For The Bike Lovers Out There- Discover bicycle art made in Moab, Utah

Road Bike Sculpture - bicycle art made in Moab, Utah

I feel fortunate that I live only minutes away from one of the most amazing bike paths in the southeast- The Silver Comet Trail in Smyrna, GA. It used to be a train route to Alabama, now it is miles and miles and miles of endless blissful scenic riding. At any given time, this regional treasure is filled with joggers, walkers, people with dogs, strollers, and rollerbladers. However, I have found that this path is particularly appealing to serious bike riders from all over. I have noticed that these bike enthusiasts are a unique culture of people; like most other recreational athletes- they stick together and are passionate about their sport.

A couple thousand miles away, in Moab Utah– there is a fabulous store called Earth Studio that understands these bike enthusiasts and the love they have for cycling. They have developed an entire line of bicycle themed interior and garden art. Most of it is made of metal and handcrafted- the collection also includes art made from recycled materials from bicycles. These bicycle sculptures are fun and whimsical, as a person who loves to ride her bike- I recommend this beautiful sculpture to anyone who feels any level of passion for this activity. 

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August 27, 2008 at 9:10 pm Leave a comment

WHO KNEW?! Buying a Smaller (and affordable) Home is also a Good Eco Choice.

Living in the South- we like to make a statement by doing things up in a big way.  Big weddings, big parties, big highways, sprawled out communities, big stores, big cars, big TVs, and big houses seemed to have been the trend for the past decade.  I wonder if the underlying mantra for us Southerners is “Bigger is Better”.  

 

When my husband and I decided to purchase our home in the Atlanta area in 2005; we had to make some big choices about what we needed in a home.  Although I wanted something that resembled my Barbie Dream House I fell in love with a child- we both knew without a big savings account this would be impossible.  Living in Atlanta you quickly learn that having a big commute can also be a big drag; so we decided we wanted to buy a home as close to the city as possible.  

 

Upon hearing our price range, our realtor did everything he could to steer us way way way out into the burbs- I mean the suburbs of the suburbs of the suburbs.   You know what I am talking about; the developed planned communities with huge homes (we call McMansions), pools, tennis, sidewalks, peace quiet.  These communities were perfect in every way- except they were a million miles from everything and there were just 2 of us.  Why on earth would we buy a house that could comfortably house the Brady Bunch?  Our realtor assured us we could contemplate our awful commute into the city in our enormous oversized bathtub with jet sprays.  As tempted as we were, we stood firm.  I gave our realtor a map with a circled radius of where he could show us homes.  Otherwise; it would be a waste of time.  

 

Our search went for months- and we finally found our little house.  A 1960’s 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath brick ranch with an updated kitchen in the middle of Smryna, a community just outside of Atlanta.  Our friends thought we were crazy- our house was in the middle of the most unhip neighborhood we could find.  The thing is though, WE COULD AFFORD IT.  Yes the house is small- but we have just the right amount of space for us and our 3 cats…we were even able to add a dog and a baby to the mix;  and here we are 3 years later, still comfortable in our space.  Our energy bills are manageable, our commute is not bad, and we are not wasting resources, space and money.   I am now hearing my peers who decided to move into homes that were a little too big for them complain about the soaring energy and fuel costs they are now paying.  Some are even contemplating putting their oversized homes on the market during a very very tough time.

 

I admit; I often will catch myself driving through much nicer neighborhoods than the one I live in, with beautifully designed homes and gardens, sighing and saying to myself- “What if”…but I remind myself of how our plain little brick home suits us and allows us to live within our means and be conservative with fuel and energy.  As the mortgage crisis is unwinding before our eyes, I hope others will see what we saw in the smaller homes.  There is value in simplicity.

August 25, 2008 at 9:22 pm 1 comment

Egggcellent & Healthy Recipe

I love eggs.  I love omlets, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, eggs over medium, eggs with toast, eggs by themselves, deviled eggs, hardboiled eggs, soft boiled eggs, egg salad, you name it.  These days (thanks in part to the South Beach Diet) I have been feeling the need to make my breakfast dishes using egg whites.  But in my quest to be a mindful consumer, I try to only purchase eggs with a “Free Range” label on them since the term “Cage Free” can be deceptive; see http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1027/p15s01-lifo.html.  I know it is a seemingly small matter and I am not saving the world one hen at a time; but it makes me feel slightly better about my purchase to support a business that allows hens to live in a more natural setting. I have to say that I really like Eggology’s approach.  They are one of the only companies I know of that produces natural egg white products using humane and environmentally sustainable practices.  And I am glad to see a lot of people are catching on to this, lots of restaraunts and hotel chains are using these products such as The Four Seasons, Marriott, and Hyatt hotels.  I got the recipe below from their site- this recipe is quite good and simple.  And if Frittanta is not your thing, try the Asparagus and Herb omlet recipe outlined in the video above by Dani Spies.  Hope you enjoy- and EAT YOUR EGGS (just try to be aware where they came from).
Airy Asparagus and Potato Frittata
Servings: 4
WHAT YOU NEED:  

