December 31, 2006

Special Ed: Watch Ed Begley Bike for his Toast

Meet the Begleys.jpgSet your Tivos. In the latest sign that green has gone mainstream, HGTV is debuting a new "green reality show" focused on the everyday life of celebrity-cum-environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr. Living with Ed, which debuts on HGTV tomorrow (Jan 1) at 1 p.m. From the official blurb:

From his electric car to his white picket fence made out of recycled milk jugs to his outdoor oven powered by the sun, Ed Begley, Jr., isn't just an actor — he might also be the greenest man in Hollywood. Green living is easy for Begley, but for his wife Rachelle, it's another story. Sure she cares about the environment, but if she wants a long, hot shower, Ed times her and what seems like a normal task is anything but in this household. Want toast? Ed's stationary bike is connected to his solar-power supply, so each morning he rides to make more electricity. Meet the Begleys and laugh out loud as you get a glimpse of what it's like Living With Ed. toast, eh? Show me more.

Watch Living with Ed on HGTV.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 22, 2006

Weekend Reading: Forum for the Future's Top 10 Environmental Books

Liked David Suzuki's Top 10 Environmental Books? Check out Forum for the Future's Top 10 List and see how it compares.

SMALL-IS-BEAUTIFUL_120.jpgPeter Madden, the chief exec at Forum for the Future, writes a monthly column for Grist about sustainability in the U.K. and Europe. He took a poll of 100 staff and colleagues in the U.K. and came up with the following:

Small Is Beautiful (1973), by E.F. Schumacher

Silent Spring (1962), by Rachel Carson

Gaia (1979), James Lovelock

stark.jpgFactor Four (1995), by Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, and Ernst von Weizsäcker

Stark (1993), by Ben Elton

Read Madden's full list on Grist.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 21, 2006

Homemade Cranberry Almond Granola Recipe

Here's something for folks who'd rather make their gifts than head to the store for a last minute shopping frenzy. Or who think spending quality time with the family is more important than material things - and if you can end up with something tasty to give away at the end of it, so much the better. Think of this as my gift to you.

Jess's Cranberry Almond Granola Recipe
(Adapted from Eating Well Magazine)
2/3 cup frozen concentrated apple juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

5 cups oats
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two cookie sheets (with sides) with parchment paper, or grease them.

Place frozen juice concentrate, maple syrup, brown sugar and oil in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and turn off heat. Stir in cinnamon and salt.

Mix oats, almonds, sunflower seeds and wheat germ in a large mixing bowl. Add wet ingredients and stir to incorporate.

Distribute mixture evenly on two cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once. Reverse sheets and rotate top sheet to bottom oven rack and vice versa. Bake for another 15 minutes, untiil granola is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets.

Mix in the cranberries and transfer to mason jars. I like to tie a raffia bow around the top to make them more festive. Granola will keep for two months stored in the mason jars.

Enjoy with yogurt or milk.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 20, 2006

Reach for the Stars: Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium

skyscout_person_holding.jpgLooking for a last minute gift for someone who has everything? Got a favorite stargazer on your list who is also a technology buff? Here's a gift will impress adults and kids of all ages.

The Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium is a handheld device that uses GPS technology to help you locate and identify over 6,000 stars, planets, and constellations. Just point at a star or constellation and click, and the SkyScout will search its built-in database and return audio and text info, including facts, trivia, history and mythology about our most popular celestial objects. Or, tell it what you're searching for and SkyScout will give you directions to "get there."

Other features include:
- Tonight's Highlights: a customized list of the 20 best objects to view for your exact date, time and location anywhere in the world.
-Constellation lessons: if the star you identify or locate is part of a constellation like the Big Dipper, you can actually take a guided tour through all the stars in that constellation and even see an onscreen map of the constellation.
- Built-in field guide, which includes an audio lesson on the origin and history of astronomy;a glossary of terms which definees popular astronomy lingo and locations; bios on some of the world's greatest astronomers including Galileo, Einstein and Copernicus; text descriptions of some of the coolest objects man has sent into space including the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Space Shuttle; and a comet guide describing history's most famous comets including Halley's Comet and Comet Hale-Bop.

