07302016Sat
Last updateWed, 27 Jul 2016 10am

News

Program aims to help teachers afford housing

The Los Altos School District and Los Altos Community Foundation have joined forces to create an online form for local residents to connect with teachers in need of housing.

The district seeks to help teachers handle the high cost of housing in the ...

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Schools

AAUW supports local students at STEM Tech Trek camp

AAUW supports local students at STEM Tech Trek camp


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Tech Trek campers study the contents of a baby albatross’ stomach to understand the effect plastic can have on the marine ecosystem. The American Association of University Women provided scholarships that enabled seven...

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Community

Local vet: Dogs need teeth brushing, too: Pet Pause

Home oral hygiene can make a tremendous difference in your dog’s comfort and health. There are several home care oral hygiene options from which to choose, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation...

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Sports

It's been a big year for Little League

It's been a big year for Little League


Courtesy of Peter Jewett
The Los Altos & Los Altos Hills Little League’s 10-11 All-Stars won the Section 5 championship July 20. Front, from left: Connor Prahm, Jack Surdey, Jimmy Flynn, Rodrigo Ortiz, Justin Chou, Devan Reynard and Derek Gile....

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Comment

Letter to the Editor

LAH should examine short-term rentals

I used to think that a short-term rental (Airbnb style) was operated by someone who has a spare bedroom to share and was thus not a big issue. Living in Los Altos Hills, I was surprised to find out that one of m...

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Special Sections

Gardening for life: Strategies to make it easy

Gardening for life: Strategies to make it easy


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Succulents are a good choice for a small, low-maintenance garden that needs minimal water. Combine a variety of interesting colors and shapes.

If aches and pains are starting to limit your ability to garden, t...

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Business

Maybe think twice before extending that warranty

Maybe think twice before extending that warranty


I was in an electronics store the other day and at checkout they asked – doing their best “Would you like some fries with that?” routine – if I would like to purchase a warranty.

I never buy a service contract. Most good pr...

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People

ULF STAUBER

Ulf Stauber passed away at his home on July 13; he had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Ulf was born in Berlinchen, Germany on May 23, 1938. Following the Russian invasion in 1945, he, his mother and two brothers fled to Hamburg where Ulf gre...

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News

Program aims to help teachers afford housing

The Los Altos School District and Los Altos Community Foundation have joined forces to create an online form for local residents to connect with teachers in need of housing.

The district seeks to help teachers handle the high cost of housing in the area. According to district officials, many teache...

Readmore

Business

Maybe think twice before extending that warranty

Maybe think twice before extending that warranty

I was in an electronics store the other day and at checkout they asked – doing their best “Would you like some fries with that?” routine – if I would like to purchase a warranty.

I never buy a service contract. Most good products come with a decent warranty, and if I shop ...

Readmore

Sports

It's been a big year for Little League

It's been a big year for Little League

Courtesy of Peter Jewett
The Los Altos & Los Altos Hills Little League’s 10-11 All-Stars won the Section 5 championship July 20. Front, from left: Connor Prahm, Jack Surdey, Jimmy Flynn, Rodrigo Ortiz, Justin Chou, Devan Reynard and Derek Gile. Middle: Thomas Walker, Alex Fuchs, Jake Skaggs, L...

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Community

Local vet: Dogs need teeth brushing, too: Pet Pause

Home oral hygiene can make a tremendous difference in your dog’s comfort and health. There are several home care oral hygiene options from which to choose, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation will pay big dividends. The most important thing ...

Readmore

Comment

Letter to the Editor

LAH should examine short-term rentals

I used to think that a short-term rental (Airbnb style) was operated by someone who has a spare bedroom to share and was thus not a big issue. Living in Los Altos Hills, I was surprised to find out that one of my neighbors in a small cul-de-sac is renting out a...

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People

ULF STAUBER

Ulf Stauber passed away at his home on July 13; he had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Ulf was born in Berlinchen, Germany on May 23, 1938. Following the Russian invasion in 1945, he, his mother and two brothers fled to Hamburg where Ulf grew up. He emigrated to the United States in 1963, l...

