Gifts from Bend, OR

Live in Bend, Oregon and want to give a gift from Bend, Oregon? Follow my local gift giving series!

Green your coffee routine

Save 23 lbs of waste this year and start using a reusable coffee cup to keep you caffeinated.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Meatless Monday: Lebanese Roasted Cauliflower over Rice

image via La Grande Farmer's Market
One of my favorite appetizers is a cauliflower dish from a local Mediterranean restaurant in Bend called Joolz. When I told my husband about this dish, he was a little skeptic but when I ordered it for him, he gobbled the plate up and exclaimed "let's try to make this at home."  And off to the kitchen we went.

We could taste lemon and tahini so we started there. Instead of making my own tahini sauce, I went the easy route and bought some at Trader Joe's. After roasting the cauliflower for 30 minutes, we tossed it in 1/2 cup of tahini sauced and sprinkled with parsley and served it over brown rice with some pita bread.



Lebanese Roasted Cauliflower over Rice 

1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets
¼ cup olive oil
dash of salt and pepper

pre-made tahini sauce or better yet, make your own
rice
pita



Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil for easy clean up.
In a mixing bowl, toss cauliflower with oil,  salt and pepper until well coated. Spread in a single layer on baking sheet and roast, stirring and turning once or twice, until cauliflower is tender and crispy brown in spots, about 30-45 minutes.
Remove cauliflower from oven and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour tahini over the cauliflower and toss to combine.
Serve warm or let stand at room temperature over rice with pita bread

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Update on Hexavalent Chromium in Bend

Residents of my lovely city, Bend, were surprised when the EWG came out and said there was  hexavalent chromium in the Avion Water supply. Kudos to the City of Bend for educating everyone on how the water in Bend is tested in this video. I actually used this as an example on how to embrace social media as a business tool.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Plastic free: What habits will I change or have changed

Soupcon!
Twice a week, I visit the local soup cart for lunch (sometimes it's three times). The price is right and the taste is amazing. The problem -- I wasn't bringing my own containers and was throwing away a plastic lid, bowl, fork and spoon (twice a week).

As I started tracking my plastic last week, I started to think about ways I could cut down tracking items so I used my 12 oz ceramic coffee mug with silicon lid for my soup and brought my own utensils to work.

Soupcon was skeptical of my container but we made it work. And as you can see, he was a good sport about it.

Last week, when I brought my lunch to work, I made sure to use glass containers and bring my own utensils.

I drink coffee everyday. Back in September, I made a pledge to not buy coffee unless I had a reusable mug. Of course, the week I track my plastic, my co-worker surprised me with a latte from my favorite place in a plastic cup/lid.  I'll keep going on this one ... I promise and I'll try try try to get my husband on board BUT he's resistant to this as he says coffee doesn't taste the same.

Another co-worker brought in bagels and cream cheese ... catch, all we had were plastic knives to spread the cream cheese. Now I have a reusable knife in my drawer.

I made sure I didn't reheat our leftovers in plastic as well as I stored everything in glass contains (I realize that I might need a few more).

As for the grocery store, I'm still unsure where to start. I will not switch to disposable diapers ... I just don't have time and my son will be soon potty trained. If I do have another child, I will commit to cloth diapers then.  Maybe buy some cloth produce bags for the veggies? Buy more in bulk? Instead of buying a cheese sticks and a brick of cheese ... maybe skip the sticks and buy two bricks? I'm still unsure about going without plastic with my meats. I'm also trying to wean my son off juice boxes and the drinkable smoothies. My son loves his smoothies from Trader Joe's but I'm sure he'd love them more if I make them.

Do you have any suggestions? Look at these photos and please offer suggestions! I'm willing to listen to your advice!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My plastic filled life

Can I go plastic free? If you follow me on twitter, I've been documenting my plastic use with the #noplastic hashtag. I knew that I was a frequent offender of plastic but I was shocked to realize how bad I was.

Here is the start of my list ...

  • 35 disposable diapers
  • 1 disposable coffee cup and lid
  • 8 tetra pak juice boxes
  • instant oatmeal packet
  • 4 Lindor Dark Chocolate wrappers
  • plastic from snack pack of nuts
  • 2 apple carrot sauce pouches
  • Plastic bread bag
  • Plastic knife to spread cream cheese
  • six plastic tubes for the stems of Gerber Daisies
  • Two 2 gallon milk containers


Then I went to my once a month Costco trip on Friday:



  • chicken nuggets
  • cheddar cheese
  • bread
  • organic beef
  • strawberries
  • black bean burgers


(and yes, this is what I buy once a month from Costco ... my trick, take a list and don't deviate!)


