Saturday, February 26, 2011

Egg Head

I've been thinking about eggs lately.  To eat them or not to eat them?  It all started last year when they made eggs at my son's preschool.  It was very festive and cloaked in a fun Dr. Seuss theme and while at first I wanted to send him with something vegan-substitutey, I decided to just go with it.  I didn't want to make them into a forbidden fruit and figured one egg wouldn't kill him and he probably wouldn't like it anyway and that would be the end of it.

But he did like it--of course he did, the way they were presented.  And he wanted more.  I explained to him why we don't eat eggs--that most chickens are mistreated and I don't think they are very healthy.  Then the neighbors got chickens.  These chickens roam around in the back yard and they get lots of love and affection and they are obviously happy chickens leading a good life.  I have no problem with this at all.  In fact, I think it's a great idea to have chickens like this, very eco friendly and sustainable.  But I still don't think eggs are particularly healthy.  I didn't to begin with and then I learned about organic free range chicken eggs potentially  containing even more dioxin than the out-of-the-question factory farmed eggs.

Nothing is simple anymore.  For a while I was thinking, okay, if they are properly sourced I'm cool with eggs.  And--if things ever go south with our economy and we need to be responsible for more of or most of our own food then we ourselves would get chickens.  I love the idea of urban homesteading--with or without a financial crisis.

My son was pushing for me to get some eggs and my diet had become so limited, I wanted to expand my repertoire.  So we had some egg adventures. 

But here's the thing,  I'm kind of grossed out by eggs.  In Kris Carr's new book, CRAZY SEXY DIET (awesome book), she suggests that eggs should be in the meat category and calls them chicken fetuses.  Well, as far as I understand, they are not fetuses because they haven't been fertilized, but I do see how they could still appropriately be classified as meat. 

Right now I have some free range organic eggs in my fridge.  My son really wanted them, got very excited, but then decided he didn't like them after all.  I'm pleased by this.  I'm more comfortable consuming vegan food and I think it's healthier for us.  If he decides he wants them every now and then, that's fine, we'll just make sure they're local, organic, and free range.  Should food become scarce, we will revisit the egg option, but for now, we're good. 

Image Credit: Minimalist Photography

Thursday, February 24, 2011

TABLE TOPICS: Perfect for the Family Dinner

Since reading Laurie David's FAMILY DINNER, I've been extra focused on making meal time as fun and meaningful as possible.   TABLE TOPICS are a wonderful way to get the ball rolling. 

Each box contains 135 question cards.  The box itself is a shiny clear lucite cube that is good looking enough to leave out on the table and would also make a lovely presentation for a gift ideal for hostesses and holidays.   It has weight and feels good in your hand.

Family Gathering Table Topics would be wonderful at larger family events, taking the pressure off and encouraging conversation destined to bring people closer, recalling fun memories and lightening things up with humor.

The Family Edition has been on our table for a good week and it really has sparked some fun conversations.  If you are using them with young children, you could easily rotate a couple of different themes (Family Edition and Original , for example) as answers will change and questions will be forgotten. 

My son is crazy about these.  Now when we sit down for a meal he asks excitedly, "where are the questions?"  We took them with us to the Thai restaurant and not only did it occupy him while we waited for our food, one of the owners of the restaurant was fascinated with them and wanted some for her family.   Find them HERE.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011


When I first heard about Laurie David's new book I dismissed it because I thought it was essentially a non-vegetarian cookbook.  With so many veg-options out there to choose from, I really didn't take notice.  That is until I saw her giving an interview about it.  Then it all made sense, it wasn't so much about the food as it was the sentiment.

Enjoying family meals on a regular basis, I believe, is an art.  Putting it all together in a specified time frame and making it fun and interesting takes effort and skill. I love that David's ideal includes families of all dimensions, not just the traditional foursome.  She honors extended families, divorced families, small families, and friends who equal family.

