Saturday, 19 February 2011

Spring Cleaning: What Lurks in Those Area Rugs?

The weather is warming up and spring is almost upon us. I have started my spring cleaning to brighten up the house and one item on my must-do-spring cleaning list is to clean out my area rugs.

Almost 30 years ago,we replaced our wall-to-wall carpet to wood parquet, to alleviate the allergy symptoms we were experiencing. I remember the buckets and buckets of dirt being  swept from the concrete-floor base after the carpet was removed. As a compromise, I had a few area rugs to accent the wooden floor and to protect the heavy-traffic areas. 

While visiting Turkey, I saw area rugs hanging on the balconies or fences and being beaten with a baseball bat-looking implement. I could see some dusty dirt flying out from each beating. Instead of doing that, I accidentally found a way to get more rug dirt out.
Customarily, the rugs are vacuumed on the right-side surface. 
One day, I must have been in my obsessive-compulsive mode, I turned the rug over to vacuum the floor and the rug's underside. After changing the setting to "floor level" I proceeded to vacuum the rug,  vacuuming in small sections, about a foot and a half, going up and down in tight runs.
When I folded the rug over, to my surprise, this is what I found on the floor, under the rug. 
I vacuumed the dirt that settled on the floor. I again spread out the rug over the clean area to repeat the vacuuming step on the bottom side of the rug.
After repeating the steps 6 times, this is how the underside portion looked like - the background color looked lighter.
As the last step to cleaning this rug, the right side of the rug was given a vacuum run and it also looked cleaner and brighter.
The dirt tank filled up to about half, after working on this area rug which is approximately 3'X14'.

What exactly do I get out from vacuuming on the underside of my area rugs? It's the deep dirt that does not seem to get sucked out by regular vacuuming on the rug's surface. I am beginning to think that when we vacuum, much of the the dirt is pushed in deeper. Vacuuming on the rug's underside pushes the dirt deeper, out onto the floor. I don't know what feature of the vacuum cleaner this is, or if it was intended to work this way, but I am just glad that more dirt is removed by turning the rug over to vacuum on.

I checked  some carpet-care sites, and there is nothing about vacuuming the underside of a rug. Their recommendation to keep the rug/carpet clean is to be barefoot when walking at home on your carpeted areas and to vacuum daily. Now, I know that this is not enough to keep our rugs clean. 

Do your own vacuuming experimentation with your area rugs at home and let me know how my vacuuming procedure worked out. 

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Temecula Valley, Southern California's Wine Country

A good way to spend an afternoon, a day, or a weekend in Southern California is to get away from the hectic pace of our daily life. Upon the suggestion of my daughter, we took a leisurely drive to Temecula Valley, Southern California's wine country. It is centrally located, off of the 15 Interstate Freeway, and within an hour or so drive from San Diego, Orange County or the Palm Springs area.  The family owned wineries are easily reached and situated just close enough to one another along the main road, Ranch California, and some streets intersecting this main road. Several wineries are set up with a bed-and-breakfast inn, spa treatment, and pavilions for wedding receptions and other celebrations. There are also restaurants and picnic grounds for the visitors. Our main destination was to the winery using organically grown grapes in their wine making.
Bella Vista was the first commercial vineyard in the valley, established in 1968. 
It is located at 41220 Calle Contento, Temecula, CA 92592
For a fee of $10.00, I decided to do some wine tasting. 
I have marked my sheet for 6 selections. Some of my white wine choices were made from organic Hungarian white grapes, the original cuttings of which were brought into this country In the late 1940s. 
There is a ritual to wine tasting: "look, smell, taste." 
1. Look to check for the clarity and color by tilting your glass away from you.
2. Our sense of smell will help us appreciate a good quality wine. Swirl your glass of wine for a couple of seconds to vaporize some of the alcohol and to release the natural aroma; smell and discern the aromatic flavors of flowers, fruits, or oak.
3. Then it's time to taste! Start with a little sip and allow it to roll in your mouth for a few seconds. Then, after discerning all the elements you find in your wine like body, scent, flavor profile, attack and finish it if you find it pleasing, or dump the rest in the white bucket if it is not to your liking, and rinse your glass with water for the next selection.
After sipping some rosés and white whites, the Rozmaring was my winner! Described as  "an amazing wine, elegant, yet lively. Scents of pear and honey meld from sweet to a fine lingering finish. Nothing like it in the valley."

This wine won the  "Bronze Medal, Winner 2010 World and the 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition."

