Ooh, my favorite!


Some fun new toys
November 12, 2013, 10:28 am
Filed under: Art and Design, Clean, Drinks, Green, Health

Processed with VSCOcamAs much as I love a fun and sexy ice cube, I of course, can taste the funkiness from the silicone trays. Luckily Andrew found this vintage-style ice cube tray which has been updated with food grade stainless steel (instead of aluminum) and makes yummy ice without any leeched tastes.

Processed with VSCOcamAnd while I’ve never been a straw fanatic, I am very much in love with these  glass straws. So much fun for sodas and cocktails at home, and easily cleaned in the dishwasher.



GMO OMG in Seattle
September 26, 2013, 1:06 pm
Filed under: Clean, Compassion, Farmer's Market, Food, Green, Health

GMO OMG

 

Seattle friends, we’re one of a handful of cities that have been selected for screenings of the documentary GMO OMG. Opening tomorrow at the SIFF Film Center in Queen Anne here are the showtimes:  Friday 7:30 | Saturday-Sunday 3:00, 5:15, 7:00 | Monday-Thursday 7:30

A strong turnout in these key cities would mean a wider distribution nationwide. A hot topic here in Washington, for sure, as we’re set to vote on Initiative 522 in November. YES on 522 would be a very important first step in labeling foods that have been genetically modified. My mattress has a mandatory label, why shouldn’t my food.



Gen Mai Matcha
September 24, 2013, 11:49 am
Filed under: Drinks, Green, Health

GenMaiMatcha1

I was so excited about this new tea I received yesterday that I wanted to share it with you today. My morning tea routine is everything to me as it sets the tone for the rest of my day; and while I very much love a proper cuppa Matcha with a nice frothy top, there are some mornings (usually any given weekday) where I’m just not up for the whisking ritual (though my Matcha How-To is perfect for the weekend).

If you remember, the anti-cancer properties and overall health benefits of Matcha are off the charts because you’re consuming the (stone ground) leaf and not just the brewed water. I am happy to say that I found a tea with Matcha and Gen Mai, so there is no whisking to be done!

GenMai

This organic blend of teas consists of Dragon Crisp Gen Mai Cha, which is organic Japanese Sencha leaves tossed with toasted rice kernals; and Grade A organic Chinese Tencha that is stone ground into Matcha powder. These two combined have the smooth, creamy texture of matcha with a light grass and toasty flavor.

Serving:  As always, steeping temperature and time are important here. Too hot and the tea will become bitter and upset your tummy.

–  Use 1 teaspoon of tea for each 8 ounces of water.

–  Steep the tea in water between 180-185° for 3 minutes. If I do a second steep I’ll go for 5 minutes.

–  Pour into your favorite cup and sip away.

GenMaiMatcha

A much easier introduction into the world of Matchas this guy will probably even entice you to get a weekend whisking ritual going…there’s just something about that frothy foam. Regardless though, start here and give it a go before you move on to the bigger stuff.

Gen Mai Matcha | Art of Tea |4 ounce pouch (60 cups) $14 



Stress: there’s an herb for that
September 18, 2013, 10:34 am
Filed under: Clean, Compassion, Green, Health

For the past few weeks I’ve had a series of eerily similar conversations with a whole range of people and friends. The topic is stress, but what’s so poignant about these conversations is that it seems people are suddenly very in-tune with the very specific effects that it’s having on them. Usually we throw stress around as an all-encompassing ailment, but lately I’m hearing talk of specific muscle aches, that anxious knot in your stomach, skin break-outs, difficult menstrual cycles, chronic fatigue, that awful feeling that a meltdown is right around the corner. Whatever the specifics, people are looking for help in dealing with the day.

Andrew referred to it as “industrialized society” the other day and I about had a freaking heart attack; god, what an awful term. But really it’s so spot on. We shouldn’t have to pep talk ourselves before braving the grocery store parking lot or merging into the morning commute, but for many of us it’s part of the daily routine.

While I continue to figure out the best way to deal with the crazy of each day I have found some great help in the form of a root. Here’s the deal:

DRHODI

Rhodiola has been used in Scandinavia, Russia, and Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to lift the mind and body, treat depression and fatigue, and also improve mental function. It grows in extreme cold climates and is wild or harvested by “ethical wild-crafting” where only a small quantity of the root is taken so the plant itself remains healthy and safe.

