Saturday, December 21, 2013

Best Last Minute Gift for the Beach Bum

Do you have a beach lover on your holiday list?  Who doesn't love the beach, right?  Well here's the perfect last minute gift--Dune Jewelry's Digital Gift Card.   Dune's jewelry is not only beautiful, it's meaningful, even aspirational.  Can't go to Tahiti this year?  Well, you can wear the sand from Tahitian beaches and transport yourself with a glance.  Even better--you've been to Fiji and brought back some sand.  Now you can have your own little time capsule.

The applications for this jewelry are as endless as your imagination.  I'm totally in love with this concept.  Dune Jewelry has the most gorgeous, unique and fabulous gifts for the traveler, the outdoorsy person, and people who appreciate the one-of-a-kind.   For people living in colder climates, how fun is that to have a piece of the beach for comfort all winter?   If your New Year's resolution is to go to Cote d'Azure, how cool would it be to wear the sand until the trip, like a talisman?

Each piece is custom made with your own sand that you send in, or from Dune's sand bank, with sand from all over the world.  It's solid, well made jewelry that feels wonderful in your hand.  It comes packaged beautifully in a box with a small description. 

While I think the presentation would be much better with the actual jewelry, timed just right--it's not too late to give an awesome and meaningful gift.  Get yours HERE

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Easy Gift: Smartwool Diamond Hat & Scarf

Smartwool has so many wonderful holiday gift options for all ages.  Even a pair of their colorful socks would make an excellent gift or stocking stuffer, there are so many great things to choose from, and their products scream quality.  I love their stuff especially for outdoorsy types because wool is the ultimate choice for travel and outdoor activity, keeping you comfortable by regulating body temps.

Check out their Diamond Popcorn Scarf and matching Hat.  I am madly in love with the Polar Purple, which is a soothing periwinkle purple-blue.  I don't see it on their site at the moment, but a quick google search shows you where to find it.  It's two-toned and looks great and comes in other colors, even basic black. 

This would be a fabulous set for the person you're not quite sure what to give.  You can find Smartwool online or locally at shops like REI, and food co-ops (it doesn't get easier than picking up a gift while you're grabbing groceries).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Travelon Colorful Gifts for Travelers

Need stocking stuffers for your favorite traveler?  Check out these colorful new Zig Zag bag tags from Travelon.  Aren't they fun?  Wouldn't it be cool to get these along with some plane tickets?  A girl can dream.  Something like this can help you find your black bag, even if it's a carry-on, you'll spot it faster in the overhead bin, and make it less likey someone else will grab it by mistake. 
On a more serious note, Travelon's Safe ID Colorblock RFID Wallet will keep your identity and credit card information secure.  Since your passport, id, credit cards, etc, are chipped with RFID (radio frequency identification that are broadcast), the bad guys can use a scanner to get your personal info and get into accounts, steal your identification, etc.  So now we need RFID blocking wallets to keep our info safe.  Ridiculous, right?  But if you don't do this, someone walking past you with a scanner can cause some serious mayhem for you, better to play it safe. 

Travelon's leather Colorblock Wallet is black and unassuming on the outside, and cheery green, yellow and blue on the inside, it's a great looking wallet and would make a substantial gift for the traveler.  Thirteen slots hold your license, and credit cards, and there's a space for your passport.  There's a zippered coin compartment that would be great for separating currencies, and has all the features you want in your everyday wallet, with the added bonus of peace of mind. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Monsanto = Snow White's Evil Queen

So now Monsanto is literally playing the role of Snow White's Evil Queen by trying to pass off poisoned apples as a good idea.  If it weren't so terrifying, it would be funny.   Like non-organic apples weren't bad enough already--they're on the dirty dozen and are so polluted I wouldn't eat one--but this takes it to an even more sinister level.  Seriously, if we don't stop this, pretty soon everything will be GMO.  The deadline is December 16, please take a second and let the USDA know that we don't want gmo apples.  You can read more and sign the petition HERE.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Patagonia Wintertide Boot

Patagonia's new Wintertide Boot is as good looking as it is warm.  Not only that, but the sole means business, these are boots you can walk in comfortably for a long time, perfect for winter travel and adventure.  They are lace-up boots, so you can customize the fit, but they are easy to get on and off.  You can lace them in such a way that you slip your foot in and out without having to fool with the laces.  They come in different colors, but I love the silvery gray furry fleece contrasted with jet black, which look fabulous with skinny jeans.

They're waterproof, and a recycled foot bed wicks away moisture to keep feet dry.  There is plenty of cushion in the recycled EVA Patagonia Air insole, and I think there's something to this, because for the warmth and comfort, there's not a ton of bulk.  Anyone looking for a lower profile winter boot would probably be very pleased with these.  The outer sole is recycled content too, this is Patagonia, they'll be as eco friendly as possible. 

