her new book “Radical Homemakers.” They have all chosen to have their lives revolve completely around their home and community. According to Shannon, they and their children have found a frugal yet enriched back-to-the-earth existence.

The radical homemaker’s genuine wealth, she says, comes from the soil, water, sunlight, air, family and relationships.

When I read about Shannon’s book recently, I was intrigued. Could a movement be gaining popularity that encouraged simple concepts such as hanging out the laundry to dry, cooking for your family, and getting to know your neighbors? I wondered what made this woman with a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. switch over to a way of life that didn’t include climbing the ladder to success. How did she make this “radical homemaking” a reality?

“…while my grad school peers were settling into their new offices, I was out under a cloudless blue sky, painting for $10/hr. I decided that I had the better deal.”

Shannon took the time to explain to me why she feels home is where social change will begin… [Read more…]

Sandy Foster On Building Her Tiny Victorian Retreat In The Woods

Sandy Foster Tiny Home

Photo: Trevor Tondro/NY Times

UPDATE 11/30/11:  Shabby Holiday Tips and Inspiration Video

Sandy Foster has single-handedly given new meaning to “tiny house” and to Victoriana in 2010. When I saw the photo of her on the porch of the sweet retreat in the New York Times, I simply had to know more about her and this wonderful mini building. I read that she was a fiscal administrator but how did that jive with this “shabby streamside studio,” as she calls it, in a forest?

To learn more about Sandy, check out her website where you’ll notice the amazing attention to detail and get a sense of her eclectic taste.

“It’s a balm for the spirit to have a place where I’m free to do what I want…like a tree house you run to as a kid and pull up the ladder once inside.”
Sandy Foster

She was kind enough to quench my curiosity recently and answer questions about how and why she created this unique treasure.
[Read more…]

Gayle Lemmon On The Remarkable Fighting Women Of Afghanistan

Gayle Lemmon, author and journalist

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a seasoned journalist who has been reporting and researching the economic and living conditions of women in Afghanistan since 2005.

 I read her heartbreaking story in “The Daily Beast” recently about Bibi Aisha, an Afghan teenager whose nose and ears were cut off by an uncle when she tried to escape from an intolerable marriage. Another article about an 11-year-old bride who was sold to a Kabul family and escaped was equally powerful and disturbing.

Gayle was a producer with ABC News for nearly ten years, a Fulbright scholar, and is the Deputy Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program. Next year her book about women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and other war-torn countries will be published. To find out more about Gayle’s background, visit her website.

“People do not often hear stories about how hard women are fighting to create something better for the next generation.” Gayle Lemmon

Recently Gayle responded to my questions about her reports from Afghanistan and her own career in journalism… [Read more…]


For more Exquisite Designs, see Wrap Star and More

The Exquisite Book–12/04/10

Exquisite Book


Tammy Strobel Creates Popular Online Community For Simple Living

Tammy Strobel of RowdyKittens BlogTammy Strobel is an advocate for changing the world by minimalist living while helping others. The author of “Simply Car-free” and “Minimalist Health” talks about her challenging downsized life on the Rowdy Kittens’ blog which she began two years ago. This web designer and freelance writer gives tips on how to explore a stuffless lifestyle there as well as tells a fun story about how RowdyKittens got its name.

Simply-carfree book

Tammy's Book

Tammy was living a so-called “normal” middle class existence five years ago with her husband, Logan Smith, in Ca when they began to face their stressful financial situation and overload of belongings. Having no desire for the 30-year mortgage and spending hours in their car, they started to downsize and tried two wheels instead of four. Now inhabiting a 400-square-foot space in Portland, Oregon, they are hoping to build a small house in the future. They are believers in the Tiny House Movement.

To read Tammy’s tip-filled blog:


Her minimalist housing

Reach her on Twitter @RowdyKittens

Question: Could you downsize to a 400-square-foot environment?

Jennifer Salt’s First Produced Screenplay Is Eat Pray Love

Jennifer Saltz Screenwriter

Photo by Stephanit Diani/NYTimes

Jennifer Salt began her professional life as an actress. This daughter of Academy Award-Winning screenwriter Waldo Salt, who was blacklisted in the fifties, did not become a writer for many years. She went to Broadway after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, was involved in regional theatre, and moved on to movie roles in Hollywood. She acted on the television show “Soap” for five years but found it wasn’t her calling. Eat Pray Love Movie Poster

After enrolling in her first writing class in her early forties, this single mom seemed to find her passion penning scripts. A successful stint at writing and producing for the television series “Nip/Tuck” led her back into the movie business. She was approached to help author a script from a story that had become a blockbuster best- selling book. At 65, she is hitting her stride as co-writer of the screenplay for Elizabeth Gilbert’s popular “Eat, Pray, Love.” The movie opens Aug. 13.

To read about Jennifer’s journey to become a screenwriter:

New York Times

Marin IJ article on Elizabeth Gilbert

popeater.com interview with Jennifer

Question: How difficult is it to change careers and reinvent yourself ? Have you tried it?

Dr. Krupali Tejura Blogs On Heartbreaking Conditions In Ugandan Medical Camp

Dr. Krupali Tejura

Photo by Oscar Aguilar

Dr. Krupali Tejura, a radiation oncologist from Corona, Ca, says Twitter has the power to change lives and she’s seen it happen. This remarkable doctor uses social media to advocate for patients. She’s tweeted to help find bone marrow matches and tickets for a cancer patient to meet a favorite musician.

Having blogged about cancer issues for many years, she’s now giving readers an up close view of her current trip to Uganda where she’s tweeting and blogging regularly about her experiences helping out in a hospital and camp in Jinja. Hospital facilities, Krupali writes, are shocking. Working in the camp with her visiting group and parents, she says she’s seen things she’s never seen in the medical profession. Reaching out to assist a man with elephantitis, she’s blogging to let people know that he and many others need supplies and immediate care. This week 1004 patients were seen in one day.

To follow her:

Krupali’s blog

On Twitter @krupali

Question: Do you use social media for humanitarian purposes?

Sally Dominguez On Her Award-Winning Rainwater Harvesting Tank

Sally Dominguez is an architect, a designer, and an inventor of products she thinks will help make the world more eco-friendly. Now living in Northern California, she started out designing urban housing in Australia, then launched a line of children’s furniture including the multi-award- winning NEST Highchair.

When she couldn’t find a rainwater tank to fit under her patio during a drought, she came up with the Rainwater HOG, a slim and portable container that holds 51 gallons. It can be used for irrigation, emergency drinking water, and greywater recycling. Her newest invention is the HOGzilla that she’s working on with her husband, Simon. It will hold 450 gallons.

As well as writing on sustainability and cars, she is a judge on “The New Inventors,” an Australian television show.

I was fascinated by this new HOG tank and in Sally’s tenacity to create one. I wanted to know more so I asked Sally:

[Read more…]