With a small family like mine, it's been a challenge to get into the routine.  But because we are small, it's even more important to make the effort.  I'd already heard the statistics that kids who have family dinners have better grades, more self esteem, and get into less mischief, but I was most excited to develop a habit that would strengthen our relationship and communication long term.  I read eagerly with highlighter in hand.

As I read, I shared some of the ideas with my son.   Taco Tuesdays?  Rules, such as turning off electronic devices and television, ways to make the dinner more festive with theme nights,  and lighting a candle to slow time were all excepted enthusiastically.  He was in.

There's a chapter called Meatless Mondays and therein David speaks out against factory farming and explains why eating vegetarian is the greener and healthier choice.  Vegan chefs Tal Ronnen and Bryant Terry are featured as well as input from Kathy Freston and part time vegan Mark Bittman.  I would love to see her follow up with The Vegetarian Family Dinner.

There are plenty of tips on how to achieve the habit of family dinners and how to make it as accessible as possible.  Family dinner can consist of Chinese take out, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pizza, whatever makes it happen.  The point is that you are together breaking bread and bonding.  Stocking your kitchen for fast and easy meal prep is another great trick and she gives itemized lists and suggestions.  There is some good inspiration for getting the kids in the kitchen and making the journey to the table part of the fun. 

The author is eco-minded so there are plenty of green tips as well.  David recommends filtered tap water only for instance, organic and sustainably sourced foods, composting, and recycling.

There is emphasis on the table being a safe place and dinners being free of criticism and conflict. David generously shares that growing up her family dinners were not exactly pleasant, inspiring readers to create a better experience.  Even if your history with mealtime isn't so positive, you can turn that around with your own family.

The book is loaded with shadowboxes, which is something I always find fun.  Little tips, stories, research data, quotes, and conversation starters--nice touch.  There's a chapter on cooking with kids, growing some of your own food in a backyard garden, and gratitude.  It's very well rounded and full of heart. It would be a wonderful gift for family members or close friends.  It's one of those books that will likely be tattered from use, it's one to return to over and over.  I think it is destined to be a classic.

Since reading this book, family dinner has been much more consistent at our house.  Though it hasn't happened every day, we've made leaps and bounds and are well on our way to establishing this beautiful ritual.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

UNLEASHED LIFE: Artful Green Living for Dogs

I didn't realize how sloppy my dog's bowls looked until I got these gorgeous wooden bowls.  UNLEASHED LIFE (love the name) has a beautiful and large selection of eco friendly dog bowls that will lend an element of unexpected design to your space.  Artful green living can and should extend to our companion animals. 

These Anderson Bowls are made from sustainable acacia wood and non toxic stainless steel.   The stainless inner bowl is removable and dishwasher safe.  They're raised which makes it easier for dogs to eat.

The Rowley Bowls are a little more detailed and are hand turned from renewable plantation wood.  They also have the removable stainless bowl. 

Unleashed Life has a wide variety of beautiful eco friendly dog bowl to choose from very much in keeping with my philosophy that everything in your home should be beautiful and as green as possible.  Find them HERE.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Strawberries for Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day beautiful readers! Want a festive food you can feel good about eating today?  How about some strawberries?  They're loaded with vitamin C, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.  They contain B vitamins, manganese, omega 3's, potassium, magnesium, and folate.  Like most things in the plant kingdom, you can eat as many as you like without giving a single thought to calories and the sugar content is relatively low so they don't feed candida or play havoc with your sugar levels (obviously if you are diabetic, check with your physician).

Normally I would say get them at the Farmer's Market in the Summer when they are in season and melt in your mouth.  Although for a special occasion like today, I think frozen berries are just fine.  But don't even think about buying conventional strawberries, they must be organic.  Strawberries are heavily sprayed and if you can't find organic you are better off skipping them altogether.  But if you can find some, they're perfect for V-Day, they even look like little hearts.

Make a yummy smoothie, have them over a slice of vegan cake, make a raw strawberry cheesecake (bitt of raw is famous for her raw pies and I bet you can find a recipe or at least inspiring photos there, also rawmazing is a wonderful source for this sort of thing), eat them whole dipped in chocolate or plain.  Strawberries not only look pretty and taste great, but they smell divine.  A bowl of strawberries on the counter makes the whole room smell sweet and yummy and look at least as festive as flowers. 