Sizing for me ran short.  I'm a true 8.5, and normally get 9's in athletic footwear.  With these, I actually needed 10's, so you might want to go up a size to start.   These are awesome boots (and would make a killer holiday gift), find them HERE. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Uncommon Goods: Compass Necklace

Do you have any outdoorsy people on your holiday gift list?  Travelers?  If you're reading this, I know you do.  Or you're one yourself.  Check out this fabulous Compass Necklace from Uncommon Goods.  What a perfect gift for hikers, travelers, and explorers.  And, really not just for those types, because compasses symbolize finding your way in life and the value of your journey, and it's a sweet sentiment for the people you love.  I can think of a hundred different ways this would be a beautiful gift.  It would make a great talisman for the new year, for instance, for embarking on a new project, adventure or goal. 

The actual piece of jewelry, made by artist LeeAnn Herreid, using eco friendly recycled materials, is very substantial in person.  It's small, about the size of a dime, but has a tiny heft to it--it feels solid in your hand.  The globe is glass, though, so be careful not to slam it down or be overly rough with it. The glass and shiny sterling silver make give it a quality look and feel, and it's about the size of a dime.  The compass is functioning, but not necessarily accurate, so not meant for self reliance out in the woods.  Find this awesome necklace and other great holiday gifts at Uncommon Goods, probably one of the top online shops for the best gifts you'll find, and full of eco friendly options. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Amber Lotus: New Eco Calendars for 2014

Are you still using paper calendars?  I am.  I need the visual on paper I can touch.  Amber Lotus makes fabulous calendars all on recycled paper with non toxic ink.  They have a ton of wonderful options with a theme of do-gooding, living healthy, and respecting the environment.  I like those sentiments and enjoy seeing this imagery around the house.  It also serves as inspiration.  How about the graphically bold and colorful Green Patriot Wall Calendar which reminds you to vote for no gmos, grow your own food, bike for transportation, etc.  I love this for the workplace, or school where it can educate while adding to the decor. 

Simply Raw is a nice option for the kitchen, with gorgeous photos of healthy foods that look like master works of art. This is art--nature's art.  Recipes by raw food chef Matthew Kenney, like January's Frisee and Fennel Salad (with fresh basil and maple syrup) are an added bonus.  It's fresh and perfect to start the new year off on the right foot. 

Meditation is a daily goal at our house, and these soothing images and inspiring quotes from the Mediation Wall Calendar is a good reminder.  You can use a calendar like this to chart your progress, as well as Amber Lotus engagement calendars.  Those also work great for recording your physical activity, meditation, and eating habits.  I struggle with migraines, and I'm always tracking my food intake for answers, but even if I weren't doing that, I still like the idea of charting my food intake, just to keep on track and make sure I'm eating enough nutrient dense food. 

I like to mark my calendar for various things, like a green highlighter over the date for every day I drink my green juice.  Seeing a whole month of green dots gives me a sense of accomplishment.  You can do this with your meditation practice, your running or swimming, etc.  It's really nice to see it all add up at the end of the year.  These calendars would make a thoughtful holiday gift, find a ton of options HERE.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Alternative: Adopt a Turkey

The Adopt a Turkey Project, which gives people the opportunity to sponsor one of the rescued birds who reside at the group’s shelters in New York and California, has provided care for more than 1,000 rescued turkeys over the last 25 years. For a one-time donation of just $30, adopters receive a special adoption certificate complete with color photo and fun details about their new adopted turkey friend.

Turkeys are, in fact, intelligent and social animals, who form lifelong bonds and possess unique abilities to communicate with one another. Just as “Free Birds” brings to life the personalities of each of its animal characters, caretakers at Farm Sanctuary know that real-life turkeys possess distinct personalities and exhibit a joy for life. Among the adoptable turkeys are:
Tulip, who lives at Farm Sanctuary’s New York Shelter; she is sensitive and kind to her flockmates and loves grapes and cranberries, 
Minerva, an attention-loving turkey with a passion for sunflower seeds, who resides at the rescue group’s shelter near Los Angeles, and
Tibbott, an outgoing guy who resides at Farm Sanctuary’s Northern California Shelter; he loves to meet new people and snack on lettuce and grapes.

“After more than 25 years of caring for rescued turkeys through our Adopt a Turkey Project, we’re delighted to team up with Reggie and Jake this Thanksgiving,” says Farm Sanctuary President and Co-founder Gene Baur. “We hope their amazing adventure will inspire even more people to adopt a turkey as part of their holiday tradition.”

To learn more about the Adopt a Turkey Project, visit or call the Turkey Adoption Hotline at 1-888-SPONSOR.

This is a guest post from Farm Sanctuary which operates three shelters in New York and California that provide lifelong care for nearly 1,000 rescued farm animals, works to change laws to decrease abuse of farm animals, and promotes compassionate vegan living.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Things to Make Your Holiday Guest Comfortable

Expecting company for the holidays?  If you live in a small space, it can be tricky.  You want to give your guests as much of their own space as possible, and a comfortable bed.   Even if you don't have a dedicated guest room, you can still make visitors feel comfortable and extra special. 

