29 October 2009

World Vegan Day

Although I own two vegan cookbooks, I have spent little time pursuing vegan dishes.

Last week I made a black bean vegan soup. Although I realize I would have made it exactly the same way without being conscious to that fact that it was vegan. I believe there are a few staple things in my diet that lean towards a vegan tendency since they overlap with vegetarianism. (But occasionally, I do like my yogurts, cheese...mmmm smoked mozzarella...and I like 2% milk, although I drink almond milk too...) So, some meals are vegan and I don't even realize it. However, it should be noted that I don't adhere to a complete vegan lifestyle, so I can't claim a title that isn't mine.

I'm not sure why I started this on Monday,...perhaps from the black bean soup on Sunday maybe, but on Monday I decided I would try being vegan for the week. But I am honest with myself. So I said, I'd try being vegan for a day. And then the next day and then the next. And hopefully it would add up to a week.

SUNDAY was easy. I had spicy basil with tofu for lunch and black bean soup for dinner

MONDAY was easy too. I had a pear, and a vegetarian gumbo from Qdoba sans the sour cream and cheese, that I normally add on. (I thought it might taste weird without including those but I didn't even notice a difference)

 TUESDAY was an epic fail. First off, I've been snacking on fruit and drinking water and all that good stuff since last week's No Impact Project but then something happened on Tuesday. Because I ate tons of candy...thus producing trash. And I think for breakfast I started out with M&M's. Then someone ordered Thai for a meeting and I looked at the vegetarian option and it was okay. It was tofu with broccoli. I took a few spoon fulls but it wasn't seasoned. (You cannot have unseasoned tofu. That is why meat eaters laugh at you. Although I know meat eaters who don't season their chicken or steak. What is wrong with you people? Have you ever heard of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, hot shot, chili pepper, garli and onion salt? Something for goodness sake?) Anyways, the food wasn't that great and I was hungry so I cheated...not only did a break a vegan rule, I broke a vegetarian rule. I grabbed some of this spicy chicken dish and it was good! I felt bad later on in the day and for a snack I tried granola cereal with soy milk. Oh hell no! I'm sorry. I just cannot get into soy milk. Some things are an acquired taste and some things just do not work. If I am going to be successful at this vegan thing, I'll have to find the perfect almond milk! Later that night when I went home, I had more of my vegan black bean soup.

Wednesday was okay. Up until rehearsal I was doing fine with all the vegan-ness. And then at rehearsal I had a vegetarian sandwich..it had cheese on it. Crap.

Today...so far...I've been doing well. All vegan food. We will see though what happens later. :)

The final push for me to try vegan-ism this week was after a conversation with one of the actors at rehearsal on Sunday night. He is a vegetarian but says that occasionally he will go a few days without diary products and he achieves a higher level of mental clarity and his body feels a bit better. With that encouragement I embarked on a week of trying a vegan lifestyle.

But I'm a google whore, so I started looking up what vegan's really are, why they are and aside from their diet what else do they do. And actually to my surprise...I promise you this was not planned....but I also found out that coming up in three days is World Vegan Day. I promise you I did not plan that at all.



There is a day for everything, I tell you. When is World Sheena Day?

In a quest to find out what being a vegan was really about I went google crazy and found all sorts of info and helpful websites. It seems like people become a vegan for one of three reasons, if not all of them.

Animal Rights. Environmental Factors. Health Reasons.

(Also as I type this I want to say that I haven't had coffee in a week and I feel a difference. A good difference. My stomach is more settled. My emotions are easier to manage.  My body feels better. The tea I'm drinking instead is more soothing and less heavy.)

I also found that there are dietary vegans and radical vegans. (These are my own terms or maybe someone else uses them. I don't know but they make sense to me) Dietary ones are the ones that just alter their food intake. Radical vegans alter the kinds of shoes they purchase, the kinds of clothes they wear...they alter every single thing! (But just as my director at Redmoon Theater pointed out who by the way is a vegetarian and her husband is a vegan..."ok, you choose to have vegan shoes. You can go to payless and get some cheap synthetic shoes that had no impact on animals but then they were made in China and an 8 year old made them for two cents and they were made under horrible conditions so sure there isn't animal cruelty but there is human cruelty and earth cruelty so where does it end.")

Okay, so she didn't say it exactly like that but that was pretty much it. Its like opening pandora's box. The balance between the human condition, the animal condition and the earth's condition, I suppose.

But I am one of those people who are all in or nothing. So if you say vegan than alter your clothes, shoes, and complete lifestyle. (It reminds me of black women who wear the banner of promoting natural hair and yet they wear globs of crappy makeup, they eat mcdonald's every night and they use lysol wipes to clean their counters. How the hell is your natural hair better than chemically processed hair when the rest of your lifestyle is chemically processed? That's a tangent for another day. Natural hair and how that helps the environment but all the crazy zealots out there who won't shut up about it. Another post in the making featuring what I learned about the man who invented the chemical hair relaxer in the first place. Her was also the man who invented the first stop light type device and safety helmet.)

I found a list of vegans and some of them are people I admire such as George Bernard Shaw (novelist and playwright), Martin Luther (founder of Protestantism...while I'm not one, I love the rebel that he was), and Voltaire (French author). I even came across some really intriguing quotes too but will post them each day leading up to World Vegan Day.