Comes with a USB Port for downloading the latest info on newly discovered objects. Runs on two AA batteries. (Get rechargeable ones for extra credit!)

Available from Orion Telescopes.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 19, 2006

Walk the Walk: Omron HJ-112 Digital Premium Pedometer

Digital-Pedometer.jpgHow about a last minute gift for a fitness fiend, or someone who is getting back on the wagon in time for the New Year? May we suggest a spiffy new pedometer so s/he can keep track of his/her mileage?

The Omron HJ-112 Digital Premium Pedometer comes highly recommended. It displays time, aerobic steps, distance in miles, and calories/fat grams burned. Better yet, it counts steps at all positions perpendicular to ground, so you can just put it in your pocket and go.

Built to last, and requires minimum set-up to use. Perfect for keeping that New Year's Resolution....

Available at Amazon.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 18, 2006

She's Crafty: Bazaar Bizarre Crafts Fair (Don't Worry: There's also a Book!)

Spent Saturday afternoon with Jane and Russ checking out the Bazaar Bizarre, a kooky hipster crafts fair organized by the founders of Magpie. "Not your granny's crafts fair" is their tagline, and they live up to it with fun and funky DIY crafts sold by folks who are, well, as fun and funky as the stuff they sell.

Russ and I picked up some techno-tacular one-of-a-kind metal robots made of recycled screws and bike parts from 80GritArt.

I bought a recycled metal egg to go with my rooster and bird collection from Anna Johannson of AnnaBuilt.

And we picked up recycled cashmere hats, a porcupine pin cushion and other little treasures for folks on our lists.

Bazaar-Bizarre.jpgBazaar Bizarre happened this year in Boston and LA. But if you missed it, don't despair completely. If you're crafty, or know someone who is, you can always pick up the book - Bazaar Bizarre - by Greg DerAnanian, one of the founders of the fair.

The book takes crafts projects from actual Bazaar Bizarre crafters, and shows you how to DIY-'em. iPod cozies, hats with ears, cuff bracelets made from vinyl records -- DerAnanian's got the stuff. So if you missed the Bazaar Bizarre itself, or went and find yourself hungry for more, pick up a copy to tide yourself over until next year.

Available on Amazon.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 17, 2006

Eco-Friendly and Organic Stocking Stuffers

EO Foot Care Kit.jpgGot your eco-friendly and organic stocking stuffers covered? It's not too late to add these green items to your shopping cart.

EO Skin Care Products

Perfect for stockings - how about something for the feet? During our lifetime, our feet will carry us approximately five times around the earth (I'm guessing much of that happens during the holiday season!) EO's Foot Care Kit contains:
- Peppermint & Lavender Foot Salts
- Revitalizing Lotion (1 fl oz 30 ml)
- Peppermint & Lavender Foot Balm
- Peppermint & Lavender Foot Scrub
- Revitalizing Lotion for Legs & Feet with nourishing mango seed butter

EO Hand Cream.jpgTake care of the feet, then take care of the hands with EO Hand Cream. Lavender essential oil in this hand cream soothes while it moisturizes.

Burts Bees.jpg
Burt's Bees Head-to-Toe Starter Kit
contains sample sizes of all our favorite Burt's Bees products, including their Beeswax Lipbalm, their Lemon Cuticle Cream, and their Hand Salve. Give the whole thing to your favorite person, or split up the kit to create several stocking stuffers.

Burt's Bees also has great presents for the itty-bitty ones on your list , or at least the mommies and daddies who care for them - its Green Gifting Baby Care Kit. Little ones will coo for Baby Bee soaps, soaks and lotions that keep their skin silky soft and kissably sweet. The Green Gifting Baby Care Kit is packed wtih eco-consicous products in hand-woven abaca bags from Philippines - renewable, reusable, bio-degadable and 100% natural. It includes an embroidered terry washcloth, a Baby Bee shampoo bar, buttermilk bath, lotion and soap, diaper ointment, apricot oil, and baby powder.

