Saturday, January 29, 2011

Will You Be My Valentine? Box of Organic Equal Exchange Chocolate ♥ GIVEAWAY ♥

Just in time for V-Day, Equal Exchange has two new chocolate bars out--Yummy Dark Chocolate Ecuador (vegan) and Chocolate Carmel Crunch.  Organic and Fair Trade, these chocolates help to support indigenous farming communities as well as infuse your body with rich antioxidants. The Ecuador is deep and dark and satisfying.  Just one little square is all it takes for me to feel like I've had a decadent treat.  If you'd like to purchase some chocolate for your valentine, you may use coupon code chocolate5 (valid through February) to get $5 off a case of chocolate on the Equal Exchange website.

Would you like to try some chocolate bars?  Equal Exchange is giving away an assorted box of chocolates to one of my readers (yaay!)  To enter just leave a comment telling me what your favorite kind of chocolate is.  (Open to followers--if you are not yet a follower just go to the left corner of the screen and click on follow).  Winner will be chosen on Feb 6 so that you will have your chocolates by Valentine's Day.  ♥

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Backyard Eggs: Yes or No?

Lately I've been thinking about including eggs in my family's diet.  I like the idea of backyard chickens and organic urban homesteading.  There is a back to basics quality about this that is not only practical, but life-enriching and eco friendly.

My son is completely fascinated by eggs, and has been asking for this for a while.  And lately, as my diet has become more and more restricted (going gluten free, trying to manage migraines and eat for optimal health) I have become open to eating eggs occasionally, as long as they are sourced from chickens that are raised in a certain manner.  If treated right, I don't have a problem with people having chickens and don't see it as much different from having cats or dogs.  But I do question how healthy eggs are.

So, I've been looking into this and have come across some disturbing information.  Cholesterol issues aside (not so concerned about that), there's another reason eggs might not be a healthy choice.  My rule for eating eggs was that they must come from backyard or free range local farm chickens fed organically.  Well get this--dioxins (highly toxic dangerous chemicals) are most prevalent in these particular chickens.

What?!  It seems our earth has become so toxic that the chickens are consuming dioxins which translate to eggs.  Foraging was once thought to be the way to get the most nutritious eggs.  I'm aware that dairy and meat often contain dioxins but until now, I didn't realize they find their way into organic backyard chickens (I should have known because dioxins, which are stored in fat, are found in human eggs and breast milk). Another reason why the vegan diet seems pretty optimal.   I will continue to look into this and report back.  Everybody reading this knows not to eat the ultra-cruel factory farmed fung-eggs, or the pseudo humane "cage free" varieties, right?  Maybe it would be a good idea to be mindful and moderate about free range egg consumption?  To be continued. 

Image Credit:  madelinetosh

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Columbia Alpine Attitude Jacket: Sexy Meets Function

Need something to keep you extra warm this winter?  The COLUMBIA ALPINE ATTITUDE JACKET has a lot to offer.  If you are detail oriented you will really appreciate the features on this jacket.  They thought of everything. 

Let's start with the Omni-Heat feature, a new patented technology I was excited to try out.  There are little silver dots on the lining which serve to reflect heat back to the wearer.   I don't have a lab to test this out, of course (they have videos of testing on their website), but it really did seem to work, I found the jacket to be very warm and toasty. 

If it gets too hot, there are pit zips which instantly cool it down and are ideal for winter activities.  I found this very helpful while working up a sweat playing in the snow with my son. The optional adjustable powder skirt keeps the snow from getting up under the jacket, perfect for sledding and making snow angels.  There's also a connect tab that can hook to snow pants.  The mesh inner pocket designed for goggles also works for necessities like a small wallet/id, phone, etc.

I love the way the jacket hits at the low hip (I'm 5'5) covering most of your bum and keeping you extra warm.  The hem flares out slightly making for flattering feminine lines.  Comfort cuffs in the sleeves convert to optional fingerless gloves which keep the cold out and feel soft and warm against a cold steering wheel.  I've never had this sort of sleeve and it's very handy.

One of my favorite features is the ultra soft faux fur lining around the neckline.  So many times I've had jackets rub uncomfortably around this area and this solves that problem in a very luxurious way and it looks pretty too.  There's also removable faux fur around the hood--I love it, I think it adds some sass to the coat. 

I've never tried Columbia's brand before and I must say, I'm impressed! This coat is  multifunctional--something I look for to reduce my closet clutter and consumption.  The Alpine Attitude is a great jacket for skiing, snowboarding, playing in the snow with your kids, or just looking really nice while keeping warm.  Find it HERE.

Review Disclosure

Sunday, January 23, 2011

More Reasearch that GMOs and Bees Don't Mix

Food Feedom has a great article about how GMOs are endangering bees.  Chistof Potthof interviewed  bee researcher Dr. Hans-Hinrich Kaatz who offers some frightening yet not surprising insights as to the dangers of GMOs and the corruption of research.  Read more HERE.

Image Credit:  Foodfreedom

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Yes! End the Phone Book Deluge, Please!