1 cup Eggology egg whites
1 lb asparagus
1 potato large, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion chopped
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup grated Paremsan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
INSTRUCTIONS 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the potato in saucepan and cover with water by 3 inches. Cover the pan and bring to boil over high heat; boil for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the asparagus and boil for 2 more minutes.
  4. Drain and set aside to cool.
  5. In a bowl, combine the Eggology egg whites, three tablespoons of the Parmesan Cheese, milk, baking powder and salt. Mix in the potato and asparagus.
  6. Heat an oven-proof nonstick pan, spray with nonstick spray and add the chopped onion.
  7. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add the egg white mixture and reduce the heat to medium.
  9. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes (until almost set).
  10. Uncover the skillet and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese.
  11. Transfer to the oven to cook for about 5 minutes (until browned).
  12. Invert onto a plate and cut into wedges prior to serving.

August 18, 2008 at 5:19 am Leave a comment

Eco Baby: The Diaper Discussion

I have to admit- while I am trying to make choices in my family life to make the world a better, greener place- there is something plaguing my conscious that involves my 6 month old……Disposable Diapers.  In the world of diapers, it feels like damned if you do- damned if you don’t! Before anyone passes judgement, consider the factors that went into my reasoning:  1.  Convenience convenience convenience 2.  Money   3.  My perception of cloth diapers being uncomfortable, unsanitary and not as eco friendly as we thought (the chemicals used to clean them in diaper services have been rumored to have as detrimental effect on the environment as the disposables).  

Since we are a work in progress, and I am willing to open my mind a bit more towards cloth diapers- especially after coming across this site Diaperaps.  If you are in the process of making the choice between cloth or disposable, I encourage you to include this site in your research.  They give really good reasons to use cloth diapers:  

Good Reasons for Choosing A Cloth Diapering System

1. Cotton is the Most Natural Diaperyou can put next to your baby’s skin. There is no need for gels or chemicals.

 

2. Do you know how a Disposable Diaper works? Do you know what’s in a disposable diaper (there are no ingredients listed on their package) ? Try this — cut a disposable diaper in half. Pour water on half and watch what happens. There are tiny chemical crystals that turn into a spongy gel when water hits them.

3. The Environment. A baby will use either 7,000 disposable diapers or 80 cotton diapers. A disposable diaper is used for 2 hours – a cloth diaper is used for 3 years. Think of all the resources used to produce a product that will last for only 2 hours and then be thrown away. Think about where all the billions of throw-away diapers are going to end up.

4. Less Diaper Rash. Studies have shown there is less diaper rash with the use of cotton diapers than with disposable diapers.

5. Cloth costs Less-a lot Less. You will save about $2000 if you use cloth over disposables. While disposables are priced very cheaply for the newborn sizes, as your baby grows the diapers start costing a lot more.

6. Cloth Diapers are Easy To Use. In your mom’s day you needed pins, rubber pants, and time to fold a long flat cloth into a diaper. Now with cotton prefold diapers and Diaperaps diaper covers, it is quick and easy to change your baby.

7. Babies Potty Train Earlier when they use cotton because they can feel the wetness.

8. It takes a cup full of crude oil to produce the plastic for one disposable diaper.

9. Babies learn by imitation. You can teach them by example, the responsible way of dealing with waste. You don’t just wrap it up and throw it away.

 

In addition, this company addresses my other fears about cloth diapering and gives me more reasons to consider this option:

My Fear:  Using pins in the diaper- NO THANKS!

The Diaperaps answer to my fear:  No pins.  They use a hook and loop system resembling velcro- evidently it is also really durable.

My Fear:  The awful chemicals used to clean the diapers 

The Diaperaps answer to my fear:  The site contains detailed instructions on how to launder and sanitize the diapers at home-using your washing machine.  

The Bottom Line (no pun intended): Lots of parents report that cloth diapers made of natural fibers such as cotton or hemp are better for their baby’s skin than the synthetic materials found in disposable diapers.  When used correctly, cloth diapering systems have been known to reduce skin rashes.  Clearly the disposable diaper issue needs further exploration and research- but I do encourage parents of a baby or toddler to consider both options before making a decision.

August 12, 2008 at 12:21 pm 8 comments

So Charming


 

 

I have a new “must have” item:  A Good Charma Bracelet.  I would personally like to have the Good Luck one.  These bracelets are sexy, cool, can be worn with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt or with a slinky dress for a night out.  There is something very special and appealing about Good Charma bracelets;  they been a favorite among celebrities like Demi Moore & Beyonce and Madonna (she has reportedly gifted over 100 sets to her friends)!

These feel good bracelets are designed to stir the soul and bring forth feelings of well-being and peace. Rachel Smith of Giving Tree Jewelry says the bracelets are packed with great energy and wildly popular at her gallery because they appeal to such a wide audience.  “They are incredibly comfortable, and everyone who buys one, comes back to the gallery and still has it on! It’s comfortable, stylish, and brings great things!” 