Readmore

Schools

AAUW supports local students at STEM Tech Trek camp

AAUW supports local students at STEM Tech Trek camp

Traci Newell/Town Crier
Tech Trek campers study the contents of a baby albatross’ stomach to understand the effect plastic can have on the marine ecosystem. The American Association of University Women provided scholarships that enabled seven local middle-school girls to attend the camp at S...

Readmore

Special Sections

Gardening for life: Strategies to make it easy

Gardening for life: Strategies to make it easy

Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Succulents are a good choice for a small, low-maintenance garden that needs minimal water. Combine a variety of interesting colors and shapes.

If aches and pains are starting to limit your ability to garden, then gardening industry expert Toni Gattone has a s...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks gets political

TheatreWorks gets political

Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Tasha Lawrence and Richard Prioleau play journalists in TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s world premiere of “Confederates,” playing through Aug. 7 at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto.

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley recently launched its 47th season with Suzann...

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Obituaries

ULF STAUBER

Ulf Stauber passed away at his home on July 13; he had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Ulf was born in Berlinchen, Germany on May 23, 1938. Following the Russian invasion in 1945, he, his mother and two brothers fled to Hamburg where Ulf grew up. He emigrated to the United States in 1963, l...

Readmore

Magazine

Festival offers fun for just about everyone

Festival offers fun for just about everyone

TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The 37th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival expects to draw thousands of people to the downtown village over the weekend. The festival features arts, crafts, food, wine, beer and children’s activities.

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Native plants serve many practical uses


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Yarrow is a convenient and effective first-aid remedy found in the garden. Crush a leaf and apply it to any cut or scrape for quick relief. The native white and Island Pink varieties have the most medicinal value. You can also eat the young leaves in salads.

When I’m working in my garden late and the mosquitoes are biting, I usually rub an aromatic plant on my arms and face to minimize bites and keep welts from rising. For those times when I’m away from my garden, I recently learned how to make a simple bug spray using native plants.

At a talk sponsored by the Gardening with Natives group of the California Native Plant Society, Alicia Funk, an expert in plant-based medicine, said mugwort was an especially effective bug repellent. To make it, she fills a glass jar with the plants, pours boiling water over them and lets them steep overnight. In the morning, she strains the overnight infusion and puts it in a spray bottle. Other plants that can be added to the mixture include California Bay, Mountain Pennyroyal or Coyote Mint, Yerba Santa or manzanita.

I’m delighted to find this practical use for mugwort, because it’s a vigorous plant that needs to be pruned regularly to keep it within bounds.

For poison oak, Funk makes a spray using manzanita leaves in the same way: Fill a jar with manzanita leaves, pour boiling water over them, let the mixture steep overnight and strain. Put the liquid in a spray bottle for easy application. The astringency of the leaves dries rashes and is a very effective treatment, she said. Other plants that have been used to treat poison oak include mugwort, California Bay, Yerba Santa, acorn shells and Grindelia.

Did you notice that bay, manzanita and mugwort could be used in both formulas? One of the first things I noticed when I began studying herbs was that the same herbs seemed to be used for many different conditions, which made me think it was a scattershot approach. But as I learned more, I realized that this is a strength, because you can substitute what’s available. For first-aid uses, often all you need is a certain property. For an insect repellent, you need aromatics that repel bugs. For poison oak, you need something that calms the itching or that’s anti-inflammatory.

Funk’s household cleaner for the past four years is also an overnight infusion she makes from native plants. She uses California Bay leaves and the bright-green tips of Douglas Fir branches and adds distilled vinegar to the strained mixture. It’s an all-purpose spray she uses to clean wood floors and disinfect countertops.

"If you can boil water," Funk said, "you can make these useful concoctions."

Even her 5-year-old knows about yarrow. When someone has a minor injury, instead of getting a Band-Aid, he runs to the garden to get some yarrow leaves. Lightly crushed and applied to a cut or scrape, the leaves stop the bleeding and quickly reduce pain. The most effective varieties are the native white or Island Pink Yarrow.

Tanya Kucak gardens organically. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. n

Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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