Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Greening Up Your Christmas (Tip #1: Wrapping Paper)

December is only a day away and Christmas is creeping ever closer! I'm not at all prepared yet, but I figured I would get into the Christmas spirit by sharing some ways to keep your Christmas as Green and Organic as possible.

Mountain of Presents

My family likes to experiment; we're always tweaking what goes on during Christmas, a fact I enjoy because it means that you never know what to expect! The first change we made was how we wrapped the presents. When you have a huge family wrapping presents not only costs a good chunk, but it also wastes a lot of paper.

We originally started with the stockings and wrapped all the little gifts that went into them in newspaper. Sounds odd, but no one really noticed! We explained Santa was becoming more eco-concious and the whole thing went off without a hitch! (When you have 12 or so giant stockings like we did, that is a lot of paper!)

If you're not comfortable using something that lacks that 'pretty' look that everyone expects, then make sure you recycle the paper rather than just tossing it into the garbage bin.

A few of our Christmas presents this year!
 My sister, the clever gal that she is, did something a little different. She used brown recycled craft paper, rather than wrapping paper, and had her kids help her decorate it. Armed with colored pencils, markers, glitter glue and more, they transformed each present into a work of art! (And had fun doing it!) They made cut outs from the previous year's Christmas Cards and used them to decorate the presents as well. What a great family project!

Stay tuned for more tips over the next month! Please don't hesitate to let me know how you green up your Christmas! 

Photo via James Ellsworth.


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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

RSS Feed Troubles

I'd like to apologize to everyone who had signed up for my RSS Feed. Apparently it wasn't pulling the posts through for the last month or so and I never noticed. I have corrected the problem, unfortunately this means that everyone who uses this RSS feed will likely have 14 new posts showing up today.

I'll be monitoring the RSS feed and this problem should hopefully never happen again.

I'm very sorry for the inconvenience!


Monday, 28 November 2011

Product of the Week: Compost Pail

Before I get into this post I want to mention that the company that sells this product is offering FREE shipping until Wednesday on orders of $100 or more. This is a brilliant offer and a great opportunity to try some of Only Green's absolutely fabulous products!


Just because it is winter doesn't mean that you have to stop feeding your garden!

"The ventilating design of the compost pail keeps air flowing to prevent bacteria growth and odors. Line your pail with small food waste biodegradable bags and start collecting compost in your kitchen with very little cleanup." 

View this product.

"These bags are 100% biodegradable and great for your residential compost program as well as your back-yard compost bin. They are tear resistant, have a 12-month shelf life when kept in a cool and dry location, and will break down in 10-45 days in a commercial compost facility. 25 pack."

They also break down in your garden or compost bin and though it might take a little longer they do break down completely.

View this product.

 See you Wednesday!

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Friday, 25 November 2011

Green Reading Ideas

I spend a great deal of my time sitting in front of the computer screen so I know more than anyone how important it is to walk away and do something else. Today's post is designed to inspire you to get away from that gosh-darned computer and go sit on a comfy couch with a hot cup of mint tea and do some well deserved reading and relaxation!

"The best purchase is an educated one. North American's best resource for practical tips, products and valuable information. You'll get the dirt on what not to buy and why, and the dish on great gifts, clothes, home supplies and more. Based on the popular and authoritative "Ecoholic" column that appears weekly in NOW, Ecoholic is a cheeky and eye-opening guide to all of life's greenest predicaments."

Find out more.

"Featuring over 80 self-contained projects, from growing your own organic food, cooking home-grown produce, keeping selected livestock, and leading a more sustainable lifestyle, 'Slice of Organic Life' is the perfect start for someone looking to go "green.""

Find out more.

"In this easy-to-follow guide, the green-living expert and host of the popular TV shows Living Fresh and Get Fresh with Sara Snow offers busy families simple, affordable ways to create a healthy, environmentally friendly home—room by room.

Every day, families make countless consumer choices, from which diapers to use to which apples to buy, to whether their next car should be a hybrid. For new parents concerned about the future of their children—and of the planet they will leave them—being informed feels especially urgent. But in the midst of a booming natural and organics industry, the many options can make easing into living green confusing. Now Sara Snow offers practical solutions for every aspect of family life, from laundry to recycling to decorating the nursery. Discover ways to green…

• your kitchen with healthier foods and safer cooking and storage options
• your bathroom with recycled toilet and tissue paper and nontoxic cleaning supplies
• your bedroom—and your love life—with chic eco-friendly bedding and sexy personal products
• your yard with a rain barrel attached to your gutter downspout to reduce runoff, prevent erosion, and capture clean water for your flowers, vegetables, and lawn

And there’s much more to inspire and encourage you, from advice on introducing children to healthy eating, to products and foods for your animal companions, to chemical-free gardening—plus sidebars offering insider secrets from green-living pioneers. Here is an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to do something positive for the well-being of their family, while leaving a lighter footprint on the world."