Want some interesting vegan reads?

Try What is a Vegan Diet? or any page on Vegan.org
There is also the Eating the Earth booklet  and the really helpful Vegan Catering for All

I even went so far as to google Vegan Shoes. While there were some nice ones and they make the world a better place by purchasing them...I am not going to pay an absorbent amount. Remember my Sustainable Guidelines? Aside from those guidelines though, I found one pair that is actually at a reasonable price. They are really cute and I just broke my brown pair of flats. Even after hot gluing them back together. They gave up again. So I need to purchase another pair..

Do I think every person should be a vegetarian and/or vegan and/or eat raw foodist only? No. What I believe in is moderation. I don't believe you should eat steak every day. I also don't believe its possible for me to eat an apple every day because I'd get bored. There needs to be variety, substance and moderation in your diet. (I say there needs to be...but I'm not expert)

Besides, even though I don't think man has dominion over the earth, I still believe an animal dying every now and then is a given that occurs.(hmmm. what do I mean? some of the vegan quotes I came across compared killing animals - slaughterhouse with killing man - battlefields. And just as I feel war is inevitable and sometimes a necessary part of life, so is animals.) I don't think we should be cruel to animals and subject them to harsh conditions. But sometimes, its a necessity that needs moderation. I have no facts on this but I think of native americans who sometimes killed animals for the warmth of their fur in the winter seasons. And yet native americans are hailed for their careful loving treatment of the earth. And yet they killed animals. In moderation for necessity. At least I think. If I'm wrong, tell me the facts. I could be making this up as I type.

On a recent episode of CSI Miami, a young couple dies from e coli poisoning and the harmful side effects of genetically altered corn. The owner of this huge corporate farm when facing off with Horatio says, "If we grew food naturally, people would starve. There would  not be enough to feed people. Therefore if genetically altering food kills one so that five hundred can eat, then that is a good thing."

Wow! I say. Wow! My reactions were...the earth will provide. When we treat it well, when we our stewards over our land, when we aren't greedy capitalist just looking for a profit, there is enough for everyone. More than enough. But we are greedy. We want a 16 oz filet mignon. We are fat with our desires thinking everyone of them is justified and should be satisfied. And while some things are out of our control sometimes I feel like the hurricanes, earth quakes, droughts and famine happen because we helped them happen. When did a whole town starve because nature did not provide in the time of need? Somewhere else in the world there was abundance to assist where there was a lack. But because of politics, culture and bullshit, people did not receive what they needed. So the earth provides, we just mismanage. Have you seen my quote at the very bottom of my blog. I truly believe it!

There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed. ~Mohandas K. Gandhi


Years ago...I'm talking back when I was in high school I believe, I came across a comic bit in the New Yorks Times or something. I have it in one of my files and will try to find it this weekend to post. But it is the funniest thing. I'll explain it but its much better when you actually see it.



The comic is a picture of a banquet and there is a banner that says something like "PETA 2050". And there are animals dressed in tuxedos and ballroom gowns. And on the banquet table are human skulls and the meat is human meat and stuff.


There are no words or anything. Its just a little funny joke about where we are headed with the extreme rights we give animals. It's an exaggeration but its cute and funny. Although I may have offended vegans and vegetarians everywhere.


What are your thoughts? Do you believe everything should be a vegan or vegetarian? Or even raw foodist? I knew a man who believes that nothing dead should enter his body because it was holy. So that was why he was a raw foodist. Do you think moderation is key? What do you think? Have you tried being a vegan for day? Did it make a difference?

Coming Up on Granola Tendencies

There are some happenings on Granola Tendencies. Some are a little slow in the making but they are coming.

  1. My first interview with a dear friend Sam and her personal granola tendencies.
  2. My review of the Regreet kit.
  3. A guest poster speaking on asbestos and its links to cancer
  4. A reader green product recommendation
  5. My reactions to Dr. Greg's Watson speaking engagement

........And posts ranging on topics of what it means to be an eco-conscious theater artist, how wearing your hair natural makes a difference, and my excitement on the return of the No Impact Project. I will also be experimenting with some new recipes this weekend! Hopefully at least one that's raw!

I am also looking for recipes and recommendations on making my own shower gel, cleaning products, body butter, face moisturizer an alternative to toothpaste.

If there are things you'd like to read about, or if you'd like to guest post or if you want to be featured in an interview because of your granola tendencies, email me! Or leave a comment. I want to know.

28 October 2009

What I found while I took a promenade

Things you find when you take a walk instead of immediately hopping on the bus after a long day...


Pirates performing at the picasso statue thingy with drums and fire.



A view of michigan avenue as you try to dodge traffic and not look like a tourist taking a typical picture because you aren't a tourist because you really are from chicago.

What did you discover while taking a walk? Did you happen upon any pirates with drums and fire?

My bike has a flat

I was bummed last Saturday when I was not able to attend the International Climate Action Day Chicago Bike Ride because my bike had a flat. And although I own a helmet, lights, and a bike pump..I don't own a flat repair kit. If that's even what its called. True cyclist probably own four or five of them. And because I didn't prep for the event the day before, it was too late for me to find a bike shop to have it fixed in time to meet up with the group. Insert sad face here.

