Thursday, March 31, 2011

“All Sorrows Are Less With Bread.”

No blog post yesterday thanks to a long power outage at my house.  Wow, nothing like an unexpected power outage to put my dependence on power and electronics into perspective.  All I managed to do was read, make a sandwich by the light of a flashlight, and take a nap.  I thought I wasn't that dependent, but I was certainly happy when the power was restored.  Anyways, on to the topic for today.

I receive daily emails from the website Twongo which shows me a different deal that I can choose to get at a discount with the power of group buying.  It's great for trying out new places without having to pay much.  One eatery that Brad and I discovered through Twongo is the Bread Co.  As well as being an eatery, they also sell organic artisan breads to take home.

First, you may be wondering what the difference between artisan and grocery store bread is.  Artisan bread is what the name sounds like: bread that is crafted rather than mass produced.  There is special thought and care given with regard to process and ingredients for artisan breads.  Old fashioned bread making traditions are used when baking artisan breads.  The ingredient list is usually shorter and of higher quality in artisan breads as well.

The full loaf laying down is flax seed bread and the part loaf above is multigrain.  There was many different choices in the store.
We went to the Bread Co. unknowingly near their closing time.  At this time of day, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that the loaves of bread were buy one get one free, regularly just under $5 each.  You can't beat that price even in the largest of grocery stores for the cheapest made bread.  And this bread is delicious!  I loved that this bread is fresh, nutritious, healthy, and buying it supports a local business.

The Bread Co. is located on Bernard in Kelowna.  I encourage you to check it out.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Green Wheels

As is true with many environmentally friendly topics, fuel efficiency will not only save our planet but also your wallet, especially with gas prices steadily rising as we come into warmer weather.  Here are a few simple tips to get the most out of the car you already have.

I've moved to a new website! Head on over to Heartful Habits for 16 Green Vehicle Tips to Save Money and the Environment + a FREE Pre-Trip Checklist for the best fuel efficiency. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday was my birthday, and I was glad when nearly every gift I received was all natural.  One of my main presents was a soapstone diffuser.  I was excited to try it out right away, and thus that is what I'm going to talk about today.

Fill water bowl partway.

Add 3-4 drops of essential oil or diffuser blend.  I used another one of my gifts, the Spa Spirit diffuser blend.

Light a candle within.

Breathe in the fresh, therapeutic air.

I really enjoy this diffuser.  I was surprised by how quickly the scent made it through the whole house, and it lasts quite a while after the candle has been blown out.  The diffuser blends that I received are specially concocted for relaxation and immune system support, so I love that.  Then there's the added bonus of the fresh scent in the house.  Just remember to blow out those candles before you leave the house!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

May Contain Nuts - Roasted Peanuts

As I've said before, Brad and I are always looking for healthier snacks as alternatives to chips and such.  This weekend we were having his family over and wondering what would be an easy, healthy (and inexpensive) snack to serve.  We came up with roasted peanuts.  Here's how it went.

Start with unsalted, blanched peanuts.  We got ours in bulk.

Pour in about 2-3 tbsp melted margarine (butter or even oil I'm sure would work as well).

Salt and pepper to your liking.

I chopped some dried rosemary and added that also.

Spread evenly on a baking sheet, and bake at 375° F.  I had quite a lot and left them in for about 15 minutes.  Just check them frequently to make sure they're not burning, and take them out when they've browned nicely.

Ta da!  This is about half the batch.

These peanuts tasted great and made the house smell amazing.  They appeared to be a hit at our get together, especially with the men.  The best part is that you could do this same basic process with almost any type of nut and endless variations of seasonings could be used.  Enjoy experimenting, and of course, be aware of any nut allergies before you serve these at a gathering.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"You'll Never Look at Dinner the Same Way Again"

I have had the pleasure (I use that term loosely) of watching  Food Inc recently. It was so much more than I had expected, and it really truly has changed my life with regard to the way I shop and eat.  I think this film should be mandatory for every individual to watch, even if only for the sake of being more informed about where his or her food comes from.  I've always known that "bad" things are happening in factory farms or that organic is "better" for you, but now I actually understand what is going on and why, and it's scary.