Find out more.

"We are what we eat, but we also are what we use to clean our homes, pamper our skin, and decorate our rooms, according to Renée Loux, accomplished raw food chef, award-winning author, and host of Fine Living TV's Easy Being Green. In her new book, Easy Green Living, she applies her whole-foods philosophy to home, garden, and beauty routines.

Renée Loux demonstrates that being green at home is easy, affordable, and better in every sense of the word. She discusses the daily choices we face that can keep the home, personal care, and beauty routines free of toxins. She exposes the dirt on cleaning products and common hazardous ingredients and reveals her recommendations for greener options, including her "Green Thumb Guides" for choosing non-toxic, eco-smart, and human-friendly products. Peppered with compelling and inspiring facts, Easy Green Living is full of "5 Step" lists, products and recipes for green cleaning, helpful charts, safer choices for every room, and inspirational advice so we can save the planet--one cleaning spritz at a time. 

As recent special issues of Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, and other major publications have demonstrated, going green is an idea whose time has come. Whether addressing big-picture topics like renewable energy, or offering simple suggestions for everyday living, this complete lifestyle guide shows that healthier choices don't mean a radical or complicated life change--it is, after all, easy to be green."

Find out more.

I hope one of these books captures your interest and I'll see you next week! (Be sure to tune in, I have a few posts for you that I am very excited about!)

For those of you living in the USA, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Beating the Winter Blues

After my last post, it occurred to me that other than mentioning the common cold, I haven't really talked about any of the other winter ailments that tend to crop up!

winter landscape

I'm sure we all have our own home remedies that we swear by, so I'm going to tell you about mine, and I'd love it if you would consider sharing yours!

So, for the cold! We of course have eucalyptus for the clearing of nasal passages. A wonderful, wonderful thing!

Ginger (raw)

A favorite drink of mine to combat the effects of winter is a fresh ginger tea. You slice up fresh organic ginger as thin as you can, toss it in your kettle or a pot filled with water and let it boil! Once it has gotten strong enough for you; simply strain it, add in a spoonful of honey and drink. It soothes your throat, clears your nose and even help with nausea and stomach problems. Love the stuff. It is quite spicy though! (Note: You can also add a dash of lemon juice!)

If the lack of sun is getting you down, you've probably forgotten to take Vitamin D. Your body makes it naturally when you're out in the sun, but if you live in Canada and your days have shortened to about 30 minutes, you need to help your body out! I take the capsules, my parents take the liquid -- try them out and find one that works for you. You'll notice the difference, trust me!

Sun Over Inuvik

What do you do when you find the Winter Blues are setting in?

Photos courtesy of David Blackwell, SingChan and EclecticBlogs.

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Monday, 21 November 2011

Product of the Week: Eucalyptus Rub

Well, I hate to say it but winter is here. I can tell you this for a fact because my nose has been stuffed up for about two weeks. The only time I get any relief is when I do the dishes! (I add a drop of eucalyptus essential oil to the dish water.)

I really need to start taking more baths, (I'll be able to do the same thing to the bath water.)

Unfortunately, since I can't lug around a pot of steaming water with me wherever I go, I decided it was time to come up with an alternate solution for my forays into the outside world! I'm not a big fan of the chemical laden rubs that are in our drugstores so I was pretty tickled pink when I realized that there was an alternative!

Eucalyptus Rub!!

"This rub is soothing for colds, chest and nasal congestion and is safe for use on children. Our product utilizes eucalyptus, wintergreen and peppermint essential oils. Avoid turpentine, a known neurotoxin, used by other leading congestion rub brands. 40 g / 1.4 oz"

This rub comes from the fabulous Canadian company Only Green, so I know it must be fabulous!

I can't wait to test it out!

Find out more about this product.

Thanks for tuning in, I'll see you on Wednesday!

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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Why Do I Care?

It's a funny thing, determining where your opinions originated; once you start looking into it, chances are you'll find that there was more than one push that got you going. Something must have happened for me to care a little more about sustainable living, organic foods and eco-friendly products than your regular Joe.

Oak and field

I think it started a long time ago when I lived on a little acreage outside of town. We had a sheep, a big ol' garden and usually some rambunctious little puppies getting underfoot. I didn't spend my time playing video games; though I do now. I was one of those kids who liked nothing more than building a fort in the trees outside. Sticks for the walls, mud for chinking...