Then I went to Trader Joe's (I go once a week):

  • lettuce
  • steak
  • cheese sticks
  • tahini sauce
  • gorgonzola
  • naan
  • drinkable yogurt
  • lunch meat
  • tortillas
  • chocolate
  • ketchup
  • shaving cream (for my husband)


OH and I'm not done! The plastic carnage continues as I had to pick up a few things at Fred Meyer because Trader Joe's didn't have them:



So there it is ... I'm a major plastic offender.  What can I improve on? I would love to hear your thoughts (and please go easy on me) What habits will I change or have changed?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Meatless Monday: Risotto cakes

image from Everyday Food
Remember that easy bake risotto from a while back? Make some up on Sunday as a side dish and use the leftovers to make risotto cakes! It's worth making a whole batch because those risotto cakes are easy to make!

Risotto cakes
adapted from Everyday Food


leftovers from easy bake risotto recipe
mozzarella cubes
All-purpose flour, for dredging
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions
Form risotto into 8 balls. Press a cube of cheese into center of each ball and flatten risotto into 1/2-inch-thick patties (make sure cheese is covered). Dredge patties in flour and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium until it sizzles when pinch of flour is added. Dredge patties in flour again (shaking off excess). In two batches, fry patties until golden and warmed through, about 10 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels.

They are great with a side salad!

Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Celebrating Valentine's Day

image courtesy of kelvin255

Since my birthday was a few weeks ago, I typically don't want anything for Valentine's Day (I know, what is wrong with me?). Instead of gifts, this year I'm choosing to make my husband and son dinner to celebrate.













Here's the menu:

The menu is as local as possible and everything is homemade -- no store bought mixes or sauces. The strawberries I used for the sauce were from last summer's freeze after we picked them. The ciabatta bread was a long process. I started at 10 am on Saturday and wasn't done with it until 5!

If you're looking to "green" you Valentine's Day, here are some great blog posts floating around the internet!

3 Simple Ways to Green Your Valentine’s Day


For the record, if my husband does want to buy me anything, the stores are full of my favorite flower -- tulips!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ciabatta!

How I spent my afternoon ... Baking ciabatta.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.6

Friday, February 11, 2011

Getting crafty: Valentine's Day crackers

Made with love
I didn't know that when my son entered pre-school at 2, that we'd already be having Valentine's parties at school.

At pick up on Monday, I was handed a note that I needed bring 20 Valentine's cards to hand out to the kids in class for Valentine's Day.

Bound and determined not to buy them, I sat down on Monday, with my son and started to make them. I cut hearts and Lil B tried to glue them. The whole idea was that he would eventually color on them to give it that toddler/pre-schooler touch but he wasn't having it. Oh well, maybe next year? As of right now, 16 of them are done and I will probably finish them after he goes to bed tonight or tomorrow. Yay me! Supermom! (I can't wait until he's old enough to do this himself or at least help).

For weeks,  I have been saving toilet paper rolls to go in my worm bin but then I had a brilliant idea ... I'll make Valentine's snack crackers for the teachers, my son and my husband!

items needed for Valentine's Snack
Crackers
What do you need?

  • toilet paper rolls
  • pink or red tissue paper
  • curling ribbon
  • candy 





I assembled them by putting an appropriate amount of candy in the toilet paper roll. Then I cut the tissue in half and rolled the toilet paper roll full of candy up, securing the ends with the curling ribbon. So easy! So simple and all I had to buy was the candy!

Very easy craft!


What easy crafts have you done for Valentine's day?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

TMI time: getting busy and going natural in the bedroom

You read that right, I'm going there ... in a tasteful way.

Skip the expensive stuff and
just pick up a jar of coconut oil
Recently, I was invited to an in-home "pleasure party." I needed a night out and it's always nice to see the girls.  As of late, I have discovered that going natural with my beauty products meant allergies and itchy red skin. I found that anything with citrus irritated my "normal" skin. When it comes to more natural facial cleanser and moisturizers, I need to stick to the sensitive skin lines.

As the consultant passed around the items,  many were filled with natural oils and ingredients and stayed way from artificial fragrances and flavorings. Good for them!  But when it came to the lubricants though, I already knew what worked ... coconut oil.

Skip the pleasure party folks and just go grab a $6 jar of coconut oil. It has many uses besides sitting on your nightstand. You can use it to cook with, make deodorant or use as a lotion.