Food Inc exposes the corporate and controlled food industry of America (much of which effects and applies to us here in Canada too).  They cover the topics of organic and local foods, foodborne illness, diabetes and obesity, nutritional labels, factory farming, genetic engineering, pesticides, farm worker protection, environmental impact, cloning, and the global food crisis.  The wide range of issues and drawbacks with the way the food industry is operating shocked me.  At the same time, the overall message of the film was empowering and inspiring.  For a documentary, I also found it incredibly engaging.

What impacted me the most, and this is the point I would like everyone to take away from this blog post, was the idea presented that buying an item is actually the act of voting for that item.  The same way our votes add up in an election to affect politics, our purchase decisions add up to the way the market responds.  If I buy processed, genetically engineered foods, I am declaring that that is what I want.  On the other hand, if I buy organic, local foods, I am declaring that that is what I want.  If stores want to stay in business, they will provide what the people want, and the prices of those healthy choices will come down as they become mainstream.

Here's a trailer for Food Inc. I hope it intrigues and inspires you enough to go out and watch the film.

Have you already seen Food Inc?  What did you think?  Did it inspire you to make any changes?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Breathe In Relief

Saje is one of my favourite stores.  You can find it in Kelowna's Orchard Park Shopping Centre or 18 other locations around BC.  They also have an website with information and an online store you can check out here.  They specialize in natural wellness with all sorts of remedies, skin care, essential oils, and so on.  In my most recent visit to their store, Brad and I purchased an AromaWell Ultrasonic Nebulizer.

It can be used just with water, or you can add essential oils to be put into the air as well.  Here are the benefits of this device:

-diffusing essential oils is a form of aromatherapy which relieves feelings of stress, anxiety and low energy and stimulates the mind and emotions through the sense of smell
-purifies and deodorizes to eliminate stale or unpleasant odours from mould, cooking, pets, etc
-reduces allergies by removing dust particles, toxins, and other airborne allergens
-adds moisture to the air working also as a humidifier for dry environments

I personally wanted the AromaWell Ultrasonic Nebulizer because I have allergies that just don't seem to quit.  My list of allergies goes on and on, but the ones that affect me most in my home are dust and dog dander.  This diffuser on it's own (just water) will help with that, but I can even add an essential oil blend that Saje carries which is specially designed to combat allergies (Allergy Release Diffuser Blend).  I certianly believe this is more comfortable for me than suffering through the itchy, water eyes, runny nose, and so on and better for my body than taking pills everyday.  If you have allergens in your home, this might be something to look into too.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What to Give Up for Lent?

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent.  In celebration (if you can call it that), I am posting a list of 10 eco vices to give up for lent, even if you're not Catholic.  They're simple things anyone can do, and choosing even just one will still help save the only planet we've got.

1. Unnecessary Driving - If you're close, just walk.  Otherwise, try to plan multiple errands in one trip.

2. Paper and Plastic Bags - 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide, and they are generally not reused or recycled.  Purchase a couple of fabric shopping bags for $1 to take in with you.  And they won't break open spilling your groceries onto the ground while you're walking down the driveway.  It happens.


 3. Elevators and Escalators - Taking the stairs saves energy with the added bonus of an opportunity to get in some cardio.

4. The Machine Dryer - This may not work well right now, but the sun will soon return with spring.  At least that's what I tell myself.  Regardless, the outdoors is the biggest, cheapest natural dryer we've got.

5. Typical Toilet Paper - This is an American statistic, but I am sure its comparable for us too.  If every household in the United States bought just one four-pack of 260-sheet recycled bath tissue, instead of the typical tissue made from virgin fiber, it would eliminate 60,600 pounds of chlorine pollution, preserve 356 million gallons (1.35 billion liters) of fresh water and save nearly 1 million trees.  When the prices for each in the store are the same, why not?

6. Conventional Cleaners - There are so many plant-based, biodegradable options on the store shelves these days, and with the power of the internet there are countless recipes for homemade concoctions at our fingertips to lessen the chemicals and toxins being brought into our homes.

7. The Phone Book - By using just 500 less phone books, we could save up to 31 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, 587 pounds of air pollution, and 4,077-kilowatt hours of energy.  Opt out, and use Canada's White Pages instead.

8. Inexplicable Bathroom Faucet Usage - It just makes sense to turn the water off while you brush your teeth.  If you already do, take it a step further and use a cup of water.