It sure matched up to everything that was said about it, and more! Just like in the organic fruits and vegetables, the flavors in wine made from organically-grown grapes were so distinctly defined - scent and taste wise.
Bella Vista's vineyard is about 69 acres in size. They undergo a yearly recertification of their organic-vineyard. Organic vineyard farming is free of chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides. Rabbit manure is used as fertilizer, which is less acidic. To counter mildew problems, a milk and water solution is sprayed on affected grape bunches and vines. In this country, there is no such thing as organic wine. The label will say "wine made from organic grapes."
This road leads up to a view of the surroundings.
Across the lake are the picnic grounds, available for the use of visitors who come to Bella Vista. The only beverage allowed in this area are the wine bought from their store. There is a magnificent view from the vantage point where the picnic tables are, of sprawling vineyards in the valley and the Saddleback mountains.

Back on the main road, it was a pretty sight to see mission style architecture or provençal style structures of some of the wine houses. Before heading for home, we stopped at another place - the Ponte Family Estate - on 35053 Rancho California Road, Temecula, CA 92591.
 The Ponte Winery's tasting room
Interior shot - the tasting bar serves handcrafted wines in an intimate setting, around the gift marketplace. Visitors can also sign up for a guided tour of the estate grounds,  surrounded by 300 acres of mature vineyards and well-tended gardens.
The Barrel Room 
 This is one type of wine in storage.
The Smokehouse Restaurant serves great, seasonal country-style cuisine in a casual, outdoor setting, paired with the Ponte wines. It is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
A garden sculpture/water fountain
One of the reception rooms
The reception pavilion
Here is one of the paths leading to the vineyards  surrounding the property, with the mountain range as the backdrop.
Conscious about the time - the rush hour on the freeway, we went on our way. It was an afternoon well spent - 3 hours in Temecula wine country and 3 hours on the road.

Please visit for more information, hotel accommodations,  and seasonal events and festivals. 

Sunday, 13 February 2011

An Organic-Vegetarian Restaurant: 118 degrees, Costa Mesa, So. California

Going out to eat to celebrate Valentine's Day or any other occasion? Show your love in a venue that will make you all feel well nourished. A good option is to go to a raw-food restaurant. 

I found an organic, vegetarian restaurant where all the menu items are prepared by hand, daily on the premise, using local, organic produce wherever possible. The cuisine is raw food - entirely plant-based, made from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains, all prepared at 118 ° or lower, to preserve the valuable nutrients. The preparations are dairy free, soy free, and wheat free.  "118 ° is the commonly accepted temperature at which the natural enzyme value and nutritional contents of raw plant foods begin to break down and become useless for the body. One benefit of eating raw food is the energy derived from the enzymes and phytonutrients available in foods that are still living!"

118 degrees raw-food cuisine is the brain-child of chef-owner Jenny Ross.
It is located at The Camp on 2981 Bristol,  Suite B, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.  

Among the selections we ordered from the lunch menu are... 
 The Taste of Italy Sampler, comprised of - 
Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms 
Cremini Mushrooms Stuffed with Spinach Pistachio Pesto
Living Lasagna
Layers of Zucchini and Yellow Squash, Tomato, Creamy Macadamia Ricotta and Sweet Basil Marinara. Topped with Basil Cheese
Caesar Salad  
Mixed Baby Greens, Avocado, Capers and Caesar Dressing. Topped with Basil Cheese.
This was a winner! It was a complete meal. It was very rich in flavor and very filling.

* Note:  All the cheeses are made by blending fresh herbs with sprouted nuts and seeds.

New Age Quesadilla 
Flax Tortilla filled with Smokey, Spicy Chipotle Cheese, Sweet Corn, Wilted Spinach and Mushrooms. Topped with Sweet cheese and Cilantro Corn Relish with Verde Salsa.
Quesadilla never tasted as delicious as this one!
 Surfer Sandwich 
Smashed Avocado Kale, and Marinated Mixed Vegetables served on Sprouted House Bread with Sweet Cheese.
That's not bread but it sure is a very healthy, tasty substitute!

The dessert menu changes everyday, depending on the availability of certain ingredients.
 Macadamia/Coconut Macaroons (sweetened with Agave), with a Strawberry Coulis
I loved everything about this!
Chocolate Truffle
This is quite a treat for chocolate lovers!

The restaurant is set up with 14 tables for two plus the bar sitting, to serve about 36 people, at any given time.

Other things to know about this place: During happy hour, there is a prefix three-course menu for $15.00; they provide catering service for ten people or more; one can also sign up for a 7-day detox -menu program which includes 7 breakfast items, 7 lunch items, 7 dinner items, and 7 desserts all for $210.00.

For more information, be sure to click on the hyperlink. You can browse and see their other menu selections and carefully read the ingredients. From there, your creative minds can take off and inspire you to create your own raw-food meals at home.

If you plan to dine at this place, either go early or make a reservation as the place fills up very fast. This was my second visit to this place. I look forward to going back for more of their healthy and delicious meals.  


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