Saturday, November 27, 2010

ACORN Vegan Slippers

Slipper weather is here.  As soon as temperatures drop, the slippers come out of the closets at our house.  It's a great way to keep that thermostat down, keep nasties out of the house that can make you sick, and  pamper your feet.  Acorn has some great vegan slipper options.  I love that there are color choices beyond pastel pink and blue.  So often with women's slippers we are stuck with the same colors over and over, but Acorn offers some rich darker colors including black.

The Nex Tex Clog is your basic clog slipper, a welcoming scuff for tired feet to slip into after a long day.  I love slides, they are so easy and you can just step right into them. These are my favorite slippers.  They have an outdoor-friendly sole so you can grab the mail and they're quite comfy.

Chinchilla Booties have a fun faux fur detail that butter soft.  The inside is lined with the faux chinchilla which feels crazy cozy on bare feet.  These also have the hard outsole if you need to step outside, and a soft footbed.  That fabric that comes up around your ankle really adds to the warmth.

For kids, the Spa Slipper is a great choice.  They're fuzzy and soft and have elastic at the ankles for a better fit.

All three slippers have a soft cushy memory foam midsole and EVA for added comfort, and they are machine washable as well for easy care.  I think slippers make a great holiday gift.  Find these and more fabulous slippers HERE on Acorn's site.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Zhena's Gypsy HARVEST Teas

Sometimes you want to enjoy seasonal flavors and smells without indulging in a heavy dessert or sugary drink.  Zhena's Gypsy Tea has the perfect solution for this in their organic fair trade Harvest Teas.  These premium teas contain hand picked herbs, wildflowers, spices, fruits and leaves, blended in exciting and aroma-therapeutic combinations.  Tea sachets are made from eco friendly hemp and come in  these beautiful tins.

Pumpkin Spice tea is a delicious, fragrant treat made with  Rooibos, Honey Bush, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove.  Very satisfying and warming on these cold days leading into winter. Because it's not caffeinated, it's great to share with the kiddos.  My five year old loves it.

As an alternative to apple pie or apple cider, check out this Pomegranate Cider tea.  This blend includes apple, pomegranate, cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, and a kick of Asaam black tea.  Festive and pleasing, this tea is rich in antioxidants.

Enjoy either tea as a healthy alternative to seasonal sweets, or be really decadent and have both.  On sale now HERE, or pick some up locally to enjoy with your holiday celebrations.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rethinking that Thanksgiving Turkey or, Guess who's Not coming to dinner

Each year over 46 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving dinners.   I haven't eaten turkey since I was a kid and I promise I do not feel a void. I've enjoyed my Thanksgivings every bit as much, and really feel that the turkey is an irrelevant, cruel and outdated tradition.  Our festive organic vegan dinner will include some delicious whole grain stuffing and miso mushroom gravy, roasted root vegetables, steamed broccoli, a big organic salad, and pumpkin pie.  Sounds yummy, right?

Turkeys are not stupid as we have been told.  They're very social creatures enjoying the company of other turkeys and other species, including humans.  They have relationships and show affection just like our cats and dogs and enjoy having their feathers stroked.  They have good hearing and vision, see in color, and have great geographical and communication skills.   Wild turkeys can fly short distances at speeds up to 55 mph and they can run on the ground at 25 mph.

Domestic turkeys cannot fly because they weigh too much.   Factory farm turkeys suffer tremendously during their short painful lives.   They have their beaks and toes cut off, they suffer painful health effects from being bred to have abnormally large breasts for white meat, they can no longer breed naturally because of this physical issue so breeder turkeys are kept locked up in a confined space, and they are killed violently and inhumanely.  The whole thing is so flagrantly disrespectful and barbaric, I believe if more people realized the backstory of their Thanksgiving turkey (and also the amount of pharmaceuticals and pesticides they contain), they would make the effort to find a truly free range local organic turkey or forgo it altogether.