I found out yesterday I have this weekend off from rehearsal at Winter Pageant at Redmoon because they have a HUGE GIANT EVENT going on at the "buzz buzz buzz..." I can't really say but rumor has it that its at the ........ (click the little dots and find out where since I can neither confirm nor deny it).

Anyways, I have this weekend off so I will look for a bike shop to have my flat fixed, amongst other things. Because if you have ever seen my bike, you would know it is the baddest bike in the city!




Do you see this red bike in the front of the pack with the huge handle bars...that low riding baby is my bike. I bought it off craigslist from a lady.

(On a side note...I love craigslist. I purchased my amazing bistro table, living room furniture, box spring, brand new laptop, bike and other endless wonders from craigslist. Some things new and some lightly used. That's a green thing. Even if the seller is in the suburbs, I rent a zipcar and drive out to the burbs to purchase something used, thus extending the life of something and keeping it out the trash.) Have you ever used craigslist? Sometimes, its hit or miss. More often than not, I get amazing hits.

This summer I used my bike a lot of ride to my beach volleyball games and to ride to rehearsals on the weekends. I think I made it home a lot faster than if I had taken the bus. Plus I was making a lower carbon impact on the earth by doing so.

My bike isn't that great for riding in the city though, because it's really big and takes up space (although its light), so I am currently searching craigslist for a much skinner city riding bike.


Anyways....really, I just wanted an excuse to feature my bike. I just need to add a basket to it and I'll be all good.

My Indoor Garden

I'm sure I could google the benefits of growing plants, herbs, veggies and flowers in your home or apartment and a BILLION list will come up on how doing so makes your life better and the earth happy.

Google is always my impulse. Google and Google Scholar. I love using Google scholar to find research and such.

But I decided to just list my reasons for growing plants and herbs in my apartment and why I like it.


My jade

I bought this jade a long time ago from Ikea. It was such a baby plant. Like how a kitten fits into the palm of your hand. The jade fit into my palm and was a little bitty baby. And now, oh my goodness. I've repotted it four times. And it keeps growing! And its very very pretty.


That's reason number ONE: Keeping plants enhance the aesthetics of your home.

I mean some people have a jungle growing in their apartment, but then some have enough that its just plain beautiful.



Ummm. I think this is lavender that hasn't completely bloomed yet. I planted about eight pots of things and can't remember what they all were. (Spearmint, cilantro, basil, jade, green onion,...don't remember what else). My friend Sam has some beautiful lavender growing in her apartment.


Reason number TWO: I feel connected to the earth. There is a power in putting my hands in the dirt, planting the seeds, watering them, and watching them grow.

One of the things I noticed about the lavender was that it would bend towards the sun each day. My lavender was doing sun salutations everyday. Plants do yoga! :) Because the plant would bend towards the sun at an almost intense angle, I would have to turn the pot every day so that it wouldn't bend too far in one direction and then fall over.

Watching the plant thirst and reach for the sun was crazy. Or watching the basil sort of drivel up because I didn't water it and then blossom open again the moment I did...there is just something about being connected to nature. Do you know what I'm talking about?


This is a little glimpse at my basil.

Basil will keep growing. That stuff is no joke. So long as it has room to spread it's roots...that stuff just will not stop.

Reason number THREE: I am able to provide for myself.

There was something immensely satisfying about being able to use the things that I grow in the things that I eat. I was cooking a stir fry one day and thought to  myself, "it would be great if I had bought basil when I was at the grocery store." But before my pout set into my face, I realized I had basil growing on my windowsill. Grabbing some leaves off and adding it to the skillet was magical. Oh my pride had a good moment. And usually I spend over $4 for a little thing of basil and half of it goes bad before I even use it all. But I paid fifty cents for basil seeds and only used half the packet and I have a plant that to this day is still growing and making my food oh so good.

Some times I also have bamboo but right now I do not. Bamboo is beautiful and low maintenance. And since I live alone and do not have a pet (for now.....)....and so by having plants I have a bit of life in my apartment too. I guess that could be reason number four.



Just found this picture. This is the second pot the jade ended up in. That's funny seeing how little it used to be. The jade is so big now its in this huge pot that sits on the floor now. Nevermind the windowsill. :)



Okay. So the picture above is of spearmint I think. In it's baby stage. And the picture below is when it starts to bend towards to sun.



But sometimes..the bend would be so severe I thought the plant was going to topple out the pot, climb out the window and try to fly to the sun. So everyday I'd have to rotate some of the plants. Does anyone else have to do this? Should I be rotating them? Am I doing something wrong?

So...I've thought up a reason number five.



 Reason number FIVE: the anticipation and then the actuality of the first spout is like wanting the first kiss from a person of interest and then getting it and its the best ever.

Well, that's a long reason but that's all I could compare it too. Waiting and waiting and looking at the dirt and watering it and wondering when a first glimmer of life will appear. And then one day you come home and you start to see little specks of green. And its like, "holy crap, this is amazing!"

Although I would love a garden to grow all my vegetables and herbs and plants, I don't have one. I live in a studio apartment in chicago and there is nowhere physical to put those desires. But I'm not limited. I have a window sill and my window sill is a platform for endless wonder. No matter your situation, there is a way. Maybe its a different way, but its still a way.

