Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blue Fish: Fabulous Organic Clothing Perfect for Summer

The energy that creates beauty is eternal.  Blue Fish began as a dream.  A desire to dress individually and expressively.  Blue Fish endeavors to reach out, to inspire, and to connect people through the philosophy which is expressed and shared through the clothes we make."  --Jennifer Barclay

I'm always on the lookout for fashionable, quality organic clothes.  Blue Fish clothing really stands out as being very original and it's current collection is perfect for summer with its loose fitting styles and light weight eco friendly fabric.

Blue Fish was born years ago, when founder Jennifer Barclay began making clothes in her parents' garage.  Her company really took off in 1986, and has been completely organic since 1995, apt for a designer who draws much of her inspiration from the natural world.
The fabric is soft and durable, the colors are saturated and earthy and the designs are unique.  Check out the Blooming Tunic.  It's long enough to be worn alone as a dress, or works great with leggings or pants such as the Petaloon It's perfect for wearing to the Farmers' Market on a sunny day with a big sun hat, puttering around the garden, or out to dinner.  

Clothing should be as comfortable as it is beautiful and Blue Fish gets this totally.  These are not clothes you are in a hurry to change out of when you get home--you could sleep in them they are so comfy.  The clothes coordinate, so with a few pieces you have many outfit options.  I also love the layered look, and Blue Fish clothes are meant to layer and combine to fit many different moods and looks.

Those with a creative sipirit will appreciate the originality of these clothes.  Most offer the option of a hand stamped design and while I prefer plain, I think many will enjoy the whimsey of the interesting symbols and designs of the stamps as wearable art.  Everything is made locally in the US by artisans and moms.  Find them HERE.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

K9 and Doggles: Eyewear for Dogs

Summer sun can be bright for dogs too, Doggles offers sunglasses made just for dogs.  And if the dog doesn't mind, they're good fun.

Doggles are the only company that make eyewear specific to dogs.  The bridge of the nose is wide to fit a dog's nose and there are adjustable straps to fit around the head and ears.  They are well made from eco friendly recycled materials.

Doggles provide protection from sun, wind and debris.  How do you get your dog to wear them?  They suggest putting them on outside where it's bright because the dog probably won't like wearing them indoors where it would be harder to see, only leave them on for a few minutes at first so the dog can get used to them, reassure that it's okay and try not to let the dog paw at the glasses.  After a few tries most dogs are willing to wear them.

There are two versions with many size and color options of each.  One is the K-9 which are more like sunglasses, and the other are Doggles which are more like goggles and are modeled after sport goggles.

The Doggles are the more hard core of the two, offering more protection.  If your dog likes to poke his head out the window or rides on a bike or side car, these would be great.

Find them HERE.
Image Credit: Kendall

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Imprint Comfort Mat: Eco Friendly Must Have

I am a big fan of anti fatigue mats.  It's one of those things you can't live without once you discover it, and I now consider it a kitchen necessity.  They also work great in other rooms such as the laundry room, the garage, studio, bathroom, and anywhere you find yourself on your feet for extended periods.
I love the eco friendly Imprint Comfort Mat.  Formerly known as Sublime, the Imprint is a new improved version which is thicker with even more cushion.  This relieves pressure on the lower back and knees.  It would be well worth it to take one to work if you have a job that keeps you on your feet.

As the name suggests, it conforms to your feet leaving footprints behind.  Formaldehyde and Phthalate free it won't off-gas harmful chemicals into your home and it absorbs sound as well as shock.  Sublime Imprint has an eco friendly non-toxic patented design which sets it apart from the other mats.  They come in different colors and patterns to match your decor.  Highly recommended, find it HERE.  

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gardening Books Rocking my Organic Summer Garden

For the first time in three years of effort, my organic gardening is paying off.  I've got quite the crop going and am able to offset our grocery bill.  Our space is small, and I basically have two beds going.  It's amazing how much food you can get out of a small space.  I'm still a beginner and have much to learn, but the process is exciting and fruitful.

Here are some books I recommend for those who would like to grow food in a small urban space:

ONE MAGIC SQUARE: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square by Lolo Houbein:  Inspiring book written by a woman who understands how fragile the food chain is.  Ms. Houbein grew up in Europe in the 1940's when, due to war, her region suffered a famine.  Houbein learned how easily your food supply can be cut off and how important it is to take responsibility for at least a portion of your own food production.