It just seems to me that Compassion would go hand in hand with Gratitude, right?  Maybe a compassionate meal would make that point a little better.  Gratitude for our limited resources, gratitude for life and other living creatures.  And gratitude for our loved ones and being able to share this moment in time together, gratitude for the love in our really has nothing to do with the turkey.  For more on this topic, check out GENTLE THANKSGIVING or watch this horrifying video of turkeys in a factory farm.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Haba Polizei-Alarm! Game and just in time for the Holidays, $25 Maukilo Gift Card ★ GIVEAWAY ★

Haba makes my favorite kids' games.  They're imaginative, original, non-toxic, and visually fabulous.  They're also German, and for a Europhile like me, that adds to their charm and interest.  POLIZEI-ALARM! is a cops and robbers action game for two to four players.  One side are safe cracker robbers and the other side are the police.  The robbers try to crack the safe by throwing the right dice combinations while the police try to find the bad guys' hideout by steering around the board in a magnetically controlled police car.  The police have to use dexterity to find the robbers before they crack the safe under time constraints.

One thing I love about this game is the polizei siren.  Normally this would annoy me, but it's a European siren and it just brings me fond memories of Germany.  I love sharing this little morsel of Europe with my son who likes the novelty of it being a German Kids' game and the action of the police saving the day.

This would make a great holiday gift and the generous folks at Maukilo are offering a $25 gift card for you to get this or something of your choice just in time for the holidays.  Maukilo offers many cool European, nostalgic, and educational toys and games to choose from. To enter the giveaway, you must be a follower of this site (just go up to the top of your web page on the left and click follow if you are in blogger, if you have a problem following, just tell me in the comments and I will include you anyway).  Leave a comment telling me your favorite board game.  For extra entries tweet about this giveaway, blog about this giveaway, go to Maukilo's website and tell me what you'd buy, or for three extra entires, put Eco Mama in your blogroll.  Just be sure to leave comments for each thing you do.  Winner will be chosen via on 12-5.  Good luck!


Friday, November 19, 2010

My Dog's Favorite Toy (it's organic!)

This goofy looking dog toy called Precious Pat by Woof Wear is my dog's favorite, and she has a bunch.  We've had it a couple of months and she has pulled and tugged and chewed and it looks pretty much new.  She plays with it all the time by herself and it's also a great toy for interactive play.  There is a sqweakie inside that gets her attention and starts the play between us and I can keep her going for as long as I want with this thing.  I can't believe one of the legs hasn't come off or at least unstitched with all the rough housing we've done.  She has sharp little teeth but has not made a puncture.  I should say the dog is a chihuahua, I'm not sure how it would hold up with a big dog, but I think it's made for small dogs anyway.

The toy is made from anti-microbial and anti-bacterial organic bamboo terry cloth and stuffed with organic cotton.  If you are going to buy one new toy for your dog, I encourage you to try this one, it's fabulous.  Find it HERE.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beef up your Vegan Holiday Repertoire with these new cookbooks

Need some ideas for meals to serve during the holidays?  If you're cooking vegan or vegetarian for yourself, it's no big deal.  You already know how hearty and satisfying the food is.  But if you are having veg-resistant guests (sometimes that can happen inadvertently), it's nice to have a few tricks up your sleeve.  A lot of people still think that a meal is not complete without that centerpiece meat-dish, particularly on special occasions.  Sometimes you have company for  a few days and want to come up with some dishes that will wow those omnivores.

Here are some new vegan cookbooks for some fresh inspiration.   I have not had time to try many recipes, but I'm always interested in the latest vegan cookbook and I'm so happy to see that genre growing.  VIVA VEGAN comes from Terry Hope Romera, co-author of the classic and reliable Veganomicon,  Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, as well as the holiday essential, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  Viva Vegan is for those who like a little spice.  Romero has veganized traditional Latin cuisine by drawing from her own Venezuelan background and her experience working in the Latin NYC restaurant, Bachue. There is a color photo spread in the center and the book contains a good 200 recipes.  Would make a great holiday gift for that person who likes Latin American cuisine.
The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour
THE MEAT LOVERS MEATLESS COOKBOOK, Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour is perfect for those who feel like they need more hearty fare.  I think the title will also appeal to people adopting the "Meatless Mondays" tradition or who are transitioning.  I am not a fan of anything resembling meat and thought at first glance this might be bogged down with meat substitutes and faux meat, but it's not. I also prefer lighter fare and this book has that as well. I appreciate dishes like  the twice baked sweet potato, the kale chips, and the heavier polenta with Puttanesca.  The center color pictures look wonderful.  This would make a great gift and perhaps a little nudge to those who would like to eat healthier without sacrificing a thing.
Fresh and Fast Vegan: Quick, Delicious, and Creative Recipes to Nourish Aspiring and Devoted Vegans