When I saw this post on Treehugger, I was cheering.  By all means, yes, telephone book companies please stop!  Every six months (sometimes it seems like more) I get two phone  books dropped off on my porch.  Phone books I don't need, phone books I don't want.  If I'm home I run out quickly and give them back and say, please take these.  I am always met with the same response, "Oh you can just recycle them."  Um, No.

We shouldn't have to recycle what we don't want/need in the first place.  How is it okay for companies to litter your porch with this stuff?  And that goes double for the mailbox.  Stay tuned for a solution--I'm still working on it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Meditation Must Have: Hugger Mugger Zafu and Zabuton

I've been meditating for years and think it's an invaluable part of life, enriching all areas.  However, I have not done this with any great regularity.  One reason is that it's difficult for me to wrangle in my energy, empty my mind and just sit still. 

Recently I discovered a wonderful solution for this.  Proper meditation cushions make an enormous difference in motivating me to sit.  Having a designated spot is very helpful, and if you are able to sit in comfort then you are more likely to want to sit and to stay there longer.

Hugger Mugger carries some very cool yoga and meditation supplies.  I'm crazy about their Zafu cushions and Zabutons. A Zafu is a round meditation cushion and a Zabuton is the flat rectangular cushion that that goes under it.  Sitting on the Zafu with your legs crossed on the Zabuton helps to align you spine and optimize breathing.

The Zafu has buckwheat filling which is removable so that you can customize your fit.  For me, it was perfect just the way it came and it molds to my body making it very comfortable to sit and taking the pressure off my lower back.  It has a carry handle and comes in different colors and patterns.

The cotton filled Zabuton is very soft and supportive under my legs and feet and I love the carry straps that also serve to cinch the cushion to utilize in other ways such as a bolster.  The cushion is soft and supportive under my legs.  The whole space created with the Zafu and Zabuton makes for a nice ritualistic spot and place to center your mind and body.

My little one has his own set and together we meditate, side by side.  I've told him that this is his safe place that he can have at his disposal to release negative energy or get grounded, and  I find the same for myself.  What a wonderful luxury to have this special space--if I had known how much it would strengthen meditation practice, I would have got meditation cushions a long time ago.  If you are looking to enhance your own practice or are just getting started, check out Hugger Mugger for some wonderful quality cushions.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The One Resolution I Wish Everyone Would Make

Okay I know I've posted a lot about New Year's Resolutions.  I just love them, I love making lists and goals and I guess I'm just nerdy that way.  I get excited that we all have this wonderful opportunity to set forth intention and go after our goals with a shiny new year in hand.  The last thing I shall say about this is that there is one resolution I wish everyone would make, and I believe this would change the world.

GO ORGANIC.  Just buy organic food, that's all.  This seems so simple and so intuitive to me that I cannot believe there is still the option--do you want your food with or without poison?  By purchasing organic food you are making a statement, you are voting, and you are insuring the most precious thing you have, your health and that of your family.  What is more important than that?

Not only is buying organic food benefiting you, it's doing something positive and necessary for the whole planet, people, and animals that live here.  Buying organic is protecting the farmers who often are forced to handle food laden with dangerous chemicals and suffer tremendous health consequences.  It's protecting our rivers, our oceans, our air quality.  It's voting against dangerous GMOs--when you buy organic, you buy GMO free.

"We can't afford it," is the excuse I hear most for why people don't buy organic.  This makes me a little crazy because the folks I hear this most from are people with bank accounts that I can only aspire to.  If I had to move my family into a one room efficiency apartment to be able to buy organic, I would, that's how important I think it is.  Of course, that is not necessary because organic food does Not cost that much more than conventional food and in some cases it's the same and even cheaper.  You just have to shop smart.  You buy what is in season, you buy in bulk, you buy local. Also, I firmly believe that you either pay now, or pay later in the form of hefty hospital bills and poor health.  You can't afford Not to buy organic.

Eating healthy is Not expensive!  There is nothing cheaper than beans and rice.  Throw in a little kale (which you can grow on a balcony year round for pennies) and you have yourself a hearty stick-to-your-ribs meal on the cheap.

The only reason not to eat organic is because it's not available.  I've been there before, living in a region where it was really hard to find.  If you are in this position, demand it.  Ask your grocer to carry it.  Be proactive, grow it, make it a priority.  For the last six years, I have eaten all organic food at home.  I have a major thing for Thai food and I know my take out is not organic, but as more and more people ask for it, it will become more and more available.

You can still eat whatever you want--cookies and junk food even, just make it organic and you are quantum leaps ahead. We are swimming in chemicals that are killing us and our planet.  If that sounds extreme, just have a look at the EWG and the ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION to get your passion ignited.  I believe that going organic is possibly the easiest and most powerful change people can make and it can start today.

