May 28, 2010

Time for a Tea Party!

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The traditions of drinking tea are largely absent in American culture except for in the play of little children. Lisa Boalt Richardson, certified tea specialist, can change all of that with her two books!
Tea with a Twist: Entertaining and Cooking with Tea

The parties are simple to put together. Each tea includes easy-to-follow instructions and budget-friendly tips for brewing specialty teas, preparing delicious recipes, and decorating tables. Whether the cook chooses to pour tall glasses of the unusual bubble tea for fun-loving friends or hot, exotic masala chai tea for those seeking an adventure, it's certain that tea time has a new twist!

I love the layout of this book, and how it includes recipes for food to accompany each tea party idea. From a Mexican tea party to your basic iced tea, everything is covered. It is truly inspirational!

The World in Your Teacup: Celebrating Tea Traditions, Near and Far
Sojourners learn the history of tea and its influence on eight specific regions, including China, England, and Russia. From the many recipes Lisa has collected and Lauren has photographed, readers discover that a savoury honey scone is perfect with dark Kenyan tea and a rich almond cookie called a ghoriba tastes great with a glass of sweet Moroccan tea. And every tea party planner will appreciate the helpful tips to create fun and tasty teas for their family and friends.

This books provides a cultural education for people like me that think of tea as something to drink when you are sick. It also includes recipes. I find the history fascinating. From Iran to France, readers learn cultural tips, as well as authentic ways to make teas.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 27, 2010

International Ban on US Milk: 20% Still Contains rBGH

The rest of the world does not want our milk and hasn't for over ten years! In 1999 over concerns of growth hormones used in US dairy production, the United Nations Food Safety Agency did not endorse rBGH essentially banning US milk. Despite international concerns, 20 percent of US milk still contains the hormone. Healthy Child Healthy World reports:

About 20 percent of our milk is genetically engineered, technically known as rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), which contains high levels of a natural growth factor known as IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor one). This survives digestion and is readily absorbed from the small intestine into the blood. Increased levels of IGF-1 have been shown to increase risks of breast cancer in 19 scientific publications, risks of colon cancer in 10 publications, and prostate cancer in seven publications. Of further concern, increased IGF-1 levels block natural defense mechanisms against early microscopic cancers, known as apoptosis.

Image: Muffet

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May 26, 2010

Healthy Snacks: Stretch Island All-Natural Fruit Strips and FruitaBu Rolls

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My kids love Stretch Island fruit snacks! It's a popular lunch item and car ride treat that I feel good about giving my children. There are two varieties that come in many flavors: fruit strips (leather) and fruit rolls.

  • All-natural, 100%-fruit

  • No sugar added; gluten-free; dairy-free; certified kosher

  • One bar equal to one fruit-exchange in diabetic diet

  • Made on Stretch Island, WA

My kids prefer the fruit strips over the rolls, probably because they are easier and neater to eat.  It is important to pay attention when buying Stretch Island products, as they do make organic and conventionally-grown versions of their popular snacks.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 25, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill Could "Wipe Out" Sperm Whales with Only 3 Deaths

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Sperm whales are unique creatures whose "long-term survival" is at risk in the Gulf of Mexico, even before the catastrophic BP oil spill. Only three deaths could put the 1,400 and 1,660 sperms whales in dire straits. National Geographic reports:

All sperm whales are considered endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. But the Gulf of Mexico population is thought to be especially vulnerable due to its relatively small size.

The whales are now at risk from the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill, because they are likely to ingest or inhale toxic crude and noxious oil fumes. (See pictures of the oil seeping into Louisiana marshes.)

"We know there's going to be some [oil] exposure, and we know there's an endangered species. If you put those two thing together, there is reason for concern," said Celine Godard-Codding, an environmental toxicologist at Texas Tech University.