Rhodiola is a powerful adaptogen – meaning that its use helps to improve the health of our adrendal system which manages our body’s response to stress. Taking Rhodiola is a gentle way to help strengthen our body’s response to stress and also enhance our ability to cope with anxiety and fatigue. Essentially we’re able to help our body “adapt” to specific needs without disrupting other body functions.

The effects will be subtle and slow at first, but take your time and give it a chance to work its way into your system. The effects for me have been undeniable.

rhodiola

Many brands and forms are available. Whether you prefer capsules or tinctures poke around and see if your favorite brand has it on its own, or as an ingredient with other stress-fighting herbs. If you go that route, though, be sure the other ingredients jive with your needs. I have the tincture form above but my favorite is a capsule that contains some other adaptogens and is from a great company that does not use chemical solvents, and has a capsule that is made entirely of plants. You can learn more about it here, and buy the capsules here. And as always, this recommendation is one I truly believe in and I share it as an alternative to other forms of treatment. Consult your doctor with questions, and if it’s not your thing that’s cool too.



derma e microdermabrasion scrub
September 5, 2013, 11:15 am
Filed under: Beauty, Clean, Green, Health

Picture 2

 

My goal this summer was to go completely make-up free for the season. Like, no face coverage whatsoever. Just a little curl of the lashes, a touch of mascara, and maybe a bright colored lip. But that’s its! And let me tell you, I busted my ass to get my skin to a place where I felt comfortable going naked and in the end it was such a great feeling. I will admit that sometimes it was interesting to hear people’s perception of beauty, and while some people don’t quite get the au naturel look, I don’t get the make-up applied with a paintball gun aesthetic. So there.

One of the key components to my summer sans maquillage was exfoliating, and as much as I love my Clarisonic it does not count as an exfoliator…did you know that? This guy from derma e is an amazing spa-quality product for home that will buff away that dull layer of skin that’s been compromised by the sun and exposure to day-to day pollutants outside. It is 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten free, and GMO-free. And it gets a very happy score of 2 from the Skindeep Database.

To use: 

Can be used on dry skin, but I prefer wet.

After cleansing, use your ring and middle fingers to gently rub a small amount of scrub in circles around your face for 2 minutes. Rinse. Pat dry.

Continue your routine, (I splash with seaweed water and use a Vitamin C serum) but remember to moisturize well and avoid direct sun immediately after.

derma e Microdermabrasion Scrub | $32 

 

 



Elderberry Cordial
August 26, 2013, 11:04 am
Filed under: Clean, Farmer's Market, Food, Health

elderberry

I wanted to sneak this recipe in while elderberries are still, somewhat, getable. It’s a fun project and it will make you happy all winter long.

Elderberry cordial used to be a staple in every good housewife’s well-stocked pantry as it’s a powerful part of a cold and flu fighting regimen. As many old-school traditions go, it eventually fell by the side and was replaced with more convenient and immediate methods of cold care.

Last year when I shared my natural medicine cabinet with you, I mentioned my favorite elixir Sambu-Guard. Well this elderberry cordial is precisely that! And while it’s worth every penny of its $17 price tag (and you should certainly add it to your medicine cabinet) it was pretty freakin’ cool to be able to make my own this year.

Elderberry Cordial

We ordered  two large bunches of elderberries from Foraged & Found and picked them up at the University Farmer’s Market. The berries themselves aren’t particularly tasty on their own, so making them into a cordial, with the addition of honey, makes them so, so good.

Remove all of the large stems but don’t worry about the small ones. Place the berries in a large non-corrosive pot and cover with filtered water. Heat gently and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon (one that you won’t mind if it stains). After simmering, gently mash the berries with the back of your wooden spoon.

elderberry2

Let the berry mixture cool and then transfer to an old dish towel or a double-wrapped cheesecloth. You can strain through a colander or gather the ends and tie them to a rack (like our horror movie set-up below). Let strain into a large bowl overnight.

elderberry4

After straining, transfer the liquid back to the pot and bring to a light simmer. Add honey to taste, mix until dissolved, and remove from heat. Pour the cordial into small canning jars. Sterilize them in the oven by lightly screwing on the lids and placing in the oven at 225-degrees. Once the cordial begins to bubble in the jars, turn off the oven, tighten the lids, and let cool.

