Check out my new book, The Non-Toxic Avenger: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You, available from Amazon.

2012 Silver winner in the Health/Medicine/Nutrition Category of the Independent Publishers Book Awards

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Confessional - Week 5

Buy Nothing Sunday ConfessionalForgive me, people, for I have spent. Again, this week it was mostly eating out. We have more family in town so there was a day of eating dinner out. Plus a brunch.

And, then our visitors babysat for an evening while my husband and I went out to eat and to a movie. Other than that, no other spending occurred.

What about you guys? How's the Buy Nothing Challenge wrapping up for you this month? Are you interested in continuing it into September?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The bleep on this veep

Senator John McCain just announced his choice for running mate: Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. The following is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

Senator McCain’s choice for a running mate is beyond belief. By choosing Sarah Palin, McCain has clearly made a decision to continue the Bush legacy of destructive environmental policies.

Sarah Palin, whose husband works for BP (formerly British Petroleum), has repeatedly put special interests first when it comes to the environment. In her scant two years as governor, she has lobbied aggressively to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, pushed for more drilling off of Alaska’s coasts, and put special interests above science.

Ms. Palin has made it clear through her actions that she is unwilling to do even as much as the Bush administration to address the impacts of global warming. Her most recent effort has been to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the polar bear from the endangered species list, putting Big Oil before sound science. As unbelievable as this may sound, this actually puts her to the right of the Bush administration.

This is Senator McCain’s first significant choice in building his executive team and it’s a bad one. It has to raise serious doubts in the minds of voters about John McCain’s commitment to conservation, to addressing the impacts of global warming and to ensuring our country ends its dependency on oil.

Just when you thought things couldn't get worse... What are your thoughts on McCain's running mate?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

NW meetup date + venue

Well, it looks like there are about 60 people who are interested in the NW Blogger Meetup that Melinda from One Green Generation and I are trying to arrange.

Based on the poll, we decided to go with September 7th, simply to avoid having to compete with Labor Day weekend and the whole Bumbershoot thang.

We are looking into various venues, but the one that keeps bubbling to the surface is Meridian Park in Seattle. It's right next door to Seattle Tilth and has an enormous play area, playground, basketball hoops, bathrooms, etc. So, if you want to (or have to) bring your kids, there is plenty of stuff for them to do.

Please let me know if you are planning on attending. You can email me as well with your email contact info as we are compiling a list for further coordinating. This will be a local food, potluck style event, so plan on bringing something to share.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Confessional - Week 4

Buy Nothing Sunday ConfessionalThis last week's shopping sins have mostly consisted of eating out.

We ordered pizza last Wednesday because my hubs was craving it and, well, I sure wasn't going to complain. We ended up getting a free pizza because they delivered the order wrong, so does that count? Uh, I guess so.

There have been a few coffee outings as well: Top Pot last Sunday and on Friday. Cupcake Royale on Monday.

Friday night we went out for a quick dinner after a trip to the clinic as a very belated anniversary dinner (8/8). Saturday night we went out to dinner with my brother, his wife and her sister at Union, one of our favorite Seattle restaurants.

Why so much crazy eating out? Well, it looks like they are gearing up for my hubs' second transplant in a few weeks. We're just waiting on some final donor scheduling info (they found a full match!). This next transplant will be much more involved than the last one and we won't be eating out again for a real loooooong time.

Oh, yeah. And I also may have bought some new mumble, mmmmrf, mumble, clothes. At least some of it was from a secondhand store. And I looked damn good, if I do say so myself.

So, while I was ensconcing myself in shopping therapy, how did your week go?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Enlightenment for Idiots winner!

The winner of the book Enlightenment for Idiots is Jamie n' Matt from the blog, Rings N Things.

So, Jamie, email your mailing info to me at crunchychickenblog@gmail.com.

Congratulations, Jamie!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Confessional - Week 3

Buy Nothing Sunday ConfessionalOooh boy, I've been a bad, bad girl. It has been one week since my last spending confessional.