Image: HaraldMM

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May 24, 2010

Vegan "Meat": Stonewall's Jerquee Good for Backpacking

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I am not a fan of fake meat products, and I find no real need for them or craving in my vegetarian diet. There is one time, however, when I need some quick protein and salt, and fake meat comes in handy: backpacking. A friend introduced me to Stonewall's Jerquee. These chewy treats are made from vegetable protein, and the original flavor is a little spicy. They do take a little getting used to, and my daughter calls them "dog treats". I wouldn't eat Stonewall's Jerquee everyday, but I think they are a good snack during physical endurance activities.

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May 21, 2010

Natural Dog and Cat Treats Made from Wild, Sustainable Icelandic Haddock

There were some lucky dogs in my home when we opened up our sample of The Honest Kitchen Wishes treats.

Wishes are suitable for both cats and dogs, and can be used as a general reward or aid to training. Wishes are made with 100% wild caught Haddock from Iceland using sustainable fishing practices.

Iceland places a strong emphasis on the protection of its marine habitats and manages the waters off its coasts to prevent over-fishing. Icelandic haddock stocks have risen dramatically in the past 5 years.

They're grain-free, delicious and perfect for sensitive pets who suffer from allergies or intolerance to certain foods such as grains and proteins.


100% human-grade, wild caught Icelandic Haddock.

When you open this bag, the fish smell exudes, which was my first clue these treats are what they claim to be. My dogs hungrily ate these treats begging for more. My only complaint is the bag is a little small when you have three large dogs, but these are high quality treats!

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 20, 2010

California Considering Allowing Carcinogen Methyl Iodide on Strawberries

If you eat strawberries, chances are they are grown in either California or Florida. California is considering the use of methyl iodide on strawberry fields. Credo explains:

California is on the verge of approving a potent carcinogenic gas for use on strawberry fields and other food crops. The chemical -- methyl iodide -- is so toxic that scientists in labs use only small amounts with special protective equipment, yet agricultural applications mean it could be released directly into the air and water...
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved methyl iodide for agricultural use in 2007, amid criticism from more than 50 prominent scientists that the process was hidden from public view and the research focus was too limited. California followed with its own review. Even though a report from an independent panel of scientists in the California study declared that "methyl iodide is a highly toxic chemical and we expect that any anticipated scenario for the agricultural or structural fumigation use of this agent would result in exposures to a large number of the public and thus would have a significant adverse impact on public health," the Department of Pesticide Regulation nonetheless proposed that the chemical be approved.

One more reason to support organic farmers or grow your own!

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 19, 2010

Chemical-Free, Fragrance-Free Hair Gel for Babies and Kids

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This may seem like an odd product, but Le Baby has created a chemical-free, fragrance-free hair gel for babies and kids. I call this product odd, because you may wonder why babies need hair gel. I have seen many parents spike little boy's hair into mohawks, and I needed hair gel to tame my daughter's locks into a bun when she took ballet (we used Jason Natural Products Hi-Shine Styling Gel). Even so, I don't really think this is a product you need.

Tami Dimmerman, creator of Le Baby, searched for a product that would tame and style her daughter Chloe's fly-away hair without aggravating her eczema or irritating her sensitive skin. She hoped to find a safe, gentle and effective gel without harsh chemicals or potentially harmful ingredients. Unwilling to settle for what was in the marketplace, Tami spent months experimenting with different all-natural formulas until, through animal-free testing, she found the perfect combination.
I also question the chemical-free claim when the listed ingredients include sodium benzoate and disodium EDTA, for example. Just because an ingredient is derived from a natural ingredient does not make a product chemical-free.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 18, 2010

Amateur Video Of Gulf Oil Slick - Worse Than BP Admits [video]

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May 17, 2010

Green Cleaning: New Earth Friendly Products

Earth Friendly Products was one of the first natural cleaning companies I discovered before going green was in vogue.

Our family began by making cleaners for industrial use before Corvettes had fins. When your grandmother was wearing a poodle skirt and drinking a float at the soda fountain, we were earning our first patents

Decades later, when Jimi Hendrix turned rock upside down and played guitar with his teeth, we started our own quiet rebellion. We decided: only cleaners that were plant-based. Only paper that was recycled. Only products not tested on animals, period.

