Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pioneer Woman Cooks book giveaway

If you've read The Pioneer Woman's blog, you've seen the recipe section of her site and probably have fallen in love with the not only the recipes, but the pictures and everything else related to her life on a cattle ranch.

Ree was kind enough to send me a review copy of her new book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, a luxuriously, picturesque book that there's not enough adjectives to describe. This book, which comes out today and lists for $27.50, includes several of the recipes on her blog as well as a ton of new ones, all including the same sort of step-by-step pictures and instructions that you've grown to love. In addition there's a bunch of pictures from around the farm and information about the family (like, did you know that Marlboro Man's real name is Ladd?).

If you are not familiar with her blog (and, if not, have been under a rock?), then I urge you to go check it out if you are at all interested in life in the country. I must warn you, however, that her blog and life is not a sustainable existence so don't expect any stories of living off the land. This is a true working cattle ranch.

From the book description:
After years of living in Los Angeles, I made a pit stop in my hometown in Oklahoma on the way to a new, exciting life in Chicago. It was during my stay at home that I met Marlboro Man, a mysterious cowboy with steely blue eyes and a muscular, work-honed body.

A strict vegetarian, I fell hard and fast, and before I knew it we were married and living on his ranch in the middle of nowhere, taking care of animals, and managing a brood of four young children. I had no idea how I'd wound up there, but I knew it was exactly where I belonged.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks is a homespun collection of photography, rural stories, and scrumptious recipes that have defined my experience in the country. I share many of the delicious cowboy-tested recipes I've learned to make during my years as an accidental ranch wife—including Rib-Eye Steak with Whiskey Cream Sauce, Lasagna, Fried Chicken, Patsy's Blackberry Cobbler, and Cinnamon Rolls—not to mention several "cowgirl-friendly" dishes, such as Sherried Tomato Soup, Olive Cheese Bread, and Creme Brulee. I show my recipes in full color, step-by-step detail, so it's as easy as pie to follow along.

Since having this book lying about the house is going to prove rather dangerous given the type of recipes included (read: not at all low-fat), I've decided to do a book giveaway. This would make a fantastic gift for the holidays since it's such a beautiful book and has a ton of tasty recipes that are perfect for family gatherings.

To enter the book giveaway, just add your name to the comments of this post. You have until Friday, October 30th, at midnight PST to sign up. I'll announce the winner this weekend.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Independence Days book review

Sharon Astyk's new book, Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation, is out November 2nd and would make a great holiday gift (for those of you buying gifts). If you've been reading her blog, Casaubon's Book, you'll know that she means business about local food and sustainability. I've got a copy of the book in my hot, sweaty hands because I was lucky enough to be able to include a recommendation blurb on the back, which also includes the following description:
Independence Days tackles both the nuts and bolts of food preservation, with tips on how to bulk buy and store food on the cheap, canning and dehydrating techniques, as well as a host of broader issues. In addition, it focuses on how to enjoy a delicious, high-quality pantry diet year-round, how to preserve food on a community scale, and how to reduce reliance on industrial agriculture by creating vibrant local economies.

Better food, plentiful food, at a lower cost and with less energy expended, Independence Days is for all who want to build a sustainable food system and keep eating—even in hard times.

The book includes chapters on food storage, food preservation, root cellaring, season extension, dehydration, recipes, canning, fermentation, medicinal application and creating and using community resources. It also includes a couple of my recipes, so I can't complain. My complete recommendation on the inside cover reads:
If you have any interest at all in where your food comes from, Independence Days is the perfect book to start with. Sharon Astyk makes a compelling argument for taking charge of your food security and is thorough in her coverage of food storage and preservation techniques including delicious recipes to get you started. But, make no mistake about it, this well thought out resources is more than just a food storage and recipe book - it is a call to arms to really think closely about the food that gives us sustenance and how it gets to us.

So, if you have any interest in food issues, sustainability, food storage and/or preservation, go order or ask for it from your library already!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hottest eco-blogger nominations

Given the popularity of the Hottest Men in Climatology from the other day (based on all the hits I'm getting from Universities around the country), and the suggestion from a particular Farmer's Daughter, I'm going to run a "Hottest Eco-Blogger" poll next week.