The Serta Raised Air Bed pops up in just a couple of minutes (deflates quickly too), and has a never-flat feature.  The height, at 18 inches, is really nice for guests who might have a harder time getting up and down from a camp pad set up, and it really makes into a bed that resembles a regular twin bed.  When you're done, it packs into a carry bag and goes right in the closet until the next visit. 

An amenities kit like the Hugo Naturals Travel Kit, which uses non-synthetic fragrance and eco friendly plant based ingredients is a great welcome gift.  I love the orange-vanilla, which is comforting and soothing, and something like this might help to keep guests from using their synthetic products.  I personally have a no synthetic fragrance rule and make no bones about it because I get terrible migraines from perfumes.  Essential oils are wonderful though, and I think a little gift like this makes a fun introduction to healthy body products, and a treat for those already on board.

If you want to be really generous (and keep shoes out of the house), some cozy slippers or slipper socks from Acorn would be fantastic.  I love the Chinchilla slides that are my go-to slipper right now.  Your feet feel like heaven in these things; they are extremely luxurious.  If you get them from a place like Zappos, and you order  the wrong size, they can have a new pair to you the next day.  Any slippers would be nice, but I'm partial to these. 

Additionally, I'd be aware of dietary restrictions (are they gluten free?  Vegetarian? Nut allergic?) and have a few things on hand.  Do they like coffee in the morning?  Tea?  If they're sleeping in a bright room, an eye mask would be nice (I like this one), and maybe some ear plugs.  Some nice organic chocolates or cookies on the night stand, a carafe with water, a clutter free space for them to put their stuff and charge electronics are a few thoughtful touches to make someone feel a warm welcome. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

DYSON DC47 Animal Ball Canister Vac

Dyson has a new canister vacuum and it's....well, I have to say this, it's super cute.  It's very compact, so it's kind of like a baby vacuum.  It may be adorable, but it packs a punch and I'm amazed at what a good job this little vacuum did on my floors.

My house is small and open concept, so the shorter cord worked fine for me.  It probably wouldn't make sense for a large home, but an apartment or studio or small place like mine would be ideal.  I have bamboo floors and wool rugs and it glided over all surfaces with ease.  The ball makes it very maneuverable and it's light weight saves your back while vacuuming stairs. 

The good looks set this far apart from other vacuums, it really is nice to look at with a vibrant violet top and charcoal gray body.  I would not recommend this for anything other than small jobs.  Nothing hard core.  This vacuum does not have the suction and power I've known in other Dysons, if you're sucking up things larger than lint, dust bunnies, and dirt, then stuff can get trapped on the way to the canister causing you to stop and empty it out.  So for smaller jobs, yes, but heavy duty--go with a bigger Dyson. 

Get Cozy with Horny Toad Blushfire

Starting to get chilly?  Horny Toad has the most wonderful fleece for cold weather coziness.  Their Blushfire Fleece is so butter soft, furry and plush, it's sure to become a winter favorite.  The Blushfire Pant is comfortable and warm, perfect for hanging out at camp or at home.  The fit is true to size, a tiny bit long on me with a 31" inseam (I'm 5'5), but doable, especially with shoes.  I wear an 8/10 and the medium is a good fit.  There's some give, and a drawstring inside to adjust the waist.  Two pockets on the back add style and make them less sweat-pant looking and more street-wear.

The Blushfire Hoodie is super cuddly, so prepare for people wanting to touch you when you wear it.  The hood comes up in the front to keep your neck warm.  And I do mean Warm.  This thing is toasty, so wear a layer underneath so you can take it off if you get too hot.  I love the Dark Smoke, which is a soothing gray blue slate color, and the softness is just pure heaven.

Both are really nice post-swim.  I swim laps on weekends and when I'm finished, I love slipping into this warm soft fabric before heading out with wet hair.  They are bulky pieces, particularly the hoodie, so I wouldn't recommend them for travel if you are doing carry-on, but for car camping, and winter weather, they are divine.  Horny Toad is an eco-minded company with well made stuff; find Blushfire fleece and more wonderful pieces HERE

Monday, November 4, 2013

Companies that side with Monsanto vs. the Good Guys

You might be surprised to learn who is backing Monsanto in trying to stop the 522 initiative to label GMOs.  A lot of companies supporting Monsanto are no surprise, Pepsi, Coke, Clorox--companies we know have zero interest in our health.  But it's the ones that we thought were looking out for us that are so disappointing.  The ones that sell organic food and promote health.  Companies we trusted.  Shame on them!  No more Lara Bars for us.  No more Alexia (love their organic french fries), no more Burts Bees, Santa Cruz Organic, and Horizon.  Moms buy this stuff for their families thinking they are making healthy choices, and it's a betrayal that these same companies don't even want us to know what's in our food.  Read more HERE and HERE.