What do you grow?

oooh. I thought of reason number six. The herbs and vegetables that you do grow...well...at least you know they were grown locally. :) They weren't shipped from god knows where. They traveled like three feet from the windowsill to the skillet or counter top. Therefore, you are able to be an eco-conscious eater.

26 October 2009

Washing Dishes

So...I have a problem and could use all the suggestions you might have.

I've received so much feedback and comments and encouragement in these last few weeks and its been so helpful. Since you guys are such good advisers, I am asking for more advice because I have yet to find a google search answer that fixes my most current problem.

When it comes to doing dishes I've come across many tips and tricks.
  • only use your dishwasher when its full
  • if you have a double sink, fill one with your soapy water and the other with your rinsing water...then proceed to wash dishes
  • use an eco-friendly dish soap
I'm sure there are many other tips as well, but I have yet to come across one that is relevant for the problem that I face. Like for instance the video below is assuming I have two sinks.



However, this is my sink.


Notice, it is not a double sink. I only have one sink. So when I was dishes I fill the sink with dishes. Let the water run as I wash and rinse them one by one and then put them on my drying rack.

I am sure this offends your green sensibilities! It offends mines. But I don't know how else to wash my dishes and conserver water with only one sink.

Any suggestions?

The Granola That I Am

A few of my most recent granola tendencies.... (as mentioned before, if I keep going down this path, you might actually catch me hugging a tree)

REUSING

On Sunday I brought a small brown paper bag of fruit to rehearsal for the actors. Once they had consumed the fruit, I folded the bag back up, put it in my bookbag and took it back home with me. Its now under my sink with my collection of bags.

On the same table with the crumpled brown bag, there were also two zip lock bags from the week before that had been filled with almonds and cashews. The bags were now empty and ripe and ready for the trash. Instead of tossing them, I put them back in my bag, took them home and washed them, dried them and put them with the rest of my ziplock bags.

On this same Sunday, we ordered Thai food. (I ordered Spicy Basil with Tofu. It could classify as vegan. It contained no dairy) The container that the food came in was definitely reusable! So dirty container and all, I stuffed that in my bookbag too and took it home, washed it and then used it to store my left over vegan black bean soup in. (vegan except for the scoop of yogurt i added into it. oops)

What have you extended the life cycle of lately?

ECO CONSCIOUS EATING


In considering my carbon food print, the waste I produce, and intriguing leaning towards a vegan lifestyle...today I did some things differently.

I walked past this candy bowl a BILLION times today. This one and one other one that is being kept around the office in preparation for our Oktoberfest this Friday.


It started at 8 am thing morning and I literally slapped my hand away. Man I wanted that twix and that snickers in the lower right hand corner. It has my name on it. But guess what....insert sad sigh here...I grabbed a pear instead. Yes, Sheena actually grabbed a freaking piece of fruit. I figured it was healthier. Plus our fruit is organic. And it yielded less waste than the snickers and twix. If only we had a composter at work. We'd be in serious business with all the coffee grounds and other organic matter we have in the trash there.

What I like, since participating in the No Impact Project, is that even though I ate the pear, I wondered if it was even in season. It's not in season in Illinois but it is in one of our bordering states...Missouri. (Honestly, I wouldn't have even asked myself if the fruit I was eating was even in season a week ago. Before I would have thought, I'm eating fruit so shut up and be grateful its not a pop tart. But now, with what i know, I find that I wonder beyond that. Knowledge really is powerful. Now I'm sounding like a freaking PSA)

This morning I also really wanted a nice cup of coffee. We have this K cup machine at work with lots of flavors and I was planning on mixing Mocha Nut Fudge with Rainforest Nut. Then I was going to add sugar, cream, whip cream and caramel. I was going to do it big. But then I thought about the Low Carbon Calculator Diet and I didn't make the coffee. Instead I had Sweet Ginger Peach Tea. I added honey instead of sugar since I didn't feel like generating more trash with little sugar packets. (However the tea comes in individual boxes that are wrapped in plastic. Really! So I thought about bringing my own loose leaf tea in from now on because that's even less trash. My loose leaf tea is purchased from Teavana and various tea vendors that I come across at street fairs and green festivals. Again, these are not things I even gave thought to before last week.) I realize now its not just about eating healthy and organic, but its also about eating with an eco-conscious mindset. Sure, the coffee is fair trade but have you considered the water it took to produce it? Have you considered how far it needed to travel? Asking myself these questions is growth and I'm glad its all circling through my mind.


WATER

I recently wrote about my struggles with finding ways to reduce my water usage and a dear friend, Erin gave me a very helpful suggestion. My problem was letting the water run for a long time in the mornings to warm up before I brush my teeth and wash my face because its ICE COLD! Erin suggested instead of letting it run, that I microwave it and use that. She suggested rinsing my mouth with the water that was left over. Honestly, I thought that was going to take too much time and take too much effort. And while I want to help the world, the selfish part of me doesn't want to be inconvenienced while I do so. Well ERIN....

What the hell is that, you ask!

Well the clear bowl is the water I heated up in the microwave for two minutes. It was enough to brush my teeth, rinse my mouth, wash my face and water my plants. It worked Erin! And I didn't waste any water!!!!! Thank You for giving me advice!!!!!!