Let's see, where do I start with the shopping debauchery?

Eating out - Well, I didn't go out to coffee at all with the hubby this week since I was back at work, but we did go out to dinner Friday evening. That was totally my fault. He was content to eat at home, but after 6 weeks of cooking dinner I couldn't take it anymore.

Buying clothes - What can I say? There were several online sales at two places that sell clothes for tall women. Since the stuff I bought was waaaay over 50% off and it's so hard for me to find quality clothes that fit my six-foot frame I spent. But, hell, I got pants for $9.99 that actually have a 36 inch inseam. For that I are excited!

That's it! How did you do last week with the Buy Nothing Challenge?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hey Mr. Green winner!

Hey, Mr Green!The winner of the book, Hey Mr. Green is Angela White from Breastfeeding 123.

So, Angela, email your mailing info to me at crunchychickenblog@gmail.com.

Congratulations, Angela!

For those of you who didn't win, there's still time to enter the book giveaway for Enlightenment for Idiots.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Enlightenment for Idiots - book giveaway!

Let me be the first to admit that I'm not exactly prone to reading chick-lit. And, for the most part, I'm fairly intolerant of most current fiction writers - I'm still working my way through 19th Century fiction. So, when the opportunity came across to read Enlightenment for Idiots, I figured, what the hell, why not?

This is, not exactly a green book, but it is a book. And it pokes fun at the whole yoga, meditation and search for enlightenment craze that seems to have inflicted itself upon Westerners. For that alone, it's worth a read because it is quite amusing. It's a real quick read - something I polished off in roughly 24 hours.

Anyway, in spite of a few plot holes and a couple of deus ex machina style interventions, I really enjoyed this book and wished it could go on forever. Okay, maybe not forever, but for longer at least. This is the writer's first work of fiction (she normally writes for Yoga Journal, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and her essays have been in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, O: The Oprah Magazine, Salon.com and the like).

So, if you are looking for a light read, then I highly recommend this book. It has been equated to Eat, Pray, Love, but with more of the pray part. As such, I'm giving this book away so that one lucky reader has the chance to read it for themselves! As usual, if you want to enter the random drawing, put your name in the comments. The drawing ends this Sunday at 6:00 pm PST. Good luck!

By the way, I guarantee if you read this book you'll be craving chai tea like crazy. Here's a recipe to satisfy the urge (and save you money):

Masala Chai

1.5 inch chunk of cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods
8 whole cloves
1 star anise
10 whole black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon any unperfumed loose black tea (such as Darjeeling or Assam)
Sugar to taste

In a mortar, crush cinnamon, star anise, cardamom and cloves (or use a coffee grinder). Put water and spices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the milk and bring to a simmer again. Add the tea leaves and simmer for 3 minutes. Strain the tea, add sugar to taste and serve immediately.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Book week - Hey Mr. Green giveaway

Hey, Mr Green!Here's to another exciting green book week! This week I'll be focusing on book giveaways, book club posts, book reviews and the like. So, if you like books, this is your lucky week!

Since I'm torturing you all with sweaty butt cracks and not allowing you to buy anything, I thought I'd feed your desires with a giveaway of the book, Hey Mr. Green: Sierra Magazine's Answer Guy Tackles Your Toughest Green Living Questions, by Bob Schildgen. From the publisher:

When is the right time to replace an old refrigerator? Is it more environmentally correct to buy your beer in bottles or cans? And is it okay to knit a sweater with acrylic (petroleum-based) yarn?

For several years, Bob Schildgen (aka “Mr. Green”) has been answering real-world questions in his Sierra magazine column. Readers know they’re getting up-to-the minute, authoritative responses, because all information is backed by the research and experience of Sierra Club. But Mr. Green’s legions of fans have also come to expect a refreshing dose of common sense — and often a laugh, too — because Bob is a funny guy with his feet on the ground.