You may have noticed that the Huffington Post is currently running a Hot Farmers slideshow complete with submissions. And, I've done two years of Craziest Environmental Blogger (aka the Environmental Nutjob Award), so this doesn't seem too far off in left field. And it's Friday, so what the hell.

The difference this time around with the voting is that you guys will be nominating eco-bloggers and then voting on them next week. I'll have two categories, one for men and one for women, so make sure you include in your nomination a couple of each gender if you like.

How do I nominate someone?
Leave a comment on this post adding who you want to be included as the hottest eco-blogger. And add a link to their blog, just in case I don't know who they are, so I can thoroughly embarrass them next week :)

Will there be pictures?
Hopefully. I will try to contact the final list of people asking them to submit pictures of themselves (with a short summary blurb and background), otherwise I'll try to find one from their blog. If I can't get a picture of them, they may not be included in the voting.

I already have one Facebook nomination for Greenpa, but only a few of us know what he looks like. This may be our opportunity to reveal the man behind the Little Blog.

Can I nominate myself?
Of course you can! Get that self-promotion going!

How will the list be narrowed down?
Assuming I get inundated with nominations, I'll pick them dependent on the number of times they are mentioned as nominees. Again, if I can't get a picture of them, they won't get listed. And their blog has to be predominantly eco-related. Otherwise, it will be somewhat arbitrary. Sorry, this isn't the Academy Awards.

You have until Monday night (10/26) at midnight PST to submit your nominations!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bottled water is best

I've come to the hideous conclusion that we are all being duped about bottled water. I first was made aware of the bottle water issue when the City of Seattle stopped providing bottled water to its employees, stating that it was for financial and environmental reasons.

But, I have since learned that it's really just part of a nationwide conspiracy trying to put the bottled water industry out of business. Sure, the water in the bottles was really just municipal tap water, the same as that which came out of the sinks, but don't they realize the pipes in those old city buildings are probably contaminating everyone? The same reason why they shut down the fountains in so many Seattle Public Schools?

Bottled water is actually a cost savings when you think about the health care costs of dealing with lead and arsenic poisoning. So, why are people targeting the bottled water industry? An industry where 90% of the companies are small, family-owned businesses? It doesn't make any sense to me especially when buying local and supporting small businesses is inherent to our economic survival.

Anyway, I hadn't thought about the water bottle issue recently until last night when I was enjoying the den of inequities on Facebook, when that annoying Bill McKibben hanger-on, Ruchi, intruded my bliss and Facebooked a message to Beth Terry, of Fake Plastic Fish fame, about some scurrying going on in the comments of her blog. Not one to miss out on the hubbub, I checked out Beth's post. And, wouldn't you know it, it's about bottled water.

After the eye-rolling stopped long enough so I could actually read her post, I started going through the comments, which were filled with the usual pap, high-fiving comments in agreement that the "big" business bottled water industry was bad.

Before I get too far, let me back up and say that I don't drink much bottled water. Really, none, if I can help it, mostly because I'm cheap and don't like to pay for something I can get for free. But, I just don't get the whole crucifixion of the bottled water industry. And then, I started reading some rather informative arguments by a commenter from the IBWA. Now, I really do feel for people who suffer from Irritable Bowel With Anal-leakage (IBWA), because that has to be an uncomfortable condition to live with, so, right off the bat, he had my attention.

He argued (among other strong points that you'll have to read in the comments of the original post) that, "blogs like yours should encourage more recycling and not discourage consumption of water — in any form. Water is fundamentally good for all people. We live in a busy world and have bottled water there when you want, regardless of what you are doing, is always a plus. If people are going to a vending machine, what should they buy? What item in the vending machine is not made of plastic? Since it all must be recycled, why pick on the healthiest beverage available, namely bottled water?" Damn straight. Why pick on water when there's plenty of other mean beverages out there?

After much pondering on the matter, I decided to state my change of view on drinking bottled water. In fact, his other, convincing arguments changed my whole opinion on plastic consumption altogether. Well, it's easier to understand my point of view if you just read the response I posted in the comments:

Normally, I just drink tap water. I think it tastes great. When I’m at home I drink straight from the tap since I don’t like the filtered water from my GE Profile fridge because the water is too cold. When I’m at work I drink the water from the kitchen sink. I am generally never at a loss for cups, mugs, or portable containers to fill said water from the tap.