9. 2 Degrees - Pull out a sweater or blanket, and set your thermostat 2 degrees lower than usual.  It will save energy and your utility bill.

10. Bottled Water - This one is a pet peeve of mine because I personally find it so unnecessary and expensive.  Just making the plastic for all those bottles consumes some 1.5 million barrels of oil, enough to power 100,000 cars for a year.  If you want purified water, filter it through a Brita, and anyone can carry a reusable water bottle with them.

I hope you found something you can work into your daily life.  If you did choose one to change in your life (regardless of lent), leave a comment and let me know which one.  Oh, and don't forget, you get Sundays off!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Beauty Rest

Eye pillows are used to comfort the tired, sick, or stressed out.  I had been feeling very sick for most of the last week, and I think an eye pillow was something I could have really used.  Today I got around to making one, and here's how I did it.

Sew 2 pieces of fabric (measuring about 5 by 9 inches) together on 3 sides (leaving a short end open), outsides facing in.
If you do not have a sewing machine, this would be simple to hand stitch as well.

Combine 1 1/3 cup whole flax seeds with 2 1/2 tsp dried lavender.

Flip pillow right side out, and add mixture.

Fold ends in, and sew the open end shut.

To use, lie down and place pillow over your eyes.  Breath in the relaxing lavender scent.  Alternatively, you can cool it in the refrigerator before use which is ideal for tired, swollen, or puffy eyes, or heat it in the microwave for about 20 seconds to add warmth and enhance the scent.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Less Is More

We live in a chemical-infused world.  It certainly does have some modern benefits, but there are also some drawbacks people should be aware of.  Having all these chemicals in our beauty products is one of those drawbacks.  When we ingest chemicals, they are at least filtered through our digestive system.  When we are putting them on our skin, they head straight into our bloodstream.  Also, be aware that any company can label their product "natural" without any requirements.  It's important to become a label reader.  The shorter the ingredient list, the better.

My old Fruits & Passion hand soap versus my new natureclean hand soap.

 That huge chunk is the ingredient list for the Fruits & Passion soap.  It's hard to see the size of the ingredient list on the natureclean soap because it's in black near the bottom, so I will break it down for everyone.

Fruits & Passion
aqua (water), sodium laureth sulfate, glycerin, decyl glucoside, polysorbate 80, oleyl betaine, sodium chloride, olivoyl hydrolyzed wheat protein, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, oleth-10, parfum (fragrance), coco-glucoside, glyceryl oleate, polyquaternium-10, caramel, citric acid, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, yellow 5 (CI 19140), blue 1 (CI 42090), benzyl salicylate, eugenol, hexyl cinnamal, limonene, linalool, hydroxyisohexyl 3- cyclohexenecarboxaldehyde
Total: 26

water, potassium oleate (natural coconut cleanser), glycerin (vegetable source), sodium chloride (salt)
Total: 4

Big difference!  Now this is where having a chemist for a husband comes in handy.  He can tell me what are just technical names for simple, natural ingredients, such as sodium chloride for salt in the natureclean soap, or which are unnatural, unnecessary, huge chemical compounds such as the hydroxyisohexyl 3- cyclohexenecarboxaldehyde found in the Fruits & Passion soap.  Even if you don't have a husband for a chemist, simply look for short ingredient lists with words you recognize, and you'll be on the right track.  Oh, and did I mention the natureclean soap was a fraction of the price of the Fruits & Passion soap?  It's not always expensive to do things the healthy way.

Today was the first day for my Walk In Her Shoes fundraiser for women in developing countries.  I walked 6 km or 8266 steps (and burned 248 calories, haha).  It was very insightful for me.  I had been dreading it all day because it snowed all morning.  I've also been getting sick so I didn't think I should go out in the cold for so long.  I still went out and did it, taking Tia along since she's a woman too.  As we were walking the slush started seeping into my shoes, I got tired, and my feet were getting blisters.  What was eye opening for me was that I am positive I was still exponentially more comfortable than those women are everyday.  I thought about having to do that walk everyday for the rest of my life... while carrying the family's supply of water!  I certainly won't be taking my everyday comforts for granted.

You can still check out my fundraising page and even make a donation if you'd like.  I'm not quite at my goal yet.  Click on the link below.  Thanks!