What's that other stuff? Well the cream cheese container is actually full of my homemade tea tree face toner. The little bottle on top is full of my left over homemade face wash that I made the other day. I need to find a recipe for an all natural face moisturizer equivalent to the one I get from the Body Shop.

(Which by the way in the tally in how much I spend on my facial line from the body shop, I left out two things. The moisturize which is $16. And the make up remover which is $14.50. Which brings the total to $81. I spend $81 on all the stuff I used to buy for my face. WOW!)


TRASH

I noticed this at the end of the day today.

What is that, you ask!

That is one piece of trash in my garbage at work! That is a personal record. Usually my trash is overflowing so much that I sneak and throw stuff in other people's trash too. Usually its full of misprints from printing too much. Its full of wrappings from candy and gum. It's usually full of sugar packets from all the ones I put in my coffee. And I can't even tell you what else. Its just usually full of crap. And today, I almost threw a bag away but realized I could still reuse it and as I looked down I thought, "Holy crap! There is only one thing in my garbage!"

Its a piece of tissue that I used as a coaster because my reusable water bottle was sweating on my desk next to my iPhone and I was too lazy to find an empy conference room that might have coasters. I looked around me and saw a number of people using napkins as coasters and so I started looking for some coasters to order to keep around people's desk. The bag that I decided to keep...



....it made its way into my drawer where I keep all my left over bags.

What are you latest granola tendencies? Any suggestions on further steps I can take?

Vegan Black Bean Soup

Tonight I wanted to try a vegan recipe and decided to try a black bean soup. Soups are perfect for this weather. They are easy. Hearty and hit the spot. The last and I think you can freeze them. I'm not good with the whole "make food in bulk and freeze it and then defrost it." I must have the defrosting part wrong because it never turns out right.

One of my favorite soups is my Corn Chowder with Jalepeno Parsley Puree but I was trying to do something out of my comfort zone.

I found four recipes that I used as my inspiration. At FatFree Vegan I found a  Stormy Black Bean Soup . On AZ Central I found, Black Bean Soup. There was also two soups. One in Voluptuous Vegan and the other in the Soulfood Vegan cookbook I just bought.

These were the ingredients I was working with.....
1 can of Black Beans - in a can
1/3 of an Onion
1/2 of each of a Yellow and Orange Bell Pepper
2 Tbs of Minced Garlic
Lots of different seasonings
1 can of Vegetable Broth
1/2 of a Jalapeno


 Cut up your onions and bell peppers and jalapeno


Add the garlic, bell peppers and onions in the pot. Let it sautee until the onions are soft.



 One of the seasonings that I added was the mix from a street market during my Labor Day Trip to New York. The seasoning had dried roses but also dried chilies. It was really chunky and I didn't have a pestle and mortar. So I put it in a ziplock bag and used a rolling pin to crush it. When the lovely Frenchman crushed it at the street fair, it was so potent and strong, he started to tear up. This stuff is strong..whatever is in it.


 Add your seasonings and black beans to the onions and bell peppers
(Drain and rinse your black beans beforehand)



Yum Yum.
Next after a few moments add your veggie broth. Reduce the heat and let it simmer. If its not soupy enough you can add water. One recipe even says you can substitute the veggie broth with water.


While this is cooking, I also made rice. I used instant white rice. I recommend brown rice.


One recipe says to add a scoop of sour cream or scoop of yogurt. I didn't have any sour cream. But I did have plain yogurt, since I recently purchased it to make a homemade all natural face mask. (I love when I find multiple uses for things I have around the house.) But I did think yogurt in my black bean soup was going to be weird and too different. (It reminded me of when Sam made a pie that involved blueberries and yogurt. I scoofed at first and yet it was amazing) Same thing here. Adding the yogurt...was actually very tasty.

Once its all done, add in your rice. A dab or two of hot sauce and enjoy!

(I would also add tofu and lime as well next time)

The Price of Convenience

For the past year I have been consistently purchasing my facial products from the Body Shop. I enjoy MANY of their products. This is a picture inside my bathroom mirror where you can see I have almost the entire line of their seaweed facial collection.


I tallied the cost from their website.

Face Wash 12.00
Toner 12.00
Exfoliating Scrub 14.50
Mask 22.00

Did you calculate that? Thats $60.50 for my freaking face.
I will say that it yielded impressive results. My skin wasn't in the perfect shape this time last year and after I adopted a regime after the best facial in the world, my skin became better after using the Body Shop products.

But this isn't about who's version is better. From what I could feel after making my own products, it felt the same. My toner was too potent in smell and needs a stronger essential oil. But then, my exfoliating scrub was a lot gentler but still just as effective.

What this is about is taking more control in how I spend my money. This is about having a sense of freedom in knowing exactly what I am putting on my body. This is about finding other ways to spend my time that shopping and consuming and purchases nonstop. This is about finding somewhere else to invest $60.50 since I have the ingredients in my pantry. This is about me attempting to generate less trash and stuff. And tonight, I found simple, easy, quick ways to do that.