Finally, you've been out showing your guests around town all day and come home hungry and need something quick to whip up.  FRESH AND FAST VEGAN will give you some new ideas for quickie meals that are not stingy on nutrition.  This book does not contain pictures--something I really feel are important in a cookbook.  But the recipes are straight forward, the layout is easy and the book is accessible to someone who might feel intimidated by vegan food prep (as hard as it is to believe that vegan food could be intimidating, I hear it all the time).  I think it's a nice book for anyone that doesn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but still wants variety and flavor.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Camping with Coleman

This year people are traveling more than last, however they are doing it by car.  People are also turning to the outdoors for vacations and camping equipment sales are up.  Camping is a cost effective activity appropriate for a wide age range that does the heart good.  Something fun you can do with your friends, your sweetheart, or the whole family.  You can make it as challenging or simple as you like, it's all about the gear you choose.

Thanksgiving is around the corner and many people have a few days off.  Wouldn't it be fun to go on a short camping trip?  Depending on weather, (in many places it's still nice enough for camping), it could be a great family getaway.  Check out this 8 man Instant Tent from Coleman.  Two people can literally sets up in less than five minutes, it doesn't get easier than that.  And it's huge.  Plenty of room for everybody and it even has the option to create two "rooms."  It's 10 x 14, 6.5 feet tall and has windows all the way around the tent so you get a 360 degree view.

When you have little kids, camping can seem intimidating.  Something like this simplifies the process and makes camping accessible to people who otherwise would opt out.  And though it's an eight man tent, I think it makes for a luxurious tent for four or even two people.  You can get creative with lanterns and color and make a very cool atmosphere.  This is a heavy tent and obviously not for backpacking in.  I think people who didn't think they were necesarily the camping type might change thier mind with a tent like this.
Coleman LED Quad Lantern
To make navigation around the campsite easier at night, Coleman has this new innovative lantern that breaks apart into several individual lanterns.  Great idea!  The Quad Lantern has a large base that holds 8 D batteries and provides up to 75 hours of light.  The lantern uses LED lights and the detachable lights recharge on the base.  I have several lanterns in the house for power outages and this one is the best.  Both items would make great holiday gifts.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Living Facade celebrates Biodiversity in Copenhagen

I have a huge love for Europe and I'm especially fond of Denmark.  Here's yet another reason to swoon, the living green facade, Europe In Bloom, celebrating the UN's International Year of Biodiversity.  They just took it down, but what a magnificent feat!  Read more and watch videos on how it was done HERE.

Friday, November 12, 2010

PLANET BIKE Protege 09 Bike Computer

I can't believe I've been riding my bike all this time without a computer!  Recently I've been using this Planet Bike Protege computer and what a difference.  Biking is more fun when I'm keeping track of my distance and it also makes me want to push a little harder.  It's also nice to have the time right there in front of me as it's easy to lose track of time when I'm out in nature enjoying myself.  The screen is anti-glare, and the readout is in big enough numbers that I can easily read it at a glance.

Readout features:
  • Current speed
  • Speed comparator
  • Ride time
  • Trip distance
  • Dual odometer (for two wheel sizes)
  • Average speed
  • Maximum speed
  • Clock
  • Temperature
I installed it myself with no problems, set up was straightforward, just follow the directions.  It might take a couple of tries to get the magnet and the sensor to line up, but it will.  After installation, just push up on the bottom of the device, the readout will display, and off you go.

Planet Bike gives back.  A generous 25% of their profits go toward promoting and facilitating the use of bikes as transportation.  Their products add to the ease, safety and sheer fun of cycling while benefiting the environment at the same time.  I love the win-win philosophy--healthy people, healthy planet.  Find it HERE.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Labyrinth Balance Board from Fat Brain Toys

Here is something exciting in the world of kids' toys.  The Labyrinth Balance Board from Fat Brain Toys is perfect for indoor winter fun.  By combining physical dexterity with mental challenge, the Labyrinth will keep you, er, your child occupied and work out those core muscles without even realizing it.