It was a lot of fun, even over the span of two days, and all things considered it wasn’t much work. Not that I’m looking forward to cold and flu season, but I am excited to pop one of these guys the next time I feel that little tickle in my nose or throat. To use, add a few tablespoons of the cordial to hot water and drink as a tea OR add a splash of rum or rye as a twist on a Toddy.

elderberry3



Magic Marker
August 14, 2013, 11:14 am
Filed under: Beauty, Clean, Health

Picture 7

A few weeks ago, in this post, I shared my love of beautiful berry lips, but also confessed that I hadn’t yet found the perfect non-toxic lipstick. I am happy to report that since then I have found one and, oh, is it awesome.

This is Josie Maran’s Magic Marker lipstain and it’s everything you’ll need for bright lips. Use it to line your lips and then color in as a long-lasting base to leave as-is or for layering colors. It doesn’t budge or bleed, but it’s not drying either so there’s no patches of color or that white gunky chapstick line (that I always seem to get).

A check at EWG’s Skin Deep Database ranks this guy as a 3, and for lip color that’s pretty darn good.

Josie Maran Magic Marker $21



Urban Bee Co. Seattle
July 24, 2013, 11:35 am
Filed under: Clean, Green, Health, My favorite things, Nature, Seattle

urbanbee

I found a great new honey to add to our collection and this one’s really cool. The Urban Bee Co. is a Seattle-based group that cultivates healthy environments for bees and collects honey from small neighborhood apiaries, urban farms, and some backyard hives too. This guy I got is from my ‘hood, right down the way on the Alleycat Acres farm on MLK and Columbia where they have hops, chickens, harvest parties, and workshops. Each hive is free from chemicals, antibiotics, high fructose corn syrup, and plastic. The honey is harvested in small batches, never heated or filtered, bottled by hand, and delivered by bike. Hyper-local!

I picked up this bottle (from the fall harvest) at my very fave Sugarpill, but you can order online, or join their CSA.

urbanbee2

There are also great resources available through Urban Bee Co. and their partnership with my other neighbor Stone Soup Gardens. One of the most exciting offerings is help to set up a permaculture bee garden (wish we knew about this before we did all the research on our own). Helping our bees and building community. Great stuff. Makes my heart swell with happiness.



How to build a better salad
July 16, 2013, 11:56 am
Filed under: Farmer's Market, Food, Health, Organic, Recipes

cherry-mizuna

We are salad people. And while I’ve always craved for seasonal leafy greens I have never met anyone that can build a salad quite like Andrew. He often laughs about his time in the kitchen, preferring to work the garde manger station while others fought for the grill. The truth is that properly seasoning fresh ingredients is an art that many restaurants chefs haven’t even mastered. We all know the horrors of an over-dressed, soggy salad. (If you’re looking for a proper salad in Seattle, Matt Dillon is the master.)

Salads are compositions and are a complex form of cookery. Using what’s fresh and available, assessing how sturdy the ingredients are to inform your seasoning, and honing your sense of touch are all important elements to salad-making and are so much more rewarding than opening a bottle and pouring. If you’re bored of your salad routine and hoping to elevate your technique here are some tips to help you compose a salad like a true artist, and a recipe to help you practice.

Try a new leaf

We are all about Mizuna this season. It’s like everything you wish frisee actually was, but we all know that it just isn’t. Mizuna is a Japanese mustard green with a slight peppery taste and small, narrow serrated leaves. For as sturdy as the leaves are (they’re also great sauteed) they make for a really delicate salad.

There’s also my other fave, purslane that is also in season right now.

Soap box: Salad greens should never come from a bag or a box, especially this time of year. I’ll share my tips for washing produce very soon.

Use your sense of touch

No tablespoon measurements or emulsifying. Here we’re going to drizzle and use our hands to feel how we season. Start with a light drizzle of olive oil to coat the leaves, and use your thumb or finger to regulate how the oil is dispersed. Then move on to the acid and salt. (This bit of info was new to me. I never knew you started with the olive oil!)

* assess the greens: How sturdy are they? How much oil, salt, tossing can they take?

Toss with a delicate hand

Use just the very tips of your fingertips to toss to keep the lettuce light and airy. Collect only a few sprigs at a time…like 1/4 of a handful and let the leaves fall through your fingers. Just as the ingredients are coated use the bowl to toss once more and maintain the height of the leaves.

Make two different salads, then combine

This is key! Build flavors by making two components of the salad that are seasoned differently. Essentially all you’re doing is using two different vinegars. It’s magical and your taste buds will freak.