But, if the thought of coconut oil just doesn't do it for your man, I recently have heard rave reviews about Oregon owned company Good Clean Love.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Green plan: Use ceramic or glass instead of plastic in the microwave

In the background, I'm working on a few of my green plan action items. I've started a bin for my junk mail so I can unsubscribe and receive less in the mailbox. I'm also working with my brother-in-law on a the right home energy monitoring system. I had NO idea they could cost as much as $600! I'm researching the best natural mascara's to replace my current favorite. My husband and I are trying to figure out how we're going to garden this summer when we don't really have a yard. I've been browsing Freecycle for free stuff and started an Ebay pile too. See, stuff in the works but really no update.

my plastic drawer
To the left, is my plastic container drawer. Less than a year ago, I had NO idea that I should not be microwaving them or reheating my leftovers or lunches! At the same time, I was re-heating my son's daily dose (and I'm not kidding, it's the only thing he eats, of chicken nuggets)  on plastic kiddie plates. (insert bad mommy face)

Why should you reheat items in glass or ceramic? According to Practically GreenHeating plastic in the microwave may leach toxins such as DEHA and BPA into food depending on what kind of plastic it is. To be safe and avoid confusion, a "no plastic in the microwave" policy can avoid exposure to those chemicals which have been found in high concentrations to be linked to diabetes, heart disease and liver failure. Using ceramic also reduces the waste associated with plastic. (insert bad mommy face, yet again)

I have been making good use of my Pyrex and ceramic dishes. I still use the plastic to store and freeze, I just don't use it in the microwave.

Remember this coffee cup?  It has started to be my "soup" container when I visit Soupcon. It's the same size of his paper bowls and that way, I won't be wasting paper/plastic.

Be green and happy, peeps!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Reluctant husband who went green gradually

Brian and Lil B
In honor of Valentine's Day coming up, I asked my husband, Brian, to write up his thoughts on how going gradually was going for him. I told him to be honest and surprise me. In the end, I think I need him posting monthly, don't you? You can also see his guest post on Practically Green.


My wife has always been a "greener" thinker than me. As our two separate lifestyle became one I noticed that her ways have shifted mine quite a bit. Long before it was cool, she was shopping with her own grocery bags was conscious of lights on for no reason and eating organically. "Did you really need to put that one thing in that plastic bag?" I remember her asking me standing in the kitchen back from the store. 


He fails to mention how his co-workers
busted him for drinking out of a
Dutch Brothers cup!
Over the last 6-months, with her new blog and movement to live greener there have been a few things that I've really enjoyed and others that were a little more life shifting for me. I like the worm bin in the back. It's kind of cool to be using our produce waste for spring garden's compost. I'm excited about chemical free stuff in the house for housekeeping and personal hygiene. I think the only thing that I didn't like is... hate me for saying it... coffee tastes better in a paper cup and a plastic lid you get at a coffee shop. There is something about drinking from it I enjoy. I have changed my ways though, drinking coffee out of a reusable cup (it's not the same though).

A big thing for her is recycling and she talked me into recycling the craziest thing ever... my car. Well, it wasn't exactly recycling where you tear it up and recycle the metal. It's called freecycling, where you list it on a web page in a community for people to come by and take it off of your hands for free. The idea is to keep things out of
the landfill, or in this case the junkyard.

I mentioned earlier that she had to talk me into it. This car, a 1995 Toyota Tercel that I made payments on while starving in college. The car that took me all over the west coast in the US without any problems (aside a huge carbon exhaust cloud that exploded out of my car while driving in the heat of Death Valley). It was the car that
had a busted out passenger window which I never replaced because it cost too much and I secretly liked the Dukes of Hazard windowless-look.  It was the car that was buried in snow up at Mt. Bachelor parking lot that I had to dig out both outside and inside (because the tarp didn't do its job), and took me home with ice on the inside of my windshield from my breath because my heater went out. Then, on that last drive from the mountain it stalled out the exact moment I pulled into its space at home and never started again. After all of that loyal running with my lack of gratitude and care aside oil changes and a spark plug change out my wife suggest giving it away?

I agreed to it and the car was immediately snatched up by a local who wanted to get is 16-year-old boy a "beater" for his first car. He picked it up while I was at work, commenting to my wife that from the looks of it I really didn't like this car that much. Well I did... well at least the first 75,000 miles of it. We learned that all the car needed was gas a few days later. He said the tank was bone dry and the fuel gauge was broke. That explains why it died the way it did. To this day I see it putting around Bend, Oregon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Can you go plastic-free?

