Friday, October 30, 2009

How big are your shoes?

I am loving the carbon footprint calculator at Eco Hatchery. I did a quick calculation and let it pick "national averages" for me, but I am definitely going to return and try it again with non-estimated answers to get a more accurate result. Based on my peliminary results (below) it looks like we're not doing too badly.

It only takes a few moments - try it and let me know how you do! (One caveat - it is geared towards the US, so my Canadian peeps will have to pick their closest state. I'm pretending to be in North Dakota!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much. ~ Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Neccos can't be beet!

As a response to consumer demand for all-natural products, Necco Wafers, have recently undergone a “make-under”. Artificial colours that had been previously used have been replaced with plant-based colourants such as beet juice, purple cabbage, turmeric, cocoa powder and paprika; while natural extracts of lemon, orange, clove, wintergreen, cinnamon and licorice replace artificial flavours. Ironically, the only flavour that couldn’t be “greened” was lime, as the green colour was too difficult to duplicate. There are now seven flavours in the classic assortment and four varieties of chocolate – white, milk, dark and mocha.

I have yet to sample the new and improved Neccos, but according to the company they are apparently a bit paler in colour and a bit stronger in taste. I think this is a fair trade for doing away with artificial ingredients, though, and I can’t wait to try them for myself.

Did you know…?
- Necco is an acronym for New England Confectionery Company, which is the oldest multi-line candy company in the United States.
- The iconic wafers have been in production since 1847.
- This year, roughly 4 billion sweet and chalky wafers will roll off the line.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Faves - Mondragon

My Friday Fave this week is one of our favourite places to grab a bite. Part bookstore, part organic market and part restaurant, Mondragon is the perfect if you like your vegan nibbles served in a coffeehouse setting with a side of anarchy. (And who doesn't?)

The menu is eclectic, casual and completely vegan. They also have organic, fairly-traded coffee, gluten-free items and yummy daily specials. On our last visit, the mascot and I shared a couple slices of vegan pizza (veggie & sausage/onion) and a plate of Southern Fried Tofu, which is actually shake'n'baked tofu triangles served with a creamy-sweet dill dip. Yum! I've also sampled their salads, the veggie burger (which was HUGE and excellent) and more than one of their amazing chocolate chip cookies.

The left-leaning bookstore carries a large selection of vegetarian and animal rights books, magazines and T-shirts. Organic veggies, groceries and pantry items are available in the market. I can never leave without grabbing a bag of organic popping corn and a medjool date (or two).

Kid tested, mother approved! The Mascot @ Mondragon - Sept 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Everything Has a Story

It has been said (ahem, Emily and Ruth) that I have a story for everything. The antique, channel-back tub chair in my living room? I discovered it hidden under a blanket at a yard sale, talked the owner into selling it to me for $20 (it wasn't for sale) and reupholstered it as my final project in Upholstery class at RRCC. The rusty railway spike on the bookshelf? Jake carted it around in his backpack for a year before it was found (after an exhaustive search) by airport security in Bellingham, Washington. It’s no wonder that I have such an emotional attachment to my stuff!

That’s why the concept of the Tokyo-based "Pass the Baton" store caught my attention. Unlike other second-hand stores, Pass the Baton ensures that an item's pedigree isn't lost when it finds a new home. The story is literally passed along...get it?

I think it's brilliant; buyers not only get a cool, "new-to-me" item, but they learn a little bit about the objects’ past owner and an anecdote or two about the item itself. Then, in turn, when asked about their find, they can say more than “Oh, I bought that second-hand. I don’t know where it came from…”

On a personal note, story or no story, I am beyond covetous of the picture blocks that they currently have on their site. Exactly how much is 2,800 yen?

I love this quote from the Pass the Baton website. “…there is simply too much. Too much unwanted excess and too much regretful loss. Why not eliminate borders and corporations, and discover the value of personal culture? Cultivated carefully over the years, it’s something to be treasured and shared. Creating something new is a wonderful thing, but taking good care of an object that is already there can be magical. Old ways, current personal values, and future treasures for someone new.”

