Last weekend, Mr. LS and I hopped the Amtrak to California, where we spent a few dulcet days with this wild and crazy guy. The day we arrived, we headed to the Hangar One distillery in Alameda for an afternoon tour and tasting. Here are my kind drinking buddies admiring the special stills:

I’ll give you the straight story, here: if you live in the Bay Area, your alcohol cupboard should be stocked with Hangar One vodka. None of this Smirnoff or Absolut. Local liquor is a treasure, especially when it is as well-balanced and beautiful as are the vodkas poduced by Hangar One — and its sister company, St. George Spirits, which makes fancypants brandies and such.

Basically, I’m asking you to drink Small by supporting your local distillery. Beyond beers, we Seattleites don’t have much in the way of Pacific Northwest alcohols (aside from Aviation Gin, of course). I therefore envy you, San Franciscans and Berserklites and Oaklanders. Now, go forth and drink from the bountiful wells at Hangar One. You’ll thank me, I promise.

Grocery Cart Island

March 29, 2009

Nope, not a tropical oasis. A set of repurposed grocery carts to function as a kitchen island. Ingenious, and totally DIY.

Read about how the owner crafted this kitchen contraption at The Kitchn.

For sharing with the Living Small community: Alice Waters and Katrina Heron’s op-ed on school lunch in the NYT.

Waters, the czar of eating Small and local, and her pal Heron say scrap the National School Lunch Program, which has been providing food subsidies to schools since the mid-’40s, and which, they claim, doesn’t usually subsidize food. Waters and Heron want lawmakers to build the program from the ground up, almost literally — they want to see farm-to-lunchroom-table practices put in place, round and healthy meals prepared for our nation’s youth, as Ann Cooper enacted in the Berkeley (Cali.) School District.

The cost: Waters and Heron say that “it could be done for about $5 per child, or roughly $27 billion a year, plus a one-time investment in real kitchens. Yes, that sounds expensive. But a healthy school lunch program would bring long-term savings and benefits in the areas of hunger, children’s health and dietary habits, food safety (contaminated peanuts have recently found their way into school lunches), environmental preservation and energy conservation.”

Sounds reasonable from a financial standpoint, right? But from a food perspective: where to start? Sure, California’s got it fairly easy: everything grows there, year-round. But how can local, balanced meals find their way to schoolkids in, say, North Dakota in the middle of winter? Would the subsidy cover the cost of trucking fresh produce from the Plains to the Great White North? And what about the carbon cost of that kind of mass transit?

Ah, the circuitous environmental warren. Do you see a solution?

School lunch photo via Nourish the Thought.

Ever fallen for a swank vintage lamp, only to find that its guts are frizzled and fried? Sweep up the pieces of your broken heart, sweeties, ’cause it’s super-simple to give a lamp a new lease on life with some fresh wire, a few household tools, and some cool visual aids:

See? Cake, babies. Cake!

Ever rewired or retooled your own light source?

Via Apartment Therapy.

Cut, cut, cut!

March 13, 2009

The latest in the Living Small craft canon: slipcovers for our couch cushions, out of this print from Ikea (yes, Ikea!):

Yet, great fabric and a headful of determination do not slipcovers make; though I own a fine sewing machine and a new pair of pinking shears, I am without a spot to cut straight lines out of 59″-wide swaths of cloth.

And so, I give you the latest in the Living Small space wrangle: my makeshift cutting table!

If you have a table that takes a leaf or two, you can create one of your own. All you have to do is pull the halves apart approximately one-quarter inch, and you’re golden. No need for fancy rotary tools and cutting mats and special aluminum channels built into your surface. Small solutions strike again!

What’s your latest creative reuse?