But, after reading all these compelling arguments from Tom, I’ve decided that, perhaps, I’m going about it all wrong. So, starting tomorrow, I’m going to start drinking bottled water. I want to help support family businesses. And, now I’m really scared that I’m going to get H1N1 from the kitchen sink at work. I heard that Fiji water is the best, so I’m going to try to find out where they sell it in my area. I don’t believe it’s a family company, but the bottles are really cool.

In fact, I’m so excited about drinking bottled water and its positive effects on my life and others, I think that the health benefits of drinking bottled water alone are not enough. Because of this, I’m going to not only recycle the bottles when I’m done drinking the delicious, chlorine-free water, but I am going to eat them. I suspect that the extra fiber in the plastic bottles will help contribute to my overall bowel health. Which is always a positive in my book. Does anyone know if digested plastic will clog my pipes?

I’m thinking that just plain water in the plastic bottles isn’t good enough, so I’m also looking for a company that sells liquid plastic in plastic bottles to help quench my thirst. Does anyone know if such a product exists? I don’t need flavored liquid plastic, just plain liquid plastic will do.

I’m so excited about the thirst quenching satisfaction that my new lifestyle will afford me, I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

So, I hope that, you too, decide to drink more bottled water. And consume more plastic if you can. Because bottled water really is the first, true, thirst mutilator.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hot men of climatology

There are plenty of lists floating around out there stating who is the hottest this or that. Who are the hottest green models and the hottest green actors and so forth. But, what about the people who really matter, the ones doing the climate research, not the celebrities?

Because of this, I wanted to write a post about the Hot Men of Climatology, but when I went a huntin' for hotties, pretty much what I found were older men sporting a lot of hair or none at all. And, the only hot thing going on was more related to warming temperatures than chiseled abs. But, I've found the up and coming (well, under 50ish) "hot" men of climatology for your review. Let me know if I missed any :)

Michael MannFirst up is Michael Mann a, relatively speaking, sprightly 43-year-old climatologist. Michael is an author of more than 80 peer-reviewed journal publications and has attained public prominence as lead author of a number of articles on paleoclimate and as one of the originators of a graph of temperature trends dubbed the "hockey stick graph" (not to be confused with the "hockey mom graph").

The graph received both praise and criticism after its publication in an IPCC report. In 2005 he was appointed Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University, in the Department of Meteorology and Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, and Director of the university's interdepartmental Earth System Science Center. If you like your men with degrees in Applied Math, Geology and Geophysics, Michael fits the bill.

Caspar AmmannNext up is Caspar Ammann, a 40-year-old researcher from Switzerland. Caspar is a climate scientist working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and is interested in the reconstruction of natural climate forcings, natural climate variability, coupled modeling of natural and anthropogenic climate change, and data/model intercomparison. In other words, he studies past and present climate changes.

He has a Ph.D. in Geosciences and his research centers around the climate of past centuries and millennia and how this information can help to understand what elements of future climate might be predictable as well as what potential environmental and ecological impacts are to be anticipated given various climate change scenarios.

Rasmus BenestadRasmus Benestad is a physicist by training and works as a senior scientist at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Oslo Climate Group. He earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics department at Oxford University.

Rasmus' recent work has involved research on regional climate and seasonal predictability, but his past experience also includes ocean dynamics/air-sea processes and cloud micro-physics. In addition, he is the author of the book Solar Activity and Earth's Climate.

Gavin SchmidtRounding out the list is hottie, Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist and climate modeller at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In 2004 he was named as one of Scientific American's "Top 50 Research Leaders" for the year. In addition to his scientific work he is a founding member and one of the contributors to the climatology blog, RealClimate.

Gavin is a computer climate modeler who works on developing large-scale models of the atmosphere-ocean climate system. He has worked on understanding climate variability both in past climates going back as far as 55 million years ago and forward to the possible future climates.

Whew! Now, even though it seems totally sacrilegious to do this, this post is just begging for a poll....

Who's the hottest climate change scientist?

Update: Ooh! I have a late entry. Unfortunately, I can't add him to the poll, but wanted to introduce you all to him.

Julian Sachs is a paleoclimatologist working right here at the University of Washington. He has a Ph.D. in Chemical Oceanography from MIT and his research interests include the evolution of the tropical Pacific climate and the El NiƱo-Southern Oscillation since the last glacial period.