I think my love of nature may have solidified in one singular moment; when we found a nest of baby sparrows on the ground beneath our pine tree and no mommy sparrow to be found. (There had been quite the storm the night before.)


We took the little birds in of course, learnt how to feed them, how to care for them. Two of them made it to adulthood, learnt to fly and were released back into the wild. One came back to our porch every spring for years; just sitting on the railing of our front stairs, waiting for us to come out, say hello and bring a little treat.

You would think, perhaps, that such fondness for nature would result in me becoming a vegetarian. But it didn't. Instead it pointed me in a direction that made a little more sense.

The food chain has existed since the beginning of life on Earth. Earth being destroyed by greedy, uncivilized and uneducated humans is a relatively new occurrence.

Trees could be harvested sustainably, without destroying whole forests. Without leaving nothing but a gaping scar on the land. Mining could be done in such a way as to prevent the destruction and pollution that it causes. The whole earth could run on sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sources. But we don't. Because it's all about money and convenience. Why have tomorrow what you can have today.


... If it was going to work better, taste better or be better for me tomorrow. I think I'd be willing to wait to a day.

As for the whole eating organically thing. If I don't want humans poisoning the planet, why oh why would I want to poison myself???

(There is a long story that leads to me coming to that conclusion as well, though I think it can be told in another post.)

So. Enough about me! Why do you care when others don't? Why are you here reading this post?

Photos courtesy of Nick Saltmarsh, MissTurner and crustmania.

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Monday, 14 November 2011

Product of the Week: Stainless Steel Drinking Straws

I've been advocating the use of non-disposable products elsewhere, so why not continue the trend? I wasn't too sure how I felt about this one at first, I think I'd have to try them to reeeeally give my opinion. However, I'm going to share them regardless - and if you have tried them or something similar, I'd like to know what you think!

Reduce   Re-use   Recycle

"Stainless Steel Straw, 24 cm/9.45 inches long, 6 mm/0.24 inches in diameter. Made from polished 18/8 stainless steel, they are reusable and dishwasher safe. Sold as a set of four."

There are also two other sizes of straw available.

My main concern would be how they would feel against your teeth, and whether or not they would be particularly safe for anyone under the age of 10. Or 40, depending on what crowd they're with. :P

What do you think?




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Friday, 11 November 2011

The Art of Mint Tea

Magic Mint TeaI love tea. It's a detail that everyone should know about me. I like tea when I'm happy, tea when I'm sad... I drink tea when I read, tea when I write, when I'm getting ready for bed at night...

Sorry, I think you get the idea. :)

One of my favorites, and there are many, is mint tea. It is a tea that is misunderstood and understated, but can be one of the finest things you can possibly drink. There are many varieties of mint, but my personal preference, because it is awesome, is peppermint.

First of all, there are a few things that you should know about mint tea!

Mint tea is a million times better when you use loose tea, none of this old squished mint leaves in a bag for me, no thank you. Not only is it more fresh, but you can really control the flavor that you get from your mint.

Now, you may have had mint in the past and didn't really care for the aftertaste, or some aspect of the flavor. Chances are this was because it wasn't made the way that mint tea is supposed to be made.

You see, the last thing that you want to do is to pour boiling water over your mint leaves. Worst plan ever. You have a few options; you can either bring your water to a boil, let it sit for a a few minutes, and then make your tea -- or you can pour your water into your cup, and THEN add your tea. I usually go with the latter method as then I don't have to stand there waiting for the water to cool. (It cools much faster when it is poured into a cool, and smaller container.)

The second thing that you really don't want to do is to steep your mint leaves for too long. If it's not strong enough, add more leaves next time!

Before you tell me that you don't like the idea of using 'more' mint leaves, as that is just a waste of your hard earned resources, let me tell you about the mint that I use. (Best mint ever by the way.)

I get my organic (of course) mint from Mountain Rose Herbs, the most fabulous 'herby' company out there. I don't get the mint tea, I buy the straight up peppermint leaves. (You can also get spearmint, though it's definitely not my personal preference.)

The peppermint leaves are currently $9.50 for a lb. One pound might not sound like a lot, but it came in a bag that has got to be about 11" tall and 6+" wide. If I could find my darn measuring tape I'd let you know a little more precisely. Regardless, the bag was huge and under $10. Me, the tea addict, has been avidly drinking it for over a year and I've used probably a third of the bag. The bag is resealable, and the leaves are still fresh and smell amaaaazing every time I open it!

Check out the Bulk Spices and Herbs section: Peppermint is under the P's!

If you like tea, you must try this stuff. It's amazing.

Now that I've educated you on how to make it, I'd like to share a couple of other tidbits!

