Saturday, October 31, 2009

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

It's a scary, scary thing when your pets look like this on camera! This is Bruschi, our dog who had such bad seizures a couple months ago (and everybody was so good to offer kind thoughts and words!). He's doing really well now, but in this photo, he was startled awake by the camera! He'd been laying on the sofa on our porch (a big NO NO!) in one of his favorite sleeping positions... on his back with his tummy exposed, so his jowls hung down and his fangs showed, and then those eerie, glowing camera eyes .... pretty frightening!

He may not be at his best in these photos, but he wishes everyone a SAFE AND HAIRY, SCARY HALLOWEEN anyway!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Treasuries, treasuries!

Over the last few weeks there have been many a gorgeous treasury made by and featuring our team members. Curated by (in the order shown), CricketsCreations, beanlennon, magglepie, beanlennon (again, woohoo!), KneeDeepOriginals, luniquejewellery, chickscratch, pandawithcookie, auclairdelalune, theAnecdotes, LaViejaTunTu and JulieWebb.

Cooling greens, sunny yellows, stormy greys, Halloween (of course!), plus more. Enjoy them all! :)
















Soothing Ribbon and Ultra Moisture? REALLY?

From the blog of Krug's Eco-Logic's handcrafted natural bath & beauty products.


You've seen all the commercials of big brand lotions claiming to be ultra-moisturizing and affordable. They do have it right, for the volume they sell in each bottle, it sure is affordable. But what REALLY are you buying? What about these ribbons, and ultra moisturizing ingredients. Are they really IN there? And if they are - how MUCH is in there? Let's check out one of the products we see in television ads continuously - Dove Nourishing Moisture Body Lotion (linked to Dove's Product).

There you will see what it claims: to immediately soften skin's surface, then dig deep to moisturizes within, and continue to nourish for 24 hours.

Now, let's take a look at the ingredients. Keep in mind, we don't know specific amounts of each item, but we do know that the items must be listed by their amounts (greatest to least):

Water - this is the main component in any lotion

Glycerin - humectant (drawing water from the air, to the skin) .... though we're not sure of what origin this glyercin is from - could be animal or vegetable fats.

Cyclopentasiloxane - synthetic emollient (softens the skin), and may cause mild skin irritations/rashes. Some evidence has shown that it may disrupt marine life.

Stearic Acid - used as an emulsifier (binding oil and water) - unsure of it's origin here (vegetable or animal)

Caprilic Triglyceride - characteristic of an indefinite shelf life, this synthetic emollient is found in many lotions. It provides the skin with a slippery, silky feel.

Glycerol Stearate - naturally derived fatty acid, used as an emulsifier in lotions (could be of plant, animal, or mechanically synthesized origins)

Carbomer - synthetic polymer used to thicken emulsions or to help suspend particles in solution

Dimethiconol - a synthetic silicon ingredient used to make emulsion 'spreadable', and give a glossy/silky feel

Fragrance - synthetic scenting oils, have been known to cause irritation in some individuals (this is dependent on individual, quality of fragrance, and amount used).
** please note - some individuals' skin is too sensitive for natural scenting oils **

Sodium Hydroxide - also known as "lye" - a caustic, basic (high pH) substance that can be used to turn fats into soap (known as 'cold process' soap making). In this particular emulsion, it's most likely added to adjust the pH of the solution. This is an ingredient I (personally) would never, ever add to any product you'd leave on your skin, and would only use it if it's changed in a chemical process (i.e. cold process soap making).

Phenoxyethanol - a synthetic preservative, about which the FDA (at one point) issued a 'consumer warning'. Studies have shown chromosomal damage in low to moderate dosages.

Methylparaben and Propylparaben - synthetic preservatives that have been shown in some studies (not all) to increase the potential for cancer

Disodium EDTA - it's possible uses are as follows: synthetic preservative, stabilizer, penetration agent (allows other substances to penetrate skin increasing amounts of other ingredients that will enter the blood stream), and has been shown to have been cytotoxic and genotoxic in laboratory studies, some have shown moderate mutant abilities, while other studies have shown only mild mutant abilities. The FDA has this chemical approved for usage in food, and cosmetics.

Titanium Dioxide - Natural whitening agent with slight sunlight protective abilities

In summary - this particular lotion does have ingredients who's properties allow your skin to immediately feel smooth and 'hydrated'. However, the ingredients used here to impart such a feel are all synthetic. By using these big box products you are slathering loads of synthetics over your skin.

So what's the bottom line??? The bottom line is, this is just one product out there that's claiming to be ultra-good for your skin, and at a fantastic value. Yes... it is affordable, but will you be purchasing other products to sooth your dried skin despite using 'big-box' store lotion? Will you be visiting the dermatologist in hopes of healing your dried and cracked hands?