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Faves - Gardein Garden Protein

In our house, the ultimate test of a new recipe or food product is "the mascot test". If it passes muster with the kid, it goes into regular rotation. The Dijon Breasts by Gardein (part of my Thanksgiving plate of goodness, above) are the latest to get the mascot's 2 thumbs up.

I am pretty choosy when it comes to "convenience foods", but these are perfect for those rare nights where we have to get dinner on the table AND they meet all my criteria: healthy, healthy, healthy and delicious. The marinated, meat-free breasts are low in fat, cholesterol free and a good source of both protein and fibre. Plus, they are generous in size and cook up in a flash. (In fact, it took me longer to boil the water for my tea than it did to heat up 2 pieces of "fick'n", as the mascot has dubbed it.)

Gardein makes a full range of meatless substitutes for chicken, beef and pork. I have also tried the chick'n strips and thought they were excellent. See the Gardein website for more info, recipes and a list of retailers.

As it is World Food Day, I thought I would share this message from the Gardein website: global food demand will grow 50% by 2030 and there will be significant need for more protein. we think gardein™ is part of the solution. we believe eating more plant-based foods builds good health and is good for our planet too. it’s part of the reason why we like to say, goodness grows.

World Food Day 2009

Today is World Food Day. The day was founded 30 years ago with the intent of drawing public awareness to worldwide hunger, poverty and malnutrition. The date, October 16th, was chosen to mark the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1945.

This is an excellent article from Ann Veneman, the Executive Director of UNICEF. To learn more about UNICEF programs and World Food Day, visit

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Handmade Christmas Pledge

Last night, while we were talking about Christmas, the Mascot and I made a little “gift pledge”. We decided that every gift we give this year has to be either: handmade, vintage, recycled or upcycled. Including the wrapping.

I think this will be a really fun challenge for both of us. I’m especially excited to see what the mascot comes up with. I have offered my technical assistance if he needs any help with cooking, baking, sewing or Jewelry making, but otherwise he’s on his own to get creative.

As for incoming gifts, we are going to try to (politely) keep those to a minimum. I am hoping that if people feel the need to buy us something, that they consider either making a donation in our names (like adopting a chicken or planting a tree) or that they give us something like theatre tickets, a museum membership, or even just taking a chore off our lists...

Thinking of doing the same? I’d love to hear about it! And, if you want to make things “official”, you can even add yourself to the list at Buy Handmade

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Faves - Almond Breeze

The other day I set out to bake cupcakes for the mascot's 12th birthday. I was convinced that I had all of the ingredients on hand; flour - check, eggs - check, cocoa powder - check. But, as is usually the case, there was one thing missing. That something turned out to be the milk. We are not milk-drinkers, so unless we need to make something specific (like cupcakes) it never occurs to me to buy the stuff. With everything that I had going on that week, I simply forgot to pick it up. As it was already 8pm and I was in no mood to venture out to the store, I opened up the pantry to see if there was anything in there that I could substitute. I found a carton of unsweetened vanilla almond milk that I had bought on a whim a couple months ago and figured that I would give it a try. We gave it a taste first to see if it was "weird", but it turned out to be pretty yummy. Into the batter it went and the resulting cupcakes were even better than our usual. Talk about a happy accident!

From the website: Almond Breeze® is a non-dairy beverage made from real almonds, all natural, smooth and creamy with a hint of almonds. Almond Breeze® is a great tasting non-dairy beverage without the thin, chalky after taste of rice and soy beverages.

- Almond Breeze® won the 2004 Best Taste Award from the prestigious American Culinary Institute (ACI). ACI is an independent, chef based judging organization.

Enjoy Almond Breeze® chilled by the glass and on your cereal. You will love how it froths in coffee drinks, enhances fruit smoothies, and blends cup for cup in your favorite recipes.