Does it sound boring to say we're family owned and operated? Because what it means to us is that it's personal. We've been around, well - seems like forever. We know how to make cleaners that CLEAN, paper goods that work (with 80% post-consumer content, and that's good,) detergents that won't harm a fiber of your clothing, and a phosphate-free auto dish soap that won't etch anything. Ever.

Earth Friendly Products has introduced three new products we have tried:
Baby Liquid Laundry Soap, Organic Chamomile & Lavender:
Our new Baby Laundry Soap is a hypo-allergenic, everyday laundry soap containing only the highest quality ingredients. Gentle enough for baby's sensitive skin, Baby Laundry Soap rinses thoroughly, leaving baby's laundry clean and soft. As always, it is plant-based, non-toxic, and environmentally responsible. Baby Laundry Soap employs soothing chamomile and lavender essential oils, and is suitable for hand-washing wools, silks, and other fine washables.

Fruit and Vegetable Wash:
Helps remove pesticides, chemical, heavy metals, dirt, wax and bacteria from the surface of fruits and vegetables. Fruit & Vegetable Wash is tasteless and rinses away clean. Beacuse natural ingredients are used, color and body may vary.

DuoDishâ„¢ is a revolutionary breakthrough in dishwashing. For the first time ever, you can handle your dishwashing needs with one detergent - DuoDishâ„¢. Have a few dishes to clean? Just hand wash to avoid waste. Is your sink cluttered? Use that same liquid for a full automatic machine load. Say bye, bye to etched dishes, glassware and utensils and hello to clean and clear dishwashing results with DuoDishâ„¢ Enjoy another "first" by Earth Friendly Products.

I love the baby liquid laundry soap, and I don't think it has to be just for babies! The use of organic essential oils is a bonus and a first that I do not recall encountering in laundry products. I don't use vegetable and fruit washes. I think that water and a little dish soap is all you need, but I don't even use soap usually, just a rinse in water. Of course, I only buy and grow organic produce, but I have never thought of the need to also remove bacteria when washing fruits and vegetables. The DuoDish is a great idea eliminating the need for two soap products in the kitchen. It also contains organic essential oils.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 14, 2010

Exercise and Fitness: Powerhouse Hit the Deck Cards

The most important thing you can do for your health, besides eating well, is exercise! I have my routine of daily hikes and yoga practice, but Powerhouse has another solution that does not require expensive equipment or gym membership.

Powerhouse Hit the Deck - Exercise Cards and Interval Timer is great for traveling or fitness inspiration in the home. The cards are labeled by three intensities: no sweat, I'm glistening, and sweating buckets.

Set the interval timer, draw your first card and perform as many repetitions of the exercise on the card as possible. When the timer beeps, draw your next card! Each card provides both cardiovascular and resistance training at the same time, making your workout more efficient and effective. This portable and easy to use fitness program can be done anywhere, anytime, with no fitness equipment needed. It's perfect for the traveling executive or anyone who can't work out at the gym. You can lose weight, improve fitness, increase energy, manage stress and improve the quality of your sleep by making this a regular part of your fitness routine. Whether you are just starting out or are an advanced exerciser, PowerHouse Hit the Deck provides the appropriate intensity for the results you want."

Although there is a recommended program for using the cards, I like just pulling a random card out of the deck and seeing what I get. The timer also ensures you perform the exercises for a set duration and helps you set goals.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 13, 2010

FDA Misses Self-Imposed BPA Safety Deadlines

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By now, knowledge that plastics and cans contain an endocrine disrupting chemical called Bisphenol-A (BPA) is common knowledge; however, after making promises to truly study the safety of this prevalent chemical, the FDA has failed the American public once again. Natural News reports:

In September 2008, the U.S. National Toxicology Program affirmed its concern over the health effects of the widespread chemical, especially in infants and children...