Rodale is asking folks to make February plastic free. The thought of this kinda makes my head spin so instead of taking the whole month to go plastic free, I'm going to try it for a week. Baby steps is the Working Mom Goes Green mantra, you know.

The rules:
1: No buying or acquiring new plastic.

2: No cooking with plastic or storing food in plastic.

3: Minimize all other plastic use.

Starting today, I'm tracking the above. I'm kinda scared for the results. I realize this will mean the tracking of disposable diapers. I believe I've come along way but there is always room for improvement, right?

Wish me luck.

Meatless Monday: Cauliflower Bisque with Gorgonzola

Cauliflower simmering away
Ever since I picked up cauliflower bisque from Soupcon  a few weeks ago, I've been trying to find the perfect recipe to replicate and try to make my own at home. After searching the web, I have a miss match of recipes I'm going off of and I think I found the right one combination

The recipes was so creamy, rich and velvety, that you really don't need much more to each than a bowl of soup and maybe a slice of bread to help clean the bowl out.

Happy Meatless Monday!

Cauliflower Bisque with Gorgonzola
modified from CDKitchen.com

1 small onion, diced or leeks, chopped (used onion)
2 tablespoons celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 small cauliflower, cut into small chunks
salt and pepper
3 cups veggie broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
Gorgonzola cheese to taste

Directions:
In a 3-quart saucepan, saute the onion or leek and celery in the butter until tender (about 5 min). Add the chopped cauliflower, a bit of salt and pepper and the broth; bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low; cover and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Use a stick blender to puree the soup until completely smooth and thick. Add the cream; mix well. Add salt and pepper, if needed (go easy as Gorgonzola is salty). Put soup in a bowl and sprinkle with parsley and Gorgonzola and stir in until melted.

Proud to be part of Midnight Manic Meatless Mondays

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Insane Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Ganache Cake to celebrate my birthday

Image courtesy of Seasoned to Taste because I deleted the
one I took off my phone
When my friend and former cookbook club mate, Anna posted the recipe to Smitten Kitchen's Insane Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Ganache Cake, I knew I had to have this cake for my birthday. Of course, I wasn't going to make my own cake so I posted it to Facebook where my neighbor decided to give it a whirl for her grandfather's birthday. She brought me over a slice and then my husband ask her to make it again, and she did and it was every the title lives up to. It's insane. It will put you in a sugar coma and you won't be able to stop eating it. My co-workers are going to love me tomorrow.

My husband knows first hand of my peanut butter chocolate addiction. When I was pregnant, I often requested a piece of a similar cake by a bakery that is no longer in business. If I want a milkshake, it has to be chocolate ice cream with peanut butter and I'm a sucker for Tagalongs too.

Warning: my neighbor suggested that the is a two part cake. She recommends freezing the layers overnight before frosting.

Insane Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Ganache Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. Freeze the layers overnight as they are easier to work with when you frost them.

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating. Once the cake is fully frosting, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Natasha's fight

Natasha, Shawn and my niece and nephews
My husband Brian thinks at times I'm way too public (and soon enough, you'll hear from him honestly about this). Despite him thinking this, there are things I do keep private. I don't talk about work and I don't really talk about my extended family unless I feel it's important to. Now is one of those times.

As many of my friends and family know, my sister-in-law Natasha was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer two years ago. She lives in another state and often times, my husband (and I) have felt hopeless that we really can't do much living so far away.

Natasha wrote in her blog after they found out the cancer had spread, "I keep thinking about the 5 year survival rate for Stage 4 Breast cancer. It's like 16 - 20%. My youngest will only be 7. Will he even remember me? How is my daughter going to survive teenage-hood without a mother? Will my sensitive other little son be ok? How will Shawn survive being a single parent of 3 kids? These are the questions that constantly go through my head right now."

With that on his mind, my husband is a talented and creative individual and has decided to put his musical talents to good use and wants to support his sister by writing, producing, recording and releasing a 6-Track EP about her brilliant spirit during this challenging time. The catch, he needs your help to get it fully funded via Kickstarter.com.

I'm reaching out to those who read to please help us with this. 100% of the proceeds of this project will go to Natasha.

Thanks for your support and I will give an update when we make our goal!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Revisiting high fructose corn syrup

image courtesy of
practicallygreen.com
Remember that post about high fructose corn syrup? Well, the founder of Practically Green posted on my facebook page asking if I checked my son's ibuprofen. I had not thought to check there and sure enough, boldly stated on the back of my generic ibuprofen was that nasty ingredient-- high fructose corn syrup. I remember shout a word not to repeated on my blog or in front of little children. I was a little outraged.