Now the editors of Sierra magazine have distilled the best of “Mr. Green” into this enormously useful and entertaining book, organized for easy access: “At Home” offers tips on staying cool, cleaning up, and other domestic details; “Food for Thought” focuses on how to eat and drink better while spending less; “Out and About” covers getting around, fueling up, and enjoying the great outdoors; “The Three Rs” shows you how (and why) to reduce, reuse, and recycle almost everything; and “The Big Picture” considers how the environment, politics, religion, and other issues intersect — often at the dinner table.

Bob Schildgen writes the popular “Hey Mr. Green” environmental advice column for Sierra magazine, where he was managing editor and book review editor for many years.

To sign up for the random drawing, just add your name to the comments. The drawing for the book will be held this Friday at 6:00 pm PST. Good luck!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday Confessional - Week 2

Buy Nothing Sunday ConfessionalForgive me people, for I have spent. It has been one week since my last confessional.

This month is just not going as well as April. At least it seems that way. Anyway, I have broken several commandments:

1. No new clothes - I bought new shoes for both kids, plus Emma got some new underwear and they each got a pair of new pajamas. I could have purchased the latter second-hand, but I didn't have time to go to multiple stores and both of them have been growing like weeds lately. I don't do used shoes or undies.

2. No eating out - We went out for coffee four times this week post-clinic visits. I can at least say that no disposables were used and we supported local coffee houses that do food composting so I don't feel too bad about it.

3. Other sundries - I bought some ibuprofen and some red vines for the kids.

How did last week fare for your pocketbooks?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Sweater Lodge

Keep Yer Cool ChallengeIt's a sweltering 62 degrees and raining here in Seattle today.

Although I must admit it was quite a bit warmer earlier in the week and I actually used the air conditioning in the car for the first time on Thursday. Other than that, it's been manageable since it's been cooling down in the evenings.

How are you handling the Sweat Yer Buns, I mean, Keep Yer Cool Challenge? Any air conditioning transgressions yerself?

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Chicken Tractor

My apologies to this poor womanNo substantive post today people, I'm too busy working on the new business proposal for my post Peak Oil employment. You can read more about it here.

Please do not confuse this project with the stationary Chicken Ranch. And, please note, however, that the prices will be slightly more expensive since we boast organic, free-range, hormone-free chicken. Also note that I will give my peeps a very high commission if you are interested in auditioning.

What wacky ideas do you have for post Peak Oil commerce?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The benefits of higher food prices

Higher food pricesThe Economist has been having an online debate this week over whether or not there are any benefits to the rising costs of food. So far, the pro side has been winning the vote.

Some of the more salient arguments towards the benefits of higher food prices are that it will encourage new investments in agriculture and higher global production. Another point is that, for the last 30 years, the food strategy hasn't been working well for the world's poor. So, in effect, giving a different system a chance will be a good thing. "If a strategy has not worked for 30 years, surely there is an upside to changing strategies."

Some of the con arguments include the idea that it is a fundamental human right to have access to food. Additionally, the losers greatly outnumber the winners with increased prices. These losers include many people who were near or below the poverty line before the current food crisis struck.

What do you think? Is there an upside to higher food prices? Will it really result in new investments in agriculture and higher global production? Or will higher food prices simply push the poor into starvation? Or both? Do biofuels policies distort the market and should we stop them?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Peak oil primer - what does it all mean?

Peak Oil CampI know a lot of you out there are quite apprehensive about peak oil and what it means for the future. The cost and availability of oil have been all over the news the last few months and we are all witness to the rising oil prices. We'll see something similar with natural gas in the next few years as we hit peak natural gas soon, too.

The short story on this is that there is or will be a decline in availability of easy-access and inexpensive energy sources. This doesn't mean that we will be stepping off a precipice suddenly and there will be NO MORE OIL like, next year, in spite of what you may be reading on other sites and blogs.

On the contrary, what it means is that there will be a decline in production of light, sweet crude oil (we'll call this "easy" oil) and an increase in production of heavy, sour crude oil, oil shale and tar sands (we'll call this "difficult" oil). The whole concept of the term peak means that we've used 50% of the oil known to exist, mainly the easy oil.