Image Credit: CaptPiper

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Focus: LOVE ♥ Eye Candy for V-Day

Need a thoughtful last minute gift for Valentine's Day?  FOCUS: LOVE is perfect for anyone you'd like to surprise, not just your sweetheart.  The book is a collection of photographs featuring the heart motif in nature and unexpected places. 

It's a collaboration of international amateur photographers, but you'd never know they're amateur.  It's a very fun, creative and sweet book full of eye candy.  Kids will enjoy trying to find the hearts (they're not always obvious) and adults will find it hard not to smile.  Pop into your local bookstore and have a look, I think this book wrapped in red paper would make a wonderful gift.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

♥ Tisano Yummy Organic Chocolate Tea

Want a yummy Valentine treat that's a little off the beaten path?  TISANO CHOCOLATE TEA  is brilliant way to indulge in the flavor of chocolate without having to think about sugar or gluten or anything else you might be trying to avoid.  Last year I drank this yummy organic tea while on a detox plan and it was very satisfying and felt decadent.  It smells like hot chocolate or, as my son says, brownies, lending a soothing aroma-therapeutic effect as well. 

Because of Tisano's unique processing technique which utilizes the cacao husk, the tea retains nutrients such as Vitamin D, potassium, and magnesium.  It also contains antioxidants and Theobromine which boost energy and mood.

This tea would make a wonderful Valentine's gift, or treat yourself!  Use promo code valentine10 for ten percent off.  Find it HERE.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Adopt a Sea Turtle for V-Day


Here's something different:  how about gifting a sea turtle for Valentine's Day?  Sea Turtle Conservancy is offering a special package for Valentine's Day.  For $25 (tax deductable), they will send a folder containing an adoption kit which includes a magnet, sticker and a one year subscription to their membership publication.   You can visit their site to see which turtles are available for adoption and choose your favorite, they also offer Sea Turtle Adoption gift cards.

Founde. in 1959, the STC is an international non profit dedicated to preserving sea turtles through education, research and protection of natural habitats.  Find them HERE.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

♥Gluten Free Vegan VALENTINE'S DAY Cookies ♥

Need something different but exciting for your Valentine? LIZ LOVELY COOKIES make for some serious Valentine goodness.  Organic and Vegan and completely delicious, they're a treat you can feel good about enjoying.  There was a time when I had to bake my own cookies in order to insure my son and I got quality organic and vegan ingredients (forget about making gluten free cookies, that was over my head).  Now they are available pre-made from Liz Lovely, and they even have gluten free options, yaay! My new favorite cookies! 

They are Big cookies.  With a little restraint, one cookie can last for 2-4 different moments of sublime indulgence.  They're so rich and satisfying, you really don't feel that you need to eat the whole thing at all.  My favorites (for right now) are the Chocolate Fudge and the Triple Chocolate Mint.  Wow!  The texture is perfect, you would never think they were gluten free or vegan, there's nothing here but melt-in-your-mouth yumminess (so don't worry about gifting these to non-vegans).

  I strongly suggest a sampler box.  They have several different options to choose from (different quantities, gluten free or not, chocolate lovers, etc) which I think would make a fabulous gift for any occasion. Cookies are wrapped in cute packaging with a heart logo.  The box is bright and festive with a sassy pink ribbon.  How exciting to receive a pretty pink box full of cookies on V-Day!  Order soon to have yours in time (be sure to order a box for yourself too!).  Find them here on the LIZ LOVELY WEBSITE.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Turn Your Home into an Eco Friendly Spa with NANDINA

I have never become so excited over towels as I have today, after discovering NANDINAThese are probably the most magnificent towels I've ever seen.  Really?  Magnificent?  Towels?  Yes.  Not only are they a blend of soft delicious organic fibers, but they are functional art.  They are healthy, luxurious, and absolutely gorgeous.  I can't believe I'm swooning over towels, but seriously--they are perfect.