I like that instead of products, I have ingredients...to make whatever I want to concoct.
I know have completely natural, organic facial products. I can tell you every single thing I put on my face and I kind of like that. I like having full control over my body and my choices and my money. (well, sort of. Uncle Sam still takes what he wants)






Now, I'm not saying everyone should start making their own products. Although I encourage you to at least try. What you have to do is way what its worth. The price of convenience no longer outweights the price of all natural products, the price of trash produced, and the price of money spent.

I will say, essential oils are costly. I'm sure there are some websites that sell them in bulk for better prices that I found at Wholefoods. But it is an investment. However, essential oils can be used for EVERYTHING. So it may be worth it to buy an essential oil for $15..knowing that you have all the other ingredients in the house to make your own products and knowing that you'll use that oil for many other things as well...as oppose to spending $15 on a toner or something.

Just saying.

Homemade All Natural Face Mask

While I am more excited to try the rose face mask that I found, today I tried the simple face mask found on About.com.
This face mask is suitable for all skin types and is super simple to prepare. It will cleanse and rejuvenate your skin. Prep time is three minutes
.
The ingredients are

  • 1 tbsp oatmeal, finely ground (I'll use my blender to grind the oatmeal)
  • 1 tbsp live, organic yogurt (no flavored kind)
  • A few drops of honey


Preparation
  • Add yogurt to oatmeal in a small bowl and mix together.

(I ground the oatmeal very finely with my blender)
  • Warm a few drops of honey (to do this,  warm a spoon under hot water for a minute, then add a few drops of honey to the spoon
  • Stir the honey into the yogurt and oatmeal mixture.

(not the best picture but it gets the point across)
  • Apply the mask to the face. Leave it on for 10 minutes, then rinse off with several splashes of warm water. Follow with a warm washcloth.

(insert scary face here)
  • Apply moisturizer.
End Results.

Well, the recipe calls for the perfect amount to use in one setting. And it was so so simple. One tablespoon of oatmeal and yogurt and about one teaspoon or so or honey. And it smelled so good. Probably because that's around what I eat for breakfast, if I remember to eat.

Did you know, The Body Shop has an Oatmeal Honey Mask that they sell for $16.50?

Oh the error of my ways for buying all this crap when I have the ingredients right in my pantry and under my bathroom sink. Ridiculous.

25 October 2009

Homemade All Natural Exfolianting Face Scrubs

I googled a lot of different recipes for exfoliating scrubs and again, the simplicity was remarkable. Most recipes simply said to put a small about of brown sugar in the palm of your hand with olive oil. Then you massage onto your face once it has turned into a paste.

I always have brown sugar and olive oil in the house. For many reasons. Brown sugar is put on many of the things I bake and my snacks like almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon. Olive oil is used for a lot of my cooking but it the main ingredient that I put in my hair. I never really run out of either of these two ingredients because in order to function they pretty much have to always be be in the cabinet.

Here is the brown sugar in my hand. Just enough to fit into my palm.

 Then I added a bit of oil and mixed it up.


If it feels off, add more brown sugar or more oil. And start to scrub.
(yes my hair is pointed in many different directions but my skin is thanking me for putting my vanity aside for a second to show you how this works)



 By making it in the palm of your hand, the exfoliating scrub ended up being the perfect amount. The scrub felt a lot gentler and smoother than my store bought brand. As i began to rinse it off, however, my skin felt too oily and that scared me a little bit. Once, the scrub was completely rinsed off and blotted dry with a face towel, the overly oily feeling was gone. My face just felt smooth. I think my pores were even singing.

The exfoliating scrub I purchase before from the body shop. $14.50
All I can saw is, "Wow."
How many $14.50's could I have put else where by just mixing brown sugar and olive oil.
Crazy!

Homemade All Natural Face Toner


The next recipe that I tried was the toner. This was very easy to make. I found the recipe on Homemade Beauty Recipes.

The ingredients are
  • 4 oz of witch hazel
  • 10 to 20 drops of your Essential Oil.
Preparation


  • Mix ingredients well into the bottle. (you can find a bottle at a beauty supply store. I buy bottles to house my oil concoctions for my hair.)
  • Shake well before each use
  • Apple to face with cotton ball after cleansing.  

I like that this recipe called for only two ingredients.

But listen. I have to be honest. The witch hazel smelled horrible! But I guess alcohol smells too potent too when you sniff it. No wonder they say to add 10 to 20 drops of your favorite essential oil.


You can't really tell that the toner is in there because its clear, but its all in there. For this recipe, I made half of what they suggestions.

(again, not the cutest picture but its for research purposes)



The toner felt the same as my store bought toner. Although the store bought toner seems to smell better. Although, I'm sure the store bought kind because its full of horrible things.  In the future I may need a stronger oil than tea tree because it did not combat the smell of witch hazel. Or perhaps its just an acquired smell.

Despite the smell, the quality and feel of the recipe was the same as the kind that I buy from the Body Shop.

Homemade All Natural Face Wash

A friend asked what I was doing with the rest of my evening and I told her with excitement about the body products I was making.

"I've heard that homemade ones are just as rough on your skin as the natural ones," she said.
"I don't know whether that's true or not. But my reasons for doing as to cut down on my consumption. I also don't want to keep buying something for $25 all the time when I can make it with ingredients I readily keep at home, and I want to cut down on my waste," I said.
"That's true," she said.

