Wed07302014

News

‘Brown is the new green,’ says local water district

‘Brown is the new green,’ says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spendi...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Special Sections

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dr. Trang Ly, left, reviews blood sugar readings on a smartphone with Los Altos resident Tia Geri, right, and fellow participant Noa Simon during a closed-loop artificial pancreas study for Type 1 diabetics.
...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

CARSTEN HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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

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