My five year old has a ton of energy and this makes for a great outlet, it's also a good primer for the skateboard he wants.  You just place your feet on the anti-slip surface and surf back and forth trying to get the wooden balls into the center of the labyrinth.  It's really fun, for all ages, and you might find yourself vying to take turns with your child (much to their delight).

The Labyrinth builds concentration, coordination, and balance, increasing those motor skills.  The board is well constructed, made in the US, and has a hefty weight capacity of 275 lbs.  It's the kind of quality toy that could be passed on from kid to kid.  Not to be used indoors on hardwood or bamboo--use it outside, on carpet, or a protected surface.   Find it HERE at Fat Brain Toys.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Organic and Vegan: Equal Exchange Good Morning Basket

Going somewhere for Thanksgiving and need a nice gift?  Wish you were going somewhere and would like to send something along?  The Good Morning Basket from Equal Exchange makes a wonderful gift for friends and family who are far away, or for the hostess you are visiting throughout the holidays.

Included is a 10 oz. bag of organic French Roast Coffee, Organic Breakfast Blend Black Tea, and two large organic vegan Liz Lovely Snapdragon Ginger Cookies.   This is a fabulous gift for vegetarians and vegans, but fon't feel that this is geared for vegans only--anyone who appreciates quality organic food would love this.  The basket itself is made from kaia grass and comes from Dhaka Handicrafts, a non profit organization improving the lives of families in Bangladesh.  Everything is Organic, Fair Trade, and vegan, yaay!  Find it HERE. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Smartwool: It's time to bring out the wool

Synthetic materials just don't cut it with me.  When it comes to warmth and performance, no matter how many times I try other materials I always come back to wool.  Smartwool is a brand I trust for quality, eco mindedness,  and animal well being.  "We would never hurt sheep," says Smartwool, "we love our sheep."  They participate in active promotion of enviornemtal stewardship programs and utilize eco friendly practices.  Wool is a natural, sustainable material and offers the benefit of managing temperature, odor and moisture.  The comfort level is high and so is the durabilty.

High Isle Socks are perfect to wear under boots.  They come in several different color combinations.  I love the Autumn colors in the Sienna High Isle.  Perfect for the season!

The Lupine Scarf is thin and wonderful to wear as an accessory beyond keeping warm.  I love the Charcoal Heather for wardrobe versatility but there are brighter options as well.  It's soft and cozy and very well made.

And for the days when you want to keep warm and still wear a dress or skirt, there are Smartwool Galoon Tights.  I find they run true according to the sizing chart, they are soft and look great with boots.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Portia De Rossi, I love you.

Did you see the Portia De Rossi-Oprah interview yesterday?  It was a gut wrenching yet inspiring talk prompted by her new book, Unbearable Lightness, which chronicles  Portia's struggle with an eating disorder and her recovery.  It's almost more shocking anymore to find a woman that does not have some sort of disordered eating*, so I wasn't shocked.  But I was blown away by her sheer bravery and honesty.

 Here is someone who is stunningly gorgeous, just as beautiful on the inside, and she's just as effed up as all the rest of the women in this country.  I'm  not saying all women have eating disorders, but I think the American approach to food and looks in general is very unhealthy and quite bizarre and unnatural.  It can be hard to reconcile.  She has worked through it and has found her joy and deep authenticity, and I find it immensely generous that she was willing to share her journey.  
Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain
I remember seeing her on Ally McBeal and thinking, wow!  She was so beautiful, she reminded me of old time movie stars, she had that elegance and also some sassiness.  I thought she was rare in the celebrity world and I loved that she looked like a woman and not sort of undernourished like the other women on that show.  I thought she was the prettiest, the sexiest, and by far the most interesting.  She was a bombshell with a brain.  Then I noticed she seemed to be getting thinner and thinner.

And come to find out she was suffering from disordered eating and having a hard time coming to terms with her sexuality.   Have you ever wondered, looking at seemingly confident goddess-like women, what is life like for that person?  What is it like to move through the world in that gorgeous form?  Well, there you go, it is not always what we might think.  Mad props to Portia for her authenticity and for doing the world a service, she's a bright sun.

* Natalia Rose has done some wonderful and enlightened writing on the subject of eating disorders, for more on this, check out this post. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

One of my favorite images from last night...