On a positive note, look who's supporting 522:  Brad's Raw, Clif, Amy's, Annie's,  Coconut Bliss, Theo, Barleans, Tony's Coffee, Patagonia, and MORE.   This totally strengthens my loyalty to these brands and I'm grateful they're getting behind this.  If you're in Washington, please vote YES on 522.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Kid's TEVA Kimtah

My son is rough on his shoes.  Really rough.  He's a boy, and he's active and never stops moving until he konks out at night.  His clothes and shoes take a beating, and they need to be rugged.  Enter TEVA.  We've had great luck with Teva shoes holding up until he grows out of them.  He loves this brand and asks for it by name.  The Kimtahs are tough and they look great.  I love the toggle closure as opposed to laces; they're quick and easy, and I don't have to worry about him tripping over shoe laces that he's in too big a hurry to tie.  The orange loop in the back help with getting them on, and add some nice color contrast, as well as the orange in the toggle lace.

They're waterproof, with a special membrane to seal out water, so they withstand the rain, and my kid can't resist a puddle.  And I don't want him to, puddles are fun!  Wool socks help with that too.  Anyway--the Kimtahs are built for hard core wear and daily life.  Find them HERE.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

How to Handle the Candy: The Great Pumpkin

Happy Halloween Everybody!  It's one of my favorite holidays, I love the excitement in the air today.   Cute little kids running around in their costumes set against a backdrop of trees in firey orange, red, and yellow, with the random leaves  fluttering about.  It's the stuff of life, those sweet fleeting moments you never want to forget. 

Know what's not fleeting?  And what you would like to forget? The sugar meltdowns that go along with consuming all that candy.  Unfortunately, most Halloween candy is loaded with gmos and chemicals (Food Babe did a nice post about this here and Huffpo has one here).  There are some great alternatives, but even the good stuff is still sugary, so I find it best to curb consumption.  What we do at our house is choose some candy to consume after trick or treating, then put the rest in a bag on the porch for the Great Pumpkin, who leaves a small gift in exchange for the candy.  It works great for us; my son gets more excited about the GP than the candy. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Icebreaker Cascade Hood

Need something bright and cheerful to ease the transition into winter?  Icebreaker has come out with a Magenta hoodie that is a great tonic for gray-sky blues.  The Magenta Cascade Hood combines feminine looks with rugged function.  It's Real Fleece, meaning real wool that's soft, cozy, and fuzzy on the inside.  Wool is awesome.   It's a sustainable material that keeps you warm in the cold and wicks away moisture when it's hot, so it's ideal for outdoor activity.  When you break a sweat hiking, for instance, the wool will wick that moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and warm.  It's also odor resistant, so when you're camping or traveling and can't do laundry for extended periods, no big deal. 

The Cascade Hood has figure flattering lines, and I love the pocket on the front just big enough for an id and credit card.  As for fit--this is where things get tricky.  Icebreaker runs small and tight, so I recommend sizing up.  If you like your clothes a little loose, the way I do, consider sizing up two sizes.  Normally I take a medium in most things, I'm an 8/10.  In Icebreaker that translates to large and in this case, extra large.  Once I figured it out, the fit was perfect. 

Icebreaker makes some fabulous undergarments too--really nice in cold weather, and I spotted some on their site in this fun color.  Sizing for undergarments was true for me (mediums), go figure.  If you purchase directly from Icebreaker, they exchange sizes for you without charging shipping, so it's low risk, and once you find your fit, you'll love their stuff.  Find the Cascade Hood HERE

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vote YES on 522

Did you get your ballot yet?  I'm talking to you, Washingtonians.  Monstanto has dumped over 14 million dollars into defeating this initiative, we can't let that happen.  Who doesn't want to know what's in their food?  Who wants to eat frankenfood?  Nobody.  That's why Monsanto is trying so hard to stop this.  And they succeeded in California, with over 45 million dollars going toward stopping labeling.

Under 522, your food will be labeled, and you will know if you are eating genetically modified foods.  Starving Haitians had the wisdom to reject Monsanto's seeds, surely we can get together and at the very least get this stuff labeled.  Why it's not banned, as it is in so many other countries, is a disgrace.  Why don't we want to consume GMOs?  Have a look at these rats.

That's just for starters. We want and need bees, right?  Colony collapse disorder is heavily linked to GMOs and pesticides.  There is absolutely no scientific consensus that GMOs are safe, and I truly think it's a matter of common sense.  Do we want poisoned frankenfood or not?  At the very least, we should have the right to know what we're buying, right?  For more information, go HERE, and please vote YES on 522. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Clif Bars Seasonal Flavors

Clif Bars are back with a couple of new additions to their seasonal flavors.  First, Pumpkin Pie, just in time for Halloween and Thanksgiving, perfect for the after dinner hike.  And next, Pecan Pie bars.  Yum.  I love pecans, so this is the bar for me, but I'll have to fight my son for it.  He's a huge fan of Clif Bars and they have seen us through more than a few potential disasters.  You know, when you're out and about and your child says, "Mom, I'm starving."  If you don't happen to have something on hand, things can go south pretty fast. 