And I hoped that in that small conversation, some of my granola tendencies were started to spread. :)

Tonight, I tried the face cleanser that I found on What Would Ginger Do.

Ingredients
  • 4 ounces of grapeseed oil
  • 1 ounce of lemon juice
  • 2 ounces of raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ounce of agave nectar
  • 15 drops of tea tree oil
  • 5 drops of lavender oil
Preparation
  • Mix everything together
  • Store in the refriderator
  • Shake well before each use. (do not get it into your eyes and do not ingest it.)
Usage
  • Twice every day, moisten your skin with warm water
  • Squeeze a teaspoon of the cleanser in your hand
  • Massage into your skin on your face and neck for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Rinse off with a clean soft cloth and warm water.
 I kind of split the recipe by 1/3 or 1/4. I can't really remember which because I lost track of my calculations and that probably explains why my version seemed overly lemony. I cut down the recipe because I didn't want to make a lot, in case it sucked. (Just being honest)



From what I can remember I used about ......

2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (had it in the house because i use it for my hair)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (i usually keep lemons in the house for my citrus chicken recipe. Although I'm going to have to figure out a veggie version of that)

1 tablespoon of raw apple cider
almost 1 tablespoon of agave nectar
10 drops of tea tree oil
5 drops of lavendar oil



Trust me my recipe was all off. You should keep better measurements if you try this. I made the concoction in an old cream cheese fruit dip container. (one point for repurposing a container)

Mix it all together and apply to your face.




This isn't the best picture of my face but for the purpose of showing you how it works and whatnot, I took various pictures. (my hair is pinned back weirdly, because I'm just trying to keep it off my face). This picture is with the cleanser on my face.


I still had face cleanser leftover, so I squeezed it into an empty grapeseed oil container. (another point for me for reusing something else!)

And that has been placed in my fridge...after I relabeled it so I didn't forget that its not just grapeseed oil in it.

REVIEW

I thought the cleanser was going to be a bit watery but when I put it in my hand, it was a little thicker than I thought. Perhaps that was the agave nectar that gave it the "face wash" consistency. Despite the fact that it was thicker than I thought it was, I wish it was a bit more creamy or soapy. After I've used all of this mix, I'll try and find another recipe.

It smelled a little too lemony to me. But I believe that's because I lost count of my measurements and should have put less lemon juice in it.

After I washed my face off, my face felt very fresh and I could smell the tea tree and grapeseed oil. It was subtle.

Pop Tarts, Made with Real Fruit

I've seen this commerical one too many times.....



First off, it always annoys me how so many toys, snacks, and all around products are geared towards children and not the adult who's buying the item. The commercial above is for a child to see and then beg their mom in the grocery store for.

"But mommy, its made from REAL FRUIT!" the kid will whine.

If by "made with real fruit" you mean 10% of the filling is made from dried "real" fruit. But is that 10% of fruit even organically grown fruit or infused with pesticide and genetically altered fruit?

10% Really! 10% and you get to say its made from real fruit.

Nevermind greenwashing. I say green bullsh!t.

You want to give your children something to snack on give them a box of raisins or real dried fruit. Dried mangoes taste amazing. Give them blueberries. Fresh squeezed orange juice. Give them almonds. There is even a bubble gum recipe in my book Raw: The Uncook Book made from natural ingredients.

Yes parents have limited time and sometimes can't make a full breakfast and their kids are whining and they hate apples and its just easier to give them a pop tart and really it only happens once every now and then so its not so bad...... Really, you don't have the time to give your child something more wholesome than a pop tart made from 10% "real" fruit. Ok. Go right ahead.



The Washington Post wrote an interesting article about this new marketing scheme ploy technique from Kellogg's.

What kind of snacks do you give your children? Is "made from 10% fruit" good enough for you?

What's Going On - Granola Tendencies

Last week, Granola Tendencies received a little blurb over at the Greenists. What's funny is that I've been looking at the site for information about taking care of your pet in a sustainable way because I am HEAVILY considering adopting a kitten!!! I've been reading the site for about a week now and didn't even notice their shout out my way.


The shout out was about that fact that Sam and I made an Apple Pie with Gouda Crust. We found an Apple Pie with Cheddar crust on epicurious but Sam wanted to alter it a bit. All of her ingredients were natural, organic, raw, unbleached and local. So it was really as good as it gets.

Sam will be featured REALLY REALLY soon in granola tendencies first interview! I can't wait till you hear from her and see the pictures I took of her apartment.

Thank Greenists for highlighting Granola Tendencies and Sam's Apple Pie. Sam and her roommate Laura, also made a very good vegan meal that evening too which included Tomatoes stuffed with Risotto, Homemade Dill Bread, and Gingered Carrots.


Regreet - Product Review





I was recently contacted by the owner of Regreet.com to do a product review. While I am waiting for the Regreet kit to arrive and test out, I stopped by the website to read more about the company. I believe what Christy Elchers has developed is intriguing and creative and is a very good alternative to just recycling old gift cards.

Currently I have two boxes under my bed which houses old greeting cards, notes, ticket stubs, and all sorts of random things. Some greeting cards..whether store bought or handmade are so beautiful that I have them displayed throughout my apartment. My mother took some Maya Angelou Hallmark cards that I gave her and framed them.