He also works on the development and application of organic geochemical and stable isotopic techniques in paleoclimatology and oceanography. I'm pretty sure he can melt a few icebergs while he's at it too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On pins and needles

Well, after being on pins in needles for the last several days waiting to hear the results of who is in the top ten in Project Green Search and going to the finals in L.A., it appears that I have not made the top ten. On one hand, I'm disappointed, but on the other, I'm actually very relieved because now I can focus on all the other stuff happening right now, primarily the filming of the show, Mission: Sustainable, and some other fun stuff I have in the hopper. Plus, since I don't like to sugarcoat anything, I have the feeling that the actual finals are going to be even more in disarray than the project has been so far.

I don't know yet who all the finalists actually are, but apparently the online voting was merely something to keep us busy for a week since they didn't seem to use any of that information in picking the finalists. Which totally makes sense and I hope if they hold this contest again they drop the notion altogether because it really just ended up stressing out the contestants and was irrelevant in the end. I'm just sorry I bothered you guys relentlessly to vote when it didn't matter. And, by not making the final 10, I'm also not contributing a third of a ton of CO2 by flying to L.A.!

Anyway, good luck to the finalists!

In more serious news, a good friend of mine is undergoing a kidney transplant today. He has been battling polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder, that has managed to ravage his kidneys. So, at the tender age of 35, he is getting one of his brother's kidneys, who luckily is a match. Unfortunately, his mother just recently passed away from the disease and any child he would have has a 50% chance of inheriting this disease as well. There currently is no cure for PKD, so if you are interested in learning more or donating you can visit the PKD website.

So, please spread good thoughts about both him and his brother today. I'm wishing for an easy surgery and recovery for both of them.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Freeze Yer Buns Challenge 2009

Holy smokes! It's nigh time for the third annual Freeze Yer Buns Challenge. The first year we had great participation and last year there were tons of you giving your thermostat the finger, so this year I'm expecting even more frozen crunchy bottoms.

Because of the economic situation, most everyone is tightening up their purse strings, plus heating costs (oil, natural gas and electricity) aren't exactly cheap, so you have even more incentive to hop on board the chapped cheeks express.

This year, as per usual, we'll all share hints and tips for keeping the thermostat low without really freezing our buns off. For those of you who use a form of heating without a thermostat, you are still invited to play. The challenge for you is to use less fuel.

Since I know a lot of you can't commit to as low temperatures as others, it's just fine if you pledge to drop it down one degree or so from where you usually keep it. Even that makes a huge difference. You'll find that, as the winter wears on, you'll be able to drop it lower as you adjust to the new, lower temperatures. So, if you don't want to take the icy plunge, don't feel like you have to drop it 10 degrees right away.

To sign up for the challenge, add a comment to this post and pledge what temperatures you will keep your thermostat. I'm wimping out this year and pledging for 65 day and 58 night. You are more than welcome to meander through the posts from last year's challenge if you want to know what you're in for.

As in the first year, this year's challenge mascot is the Arctic Seal. That roly poly little snow covered baby seal needs our help. Help prevent his extinction by preserving the Arctic environment by using less energy, reducing the amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere and stopping global climate change.

How low can you go?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

All dressed up...

And nowhere to go. Well, filming was cancelled this weekend due to some issues with equipment. I was hoping to have a report of how the first day of filming went on the green makeover show, Mission: Sustainable, but, alas, not this weekend.

We will start filming next weekend and will wrap up mid-November. In the meantime, we had a cast member meeting, which was helpful, since we went over a lot more details of the production, got a chance to meet our camera guy and some other people who had been added to the production team.

One thing I did notice, that I hadn't before (since we were all sitting down), was that the producer, and four cast members (all females) are all 5'10" and over. So, there's clearly some weird Amazonian element to it. I think Becky is actually taller than me, which is very unusual. So, I think the four of us will be a green force to be reckoned with.

In lighter news, voting for Project Green Search ended Friday night, much to my relief. They are going to announce the 10 finalists sometime Sunday. I'll be back to my normal posting tomorrow!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Putting on my knee pads

Today is the day I bust out the knee pads and start groveling for 5 star votes. It's also, thankfully, the last day you can vote for me on Project Green Search. It might look like I'm near the top, but I'm still lagging behind in votes and can be easily bumped.