Yet the FDA still officially considers BPA safe, based solely on two industry-funded studies. Responding to criticism that it had failed to properly consider the full body of evidence on the chemical, the FDA announced in June that it would conduct a new review and issue new guidelines within "weeks."

In August, the agency announced that the findings would be released on November 30. When it became clear that it would miss that deadline as well, the agency pushed the date back to January 1. To date, the agency has yet to issue its findings.

In the meantime, consumers should be prudent and avoid all products containing BPA where possible.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 12, 2010

Natural Beauty Secrets: Clearly Beautiful Collagen Facial Mask with Hyaluronic Acid


Clearly Beautiful offers a natural hydrating line of facial products. Featuring a facial mask and eye mask, these products contain:
an exclusive formula combining all natural ingredients with a pure plant collagen delivery system. It will transform your skin by nourishing both the epidermal (top) layer and penetrating deeply into the skin to aid in increased collagen production, cell renewal, and total skin hydration.
Pulling the facial mask out of the packaging, it resembled rubbery goo. I found it difficult to align over my eyes and mouth. Although the label assures me the liquid is safe to enter my eyes, I wanted to avoid any drips. The mask does have a cooling, soothing effect, but it is difficult to keep in place unless one reclines and does not move or talk or sneeze!

Clearly Beautiful uses plant-derived collagen. The active ingredient is Hyaluronic acid, hopefully not in nanoparticle form. Each mask costs $25, which is steep for a weekly regime in my opinion, and I did not see immediate results as promised, but my skin did feel soothed.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 11, 2010

US Department of Energy Awards 13 Projects $62,000,000 for Concentrated Solar Research

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The United States Department of Energy has awarded 13 projects $62,000,000 for Concentrating Solar Power (CSP). Green Car Congress reports:

CSP technologies concentrate the sun's energy and capture that energy as heat, which then drives an engine or turbine to produce electrical power. CSP plants can include low-cost energy storage, allowing them to provide electricity even when the sun is not shining.

The selected projects will seek to improve component and system designs to extend operation to an average of about 18 hours per day, a level of production that would make it possible for these plants to displace traditional coal-burning power plants.

The following companies won the awards:

  1. Abengoa Solar, Inc. - Lakewood, CO - up to $10.6 million

  2. eSolar, Inc. - Pasadena, CA - up to $10.8 million

  3. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne - Canoga Park, CA - up to $10.2 million

  4. General Atomics - San Diego, CA - up to $2.1 million

  5. HiTek Services, Inc. - Owens Cross Roads, AL - up to $3.0 million

  6. Infinia Corporation - Kennewick, WA - up to $3.0 million

  7. PPG Industries, Inc. - Cheswick, PA - up to $3.0 million

  8. SENER Engineering and Systems Inc. - San Francisco, CA - up to $3.1 million

  9. SkyFuel, Inc. - Albuquerque, NM - up to $4.3 million

  10. SunTrough Energy, Inc. - Chatsworth, CA - up to $4.5 million

  11. Terrafore, Inc. - Riverside, CA - up to $1.4 million

  12. University of South Florida - Tampa, FL - up to $2.5 million

  13. Wilson TurboPower, Inc. - Woburn, MA - up to $3.7 million

I hope the number 13 is lucky for the DOE, and the money is not spread too thin to bring about results that will make solar an actuality in replacing coal-fired power plants.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 10, 2010

Really Natural Books: Recipe for Raising Chickens

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Many of my friends have recently purchase chicks and are raising backyard chickens in their urban environment. I remember my neighbors growing up had backyard fowl. Raising your own chickens are an easy way to become an urban homesteader.

Minnie Rose Lovgreen's Recipe for Raising Chickens: The Main Thing Is to Keep Them Happy is an easy to read handbook with everything you need to know to raise chickens. Written by Minnie Rose, an Englishwoman who was scheduled to travel on the Titanic but "hopped" an earlier boat, this book is full of humor and simple wisdom.