Clif Bars are perfect to have in your bag.  These flavors are great for holiday hikes, road trips, the plane, and to keep in your purse for emergencies.  I think they'd also be fabulous in Christmas stockings for outdoorsy types.  They're hearty, 70% organic, and gmo free.  Find them HERE.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gear up for Cozy: Acorn Slippers

As Autumn puts on it's orange and red fireworks, I start wanting chai, and slippers.  It's time to gear up for cozy.  Acorn has a new bootie out, the Moxie, and it's super warm and cute.  Since I started wearing slippers, and not just socks, I don't get that cold-to-the-bone chill I used to.  You know that level of cold where the only cure is a hot shower?  You can help avoid that by keeping your feet warm.

Simple, I know, but I've spent many a winter in socks.  Sixteen dollar wool socks broke that habit--I wanted to preserve them--now I can't go without slippers.  The Moxies have a sole, so if you need to run to the mailbox or grab the paper, you can, and it comes up over the heel to protect the bootie.  They can be worn folded down, or up (I like them up).  These would be awesome for apres ski or snow play, they have a rustic, log cabin toasty appeal to them.  Acorn is having a contest right now to win these HERE

A great vegan alternative to the Moxie is the Chinchilla Mule.  These are so cute!  Perfect for slipping on and off, the pretty gray faux fur keeps your feet toasty.  I love the heather gray wool uppers, and they also have a sole which makes them last a long time, give your feet support while the memory foam makes them ultra comfortable and gives your feet a welcome relief.  They come in several colors and would make a wonderful holiday gift.  I wear a size 8.5 and need a 9, or large in Acorns.  Find them HERE

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ibex Juliet: Autumn Must Have

Ibex has some exciting things in their new fall line.  My favorite:  the Juliet.  It's a top, it's a base layer, it's a jacket.  And it's Soft.  It has a figure flattering cut, and I love how the sleeves come down a little over your hands for that extra warmth.  I'm always pulling my sleeves over my hands, but this does it for me, and I like this better than the sleeves with the thumb holes.  Speaking of sleeves, the right one has a discreet goat logo, you have to look for it to see it.  I love how Ibex is not in your face with their logo, but if they were, it's so artistic and cool looking I wouldn't mind at all.  It's fun to find the goat on their clothes.  The neckline is also very flattering, and adjustable with the zipper so you can get just the right amount of warmth.  It's a full zip for more versatility, if you start getting too warm, just unzip, also giving you a bit of a cardigan option.  It comes in several great patterns (making me want more than one), I'm crazy about the patterned charcoal gray. 

So, aesthetically this is a win, functionally even more so.  Wool will keep you warm while wicking away sweat (great on the trail), and it won't hold odor (great for when you're on an adventure and can't do laundry for a while).  The weight is perfect, very light, but considered mid-weight.  I want more of this weight at 18.5 micron wool, it's perfect, and incredibly soft and cozy.  Ideal for travel, this is perfect for on the plane and will add very little bulk to your bag doing more than its share of jobs.  Ditto for any outdoors activity.  It's a peice that could be considered heavy duty function-wise, but it's heavy on fashion and femininity too.  Just perfect.  If you need something to get you excited about cooler weather, this is it.  Sizing runs true, I'm an 8/10 and medium is a great fit.  Find it HERE.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Stop Monsanto Protection Act

 In my inbox today, this from the OCA:

URGENT: House Passes Monsanto Protection Act. Ask Your Senators to Stop It!

On Friday, September 20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the Continuing Resolution (H.J.RES.59), a bill to keep the government running through December 15. The bill will force a showdown with the Senate because it includes a provision to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

But the Continuing Resolution is controversial for another reason. It extends the Monsanto Protection Act, officially referred to as the Farmers Assurance Provision, a law that gives biotech firms immunity from federal prosecution for illegally growing GMO crops.
Please call your Senators today and ask them to pass a clean version of the Continuing Resolution, one that doesn’t extend the Monsanto Protection Act.
You can call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected with your Senator. Or find individual senators’ phone numbers here.
You can say:
“I’m calling to ask the Senator to oppose the Farmers Assurance Provision, sometimes referred to as the Monsanto Protection Act, and to vote no on any bill, including the Continuing Resolution, which includes the provision.”
The Monsanto Protection Act was first passed in March, when it was quietly and without debate slipped into the earlier version of the Continuing Resolution, a bill to fund the government through September 30. As Politico reporter David Rogers explained in his Monsanto Protection Act exposé, “Big Agriculture Flexes its Muscle,” the Monsanto-friendly rider was never voted on. Rogers, a seasoned political reporter, described how the Monsanto Protection Act became law “with little or no floor debate and in a period of turmoil.”

The backroom deal that made the Monsanto Protection Act law generated a public backlash. It was the subject of a Daily Show episode. And it helped spawn a worldwide March against Monsanto, reported on by the New York Times.