The next day, I asked the pharmacist at work "why oh why is this in my product." The answer is that it's a delivery agent. Then I started asking, "could I work with the right folks and invent something without HFCS?" Yes, but I'd need a lot of funding.

This is still on my mind ... there is nothing on the market. One mom told me to choose my green battles. Yes, I don't give my son generic ibuprofen everyday! I know it helps the medicine go down! But I am so [insert that bad word] mad!

Susan from Practically Green has a great post about this on their blog about her feelings on it. She was just as shocked as I to find parabens, HFCS, Sodium Benzoate, artificial colors and Propylene Glycol in her child's Tylenol.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Navigating the Cosmetics Database guest post by Stephanie of Bubble and Bee


Since I am not an expert, this year I decided to call upon those who have helped me understand the world of gradually green. My first post is by Stephanie Greenwood, the founder of my favorite lotion, soap, face products on the market -- a little secret everyone should know about .... Bubble and Bee. Stephanie reached out to me when I was having problems with my skin products and sent me a few samples. Turns out, I'm allergic to putting certain things on my face but Honey and Rosehip Facial Cleanser is working out and not making my face all angry red! I'm in love!


I asked Stephanie if she would talk about the Cosmetic Database and help me and my readers navigate it! Enjoy and THANKS Stephanie! You get today's awesome award!

CosmeticsDatabase.com created by the Environmental Working Group can be a largely helpful tool when trying to navigate the crazy world of cosmetic and personal care safety and ingredients. There, you can look up just about any personal care product or ingredient and it will give you a "hazard score" that ranges from 0 to 10 (10 being the most hazardous.) The database draws upon data from fifty different national and international databases. No where else can one find such a vast collection of information on brands, chemicals, and products. At times, however, browsing the database can be confusing, and information can be incomplete. Armed with my tips for navigating this resource, you'll be able to be an ingredient sleuth to keep you and your family safe!

Tip #1: Know thine checkmark.
It can be scary to see a checkmark for "cancer" or "reproductive toxicity" on an ingredient...but not all checkmarks are the same.  In the database as you look at ingredients you'll see three different types of checkmarks.  

The thin grey: weak evidence

The thin purple: moderate to strong evidence

The medium purple: strong evidence

The thick purple: caution!  

So, just because an ingredient has a checkmark next to something, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's true or pertinent to an ingredients cosmetic use.  Take for instance baking soda.  It has checkmarks for both cancer and reproductive toxicity.  But, it's overall score is a 2 ("low risk") because the checkmarks are both "thin grey."  The evidence for these risks are very weak or don't really apply to cosmetic use.  (The studies were done on animals who ingested large amounts of the ingredient that wouldn't apply to human use.)  Contrast that with Genistein, which also shows checkmarks for the same two things, but the checkmarks are "thin purple," meaning moderate to strong evidence.  Combine the stronger evidence with some other risks and you've bumped the risk score up to a 5 ("moderate risk") for Genistein.

Tip #2: Consider the benefits and positive information
One major flaw to the Database is that it doesn't consider any positive information.  For instance, if there was one study done in 1964 on random animal cells and an ingredient caused them to mutate, the ingredient would be flagged for mutation in the Database.  There could be five credible studies done that proved the same ingredient cured cancer, but the database doesn't take them in to consideration, and that ingredient would be sitting in the database flagged for causing cancer.  Consider healthy benefits of ingredients that can outweigh any negative weak evidence.  (Such is the case for aloe vera juice, which scores a 1-2 with flags for cancer, even though numerous studies have found it to be healing to skin and have anti-tumour properties.)

Tip #3: Consider the Data Gap
Most people just look at the hazard score without considering the data gap.  Most people would consider a "0 hazard" ingredient a better score than a "2 hazard," But in some cases, I'd rather use a "2" ingredient than a "0."  The Database scores an ingredient based on the information available from different databases.  If there's no data on an ingredient, it automatically scores a 0...but it still has a 100% data gap (meaning it has no safety data).  I believe that an ingredient with a 100% Data Gap shouldn't score a 0, but more of an N/A. How can you give something the apparently safest score rating based on no data?  For instance, Rice Bran oil scores a 2, but it only has a 74% data gap, while Japanese Honeysuckle Extract scores a 0 and has a 100% data gap.  Emerging concerns of Honeysuckle Extract haven't hit any of the source databases, so it has no data and scores a "0."  While Rice Bran Oil has been around longer and has been studied more.  It scores a "2" for concerns with pesticide residue...but if one were to use organic Rice Bran Oil, one wouldn't have that concern.  In this case the "2" beats the "0."