Now, some of you might be wondering why I am even bothering with such a contest, that it goes against a lot of what I oftentimes discuss on this blog regarding society's beauty ideals. But, that's not the point or the case with Project Green Search. They aren't looking so much for a model, but for someone who is passionate about environmental causes, someone who isn't just pro-environmental because it's trendy and someone who is educated on the issues.

Unfortunately, modern society works through media representation and the best way to send a message is through the media, whether by print, TV or otherwise. You can only reach so much of a broad, general audience online. People going to sites like ours have to be interested to hear the message. Print and TV, on the other hand, is more of a "push" technology, exposing ideas to people that might not otherwise hear them.

Okay, so now that I'm done boring you to tears, I would love if you would vote for me. I promise you that, if I make the top 10, you'll be getting all sorts of fun posts about it :)

Voting is fast, easy and does not require any personal information. To vote, click on this link. Run your cursor over the five gray stars at the bottom of the orange frame surrounding the main picture. When the stars turn from red to gold, the vote has been cast.

If you are a Crunchy Chicken reader, please help me take my work on educating the masses to the next level. Cast your vote. It will only take a few seconds and your vote matters!

And, I'm done nagging you. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mission: Sustainable starts filming

I'm so excited!

Not only is production starting up for the green makeover reality show, Mission: Sustainable, produced by ReGeneration Productions, but I'm going to be one of the three consultants doing the makeover in the pilot episode that starts filming this Saturday. As you may remember, I'm the Personal Care Consultant cast member on the show, which means that I cover pretty much everything from laundry detergent to body products, cleaning supplies, pet care and beyond.

I'm also excited about working with the other cast members, particularly Becky Selengut, our local food guru. She is a trained chef who spent three years studying under Jerry Traunfeld at the Herbfarm Restaurant and is the co-author of the Washington Local and Seasonal Cookbook. She's currently working on a new cookbook on sustainable seafood when she's not writing for her blog, Chef Reinvented, or Twittering.

Over the last few months, I've gotten to know her pretty well and I can't wait to work with her since she has the same totally warped and crude sense of humor as I do. Which means that, most likely, we'll be attempting to top one another in the insanity department during the "discovery" phase of the show. This also means that there's high probability that it will be very entertaining. I don't know the other cast members as well yet, so I'm looking forward to finding out more about them, too.

What's even more exciting is that the family that we are doing the makeover on has small children, so I'll be able to focus on the kids as part of the makeover as well. Along those lines, although I already have a large arsenal of activities in mind, what are your favorite suggestions for how to teach kids to live green?

Project Green Search Nag Alert!
And, because I'm going to be bugging you all week, if you haven't voted for me in Project Green Search, what are you waiting for? Get over there now and give me some stars - the more the merrier!

And, while you're at it, Tweet about it! Don't make me beg!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Project Green Search voting now open!

The voting for your 10 favorite women in the Project Green Search environmental spokesperson contest is now open and runs all week, ending on Friday, October 16th. If you are interested in voting for who should be the next "green it" girl/woman, saunter on over and check it out.

There are about 130 people in the contest and there are a number of beautiful, intelligent and environmentally aware women who have entered. If you want to vote for me, you can do so by clicking here and clicking on the stars. Five stars is best, but all votes count for something.

I'd appreciate your support since I believe that having a spokesperson for the green movement who is educated in the issues that go beyond just the surface of green living is critical if we want to educate the public about what is necessary to stop the devastation that can occur from neglecting the impact we have on the environment. This includes not only issues of consumption, carbon output, deforestation, energy use, factory farms and population, but it also extends to building local food, communities and other resources and dealing with peak oil and additional energy demands.

Anyway, if these issues are important to you and you feel that public education must go beyond just reusable grocery bags and switching out lightbulbs. If you feel that there are more important things at stake than doing what's become trendy and that it needs to be in a much more public light through mainstream media then you should be interested in this project.

If you would like to know who I'm voting for, here are my top 5 picks because, not only are these women stunning, highly educated, and intelligent but it looks like they know their shit. Why does education matter? Well, there are lots of pretty faces out there, but a spokesperson with the background to be able to understand the issues will be far more valuable than another talking head. We have enough of those already.

  • Bianca Alexander
  • Zion Francis
  • Ginna Kelly
  • Nadine Weil

    Oh, yeah and me:
  • Deanna Duke

    So, g'head and vote!