Because the Senate never voted on the Monsanto Protection Act, we don’t know where all of the senators stand on the issue. But here’s what we do know:
•    Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) conspired with Monsanto lobbyists to write the law.
•    Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chair of the full Senate Appropriations Committee, publicly apologized for letting the Monsanto Protection Act slip through. But, she said, she had a responsibility to avoid a government shutdown.
•    Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), tried for a vote to repeal the Monsanto Protection Act during the Senate Farm Bill debate.
•    Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) blocked Merkley’s amendment.
•    Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D- Mich.) promised Merkley that the amendment wouldn’t be renewed without a vote.
Please call your senators today. Ask them to reject extending the Monsanto Protection Act and vote no on the Continuing Resolution unless this blatant giveaway to the biotech industry is removed.  Thank you!
-- Alexis and the team at OCA

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to School with KLEAN KANTEEN

Need some water bottles for back-to-school?  Klean Kanteen insulated mugs come in some gorgeous new colors for fall and they are a must have for the lunchbox and for anyone who likes to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold.  They work like a charm, and are also great for soups, hot cereals, coffee, and tea.   These are ideal for kids and adults--who doesn't need a healthy vessel for portable drinks and food?  This allows you to control the contents and be sure you are getting organic and gmo free beverages and foods which can be tricky on the go. 
They are so gorgeous and inspiring, it's just what we need to ease into Autumn.  They come in different sizes too, 12, 16, and 20oz.  I love the bright Wild Raspberry and the stately basic Black, but the Gray is nice and the many lovely choices.  If you have multiple children, you can color code.  Two different lids are available to fit your needs, a cafe lid for sipping (perfect for the car) and a stainless wide loop cap to keep your bottle sealed tight in your bag.  Everything is BPA, lead, and phalate free.  Find them HERE.

Monday, August 26, 2013

g.u.s. Bamboo iPad Cooking Stand

With the holidays right around the corner, and the ease of finding awesome recipes on Pinterest, the Bamboo iPad Cooking Stand by Great Useful Stuff would be a great addition to the kitchen.  The plastic cover keeps your iPad safe but still allows you utilize your touch screen.  I have a similar stand for my traditional cookbooks but find that I use my computer and iPad more these days for cooking.  It can get messy in my kitchen when I'm in a food prep flurry, and this keeps my tablet safe safe and sound.  If you like healthy food, you probably do a lot of your own food prep as it is increasingly harder and harder to find gmo free and organic food in restaurants.  Great kitchen tools like this make it easier and more pleasurable to make your own meals at home. 

Bamboo looks great and is a renewable resource for the green kitchen.  It accommodates various e-readers and tablets, not just the iPad and would make a fabulous holiday or hostess gift.  Find it HERE

Friday, August 16, 2013

Inspiration: Duct Tape Surfing

This is one of the most inspiring and life affirming things I've seen in a long time.  So worth the watch.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pacific Kale: I am Obsessed!

Pacific Kale just got a new look and it gives me an excuse to talk about them.  I'm totally obsessed with these kale chips!  The Glacier Peak especially, but any of them really.  Kale Chips are my favorite snack, I can't get enough.  I make my own, but can never put any aside, between myself and my son, the second they're ready, they are gone--consumed as fast as I can make them. 

Buying them packaged accomplishes what I might be able to do on my own if I had any self control.  The concept of having a ready made leafy green snack that is this delicious---it's Fabulous!  Raw greens, but any time we want them, right out of the pantry (or backpack), ready to eat.  The trouble is they're too good and it's an expensive habit.  But when you consider the health benefits, I think it's worth it.  And when I'd rather have this than pretty much any other snack including chocolate chip cookies or chip-chips, etc, I'd say that's pretty great.   I'm particularly fond of Pacific Kale because they don't over-flavor their chips.  They are melt-in-your-mouth light and crispy and subtle, and....well they are just perfect.

Anyway, they've gone from bags to boxes (presumably to keep the leaves in tact) and they are even easier to scarf down---uh--munch on.  If you haven't tried them already, you must.  Find them HERE

Monday, August 5, 2013

NEMO Cosmo Air Pillowtop Camp Pad

Can't decide between a super comfortable or light weight sleeping pad for camping?  That's usually what it comes down to--car camping luxury or an ultra light backpacking pad and you end up getting one for each type of camping.  Nemo's Cosmo Air with Pillowtop gives you both options in one mat.

What a great way to have two pads in one.  With the pillow top, you've got your luxury, and when you need a backpacking sleep mat, just slip off the pillow top and you have a light weight (1lb 13oz) and still comfortable pad.   As with all Nemo gear I've tried, this thing screams quality. 

Horizontal baffles keep your weight more evenly distributed, you won't sink into the middle as can sometimes happen with vertical baffles.  It's a wonderful mat for us side sleepers and feels stable.  An integrated foot pump makes for a quick set up, and a raised pillow area can either function as one, or it will help keep your pillow from sliding off the mat.  Really nice design with the Cosmo, very comfy for such a light weight pad.  I am spoiled rotten and love my comfort and I would be perfectly satisfied with this in a backpacking situation.  But if I'm car camping, I like decadence.  

Enter the pillowtop.  The washable fabric is very soft and substantial microsuede, and there's about an inch of foam that makes for extra comfort and warmth between you and the mat, for a total of three inches between you and the ground. This adds warmth and makes the pad useful for three season camping.   I can toss around on this and never feel the ground, it's very comfy and cozy. 