Zia Face Lotion.jpgGot a natural man? Put him in touch with his softer side with Zia for Men Face Lotion.

Battery Charger.jpgRechargeable Batteries and a Battery Charger
Finally, for all those gifts under the tree that require batteries, how about making those batteries rechargeable? Energizer's E2 Charger works for AA and AAA batteries. It comes with adapters for the car and home outlets, and 4 AA batteries. Pick up a 4-pack of AAA batteries to complete the package.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 15, 2006

Weekend Reading: David Suzuki's Top 10 Books on the Environment

1553650220.01._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU01_AA240_SH20_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgEnjoy surfing celebrity playlists on iTunes? How about the equivalent for books? Just came across David Suzuki's 10 Books to Read on the Environmenton Amazon.

David Suzuki is a scientist, a broadcaster, and an environmentalist. You may know him as the host of the TV show "The Nature of Things." His list is full of oldies but goodies - books he says were formative to his development as an environmentalist. They include Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, Naturalist by E. O. Wilson, and Al Gore's Earth in the Balance, among others.

Check out the full list here.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 14, 2006

Charge It: Solio Universal Solar Charger

DUqqUYeoE-1.JPG.jpgWill that be credit or charge? Both, if you do it right. The Solio Universal Solar Charger gives you extra charge - enough to power your cell phone, your iPod or your Blackberry. And you get extra credit - for saving electricity by getting your energy from the sun.

The Solio Universal is one of the top-selling solar chargers on the market. It gets top marks for adaptability - it comes with a USB cable, a mini-USB tip and adapters that make it usable with Nokia, Motorola, and Samsung devices (as well as iPods), as well as a Universal cable and 12 volt Universal Adapter.

Other key features include:

o High capacity internal battery which stores energy for up to a year
o Rechargeable from the wall or the sun
o One hour of sunshine gives you about one hour of play time
o Weather-resistent
o Elegant, ergonomic design
o Light weight and easy to use
o One Year Warranty

Plus, Solio has been made carbon neutral by planting trees in protected bio-diverse forests. So go ahead. Listen to that song. Talk a few more minutes. Send that text message. Because there's more energy where that came from. And it's yours for the taking - free and clear and good for the earth.

Available at Amazon.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 13, 2006

Not So Natural, but Oh-So-Delicious: Clementines and Cappuccino Truffles

Looking for a simple yet sophisticated holiday dessert that will have your guests oohing, ahhing and asking for more? One that requires basically zero prep time, and might even count as healthy? images.jpegt.2003jan19_clementines.jpgWell, you should probably keep looking, but I can tell you about something that knocked my socks off in Whole Foods yesterday afternoon:

Clementines and Cappuccino Truffles.

Recipes for Cappuccino Truffles abound on the Web. Amazon sells a pretty cool make-your-own-truffles kit which looks positively gourmet. Me, I was happy to plunk down four bucks and change for the Whole Foods variety, which had me moaning in the produce aisle.

Clementines are at their peak right now, so don't dillydally. Pick up a box, and next time you have the neighbors over, prepare them to be impressed.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 12, 2006

Watch Me Go: Suunto GPS Wrist Watch

Heading back to nature? A GPS wristwatch may come in handy. Plenty's gadget guru recommends this watch from Suunto, which comes with an altimeter, barometer, compass, and built-in GPS.

The Suunto X9i is compatible with digital maps - great for planning routes in advance and storing the best ones for re-use. It connects to your computer, so you can upload and download routes and trip logs. It also has a "find-home" function that lets you mark your position when you start out, and find your way back.