    Related posts:
    Project Green Search profile up!
    Green model search
  • Sunday, October 11, 2009

    Contraception and carbon emissions

    I ran across this article yesterday and thought it was an interesting idea and, since we've discussed the link between population control and environmental impact, I thought I'd share it with you guys.

    In this article on CNET, Should contraception qualify for carbon funds?, the argument is based on the theory that, according to a study by the London School of Economics, providing contraception would be the cheapest and most effective way to reduce carbon emissions worldwide between 2010 and 2050.
    The report, "Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost," determined that if contraception was made widely available between 2010 and 2050 to women and men around the world who wished to use it, the reduction in unwanted births could result in saving 34 gigatonnes (one billion tonnes) of carbon emissions. That's roughly 60 years worth of U.K. emissions or 6 years worth of U.S. emissions.

    The cost for supplying, and distributing contraception over those 40 years would cost an estimated $220 billion, or $7 for each tonne of carbon emissions avoided. It's cheaper than the next most efficient low-carbon technology, wind power, which would cost $24 per tonne or $1 trillion to prevent the same amount (one billion tonnes) of carbon emissions from being produced, according to the report.

    In its per-tonne cost analysis, the report also calculated $51 for solar, $57 to $83 for coal plants with carbon capture and storage, $92 for plug-in hybrid vehicles, and $131 for electric vehicles.

    The contraception as carbon reduction conclusion was based on United Nations statistics that 40 percent of worldwide pregnancies are unintentional. If contraception was made available to people who wanted it, those unintentional births could be reduced by as much as 72 percent. Between 2010 and 2050, that would result in curbing the world population growth by half a billion people, according to the UN statistics.

    That is a conservative estimate, according to the report, since the UN figures are based solely on the lack of contraception access for married couples, and did not include unintended pregnancy statistics for unmarried women.

    So, what do you think? Should we focus more on population prevention or is it too hot a topic? It's certainly easier to discuss solar arrays and windfarms without too much of a moral quandary, although some could argue the impact on wildlife.

    Would you like to see public funds going to better pregnancy prevention both in the U.S. and assistance abroad?

    To read the rest of the article, you can check it out here.

    Friday, October 9, 2009

    Physicians Formula Organic Wear: Review

    When I saw these products in my local drugstore I was extremely excited. I can't say that I've ever used Physicians Formula products before, but their Organic Wear line looked very promising. [Disclaimer: I have in no way been contacted, in contact or compensated by this company.]

    What drew me in was the fact that it is the first ECOCERT Certified Organic line of makeup in the U.S., which means it contains 100% certified organic ingredients, and the packaging is fantastic - most of it is recyclable or made from recycled materials. Since I'm doing some makeup recon for the green makeover show, I took the liberty of buying a few products to test out. And, I needed a few things anyway.

    Let me back up and also confess that I've developed an allergy to commercial lipsticks and lipbalms. I don't know what the ingredient in them is, but every time I've used a conventional product in the last two and a half years, my lips would burn and lightly peel for about a month afterwards. Not pretty. Then I'd forget and apply something or other and it would begin again.

    So, part of my mission was to find a lipstick that didn't make my lips irritated. As such, I tested out the lipstick first. Since it's 100% free of chemicals, synthetic preservatives and parabens, I was hopeful. And, since it has no fragrance, the smell isn't exactly welcoming, particularly since ones lips are so close to your nose. It smells strongly like crayons.

    They advertise it as being ultra-moisturizing, but I found the lipstick to be almost impossible to apply without already having a lipbalm on first. But, aside from the smell and texture of a crayon, I had no reaction to it. Woohoo!

    Next up was a concealer stick. Again I was excited because the packaging on the tube was so cool and it comes it color corrective shades as well. Unfortunately, the "ultra-smooth" was not as advertised.

    The concealer was essentially rock hard and, try as I might, I couldn't get any to actually go on my skin. And I wasn't about to rub the crap out of my under eye to get it on there. The stick is so hard, it snapped in half when I tried to get some concealer off onto a tissue just to see if I could. So, for the concealer, I'd say that this one is a huge failure and totally unusable.