I may be singing to the choir posting this here, but if anyone is reading this that has not made the switch, I hope you will consider it.  Good health to all in 2011!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Yoga for Kids

My five year old loves to do yoga.  We do it at home watching dvds and he uses one of my yoga mats.  He's so into it lately that I thought I'd look around for yoga stuff related to children and I found a couple of very cool things to get kids excited about yoga.  I love this PEACEFUL PIGGY YOGA book.   My son has been looking at my Sivinanda Yoga book copying poses and while that is great, this gives more doable poses and puts them across in a kid friendly sweet way.    I love that MacLean has made yoga so exciting to both boys and girls.  Ballerina's do it and so do cowboys and athletes.  She also explains the different ways we benefit from yoga such as improving flexibility and peace of mind.        
Yoga Pretzels (Yoga Cards)  
YOGA PRETZELS, from Barefoot Books is a wonderful must have tool to get kids interested in yoga and for those who already practice.   It's a deck of colorful over sized cards that have illustrations and steps to achieve poses as well as fun games, cute animals and a little fold out booklet with yoga-tips.  How fun to randomly pick a card and do the pose.  You can make a game out of it, pick one each day, use them as a fun treat.  The cards are easy to read and understand, visually fabulous, and would be perfect at home, or in the class room or yoga studio. 

As for the mat, there are kids mats out there, but they're harder to find than adult mats.  Check out these cute yoga mats for kids from Yoga Direct.  It's much more fun for a child when they have their very won gear.  Wouldn't it be great to start off the new year with mommy and me yoga practice at home?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Natalia Rose's Detox 4 Women: It Worked for Me!

For those of you considering a cleanse or some sort of dietary change for the new year, I want to share with you the great results I got with Natalia Rose's DETOX FOR WOMEN.  I was highly motivated by the desire to get rid of chronic migraines.  My diet was already pretty pure--all organic, plant based and about half raw.  But I knew I could use some refinement and I had high hopes of solving the migraine issue.

This detox is based on Rose's experience as a (very modern and enlightened) nutritionist working with hundreds of women.  At one point, Rose became convinced that most women in this country have some degree of candida.  She created a cleanse specific to this problem and I found it very effective. There is no starving yourself, and you pretty much get to eat as much as you like--the food is just clean and easy to digest, allowing your body to release any toxic overload gently.  Since I already did a review of the book (you can read that HERE), I won't repeat myself.  But I felt compelled to come back a year later and tell you how life changing this was for me.

At first I was resistant.  I had a hard time giving up nuts and sprouted organic whole wheat bread.  And brown rice noodles and bananas....and a few other things!  It was hard at first.  But after about a week, it got easier and after a couple of months I felt so much better.  The migraines did not go away for me, but the changes did help and  my body feels so much more in balance and energetic.

I went down two sizes in my clothes without ever feeling hungry at all, it felt like I wasn't even trying and weight just melted off.  The food is nutrient dense and ultra pleasing.  In fact, this plan is so satisfying I have continued it and will eat this way forever--not that I won't enjoy things that aren't that great for me form time to time because I will.  But it's always there to go back to after over indulging (did anybody else have one cookie too many during the holidays?)

Rose's ideas really stuck with me and when something makes you feel great, you don't want to stop.  I've added other gluten free, sugar free foods, because the vegan version of the plan can get repetitive after a few months. So though it's meant to be a detox, transitioning into a few other healthy foods, you might find that a lot of these habits stay with you.  Eating this clean feels good.

I also had the pleasure of working with her protoge, Ana Ladd-Griffin who had some wonderful input and encouragement that helped me along the bumps.  If you are struggling with Candida, low energy, or any number of ailments, you might want to check out this wonderful book.  Even if you are in perfect health, Natalia Rose has some wonderful thoughts for maintaining optimal health and wellbeing, I can't say enough good things.  You can find out more on her website (check out the blog archives for some great stuff)!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Eightfold Path for the New Year

Happy New Year my wonderful readers!  Still needing inspiration for resolutions?  The Eightfold Path is the Buddhist approach to meaningful living, born from the Four Noble Truths.  While I don't identify as Buddhist per se, I look to this philosophy over and over as I find it the most concise, practical and beautiful approach to life.

Although the principles of the Eightfold path are all interconnected, sometimes it's nice to focus on one at a time (they're harder than they look).  Here they are, ripe to choose from to increase your quality of life (and those around you) for 2012.  You can go to this site for a more detailed explanation. 

1.  Right View:  Understanding the Four Noble Truths (essentially that life involves impermanence and suffering and the way to handle suffering is by practicing the Eightfold Path).  Understanding Karma and the true nature of the world.

2.  Right Intention:  Ethical commitment.  Intentions toward harmlessness and good will, and resistance to aggression and desire. 

3.  Right Speech:  Avoidance of harsh and offensive words, slanderous, hurtful or false speech, and abstinence of idle chatter.  Speak with kindness, warmth, honesty and generosity. 

4.  Right Action:  Wholesome bodily actions which lead to a sound and peaceful state of mind.  Abstinence from harming or exploiting others (including animals), acting with kindness, respect and compassion. 

5.  Right Livelihood:  Peaceful, legal, righteous earning of one's living.  One's livelihood should not harm others, including animals. 

6.  Right Effort:  Willful intention and focused mental energy toward the other principles.

7.  Right Mindfulness:  Refinement of observation.  Clear consciousness, the ability to see things as they really are. 

8.  Right Concentration:  Concentration on wholesome actions and thoughts practiced and refined through meditation.