But still... there are lots more cards that are in a box under my bed.

Recently for my birthday and associate at work...actually my BOSS BOSS sent me a card that's green and white and elegant and beautil and he wrote a note inside saying how the card had been made from post consumer recycled content and it was printed on soy ink and therefore he thought of me when seeing that card...since I facilitate our green initiatives at work....and the card is nice. I love it. Its one of the ones displayed on my bookcase.


It's hard to see on this picture. But the top shelf has a white card with green swirls. That's the one he gave me. (Pay no mind to the random colored squares on the wall. They are paint samples. I was trying to figure out what color to pain my apartment. I settled on Ralph Lauran Suede Mochernut. Except its not eco-friendly. So I'm back to square one.)

All that to say...yes some cards are on display, some are framed by my mom and the rest are in boxes, bins and drawers taking up space. And each year more cards are added to that pile.

This is where Regreet comes in. Rather then just recycling the cards..why not extend the life of these cards and reuse them. Thus reducing the amount of cards that are purchased. Thus reduced the need to even buy them in the first place. (Although truth be told, I take scraps of everything since I do Art Journaling and make my own greeting cards.) But I also buy cards a lot too.

According to their website,

regreet™ Encourages Consumers to Get More Mileage from Their Greeting Cards
Greeting card re-use kits promote eco-conscious habits while connecting loved ones through the mail and online

MINNEAPOLIS – Sept. 28, 2009 – Almost everyone is familiar with “miles per gallon” ratings for their cars, but a new consumer product encourages people to consider “miles per greeting” for their greeting cards. regreet™ greeting kits enable consumers to reuse greeting cards they receive by sending them on to loved ones using whimsical labels and envelopes. In addition, card senders and recipients can track the path of these “regreeted” cards online, and watch where they travel over time. 

Reducing human impact on our planet and encouraging thoughtful consumption are central to the regreet business philosophy. regreet kits enable consumers to reduce the number of greeting cards they need to buy by reusing cards they receive. In addition, regreet kits are produced on earth-friendly materials with a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer waste and printed with soy inks. regreet kits enable consumers to reduce, reuse and recycle with panache and style. Each year, the typical American household purchases 30 cards at an average price of $2-$4 each. Getting more “miles per greeting” out of just a few of those cards each year will help eco-conscious consumers reduce their environmental impact and save money at the same time.

Supporting the Community an Important Part of regreet Business Model
At regreet, encouraging reducing, reusing and recycling of goods is just the beginning. regreet supports designated nonprofits by sharing a portion of company profits. Each time a customer purchases a regreet greeting kit, they earn the right to cast a vote for the nonprofit they think is most deserving. This year, the regreet team designated three nonprofits to receive donations: 4-H, The Nature Conservancy and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. regreet will use the vote counts to proportionally distribute its nonprofit donations.

About regreet™

regreet greeting kits enable customers to reuse old greeting cards, reducing the number of greeting cards that enter our waste stream and saving consumers money. Regreeted cards provide more whimsy with less waste—helping senders look good and save the planet at the same time. At regreet, encouraging reducing, reusing and recycling of goods is just the beginning. regreet supports nonprofit beneficiaries who are improving the world in important ways. Every time customers purchase a regreet kit, they get to vote for the nonprofit they think is most deserving. Each year, regreet tallies the votes to proportionally distribute donations to the nonprofits. Learn more about regreet at www.regreet.com.


So, I am going to try it out. When the kit arrives I'm going to take a few of my greeting cards that are in a box under my bed...some have been there since 2000. (Almost ten years). And i am going to regreet them and send them to others.

I will also upcycle and repurpose others. I'm really trying to clear the boxes of things from under my bed and get rid of all the paper and things I have around the house. So I will take some cards and reuse them for pieces in my art journal. Maybe I'll make collages out of others. And who knows what else.

I look forward to doing a product review of Regreet and letting you know how it goes! Has anyone ever used regreet? Or has anyone regifted/repurposed a greeting card on their own? How did it go?

24 October 2009

350 - International Climate Action Day


Today is International Climate Action day. For more information regarding this day visit their website at  350.org


Some of my favorite pictures from around the world are below. All photos are courtesy of 350.org and the people who sent them in.

My favorite animal is the elephant. Thus of course this would be the first on my list of favorites. I was reading an article about how there is one type of elephant that is near extinction because they are killed for their ivory tusk. Did you know the tusk was an elongated tooth? Crazy. To me, elephants symbolize wisdom and old souls. And sometime about that vibrates with me. Have you heard Rachael Yamagata's song entitled, "Elephants." Its beautiful.


I have never seen the pyramids nor been anywhere in Africa, but I have a deep desire to go.




I spent some time in Paris back in 2004 for for a Theater program called, "Arts in London" and one of my most beautiful friends is from Paris as well.




This ship is just cool



I'm not sure what this parade, festival theatrical artistic thing involved but it looks very intriguing and captivating.



All in all, while going through the 350 website I came across some really creative and innovative events people did to show a unified front and raise awareness regarding climate change. It was a huge international event and I hope those in leadership poisitions who have the power to exact change and legislate better standards will use this as inspiration.

There is an urgency with the need for change. We can not afford to be complacent or uninformed.