Tip #4: Use common sense
Because it's such an information overload, it's easy to hang on to every word that the database gives you. But a little common sense will go a long way when you're looking at ingredients. One case in point is coconut oil. If you look up coconut oil in the database, it gives you a risk score of "1." Listed in the ingredient warnings is the fact that at high doses it can cause fatty liver degeneration. (What that has to do with applying it to your skin, I don't know). However, if you look up hydrogenated coconut oil, it gives it a risk score of "0" and no warnings. Now, we all know that organic extra virgin coconut oil is better for you than the trans-fat laden hydrogenated version. But because the database has no studies to which it can refer, it gives the hydrogenated oil a better score. That's one thing to remember--this is a large database with thousands of ingredients, and not all have been personally analyzed by the small staff of EWG.

If you haven't ventured over to the Skin Deep Database, do it soon. Your eyes will be opened to the many chemicals in your daily products to avoid.  You can generate a safety report on just about any personal care product out there. Go look up your fingernail polish, hair sprays and other products--you may be surprised to find out what's lurking in your lotion!  Armed with my tips you'll be able to find safer alternatives for you and your family for years to come.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Revisiting my New Year's Resolutions

Brioche!
Here is an update on my New Year's Resolutions ... I also am looking for a resolution buddy. If you're interested, comment and I'll get back to you. 


So here goes ...
Change up my iPod in the Jeep. I have yet to take Wilco and Radiohead off my iPod but I did listen to Mumford and Sons, Sleigh Bells and Edward Sharpe in the Jeep. Working out, well, was a different story. It was very much fueled by Radiohead and I did listen to A Ghost is Born a few times -- I needed my Spiders (Kidsmoke), folks!

Attempt one craft project a month. I hope art show in my son's room counts.

Cook or bake one recipe a week from my stash of cookbooks.  I cooked from Giada's New Italian Favorites. Next month is Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart.

I will attempt to make homemade gnocchi and tamales. I have time on this one.


I try to attempt making different varieties of homemade breads. I made brioche and rosemary potato bread.

Get outside with my family once a week. This only happened once as the weather was crappy two weekends and one weekend we were busy. We are helping our son learn how to ride a bike so we spent an hour going through our neighborhood helping him.
Lil B learning to ride his bike



Get healthy.  I am watching what I eat most of the time (80%) and I walked 31 miles in January compared to December where I only walked 4 miles. I also lost 4  5 pounds but I blame that on stress. I did try to get up at 5 am and either work out or work on my blog. Sadly, this only happened once. I guess I'm not a morning person!

Work on my green plan. Marked two off of my green plan

Save money. Opened an account at a different bank  and I made my first deposit last Friday. On the flip side, my property taxes are due and I may have to break into that account to pay the bill. :(

Ask for experiences, not gifts. My birthday is this Thursday and I asked for cash so I could put it towards my BlogHer 2011 trip. Friends also donated to one of my favorite charities in my name (and still can).

Buy/sell used more used items. I bought my son some discontinued Finding Nemo toys on eBay. 

Play with my son more. Though he's been a stinker, I have set more time to read and play. I have found that he prefers to snuggle before naps which has been a nice way for him to unwind. I took some time on my mom's birthday to tell him some stories about her and show him photos since he'll never get to meet her.

Date night once a month with my husband. Had two date nights in the month of January! Sushi and drinks night and then out to a friend's birthday. In February, we're planning on going to First Friday this week.

Be grateful. Working on this. It's a battle but I am trying to find the good in the bad. The terrible twos, lack of sleep due to sick and teething toddler and not getting enough time to myself. I am grateful. I'm alive. I have an awesome life.

Figure out my career path. Work in progress. I think I'm getting closer on this one.

Engage more in social media. Commenting more on other blogs has brought my traffic up as well as starting a new twitter account. I also participated in a twitter party and won a prize! 

Buy less stuff.  I have made a conscience effort to buy more in bulk as it's cheaper and contains less packaging. I haven't bought any clothes and have watched what I have bought at the grocery store too. I did splurge on these little notecards from a local friend/artist and I did buy the $20 Amazon giftcard for $10 so I could get two cds I needed to add to my collection.

Organize my closets. Have not done this yet.

Attend a music festival with my family. No decision on this yet.


OK, that looks like good progress! Can't wait to see what February brings.

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