The issue with extracting the difficult oil, is that it is, well, more difficult and more costly. There are also issues with more environmental degradation (particularly with the oil shale and tar sands) in extracting the more difficult sources of oil in addition to the massive energy and water inputs required as well. But, all that said, it is oil and it can and will be extracted one way or another as long as it remains profitable.

As the return on investment of oil production goes down you'll see an increase in usage of natural gas and coal and a whole lot more investment in energy alternatives such as wind, solar and geothermal, among other things. And, as the cost of energy goes up, you'll see a lot more innovation in energy efficiencies from manufacturers and conservation from consumers.

We are already seeing this with investments in new energy and in the market as manufacturers try to switch gears to adjust to higher oil costs. Some industries will be hit harder than others, and some may go out of business, but there are plenty of new opportunities to take their place within the new energy economy as well as in the restructuring to more local, community-based businesses.

The worst case scenario with peak oil is that this transition will be bumpy and we'll see some economic fall-out. I'm hoping for a little turbulence (or as my brother would say "light chop") as we slowly ease off petroleum and gear up on alternatives. It all depends on how willing people are to let go of their old habits. And that starts with you.

So, should you be panicking? Well, no, my take on peak oil is far from theskyisfallingweareallgoingtohellinahandbasket reaction. Will it affect our way of living and economy and food supplies? Well, yes, but not in the drastic manner many are purporting. Since it will be more expensive to produce food and manufacture products you will have to modify your behavior. In other words, you'll have to drive less, travel less and use less energy.

What merchandise and services you do buy will most likely be more locally oriented. The massive economies of scale (aka Walmart, chain restaurants and the like) will lessen considerably with higher costs of petroleum since these businesses rely on cheap oil to keep costs low. So, expect a return to local businesses to provide goods and services. Why is this? Mainly due to lesser energy intensive transportation costs.

In my next post on the topic, I'll discuss in more detail some of the issues with over-reacting to peak oil and what you can be doing to limit the impact. So, in the meantime, take a deep breath and try to relax. The world isn't going to end tomorrow or even next year. You've got some time to get a handle on this.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sustainable hair removal

SugaringThis is an age old question: how can I easily and successfully remove body hair? Most recent inventions tend to be environmentally unfriendly due to packaging, waste and chemicals.

So, it all comes down to, what's the most sustainable way to remove body hair? This question has been asked of me several times over the last year and is one which, amazingly, I haven't blogged about yet. Well, here's my take on it.

Of course, one could argue that leaving your body hair well enough alone is the best option, but I'm assuming that this is not an acceptable answer for most women in the U.S. and for women in some cultures where the removal of body hair has long been part of their traditional heritage.

Depilatories. Well, I'll tell you depilatories ain't the winner. Not only are they chock full of chemicals that do Lord knows what to the environment and your own skin (remember that your skin in your largest organ and absorbs this stuff), the packaging and propellants in them aren't environmentally friendly either. So, even if you find it effective, I suggest you try to switch to something a little less damaging all around.

Razors. You have a few options if you are shaving with a razor, some better than others. Clearly, disposable razors aren't the way to go. Even if you opt for a disposable head, the heads generally come full of plastic and packaging. If you want to go nuts and find yourself an old fashioned safety razor where all you supply are new razor blades, then by all means, hack yourself to pieces. Other shaving options include a straight razor, although it's difficulty and lack of convenience and acceptability make it less of a decent option for most.

Electric Shavers. Electric shavers are more sustainable than disposable razors in theory, but you are still taking a hit on the environmental impact of production, packaging, shipping and electricity to run or charge it (unless you have a solar charger). If you can get a used electric shaver, then you've eliminated at least the manufacturing element.

Laser Hair Removal. I don't consider this all that environmentally friendly given the incredible amount of manufacturing input involved to make the equipment. One could argue that once the device has been manufactured, then it's really only input it energy. But, until laser hair removal is actually something that lasts and isn't so expensive, I wouldn't even consider it. I added it here only because I figured someone would bitch, I mean ask, about it.