The whole system packs down quite small into an included stuff sack which is great if you are limited in your cargo space or storage space at home.  If you could have only one pad, the Cosmo Air with Pillowtop is a solid choice, find it HERE.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kelty Base Camp Kitchen

Wanna spice up your camping repertoire?  Literally?  Making elaborate meals outside is so much fun, and if you're car camping, why hold back.  Kelty's Base Camp Kitchen will keep you organized, facilitate preparing more complicated meals (bye bye ramen and oatmeal), and keep picnic table space free.  Also--it's light weight at 18lbs which is important.  I once had an REI camp kitchen, but it was so big and heavy (around 30lbs) that it was unwieldy for me to manage myself and ultimately too much trouble to bother with.  The Kelty is something I can handle on my own and find well worth the effort.

It comes in a carry case, and set up is simple, the whole thing unfolds and comes together with ease and tears down just as easily.  There's a storage compartment for gear (it's a pantry, but I'd be very careful about storing food in there, we put ours in the car while we sleep lest racoons or bears decide to raid the kitchen).  The whole unit is compatible with Kelty's Binto system, but works wonderful without it. 

There's a space for your two burner stove with a removable wind screen, and two counters for food prep.  There's also plenty of extra space for hanging tools and towels, and a handy shelf under the stove which we used to store water.  It really makes cooking at camp such a pleasure.  We made black beans and rice, stir fry, and blueberry pancakes, among other things, and it couldn't have been easier. 

Having a kitchen area at your camp site just makes things run smoother, particularly if you have kids.  The more organized you are, the more time you have for play, and this definitely makes food prep go faster.  Once you use this, you won't want to go without it and you'll wonder how you managed before.  It's a big upgrade to the car camping experience.  Find it HERE.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Patagonia Reflip Chip Flip Flops

I'm the pickiest person in the world when it comes to flip flops and only started wearing them when I discovered Reefs.  They're the only ones that were comfortable to me--until now.  Patagonia's Reflip Chips are at least as comfortable and even better, they are made from soft recycled materials and are totally recyclable through Patagonia's Common Threads recycle program.  The fabric that fits between your toes (what can make flip flops so uncomfortable) is sewn perfectly and is soft and thin and barely noticeable. Perfect for travel, they are super light weight and comfy enough to support some extended walking. 

They're vegan too.  And did I mention they're cute?  They come in three colors, all bright and cheery and perfect for summer.  Find them HERE.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New for Summer: Sierra Trail Mix CLIF BAR

Need some easy access energy for your summer hikes and travels?  Clif Bar has come out with a new flavor, Sierra Trail Mix.  It's 70% organic, gmo free and contains sustainably sourced cocoa from farms certified by the Rainforest Alliance.  I'd like to see that USDA Certified Organic seal on Clif Bars as well, it looks like they might be moving in that direction.  Seirra Trail Mix, as the name implies, contains trail mix ingredients like raisins, peanuts and chocolate.  It has a little bit of salty-sweet going on and is super kid friendly.  My son goes bananas for Clif Bars of any kind, and boy do they come in handy when you are caught out too long without a snack.  Pulling one of these out of my bag when things start to go cranky can turn the whole day around.  Find them HERE.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Grand Trunk Parasheet: Beach Bag Must Have

Headed to the beach this summer?  If you're traveling and don't want to bring along bulky towels, Grand Trunk's Parasheet is a great solution.  They are super light weight at 20oz (less for the single), come in a handy attached stuff sack, and easily fit right in your beach bag.  They come in a rainbow of colors and single and double sizes.  I'd opt for double as I think bigger is better in this case, though the single is more compact and would be perfect for kids or those who want to minimize bulk even more. 

The blue is gorgeous and soothing, like your own portable oasis.  Sand shakes off with ease, so you don't have an accumulation at the bottom of your bag the way you do with towels that have been on the beach.  It also dries very quickly.  Pockets are sewn in the corners and sides to fill with sand and weigh it down so it will stay flat and won't blow away, and there are stake loops too.  It's perfect for picnics and no worries if you spill food on it, you can just throw it in the wash when you get home.

Grand Trunk has a lot of innovative gear, and they're an eco minded company.  Find the Parasheet and other travel necessities HERE

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Just in Time for Summer: LUST FOR LEAF

Hot off the presses--I just got this in my hands just now or I would have insisted you pick up a copy for the Fourth.  Maybe there's still time to grab one locally?   LUST FOR LEAF is a fresh, sassy and slightly risque vegetarian cookbook packed with recipes for some inspired eating this summer and beyond.

Meals perfect for camping, picnicking, and potlucks but with some serious originality.  I haven't seen a cookbook come my way in a while that made me stop what I was doing and read.  Yes, read.  The prose is entertaining and it's full of glossy photos.  I haven't had a chance to try recipes yet but I will for sure, and most often you know by looking at a recipe whether or not you're going to like it.  First on my list (and on the menu for tomorrow) is the Watermelon-Strawberry Aquas Fresca (with cilantro) and I can't wait to try the recipe for squash blossoms.  V's let you know instantly whether a recipe is vegan while fabulous recipe titles and cool info-icons with drink and music suggestions add to the fun.  Amusing it is, but there's real substance here.  It's full of creativity and made me laugh while making me hungry.