Minnie Rose, a chicken lover and gifted storyteller, had always wanted to write a book on raising chickens, but was always too busy. Then in Nov., 1974, soon after her 86th birthday, she was diagnosed with cancer. Her friend Nancy Rekow took the ferry into Seattle, appeared in her hospital room with a tape recorder, and said, "Minnie Rose, now we're going to write your book." And they did.

Minnie hand-lettered and illustrated her book.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 7, 2010

Natural Herbal Insomnia Remedies: Skullcap and Valerian

Occasionally, I have trouble falling asleep. Whether it is from an active, wandering mind or the full moon, I have found relief through two herbal tinctures: skullcap and Valerian. I have used both of these herbs independently and together. I find that valerian aids in relaxing the body, and skullcap settles the mind. I am not an herbalist, but in my personal experience, these two herbs are great sleep aids. In fact, I keep them by my bedside.

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May 6, 2010

Sea Turtles Not Killed by Gulf Oil Spill but Shrimpers

The tragedy of the Gulf Oil Spill is unspeakable and perhaps will bring about changes to the desire of many Americans for offshore drilling to the chant of "Drill, baby, drill". The devastation to wildlife is only yet to be realized, but one group of sea turtles' deaths are no longer being blamed on the spill. The New York Times reports:

About 35 endangered sea turtles have washed up dead on beaches along the Gulf of Mexico since Sunday, sowing fears that they were done in by the growing oil spill.

But so far scientists have found no connection between their deaths and the spill. Autopsies indicated that the turtles had ingested no oil...

"My guess is that they died pre-oil spill," said Roderic Mast, a sea turtle expert and the vice president of Conservation International, an environmental advocacy group...

"Turtles wash up to beaches all the time," he said. "And fishing trawls are the number one cause of man-generated mortality of sea turtles worldwide."

By law, shrimpers are required to use a device that allows turtles to escape if caught. But because they are expensive and cumbersome, some fishermen fail to use them out at sea.

Unfortunately, sea turtles are not out of the woods yet, as 30 to 50 turtles have been sighted near the oil spill.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 5, 2010

Recycled Cotton Farmer's Market Tote by Olive & Myrtle

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Spring time means the return of The Farmer's Market. Of course, you wouldn't want to shop the market with those horrible plastic bags from the supermarket, and hopefully you don't have any in your home anyways from using reusable bags. Olive & Myrtle makes the perfect bag for your farmer's market or any shopping excursion.
Product Description Look fresh at the farmer's market with this large recycled cotton tote bag. Made from 100% post-industrial cotton scrap and printed with water-based inks. Exclusive design by San Francisco based Lab Partners

Features and Benefits
Made from 100% recycled cotton
Fair Wage and Fair Labor Certified
Printed with water-based inks
Durable construction, holds more than a full grocery bag.

I really love our Recycled Cotton Tote Bag and think recycled cotton is certainly an eco step above simply organically grown cotton.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

May 4, 2010

May 3, 2010

Really Natural Foods: Terra Verde Extra Virgin Olive Oil

When you think of Texas, you probably don't think of olive oil. Recently, we were sent a bottle of Terra Verde Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Texas Hill Country Olive Company. This product is "estate grown & hand picked", as well as being 100% natural and cold pressed.

Texas Hill Country Olive Company is a family run artisanal olive orchard near the town of Dripping Springs, Texas. Our land is located in the Central Texas Hill Country, the perfect environment for growing olive trees.

The idea to offer individuals an opportunity to adopt an olive tree in the Texas Hill Country was conceived by John Gambini. Together with the Mensik Family, John turned the idea into a reality. Texas Hill Country Olive Company is an organic olive tree farm focused on developing some of the finest olive oil produced in the United States. We are proud to join the pioneering group of entrepreneurs who are building the olive oil industry in the state of Texas.

What I don't understand is if the farm is organic, why isn't the olive oil? This olive oil has a very pleasant flavor, but organically-grown is best for health and our planet. For now, I think I will stick to Napa Valley Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil because it is made closer to home and carries the USDA organic label.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking
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