Waxing. Most waxes are petroleum based. If you use store-purchased waxing kits, then you again are dealing with production, packaging and shipping issues as well as the waste created with throwing out the used strips. Salon waxing may provide a better option than home purchased kits since you may be able to find a salon that uses natural waxes, but there is still an issue with disposal due to health concerns. And, primarily, the cost is an issue.

Sugaring. For those of you who are lucky enough to have tried sugaring or have a salon nearby that provides this service, you will know that sugaring is much more comfortable than waxing in that it adheres only to the hair rather than the skin (like waxing). There are kits you can buy for home use (like Moom), but there is still the issue of production, packaging, distribution and waste.

So, what the answer? What's the most environmentally friendly method of hair removal? Home sugaring.

Now, before you get all complainy and squeamish on me, well, you asked. There are only a few items that are needed and you most likely already have them on hand. All of these items are reusable so you just need to provide a few simple ingredients and a little know-how.

Home Sugaring Kit
  • Tongue depressor (a wooden Popsicle stick or dull knife also works well as a spreading device)
  • Cotton or linen cloth or muslin cut into 1 inch strips
  • Candy thermometer
  • Glass storage container (optional: if you plan on reheating in microwave)

    Sugaring Recipe
    2 cups sugar
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1/4 cup water

    Combine all the above ingredients in a saucepan. Heat on low (making sure it doesn't boil over). Put the candy thermometer into the saucepan and when the mixture reaches 250 F on the candy thermometer (hardball candy stage), take it off the heat and pour it into the glass container after it's cooled down a bit. You can reheat this mixture in the microwave later if you don't use it all after it is made or if it cools down too much and isn't as spreadable.

    To use: Let the mixture cool down enough so you don't burn yourself. Test it on your wrist. Trust me, you will learn quickly to make sure the temperature is correct. Using your spreading device, spread it on your skin in the direction of the hair growth. Cover with the cloth strips and rip it off against the direction of the hair growth (kind of like pulling off a bandaid). You can also hold the skin taut with the non-ripping hand to aid in making sure all the hairs come out.

    Feel free to swear like a sailor. "Mother-fucker" is a favorite expletive of mine particularly when doing this in the nether regions. To clean up, just wash the strips in soap and water. You can even throw the strips in the laundry for reuse again. I like to hand wash and air dry the strips.

    I highly recommend showering after sugaring to make sure you remove all of the mixture since bacteria love to breed in sugar.

    VoilĂ ! Enjoy your silky smooth skin using only a little sugar and lemon!
  • Monday, August 4, 2008

    DivaCup 2008 wrap-up

    DivaCup Challenge 2008Oh, it's been another successful DivaCup Challenge this year. I'm so proud of all of you who faced your fears of "The Cup" and gave it a try.

    I know a number of you have fallen in love with it and it's changed your lives forever. Some of you are still struggling with getting it right and hopefully you'll eventually get it working for you. If you are still having problems, here's another opportunity to get some help, so post your concerns in the comments.

    And, now's a good a time as any to have a poll on the subject...

    NW meetup date

    Well, it looks like there are about 50 people who are interested in the NW Blogger Meetup that Melinda from One Green Generation and I are trying to arrange.

    We wanted to run a poll on potential dates so that we all have a chance to put in our 2 cents. Given such a potentially large group, we are thinking of doing this at a public park.

    So, if you have any suggestions of where to hold this, add it to the comments. It will be a local-food style potluck with a bring your own reusable plate, silverware and cup thang. Since it will be held at a park you can bring your kids and come and go as you like. I'm expecting this to be a mid-to-late afternoon event.



    Once we get the date and location nailed down, I'll announce more of the final details and you can email me if you are still interested so I have a final head count and an email list to communicate with you all.

    Just as a teaser, I'm also planning on hosting a few more get-togethers later this year with a focused agenda. The first will be a "Green Girls Party" to get women together and teach them how to make their own natural, green beauty products. The second will have a more holiday focus in teaching people how to make sustainable homemade gifts for the holidays. Stay tuned!