Available at Amazon.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 11, 2006

Good and Plenty: Plenty Magazine

plenty.pngJust picked up the December/January 2007 issue of Plenty Magazine, which has about 10 different stories you'll want to read next time you're riding the subway or sitting in your doctor's office. It's chockful of disturbing statistics - like the number of gallons of water consumer by the average American home each day (90) and the number required to produce a glass of milk (49) - as well as articles about the evolution of social protest, volunteer vacations, and how environmental groups are using donations. And, since it's December, of course there's the obligatory green gift guide - but this one is full of not-so-standard picks. (Wind turbine, anyone? How about a solar LED bike light and battery charger? )

Available at your local Whole Foods or by subscription at Plenty.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 8, 2006

Weekend Reading: Heat by Bill Buford

If you can't stand the Heat...well, maybe there's something wrong with you.

1400041201.01._AA240_SCLZZZZZZZ_V56508045_I came across excerpts from Bill Buford's excellent book about his experience as an apprentice to a Dante-quoting Tuscan butcher in The New Yorker, and couldn't stop talking about it for months. His account of ordering a pig from Union Square's Greenmarket, and transporting it home over the front tire of his Vespa scooter is just incredible.

Writes celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain,

Heat is a remarkable work on a number of fronts--and for a number of reasons. First, watching the author, an untrained, inexperienced and middle-aged desk jockey slowly transform into not just a useful line cook--but an extraordinarily knowledgable one is pure pleasure....

Secondly, the book is a long overdue portrait of the real Mario Batali and of the real Marco Pierre White--two complicated and brilliant chefs whose coverage in the press--while appropriately fawning--has never described them in their fully debauched, delightful glory....

Thirdly, Heat reveals a dead-on understanding--rare among non-chef writers--of the pleasures of "making" food; the real human cost, the real requirements and the real adrenelin-rush-inducing pleasures of cranking out hundreds of high quality meals. One is left with a truly unique appreciation of not only what is truly good about food--but as importantly, who cooks--and why.

The full title of Buford's book is Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany.

Buy it at Amazon.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 7, 2006

The Secret Garden: PC Planter Stealth Hydroponic System

B000J40JAI.01-A2YK60O3I1SHVG._AA280_SCLZZZZZZZ_V40790738_.jpgSearching for new and exciting gifts for the gardeners on our list, just came across the PC Planter Stealth Hydroponic System. Want to start growing marijuana? Got anyone on your shopping list who's a would-be drug dealer? Crazy for cannabis and want to grow your own? Looks like we've found the hydroponic growing system for you. According to the description,

Our PC PlanterTM is the stealthiest and smallest unit on the market! Grow two plants start to finish with low hassle, less mess, and rapid turn around times! * Dimensions: 8.1" x 20.6" x 18.6" (WxHxD) * Two 80 CFM cooling fans keeps inside temperature less than ten degrees Fahrenheit above room temp (can be run in room temps. up to 90 F! * Light Proof and Complete Discrete design * Our custom made interiors have a 99% reflective surface for maximum light absorption by the plants. * Includes ventilation system (90+ CFM of air cooling) * 2 plant capacity *Grows over 1lb. of plant matter annually

The pictures on the site show how secret and secure the product is. Stick it on your closet and not even your nosy roommate will know what you're growing.

The real giveaway, though, is the "Customers who bought items like this also bought" section. These folks are not getting an early start on their tomatoes. Check out books like Grow Great Marijuana: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World's Finest Cannabis and Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower's Bible.

PC Planter and books on growing pot available at Amazon.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 6, 2006

For the Birds: Holiday Gifts for Birders and Bird-Lovers

20_milletbirdhouse.jpgLooking for a gift for the bird lover or gardener in your life? Just came across Projects for the Birder's Garden: Over 100 Easy Things That You can Make to Turn Your Yard and Garden into a Bird-Friendly Haven by Fern Marshall Bradley. Created by editors of Yankee magazine, the book has simple, step by steps tips on how to use regular household tools, inexpensive materials and scraps to create a homemade bird feeder, a sunflower plantation, a bird teepee, a tent-style twig feeder, a pedestal birdbath.