    Last up was the mascara which, even though it was ranked highly by Allure magazine, I've been kind of afraid to try given my experience with their other two products. With its cool packaging (see image at top left) and 100% recyclable eco-brush, it certainly is a super stylish looking product. So, I don't really have a review on this product - if I get the gumption to give it a try, I'll let you know what I think.

    Thursday, October 8, 2009

    Can a meat eater be an environmentalist?

    Yesterday's Huffington Post had a post regarding whether or not you can call yourself an environmentalist if you weren't a vegetarian. We all know the arguments, eating meat, particularly those of the beef and pork nature, has a heavy impact on the environment.

    Although I would argue that there are plenty of vegetarians that make poor food choices that result in an equal, if not higher, impact on the environment than some more conscientious meat eaters. In other words, there are more involved issues that need to be looked at here.

    Anyway, I'm not going to tell you my opinion on the question (although you may easily guess my answer) because I want to hear what you think and open this up for your discussion without tainting it too much with my thoughts on the topic.

    Can you call yourself an environmentalist if you eat meat (fish, poultry, pork, beef, etc.)? What about if you eat local, sustainably raised meat? Can beef fit into the picture, or does it have to be more of the sustainable chicken n' fish variety?

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    Speedy no knead bread success!

    Well, I did it. I have achieved dirt simple no knead bread success. If you recall, I've been trying a number of different recipes over the years varying from the basic No-Knead Bread recipe from the NY Times to the Five Minutes a Day Bread recipe to fancier ones. The results have varied from hockey puck to tolerable at best.

    Yesterday, I decided to give the Speedy No Knead Bread recipe a whirl (also from the NY Times). All you do is stir together bread flour, yeast, salt and water. Wait four hours, let it rest 30 minutes after a few folds and bake. And it turned out fantastic. As good as the bread we buy from local bakeries for $5 a loaf. Even the ever Mr. Picky Bread declared it a victory. And the best part is we can use locally grown flour in our recipes.

    What did I do differently to achieve such amazing results? Well, aside from the different recipe, I think the fact that our house is warmer (due to warmer weather) created a better environment for the rise. But, the biggest change had more to do with the fact that I used an actual enamel cast iron dutch oven that we acquired since the last time I tried making no knead bread, which was a while ago. I'm fairly sure that had a lot to do with the success of this bread, and I'll have to go back and try the other recipes that require a dutch oven to see if there's improvement.

    In the meantime, we'll definitely be adding fresh baked bread back into our weekly baking since it's so damn easy. Have you tried the no knead method of baking bread and did it work for you? Now, that the weather is cooling off, will you be baking more of your own bread?

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Processing sugar pie pumpkins

    Preparing pumpkin for roastingThis is the first year that I haven't grown sugar pie pumpkins mainly because I didn't get the garden area ready for planting early enough this year. I love planting sugar pie pumpkins because it's relatively effortless and you get so much food out of it.

    Fortunately for me, our grocery store stocks locally grown sugar pie pumpkins and I usually buy additional pumpkins for processing to have pumpkin puree on hand for the rest of the year since we tend to eat a lot of it. Between the pumpkin pies, scones, breads and cookies, it always gets used up.

    This week our favorite grocery store is carrying the pumpkins and selling them 4 for $5 (Ballard and Greenwood Markets if you live in the area). And since each pumpkin tends to result in the equivalent of about two cans of pumpkin puree, it ends up being quite inexpensive. Sure, there's labor and energy involved in processing them, but I enjoy it and it tastes sooo much better than canned.

    So, if you like pumpkin treats, I highly recommend getting some sugar pie pumpkins this year and processing them. You can freeze the puree (measure out in 2 cup increments to equal about one can) or, if you have a pressure canner, you can can the puree (although some still warn against canning pumpkin puree even with a pressure canner).

    For the puree, I cut the pumpkins in half horizontally, scoop out the seeds and stringy matter and rub the cut sides with oil. I then placed them face down in roasting pans with one cup of water each and bake them at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes. Once they are cool, I scoop out the flesh and put it in the food processor until it is pureed.

    As a final step, I lay down cheesecloth (or a clean kitchen towel) in a colander, add the puree and let it "drip dry" for about an hour and then squeeze out the remaining liquids until it has the consistency of canned pumpkin puree.