Mint tea is good for the stomach, so it will sit well with people who have problems like heartburn, and it will also help soothe an irritated stomach.

The mint tea is amazing cold - and in my opinion best sweetened with honey. Though of course it is delicious without any sweetener at all.

You can make a nice cup of cocoa, (with organic cocoa powder which you can also get from Mountain Rose Herbs) and add your tea bag or tea strainer or whatever you use, right to the cup! As long as you don't steep it for too long you'll have a delicious minty hot chocolate. Mmmmm.

You can also toss in a little fresh ginger with your mint tea, even better for the stomach and it tastes amazing!

I hope you liked today's post, and if you're a tea drinker, let me know how you like your tea!

See you Monday!

Tea photo via Will Simpson

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Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

Monday, 7 November 2011

Product of the Week: An Organic Coffee Alternative

I was super excited when I came across today's product - It comes from a company (Two Leaves and a Bud) that sells a variety of teas, and tea related products; I'll be talking more about them in the future.

I don't know if you've ever used Krakus before - it's the roasted barley coffee alternative. Great stuff, and it tastes beyond brilliant when added to vanilla ice cream.

Today I found an organic version! Every day the number of things that you have to give-up if you want to eat organically decreases, which is totally awesome of course!


"Cafe Orzo: The Italian Caffeine-Free Alternative isn't coffee - it's Italian roasted barley. It has been the traditional caffeine-free brew of choice for centuries in Italy. This 12 oz. package of Cafe Orzo brews just like coffee, and features a nutty, full flavor. Low in acid and 100% caffeine-free, Cafe Orzo is the perfect after-dinner beverage, and is great for anyone trying to avoid caffeine from coffee."

You can purchase one of these for $7.95 or six of them for $42.00.

Find out more

Now, the big difference between Orzo and Krakus is that Orzo actually needs to be brewed; no instant mixing here!

If you want to cut down on the coffee you drink, need less caffeine, or just want to try something new -- the reviews all say that this is the way to go!

See you Wednesday!

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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Gift Ideas: Toys for the New Baby

Little munchkins are even more susceptible to the harmful chemicals that can be found in non organic materials than we grown ups are! It makes sense then to choose only the best quality for our youngsters.

I've found several great toy ideas whether for your own bundle of joy or for a gift!

"Adorable, soft baby rattles made from 100% Certified Organic cotton fabric and stuffing are darling toy choices for the eco baby in your life. Created with monkey, elephant and frog animal faces, your boy or girl will be giggling in no time from the smiling characters and bright, safe colors. Plush and snuggly, these eco-friendly baby rattles are chemical and pesticide free for a healthy family and home."

Find out more

"Bunnies, dogs and bears, oh my! These adorable, stuffed animal toy rattles in Certified Organic cotton fabric and stuffing feature pure silk tags around the body to keep little hands busy and entertained. Eco-friendly Taggies™ stuffed toys are designed to mesmerize babies and children with the crinkly wonder of soft silk. 

In timeless prints and patterns, these baby toys are ideal for families with any chemical sensitivities or allergies, since Organic fibers are naturally toxin free."

Find out more

"Cuddly and sweet with a gentle face, this precious orange monkey is made from 100% pure, Certified Organic cotton fabric and stuffing, making it a fabulous stuffed toy for boys and girls. Swirly stitching on the belly is eye-catching, keeping a baby or toddler in wonder of the creative design. Eco-conscious Organic fibers ensure the safest quality toy for your child and a healthier planet free of pesticides and harsh chemicals for everyone."

Find out more

"A fun stuffed frog sits atop this versatile children’s blanket for boys and girls, made from 100% pure, Certified Organic cotton fabric and stuffing. Bright, colorful patches are sewn together with creative contrast stitching for a look baby’s will surely find exciting. Surround your child in the eco-friendly, safe fibers of this stuffed animal blanket, a wonderful toy duo with a sustainable, natural design."

Find out more

"Floppy patterned ears and crinkly soft, pure silk tags add charm and wonder to this adorable stuffed puppy toy, made from Certified Organic cotton fabric and stuffing. Soft and gender neutral, this cream-colored Taggies™ stuffed animal is a sure choice for keeping children and babies busy!

Eco-friendly toy alternatives are safer for your baby’s wellbeing. Gain peace of mind knowing Organically grown fibers are herbicide and pesticide free, leaving those toxins out of our natural resources and away from your child’s sensitive skin."

Find out more

Let me know what you think of my choices by leaving a comment!

And don't forget -- if you're looking for something for a special someone, I'm happy to help. Let me know a few things about them and I will try to feature an organic/eco-friendly gift that suits them!

As always, any products I mention can be shipped to Canada.

See you Friday!

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