Use separate bowls

Each component should have its own bowl. This will help you stay organized, save time, and will also serve as a tossing implement. We love our stainless steel guys.

cherrymizuna2

Mizuna salad with Summit Cherries and Blackcap Raspberries

We came up with this salad based on what we had on-hand after a farmer’s market haul last week. Don’t feel restricted by a recipe, use what you have and don’t be afraid to try different pairings. In this, the savory chives with the sweet fruit and vinegar are unexpected but so, so good.

For the Mizuna:

–  Mizuna leaves, ends trimmed

–  feta cheese, crumbled

–  chive blossom vinegar (or other savory version)

–  olive oil

–  salt

–  pepper

Lightly drizzle the olive oil and gently toss to coat the leaves. Once the leaves are  coated drizzle a small amount of chive blossom vinegar, feta, salt, and pepper. Toss gently once more with your hands and then by tossing the bowl. Set aside.

For the cherries and raspberries:

–  5-6 cherries, pitted and halved

–  small handful blackcap raspberries

–  4 sprigs chives, finely minced

–  sherry vinegar (or other sweet version)

–  olive oil

–  salt

Lightly drizzle the cherries, raspberries, and chives with olive oil. The berries are fragile, so very few and delicate touches are important. Gently sprinkle the vinegar, and salt.

Plate by gently placing the cherries and berries around the plate. They’re heavy so we want them beneath the Mizuna. No arranging! Just let things fall as they may. Then gently pile the Mizuna on top. To keep height let the greens fall through your fingers as you transfer them from the plate. Scrape out any remaining pieces of feta and oil. Drizzle with the tiniest bit olive oil before serving.

Bon appetite!!

 



Head in the sand
July 8, 2013, 12:07 pm
Filed under: Compassion, Farmer's Market, Food, Green, Health

movies
Most nights after, mornings before, and days away from work I have a habit of turning on the TV and finding something completely mindless to watch on Instant Netflix. I don’t want to think because the way I feel I swear it would cause some sort of brain injury. I just want to melt into the couch and watch any given episode of Family Guy for the millionth time.

But, alas, one can only disconnect for so long, and I soon became aware of how empty and uninspiring that habit was making me feel. For the past few months I’ve changed up my routine and I’ve come across some really interesting documentaries that are streaming on Instant now. I’ll admit that I’m not always in the mood to watch a super-intense, angry-making, political-injustice type movie…I just take them so personally and its effects can be hard on me. But when I do find the time and the energy to watch them I always appreciate how my perspective shifts and the decisions I make are that much more informed. Here’s to not being an ostrich!

Queen of the Sun

I desperately want to add bees to our little farm, and as much as I’ve tried to make it work we just don’t have the room next to the chickens. This documentary from 2011 is beautiful and insightful. (I just wish the cover wasn’t so creepy.) With our beloved honey bees at the center of the story there’s also some really great profiles on some forward-thinking (and some wonderfully eccentric) apiarists and permaculture farmers, discussions on the dangers of monocrop culture and pesticide use, and a really interesting segment on commercial bees and the breeding of Queen’s. Complex and I can’t lie, very emotional it’s the type of movie that will change the way you think of bees, swarms, and farming.

The Happy Movie

A glimpse of people and cultures around the world in an attempt to identify what makes us happy. Positive psychology is a real thing and it’s pretty cool. After I saw how a rickshaw runner lives in India, or how a once beautiful woman found happiness after a terrible accident it helped me reevaluate my knee-jerk reactions to the petty injustices of the day. I often need reminding so I have watched this a few times. The story of the people of Okinawa, the highest concentration of the oldest living people on the planet, was particularly inspiring.

Hungry for Change

I have watched this documentary several times, and it’s usually when I need that little kick in the ass to get things back on track with my health and diet. There’s suddenly been a lot of talk on the addictive nature of refined sugar and flour and this will help explain how and why it’s so hard for us to step back. There’s also a ton of great information on natural health and beauty which is one of my very favorite topics. Heal your body from the inside!

HOT COFFEE

EVERYONE knows the story of the hot coffee incident from McDonald’s in the 80’s, but I guarantee that you don’t know the REAL story. It’s heartbreaking and so much more complex than any of us ever knew. This story and many more will change the way you think about “frivolous lawsuits” in our country and the effects of tort reform. It’s a very interesting look at how the hot coffee incident was exploited to ultimately protect corporations and change our justice system at the expense of the average citizen.




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