    Finally, don't neglect the seeds. They are rich in fiber as well as vitamins B and E and make a great snack. You can roast them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt or get fancy and use a chili rub or other seasoning you have on hand. Roast for 40 minutes in a 325 degree oven, stirring occasionally.

    Do you make your own pumpkin puree or do you just rely on canned for your recipes that call for pumpkin?

    Note: If you are doing the Buy Hand for the Holidays Challenge, giving away homemade mini loaves of pumpkin bread or scones make for a great gift. If you like the pumpkin scones sold at Starbucks, here's a recipe for making them yourselves. So, now is a good time to freeze a bunch of pumpkin puree for your pumpkin-based food gifts.

    Saturday, October 3, 2009

    And the winners are.....

    Congratulations to the winners of this last week's green book giveaway!

    And the winners are....

    The Green Teen: Mommy T - "I'd love to win this for my 15-year-old step-daughter. I started an environmental club back when I was in high school and clearly we need to engage this generation as well if real progress will ever be made!"

    Chickens in Your Backyard: Amber - "I have dreams of having my own backyard flock one day. Sign me up, please! :)"

    The Transition Handbook: Wade - "I have been wanting this book. Wade from AR."

    The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegetable Gardening: Cave-Woman - "This looks like a useful book. I've been trying "Lasagna Gardening", and it's been great----but I could use a few tips to refine things."

    Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Jenny - "I would love to win this book!!"

    Please send your contact information to me at and I'll mail your winning out to you directly!

    Friday, October 2, 2009

    Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: book giveaway

    Welcome to the fifth and final day of green book week, where I'm giving away a green book a day. If you didn't see the previous posts, there's still time to enter the drawing for The Green Teen, Chickens in Your Backyard, The Transition Handbook and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegetable Gardening.

    Today's giveaway is for the book Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff, by Fred Pearce. You may recognize him as one of the science writers for New Scientist as well as author of the climate change book With Speed and Violence.

    According to Wikipedia, Pearce has been described as one of Britain's finest science writers and has reported on environment, popular science and development issues from 64 countries over the past 20 years. He specializes in global environmental issues, including water and climate change and frequently takes heretic and counter-intuitive views - "a sceptic in the best sense", he says.

    From Publisher's Weekly:
    Pearce's quest to discover the hidden world sustaining Western consumption habits is fulfilled with varying degrees of success in this, his third book. Tracking the routes taken by the items in his home — his coffee, cellphone, computer, green beans, chocolate, socks — from raw ingredient to finished product, the author presents fascinating firsthand investigations, as when he visits a group of fair-trade coffee farmers, follows the trail of his donated shirts to markets in Africa, visits Uzbek communities whose health, infrastructure and environment have been devastated by the cotton industry, and interviews female sweatshop workers who view their factory jobs as empowering.

    To enter the random drawing to win this book, add your name to the comments of this post. You have until (tonight) Friday, October 2nd, at 6:00 pm PST to enter. The winner will be drawn and announced on Saturday.

    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    Idiot's Guide to Vegetable Gardening: book giveaway

    Welcome to day four of green book week, where I'm giving away a green book a day. If you didn't see the previous posts, there's still time to enter the drawing for The Green Teen, Chickens in Your Backyard and The Transition Handbook.

    Today's giveaway is for the book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegetable Gardening written by a reader of mine, Daria Bowman. Now, I know many of you will argue that maybe I should actually be keeping this book as a reference given my gardening failures over the years, but this is a great book for someone getting into edible gardening.

    It covers the essentials of getting started, planning, what to plant, how to keep it growing, troubleshooting and reaping the rewards, including seed saving, record keeping and tool care. From the back of the book:
    With food costs - and food scares - on the rise, you know the healthiest, safest food is the fresh stuff you grow yourself. But you have trouble keeping houseplants alive, and your backyard is hardly "green acres."

    Don't bury your head in the mulch! Master the basics of planting, weeding, and more with the help of the simple instructions and full-color photos... [In this book] you get:

  • Expert techniques for planning and plotting a garden
  • Down-to-earth instructions for growing vegetables, fruits, herbs, berries, and more
  • Foolproof tips on feeding, pruning, and harvesting
  • The basics of organic gardening, including weed and pest control

  • To enter the random drawing to win this book, add your name to the comments of this post. You have until Friday, October 2nd, at 6:00 pm PST to enter. The winner will be drawn and announced on Saturday.