A great alternative to dairy and soy milks, Almond Breeze almond milk is gluten, cholesterol and lactose free, an excellent source of calcium, vitamins D & E and a good source of vitamin A. Plus, the unsweetened varieties are only 40 calories a cup!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Phones for Food

Thank goodness the mascot is too busy hanging out at the community club to read the blog today. If he did, he would know that I bought him a new cell phone to mark his entrance into "tweenhood".

The phone itself is cool, but the really neat thing is the little "Phones-for-Food" bag that came in the box. All I have to do is pop his (my) old cell phone into the little bag, seal it up and drop it into a mailbox. Proceeds from the recycled phone will go to a local food bank where it will help to combat hunger. Every little bit helps!

For more information, visit Phones for Food.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rescued - pt 2

Besides the gorgeous radio cabinet that I scooped during Winnipeg’s “free weekend”, I managed to grab a pair of these chairs:

…and this bread bin:

Both are now being put to very good use in my artcraftsewing room. They add a much-needed burst of colour (and a touch of retro-inspiration) to the space – and you really can’t beat the price!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Good things come in recycled packages.

This little package is proof that you don’t have to go out and buy a box, tissue and wrapping paper every time you have a gift to wrap.

I am sending this necklace (handmade by me!) to my mom in a paperclip box, which I have stuffed with my own hand-cut paper shred. I made the shred from a supermarket flyer page and a couple pink “while you were out” messages that were heading for the recycling bin under my desk. The box was then wrapped in a lovely picture of juicy strawberries that was cut from a Safeway flyer. Total cost for wrapping supplies = $0 (including 3 pieces of “borrowed” scotch tape…)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Faves - C.O.Bigelow All-in-One Protective Day Lotion

I used to have a love-hate relationship with my moisturizer. I loved it because it was lightweight and effective, but didn't leave me looking like an oil-slick by midday. I hated it because it contained (gasp) parabens. Everytime I would get to the bottom of the bottle, I would hem and haw and weigh the pros and cons...and then buy another bottle. I'm only (girl) human.

You can imagine how excited I was when I discovered that the C.O. Bigelow Extra-light Oil-free Moisturizing Lotion had been replaced by a new, paraben-free product! It's not exactly the same, but the new "All-in-one Protective Day Lotion SPF 25 (lightweight formula)" has become my new go-to moisturizer.

What it lacks in parabens (yay!), it make up for in free-radical destroying antioxidants, vitamins and UV protection. (That's good news for my not-getting-any-younger skin!) Plus the lightweight, greaseless formula is perfect for my slightly oily complexion.

The only thing I would change is the box that it comes in. And by "change", I mean "ditch the box, Bigelow!"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Glove Love

We’ve all herd the idiom “No glove, no love”, but have you ever heard of “Glove Love”?

Glove Love is the brainchild of the eco-clever folks over at Green thing, a UK not-for-profit organization that supports and promotes “green living” through its registerd charity Green Thing trust.
Once relegated to a life of obscurity at the bottom of the lost & found bin, orphaned gloves and mittens are finding new lives thanks to the Glove Love program.

It works like this: Green Thing receives single gloves that have been separated from their mates (and owners!) and pairs them up with a similarly fated partner. Before they are released back into the wild, they are thoroughly cleaned, named and tagged with a label that tells their “story” of where they were lost (or found). The newly-matched (or, rather, mis-matched) pairs are available from the organization’s website for only £5 + VAT/postage!

People who have purchased Glove Love gloves are asked to upload photos of themselves wearing their new pair. They are also asked to enter a special code which notifies the person who sent in the strays that their gloves have found new homes.

I think this is an awesome idea. I hope they ship to Canada, because I would like to order a pair for myself. It would be a good thing to keep in mind for Christmas, too. I have a few friends who would probably love to get a one-of-a-kind, eco-wonderful pair of mittens and it would fit right in with my "handmade/repurposed" pledge.

To buy (or donate) gloves and mittens, click here.