Despite this harsh experience, her joy and love of gardening come through loud and clear and she is rather laid back about it.  Still, she warns about things like terminator seeds (food which has insanely been altered with terminator genes so that they yield no viable seeds) and how to save your own seeds. There are tons of creative and practical gardening ideas.   Her story is as compelling as her gardening tips and this is a fascinating read.

GROW GREAT GRUB by Gayla Trail: LOVE this book!  It's filled with color photos--pretty much on every page which is wonderful for me as I'm very visual and it really helps to see exactly what she's talking about.  It also makes the book more accessible and fun to read.  There are chapters on growing, harvesting, preservation and storage.

Trail's tone is conversational and really makes gardening enjoyable as opposed to more of a chore.  I've read gardening books that are so technical and advanced that it scared me off.  This is the antidote to that.  There are recipes and tips such as to how to deal with pests, this book is a feast and packs a lot of information into  its 200 pages.  Trail also has a website, You Grow Girl, the namesake of her first book, which I now want to read.

FRESH FOOD FROM SMALL SPACES by R.J. Ruppenthal:  Great for the beginning urban homesteader.  Ruppenthal gives a nice overview of everything from gardening to raising honey bees and chickens (I don't eat eggs, but feel that if you do, it's a good idea to have your own well cared for chickens).

Included are chapters on fermenting, sprouting, and vertical gardening.  This is sustainable living right in the city by using available space to  farm your own fresh food.

McGEE AND STUCKEY'S BOUNTIFUL CONTAINER by Rose Marie Nichols McGee & Maggie Stuckey:  This book is known as the container gardening bible.  It's an A to Z, plant by plant guide that opens up the world of gardening to all.  You can grow a lavish edible garden on a balcony--very liberating to those of us with small spaces.  

I like the attention to aesthetics, and the authors discuss at the beginning how to make your container garden beautiful as well as fertile and productive.  By using color and themes, you can do all sorts of creative things with a container garden.   There are illustrations, not photos, which I don't miss in this book.  What it lacks in visuals it more than makes up for with tons of information.

It's got a great layout, is very easy to read, and is full of wisdom and tips.  It's one of those must have reference books that belongs on every gardener's shelf.  You can pick it up any time you have a question and go right to the answer. 

KITCHEN HARVEST by Susan Berry: Container gardening is a great way to get your feet wet.  This book has lots of enticing photos which provide a pleasing introduction to growing edible food in pots.  Makes a nice companion book to more technical books like The Bountiful container. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed Mini for Summer Travel

Traveling with the pooch? The Sleepypod mobile pet bed will take your best friend from the house to the car to the plane and hotel in comfort and style.  What a great idea, a three in one product that serves three functions--carrier, car seat, bed.  Not only this, but it looks cool.  Very modern and innovative.

The mini makes a cozy bed for smaller animals.  It has a plush furry liner that may be removed for washing or for a cooler environment.  There's a handle and a shoulder strap and it fastens into the car with a seatbelt to keep your companion animal safe.  They have even done crash tests to ensure the safety of the Sleepypod, which I find impressive.

I like that the animal has good visibility and love the cozy nestlike space which would probably be a comforting haven during travel, especially if it's been used at home for a bed.  There is a larger size (the original medium), but the mini will fit under airplane seats.  There are several informative videos on the Sleepypod website which demonstrate how easy it is to use.

We tried the mini and it worked great.  Our dog was happy to curl up and sleep in the soft furry bed, and I find the mini to be maneuverable and enjoyable to use. Find it HERE.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Forks Over Knives--Movie Trailer

Check this out, Forks Over Knives promotes the concept that disease can be avoided and reversed with the appropriate diet.  This could be one of those life changing films along the lines of the book THE CHINA STUDY.  Sometimes people are more willing to watch a film than read a book.  For those who read this blog, it might be sort of singing to the choir, but I'm looking forward to seeing this and passing it along to family and others.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hey Moms of Boys! Check out this easy Summer haircut.

I came to this quite by accident, but I'm happy to have discovered this no maintenance summer haircut for my son.  After my five year old cut his own hair unbeknownst to me and with those children's craft scissors (it wasn't pretty), I thought, why not just do the clipper thing and give him the buzz cut.

This Oster Professional Fast Feed Clipper fits the bill entirely. I've never used these before and was pleasantly surprised to find that they couldn't be easier to use.  You just pick one of the combs based on how short you want the hair to be, then run the clippers through the hair. So easy and very quiet.