Another idea: Buy an edible millet birdfeeder wreath (pictured at right) from The Sunflower Farm. Wreaths feed a variety of birds.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 5, 2006

Sweet Dreams: Shawn Lovell Tree Bed

The Treehugger green gift guide led me to Wists, a social shopping site. While there, I came across a picture of Shawn Lovell's breathtakingly beautiful tree bed. Lovell is a metalworker from Oakland, CA who creates magical metalwork - trellises, tables and chairs, gates and doors.

Available at Shawn Lowell Metalworks.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 4, 2006

Treehugger: How to Green Your Gifts

Treehugger published its 2006 Green Gift Guide, which includes some great tips for making your gift-giving a little greener this year. Among them:

1. Be sure your material gift will get used It may be the thought that counts, but a gift that the receiver does not use is simply wasted: not a very nice thought. Give material possessions only if you know the recipient well enough to pick out something they were on the cusp of getting for themselves, or which they really need and will certainly enjoy using.

2. Give a consumable gift

Your friend will love your consumable gift twice: once while enjoying the organic teas, fair trade coffee, fresh flowers, fresh or dried fruits and nuts, or other consumable gift; and again when they appreciate that your gift leaves them with no guilty conscience about a gift left unused in the corner of their closet.

3. Share a piece of yourself

Avoid material consumption altogether. Instead, offer your services to baby-sit while your friend enjoys a cozy date with their partner, give a gift certificate for a relaxing massage, or a winter’s-worth of driveway shoveling (in which case you just save that massage for yourself).

4. Make a gift of a green service
If your time is prioritized elsewhere, you can buy a green service. Consider a gift of carbon offsets for a commuting colleague or a Zipcar membership for a friend who more frequently must turn to taxis to supplement their public transport lifestyle.

Read more at Treehugger.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

December 1, 2006

Staple-Free Stapler from Made By Humans

staple-free stapler.jpgHere's a tip from the Self-Sufficient-ish boys: Lose your stapler.

Remember back in college when all the Environmental Science eco-hippy kids tried to convince you that using staples was bad for the planet? (No? Hmm...maybe I was hanging out with the wrong crowd.) Well, they had a point.

According to Eco-Logic, if every office worker in the world used one less staple per day, we'd conserve more than 120,000 tons of steel per year. For comparison, the construction of the Staples Center in downtown LA used 2,500 tons.

Do your part with this handy-dandy staple-less stapler from Made By Humans. It "staples" 4-5 sheets of paper by punching wholes through the sheets and weaving them together. And it comes in five fashion colors: red, black, blue, green and chrome. Enjoy staple-free living, at least for your memos and short stacks. Lord it over your co-worker the next time he bugs you about forgetting to print double-sided.

Available from Made by Humans.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

Weekend Reading: Self-Sufficient-ish

flowerlogo.gifThis week's weekend reading isn't a book. It's a website - - a self-described "urban guide to almost self-sufficiency." The site is the brainchild of twins Dave and Andy Hamilton of the UK, who were inspired by books and articles about self-sufficiency to write something for those of us who are interested in becoming self-sufficient but don't have the time, means or inclination to do it whole hog. They explain:

Although total self-sufficiency is appealing the thought of giving up the little luxuries in life may not be. I grow a lot of my own food eat wild foods and when I have the money buy organic fruit and vegetables but I still enjoy beer in a pub and like to go to the cinema or eat out occasionally.

Self Sufficientish-ism (w)as created for these reasons. It is for all those who have limited time, space or money but would like to have a go at growing their own food or brewing their own alcohol or want to know which wild foods are good to eat. We also aim to offer advice on a whole host of other subjects from a low-ecological impact perspective.

The site offers simple, easy to understand and easy to implement suggestions for lower-impact living, interspersed with self-effacing humor. I like their segment on creating a self-sufficient-ish office, a "short guide to not only create a greener office and help the environment, but also to cement all the other workers idea that you are certainly the office hippy." Rock on, guys.

At Selfsuffientish. (Via Hugg)

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking
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