 

Good Charma- Love

Good Charma- Love

 

Favorites among her customers include the Good Charma Luck bracelet and the Good Charma Love bracelet.  The jewelry recently caught the attention of Extra’s Tanika Ray who interviewed Smith (see clip above). Bracelets are hand made and composed of 6 strands, either sterling silver or 14 karot gold.  Each charm is packed with great energy and holds a significant spiritual meaning.  The bracelets are sold at http://www.givingtreejewelry.com.  Happy Shopping….

August 6, 2008 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

Art from Recycled Flip Flops

 

UniquEco Recycled Flip Flop Initiative Creating One of a Kind Wildlife Sculptures

The shores of the Indian Ocean in eastern Africa are awash with industrial debris from as far away as China, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia. Hundreds of brightly colored flip flop sandal pieces and parts wash ashore daily not only causing blight along the coastlines but endangering the marine eco-system in the vast ocean that lies between these countries. The flip flop initiative by UniquEco is a solution designed to clean up the environment by marketing products made from waste back to the consumer who generated it while providing employment opportunities to the poor communities hardest hit by this environmental degradation.

The Champali Wildlife Sculptures from UniquEco Designs are imported by Global Crafts, a fair trade company that works with artisan groups from all over the world. Champali means slipper in Swahili. Local women and children comb the shores to collect the indestructible pieces of rubber champali. Talented artisans and sculptors in the village glue the pieces together in multicolored patterns then hand carve each carefully crafted animal transforming recycled waste into stunning works of art!  These colorful animals offer no matter what their skill level.

These unique pieces can be purchased at www.organicbug.com.  Purchasing one of these colorful animals helps to support workers in this developing region while preserving the beauty and wonder of the natural world. The UniquEco Champali Animal Sculptures are featured in the Summer, 2008issue of O at Home, Oprah’s popular home decor quarterly magazine!

 

July 18, 2008 at 8:34 pm 1 comment

The Leakey Collection features the beautiful and sustainable jewelry handcrafted by the Maasai women of Kenya

 

Few have experienced the exotic lifestyle led by Philip and Katy Leakey in the rural bush of the Rift Valley in Kenya; and in 2002 they had an idea:  bring a piece of their world to the rest of the globe. The Leakey’s vision was to utilize their artistic talent and passion for African culture and create beautiful, stylish and sustainable accessories while providing income for the Maasai in Kenya.  The Leakey Collection was born.

The Maasai women work under acacia trees at mobile work sites in the Rift Valley, spanning 150 miles.  The Leakey Collection provides work opportunities where work is needed, and is currently offering employment to over 1200 Kenyans.   Katy Leakey is hopeful this statistic will grow by reaching a wider audience through their new retail site, http://www.leakeylife.com. “We developed this company with the goal of enhancing understanding between developed nations and Africa using products and commerce as a vehicle.” says Ms. Leakey.  “Consumers want quality products made from sustainable and natural resources; and that is exactly what they will find from The Leakey Collection.”

Philip Leakey is the third and youngest son of paleo-anthropologists Drs. Louis and Mary Leakey. He was a Member of Parliament in Kenya for 15 years, a Deputy Member of the Cabinet for 14 years and a Member of Cabinet for 1 year. Philip is known in Kenya for his dedication towards improving conditions for all Kenyan’s with particular attention to the areas of business opportunity and the environment.  Katy Leakey’s talent as an artist and designer has allowed her to connect diverse cultures through art and lecturing in university systems in the United States. She spent time studying ancient cultures in the unexplored areas of the Amazon of Peru and Ecuador before moving to Africa in 2001. In 1964 Allen and Helen O’Brien along with Katy Leakey’s parents, Robert and Evelyn Moodey along with three others, co-founded the L.S.B. Leakey foundation, lending a cultural anthropological bent towards Katy’s life long work in art.

The Zulugrass and Zuluwood lines feature the most popular products of The Leakey Collection; and have found their way into the global market.

Zulugrass is the cornerstone of The Leakey Collection and contains vibrant and exotic necklaces, bracelets and earrings.  Each piece of Zulugrass is assembled by the Maasai women from grass beads colored with low impact textile dyes.  The grass is harvested and cut into beads by hand.   The pieces are then mixed with hand blown Czech and Japanese glass beads and strung on a special blend of elastic that was used in the movie, Spiderman.

ZuluWood necklaces and earrings are made from the native woods of East Africa and is the natural compliment to Zulugrass jewelry. All wood used to make the Zuluwood products are collected from fallen and sustainable pieces of acacia.  Sustainable methods of planning and collection are utilized in this process.  In addition, wood is hand tooled and burnished for a gem like finish; there is no wax, lacquer or varnish used on any of the beads or wooden products.  

From high fashion jewelry to home interior design accessories, The Leakey Collection’s natural elegance distinguishes this high end product line as one of the world’s premier offerings.  These extraordinary pieces are now available http://www.leakeylife.com .

 

July 18, 2008 at 8:19 pm Leave a comment

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