Tuesday, June 30, 2009

static in my attic

This morning I discovered that the mascot had used the last of the good* fabric softener. I had no choice but to reach for the pink, teddy-bear brand on the shelf above the washing machine. I don't know who bought it, or why, but ohmygod it smells good! I'm so going to hell. In a vanilla-orchid scented, soft as angels wings, static-free t-shirt....but hell just the same. ;-)

*...and by that I mean the so-called virtuous one, which does not necessarily mean that it's the greatest product as far as fabric softeners go. But it was vegan and promised a better world, so I bought it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

these are a few of my favourite things - part 1

A little over a year ago, I was introduced to Level Ground Trading at the Epic! show in Vancouver. I was drawn to the booth because (let's be honest) they were giving away free cups of coffee. What I found there was a friendly, Victoria-based company who trades fairly and directly with small-scale coffee producers in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Tanzania and Ethiopia...and their coffee was good, to boot! I think I bought about 3 bags of coffee, which lasted until we packed up and moved east. I figured that once we moved, that was the last I'd see of my new-favourite coffee...unless I wanted to buy it online, of course.

Shortly after we moved to Winnipeg, the mascot came back from a trip to the Organza Market with exciting news. "Mom...they have your coffee! They have La Paz! I was going to get you some, but I didn't have $14." a) I thought it was so cute/funny that an 10 year old boy would know his mother's brand/roast/grind and b) after a summer without it, I ran right over to the store to get some.

Now, I don't know if it's the smiling dude on the label that has me hooked, or the fact that I feel good every time I buy some, but I do know that as soon as I open a fresh bag I am in my happy place. (And, seeing as I open a fesh bag about every 7-10 days, I'm in my happy place A LOT.) The bottom line, though, is that it's really, really good coffee. I have yet to make a bad cup and some mornings it's a miracle that I get the grounds measured and into the filter at all. I suppose you could say that it's a very forgiving coffee...too much or too little doesn't seem to matter. The finished product is always rich, smooth, never bitter, and makes me smile. Just like the dude on the front of the bag. http://www.levelground.com/cafe_la_paz

...and while we're on the subject of Level Ground Trading, they have the BEST dried fruit. This year, instead of candy or flowers, the mascot gave me little bags of pineapple and mango that he picked up at his school's sustainability fair. Nice! (And does that kid know his mom, or what?)

the mascot's dinner

On Saturday night we had a special dinner to celebrate the mascot's promotion to grade 7. I aimed for an "as local as possible" menu and came up with this: Manitoba organic beef and local portobellos, local/organic fingerling potatoes, local/organic asparagus, and local hydroponic/organic butter lettuce. The "trucked-in" ingredients were goat cheese, dates and pepitas for the salad, organic broccoli, balsamic vinegar, tamarind/pepper steak sauce, and the brownies & ice cream that I served for dessert.

Everything was so good...and you really can tell the difference in taste/quality between the organic and non-organic ingredients. It also makes a big difference to your wallet. I would say that buying local and/or organic groceries costs between 25% and 50% more than conventional products. Yikes! I'll continue to do it, because I really do see the value in it (more about that later), but it's sad that everyone can't have the same access to good, clean food.

Friday, June 26, 2009

product review - starbucks twist top mug

Originally uploaded by zenbecca
I was so skeptical when I purchased this mug. I loved the colour and the "green" message, but I wasn't sure about the design. The lid is very unlike any other travel mug lid that I have ever seen. To open it for drinking, you twist the outer ring, which raises and lowers a central "button".

The cool thing about it is that it you can sip from anywhere on the lip. Perfect for those mornings when you can't find your mouth. It's also virtually dribble-proof and any excess coffee drains right back into the cup, rather than pooling on the top.

The AMAZING thing about it is that when it is closed, it is 100% leak-proof. Seriously. I have kicked my mug down the back stairs on my way out the door, driven all the way to work with it upside down on the passenger seat of my car, and even thrown it into my tote bag. And all while it was full of hot coffee.

I usually have a love-hate relationship with my travel mugs, but not this one. It is purely love-love...and, unlike any other mug that I've had, I take it *everywhere*. I'm giving it 2 green thumbs up!

...and, yes...it actually keeps my coffee hot, too!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

recycling day!

I recently noticed that they've stopped calling it "garbage day". It is now "recycling day"; no doubt an effort to encourage recycling...and I think it's working. Driving up my back lane this morning, I was happy to see that every single house had a blue box full of paper, plastics, and glass carefully set out beside their black bag of garbage.

Our house had two blue boxes, which I'm not sure is something to be proud of, or embarassed of. On one hand - good on us for being such diligent recyclers. On the other hand, though, what the heck are we buying that is generating TWO bins worth of packaging? Some things I can't (and won't) give up, like my boxes of pre-washed, hand-fluffed organic baby greens. And my tetra-packs of veggie stock. And the new diet passionfruit soda that I recently discovered...But, I suppose there are things that we can do without. The massive bundle of flyers and ads that arrive every Thursday. I haven't put out the "no flyers" sticker yet for two reasons - the neighbour who delivers the flyers is really, really nice and I need the Michael's coupon. The latter can be solved by printing the coupon online, but I'm still not sure what to do about snubbing the lady across the street. (She calls me "mum", for Pete's sake!)

I think this calls for a meeting of our home's "green committee". (Oh, I can just feel the mascot rolling his eyes as I type this.) Our challenge - pick 3 things out of the bin and make a plan to get rid of them forever.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

the elephant, the tiger, & the jackal

In the west, we understand the concept of "You are what you eat." Ancient Indian texts explain Aahara (diet) by using the example of the elephant, the tiger, and the jackal.

* The elephant is a vegetarian. This animal represents the sattvic mind. With Sattva, we can think clearly, and act appropriately, according to the laws of nature. The elephant is strong, gentle and intelligent.
* The tiger is carnivorous. He represents the rajassic mind, which is action-oriented. He kills and eats animals, which makes him fierce and aggressive. The tiger is restless, always on the prowl.
* The jackal represents the tamassic mind. Tamas is destructive, but this is not necessarily negative. We need to finish something, complete it, before we can move on to the next. The jackal survives by eating food left uneaten by other animals. He is fearful, cunning, and lazy.

Our goal is to acquire the saatvic qualities of the elephant. One way we can do that is to favor a vegetarian diet, and eating fresh foods, beans, and almonds to to increase calmness, clarity and creativity.

Credit: "What's Your Dosha?" newsletter


It ain't easy being green...but we're trying!

"We" is referring to me, Rebecca, and my one & only son, Jake. You'll see him referred to here as "the mascot", "the kid", and "the Jakester". Together we are a formidable team, facing the challenges of living the life organic. Somedays it's an uphill battle, and others it all comes together as smoothly as vegan hollandaise.

My reason for starting this blog is to record our progress, laugh at (and learn from) our mistakes, and share the interesting things we find along the way. We're glad you could join us!

Rebecca & Jake