    Sunday, August 3, 2008

    Sunday Confessional - Week 1

    Buy Nothing Sunday ConfessionalForgive me people, for I have spent. It has been three months since my last confessional.

    Well, here it is three days into the challenge and I already have a confession. I guess this first sin isn't too bad since it was something I was supposed to have purchased by the end of July and it's something I promised my kids way back at the beginning of June. Anyway, I got each of my children two very small Lego sets as promised.

    Next up, I broke the new commandment: I ordered pizza last night for my belated birthday party. I was just too tired to cook for everyone. My husband also ordered a cake instead of making it himself, but he's still recovering from his stem cell transplant. But no one, and I mean no one can make cakes like Morfey's Cake Shoppe. Mmmmm. Champagne cake.

    Minor transgressions, but I will do better!

    How was Week 1 for you in the Buy Nothing Challenge - August Edition?

    By the way, it's not too late to sign up!

    Saturday, August 2, 2008

    Crazy raspberry lady

    Raspberries ready for freezingI was at our grocery store the other day buying 1/2 flats of berries from a local farm (they deliver daily!) when a man asked me a question about the raspberries. Well, let me tell you he got an earful!

    After chatting for a few minutes, discussing how long they'll last, what to do with them, how to freeze them, what kind of deal this was, etc. he said, "Wow, you know a lot about raspberries!" I was somewhat embarrassed, but just answered, "Well, I'm the crazy raspberry lady". Of course, my cart was filled with two half-flats of blueberries ($5.98 each!) and two half-flats of raspberries and nothing else.

    I was thinking of making jam, but just wasn't in the mood. So, instead I've been freezing and drying the berries that haven't been making their way into our mouths. I freeze them on cookie sheets and once they are frozen I pack them into Ziploc freezer bags and suck the air out with a straw. I've been doing this for the last two weeks so I think I finally have enough berries to last us for a while.

    Friday, August 1, 2008

    Sex with pumpkins

    Man meatGood lord, I can't wait to see what kind of Google traffic this post drives to my blog.

    I've been a little disappointed with my bee friends this summer. Many a sugar pie pumpkin baby has not been pollinated this year, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.

    I've done this before and it always makes me feel a little dirty to be fingering my pumpkin plants, but I wanted to share with you how to hand-pollinate your plants if nature isn't taking its course, so to speak. This works with plants that have male and female flowers such as cucumbers, zucchinis and pumpkins. You know, squashes and whatnot.

    First of all, put on some music to put them in the mood. Maybe a little Barry White. Next, some scented candles would be nice. If you're desperate, a little pumpkin porn might work. Now in your best deep voice say, "Let's get it on..." Oh, wait.

    On second thought, it's best to just find the requisite parts. Find a flower that has male parts. This will be easy as it looks like, well, a male part. In other words, a pumpkin penis. (Okay, sure, sure it's really called a stamen, but this isn't biology class for Christsakes.)

    Girly bitsNow, locate a flower with female parts. This is not exactly a replica of the human female anatomy, but once you see it you'll figure it out. Soft, a little wet and swollen. Jesus, this is getting graphic. If you're real confused the female has a baby pumpkin at the base of the flower.

    Feel free to talk to your pumpkins as you do this, it might make it easier. An "excuse me" here and there would be appropriate. You can use something else for this process, but I prefer using my hand.

    With the thumb and forefinger gently rub the penis until your fingers are covered with pollen. Now's a good time to whisper something to it. If you want to talk naughty to your plants, that's your business, I don't want to hear about it.

    Rub the pollen on the female flower parts. You'll feel how silky it is, so be gentle. Just keep rubbing until all the pollen is on it. Find another male/female combo and go at it again. It's somewhat addictive but just remember, there is no pumpkin sex addiction hotline so try to control yourself. Each plant can really only support 4 to 6 pumpkins so you probably don't want to pollinate too many.

    So, there you go! Go forth and hand-pollinate.

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