Two seconds after he's out of the water, my son's hair is dry which is nice in our climate where it can go very quickly from sunny and warm to chilly.  It's practical and looks cute.  The clippers are very well made and I can't imagine having to buy another one ever.

And how eco friendly not to have to drive to the barber or salon, this way you have an appointment whenever you like and for free.  Great for kids but would also be good for anyone wanting this cut.  Find them HERE.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CHLORINE: should we swim in it?

We know that it's not a good idea to drink chlorine (one of the reasons we filter our drinking water) and we know it's not a good idea to bathe in it (hence the shower and bath filters), so what about swimming in it?

I LOVE swimming laps.  If I had my druthers (and a million bucks), I would wake up every single morning and swim a mile in my own indoor non-chlorinated pool.  Since I do not have my own pool, I have been going to a public pool to teach my son to swim and get in some laps every few days.  This has proved to be challenging in a big way and for one main reason--the chlorine.  My sinuses are fried after swimming, our swim clothes wreak even after multiple washes (so does our skin, even after brushing) and we both sneeze like crazy the rest of the entire day.  The whole thing has me thinking, are the benefits of swimming worth the dangers of chlorine?

Since we are not supposed to put anything on our skin that we wouldn't eat, it doesn't make much sense to marinate ourselves in chlorine, right?  Dioxin, one of the most toxic substances known to man, is a by-product of chlorine and is considered by the EPA to be 300,000 times more dangerous than the ultra-scary DDT.  Dioxin is the reason there are warnings about white coffee filters--while the coffee is brewing, dioxin is seeping into your coffee via the bleached filter!  This strikes me as very insidious.  Paper--toilet paper, even diapers contain dioxin!  All because some people associate sanitary and clean with bleached white.  Paradigm shift needed desperately.  At what point does common sense and reason become the norm?  Dioxin is also found in food products such as cheese, but more on that later.

There are all sorts of warnings due to Dioxin.  We are ingesting Dioxin every day to the tune of up to 600 times the EPA's suggested limit (as though any is okay).  This in turn leads to a ridiculous amount of health issues from allergies to cancer.

Pools that are indoors are worse than outdoor pools because you are breathing in so much chlorine along with what is being absorbed through the skin.  I've read that you could drink a quart of pool water and absorb less toxins than what you absorb by swimming in it for a half an hour.  Here's a link to some references specific to the hazards of chlorine pools.

Dr. Weil has a post about some of the dangers of swimming in chlorinated water but then goes on to suggest wearing a mask and snorkel as a solution--seriously?  I mean, thanks for addressing it, but surely we can do better than this.  To be fair, he does suggest lobbying and discussing the matter with managers at our local pools--this we can all do easily and maybe if they hear it enough, there will be change.

My conclusion:  at this point I do not have access to a non-chlorinated pool.  The danger of my son not knowing how to swim will for now outweigh the danger of the pool.  However, I will limit our exposure to once or twice per week and I will seek alternatives.

image credit: ecstaticist

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Charlie and Lola Boxed Set: Absolutely Completely Wonderful

I absolutely completely adore Charlie and Lola.  All forms, but particularly the videos.  It's hard for me to watch some kids' shows as I find them either boring, visually unappealing, or just plain obnoxious.  Charlie and Lola are the antidote to all of that being intelligent, funny, and very nice to look at with a vibrant color palate and multi media mode.  Charlie and Lola, Volumes 1-8 is a necessity for anyone with children.

The set includes eight DVDs, with some favorites like, I Will Not Ever Never Eat A Tomato, Snow Is My Favorite and My Best, and Look After Your Planet.  The stories set a great tone for compassionate living and Charlie and Lola are wonderful role models for kids.  They work out their problems amicably, they are respectful (without being corny), they are fun, smart and eco conscious.  

They're also English so there are subtle British charms throughout, like having biscuits instead of cookies.  Charlie is the big brother everyone wishes they had and Lola is a delightful, self possessed, confident little girl.  Imagination reigns in the world of Charlie and Lola and it's a feast that you just don't find in other children's shows.

My son started watching Charlie and Lola when he was about one, and at five he still appreciates them.  I love cuddling up on the couch and watching this show together, I can't tell you how many times I've seen each episode and somehow they are still fresh for me.  I dread the day when he outgrows them because I know I never will.  Great for summer days when kids need chill time, for airplane rides and waiting rooms.  Highly recommended.  Find it HERE.