The Kindle version is available now, but unless you have a color display, I'd get the hard copy for the abundance of photos on every page.  It's not for everyone perhaps, I've never been told to stir the shit out of something in a cookbook before, but it's raunchiness definitely gives it a unique voice.  And I think that edge just might appeal to some who otherwise might not be interested in a vegetarian cookbook.  It would be an awesome host/hostess gift if you're headed out for a Fourth of July party tomorrow (or any summer party for that matter).  Find it HERE. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dyson's Hot & Cool AM05

Need a new fan to keep you cool this summer?  Why not get one that doubles as a heater--two appliances in one?  Dyson's new Hot & Cool AM05 is perfect for small spaces and those that appreciate a modern combination of looks and function.  First off--it's gorgeous.  It comes in different colors, but the black and nickel is really sleek.  It has a grippy smooth texture and the silver is a gunmetal that is so super shiny it almost appears liquid.  It's a fan that you won't mind seeing around at all, it's pretty much functional art and it's low profile with a small footprint.  It's ideal for allergy sufferers, people with kids and pets, and minimalists.

As a fan, it works great with the ability to tilt and oscillate.  When it's in cooling mode, you see a blue light, red when it's heating.  It's not like your typical fan with the screen that accumulates dust and is hard or impossible to clean.  There's no blade to get dusty or to harm children or animals and it's a breeze to clean.  The top of the unit has a magnetic surface so the remote will stick to it and always be easy to find.

The heating function has all the qualities of the fan and packs a surprising amount of heat.  It's a big improvement on the last model and gets hotter and has more force.  If it gets knocked over, it will automatically shut off for safety and it will take the chill out of a room quickly.  I would not recommend this for heating or cooling super large open spaces (nor would I recommend any space heater for this purpose), but it's awesome for an average to large sized room.  Because of the fan and its ability to oscillate, you get an even distribution of heat.  You also have the option of focusing heat to a specific spot.  The remote makes it so easy to customize the output, which is great if you are using this to heat a bedroom and want to turn it off without having to get out of bed, or wake up in the middle of the night cold.

There is nothing negative to say about this unit.  It is spendy and that might turn some folks off, but sometimes it's better to buy one quality thing and be done rather than having to replace an item over and over which ends up costing as much in in the end anyway.  The potential money saving benefit on your heating and cooling bill should be factored in (Dyson speculates up to 20-30%), as well as safety.  Also, this is two products in one, and the space saving benefit has huge value to those living in small homes.   Brilliant design as usual coming from Dyson, I can't wait to see what they come up with next.   Find it HERE.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Acorn C2G Lite Slide Sandals

My favorite slipper company, Acorn, has just come out with some new sandals perfect for this summer.  How fabulous, it's a little like being able to wear comfy slippers everywhere.  Check out these C2G Lite Slide Sandals.   This neutral Fawn color will go great with summery white clothing since they are almost like a nude against your skin--really pretty and low profile. 

There's lots of venting to keep your feet cool and the top strap has velcro for adjusting.  I find they run a bit wide and short, but still fit fine.  I'm a true 8.5 and need a 9 in these.  They're super comfortable, light weight, and would be great for summer travel, being easy to slip off going through security lines at the airport.  They're a nice alternative to flip flops and just as easy to kick off in a hurry to jump in the pool or walk barefoot on the beach.  Find them HERE.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Horny Toad Spring-Summer

Green clothing company, Horny Toad, has some new Spring-Summer arrivals to get you ready for the weather.  I got hooked on HT a couple of years ago when I discovered their butter soft eco friendly fabrics.  Their stuff is travel friendly, low on wrinkles and heavy on comfort. 

Check out the new Long Island Dress.  It's a maxi length, very sleek, and has a panel around the waist area with some ruching that is very figure flattering and forgiving.  It's made from a bamboo blend and runs true to size.  I'm 5'5 and typically an 8/10 and the medium fits perfectly. 

This dress looks great with a pair of flip flops.  You can dress it up, or dress it down and wear it at the beach or to a more formal dinner.  It's elegant and beautiful and comes in different colors and even a print.  It has adjustable straps, a shelf bra for support and a secret stash pocket on the hip, perfect for your id and credit card or cash. 
I'm also totally in love with the Swifty Racer Tank.  Super soft tencel fabric wicks away moisture and dries fast, making it perfect for summer adventures.

The Lapis is a soothing blue-gray that I can't get enough of.  Please Horny Toad--more of this amazing color!  It reminds me of twilight, when the sky is a dreamy calming purpley blue.  A built in shelf bra makes it even better.  It's got a lot of give to it, it's not your typical tight fitting yoga or fitness top, you could wear it under a blazer to work and it wouldn't look out of place.  This would be a great base layer for your on-the-plane outfit, it would be great for yoga, camping, and every day.