First off, they are Oeko-Tex certified organic.  Very very important because we know that cotton is loaded with pesticides and is one of the most heavily sprayed crops.  I wish everything in my house was certified organic, but this stuff is not always so easy to find.

Next, the aesthetics rule.  They are available in many colors, including black, which is extremely hard to find in organic.  Their colors are rich and and beautiful.  The Persimmon knocked my socks off--resembling exactly that deep saturated orangey color of a persimmon.  It's a color I can't get enough of, energizing but at the same time has that sumptuous sexy quality of the fruit.  Color is so important, so often with organic textiles we are stuck with the same colors over and over.  Neutrals, or that "natural" color, you know what I mean?  Sure, it's a nice color too, but there are so many vibrant colors in nature and I like living with stronger colors that enhance my mood.  It's wonderful to have that option and Nandina offers a wide range from neutral to bold.

Not only are there many colors to choose from, but the patterns are unique and fabulously artful.  Laurel, one of the owners, told me that the Akhara pattern comes from a wrought iron gate she saw while traveling in Morrocco.  The pattern is exquisite, something I've never seen on a towel lending an off-the-charts sense of luxury.  I just knew when I saw it that there was a story behind it.  The Sosa pattern gets its inspiration from Indian Saris.  Can you imagine if this much thought went into our daily necessities how beautiful our world would be?  I have a passion for artful green living and Nandina could be a poster child for what I mean by that. 
Lastly, the towels are the exact perfect weight, texture and size.  They're light and somewhat thin (in a good and hard to find way), but very luxurious.  And you know how the softer, more lux towels are usually not absorbent?  These are.  In fact, I've never used a towel this absorbent, it's remarkable.  They're so wonderful to wrap yourself up in after the shower, and they give you the right coverage, not too much, not too little.  For those who like an extra large towel, they do come in a Bath Sheet, but I found the regular Bath towel to be just right.  I thought I had nice towels, but boy was I wrong.  I never want to use another towel again after this.
After a nice hot soothing shower (where you used organic body care), you can slip into one of Nandina's certified organic cotton-bamboo rayon robes.  This is like being hugged by someone you really love that loves you right back.  They are a  heavy spa-weight that feels so plush and cozy, and they come in black!  They come in other colors too, but once again, I don't think there are other black organic robes out there, it's really hard to get workable dyes in the darker colors.  Nandina's color options really set them apart from other companies in this genre.

This robe is dreamy.  I love the little slits on the sides which make it a little more fashion forward than normal spa robes.  I'm 5'5 and usually an 8-10 in size and the medium fit great, the sleeves hit at the wrists which is good, usually robe sleeves are long on me.  It was nice to wear it while preparing dinner, something I wouldn't do in my other robes.  Once I put it on, I didn't want to take it off!

Healthy, functional, artful, environmentally friendly--you just can't beat it.   Going to a spa can be time and cost prohibitive, why not create your own green spa at home?  If you need an excuse, Valentine's Day is coming--lavish yourself or someone you love (men are said to go ga-ga for Nandina just as much as women).   Find them HERE.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Uncommon Goods ZENGUIN Cups

Would you like a little zen with your tea?  These uber cute ZENGUIN CUPS are ideal for setting the tone for a peaceful day.  Designer Patricia Carlson partnered with Uncommon Goods to offer up some sense of humor with your zen.

Each Japanese style cup has an image of a penguin engaged in different activities and a corresponding word that might be used in an affirmative way or like a mantra. The other side of the cup has an inspiring albeit cheeky message.

meditate: what is the sound of one flipper flapping?
be: do not fear the shark if your feathers are dry.
breathe: if the ice cracks and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?
fly: flight is not confined to the sky.

The cups have a nice weight and feel wonderful in your hand and if you have children, they will love them.  My son likes penguins and since we actually do mediate together, they are extra special.  Highly recommended!  Find them HERE.

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