We make very conscious decisions about the food we put in our mouths. We hear continuously about trans-fats, carbs, calories, and serving sizes. Yet, we often quickly overlook what exactly we're putting ON ourselves - on our very largest organ. If you shouldn't eat it, you probably shouldn't be putting it on your skin.

While it is absolutely necessary to preserve aqueous solutions that will be sitting in a closet or on a shelf for months at a time, there are preservatives that have been shown to be not quite as toxic, irritating, or ecologically & genetically destructive and can be utilized at lower doses if the product is not intended to sit on a shelf for multiple years (another reason why buying handmade is best). Quickly read up on preservatives and find the ones you feel best about putting on to your skin, and into the environment.

As you're checking the ingredients on your bottles, here are some questions to ask yourself:

*Are they synthetic? How toxic (or on the contrary .... non-disruptive) to my body and the environment are they?

*In the long run is this really going to benefit my skin, or will it dry it out? Am I just going to use more and more of the product to compensate for the chemicals long-term affects to my skin?

* If you are vegan, do your research - some of these ingredients may be animal derivatives (usually animal fats are cheaper than vegetable, so chances are the natural bi-products that are included (ex: glycerin, stearates) are animal derivatives.

__________________________________________________________

((( A note to please keep in mind - "Natural" doesn't always mean 'safe for use'. There are some natural ingredients, when even at low doses, are not suitable for skin use. Even if your products SAY natural, make sure the ingredients are safe at the levels at which they're used. When in doubt - ask !! )))

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pet of the Week with LuniqueJewellery

MEET MONTY
(Companion of Lucy of
luniquejewellery)


Q. What is your pet's name, birthday, sex, breed?

My cat’s name is Monty, and he is a moggie. We’ve estimated his birthday as the 14th of August as he is a rescue cat and we can’t be sure. :)

Q. Where/how did you come up with his name?

We named him after Mr. Burns from The Simpsons! Although he’s nothing like him!!

Q. How did you meet Monty? Was he Adopted, rescued or other?

We went to our local
RSPCA rescue centre after we lost our 2nd cat. He caught our eye immediately, and the staff told us we must take him home as he was the nicest cat they’d ever had.

Q. What are Monty’s favorite toys, foods, snacks, activities?

His favourite toys are his catnip fish and a rattling ball. He’s absolutely addicted to catnip, and has ripped up several toys to get to it!! He’s a big chubby and really loves his food. He also loves sleeping in strange positions and snoring.

Q. What are some things you enjoy doing with him?

I enjoy having him sit with me and purr- it’s such a soothing sound. I also like to play with him, but he gets bored quickly!

Q. Do you take him to parks or to see people?

No lol! We tried putting him on a lead once when we first got him, just to get him used to the garden, but he HATED it!

Q. Do you take Monty on vacations with you?

No, but I don’t really go away!

Q. Does he have any special tricks or unique habits?

Snoring and ‘talking’ to us- he’s very vocal!


Q. How does Monty like going to the vet? Do he *know* when it's
time to see the vet & hide, or does he enjoy the extra attention?


He doesn’t like having to go in the box to travel to the vet, but when he’s there he’s very good and just let’s you do anything to him.

Q. How do your family members get along with him?

Everyone loves him and fusses over him. He has lots of nicknames like ‘Jabba the Mont’ and ‘Montagonal’!!

Q. Do you spoil Monty?

Yes, who doesn’t spoil their pet?!

Q. What's the most important/special thing Monty adds to your life?

He just seems to know when you need some love, and he’s great company around the house.

Q. Anything else you would like to add?

Monty's a bit of a predator and often brings us ‘presents’. Some of his more unusual victims have been a baby rabbit, which he brought in through the window, and a crow that was squawking in the kitchen :-S He also gets into fights with other cats and foxes, but he’s the biggest softie with us.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Success and Failure

Here's one for those times we are down and feeling defeated.

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
-- Sir Winston Churchill

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vegan, BABY!

by Chelsea of BellyToBaby
Belly To Baby offers natural, vegan, 100% pure products for all your pregnancy, labour, postpartum, and baby needs.

As vegans and vegetarians, we are aware of the impact that producing animal products has on the environment. As parents, it can be tricky to choose products for our children that fit with our own lifestyle choices. Luckily, Etsy sellers provide us with many great alternatives that are free from the use of animal products and are easy on the environment!

Natural Skin Care - from BellytoBaby






















Choosing natural skin care reduces the chemicals your child is exposed to on a daily basis.


Natural Toys – from pandawithcookie




















Soft, plushy toys are free from chemicals that come from plastics.


Natural Cleaning Solutions – from MayleesGarden




















Using natural alternatives when laundering your clothes reduces the chemicals washed down the drain and back into the environment.


Organic Reusable Diapers – from LilDerriere













An estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the US, resulting in a possible 3.4 million tons of used diapers adding to landfills each year. Cloth diapering your baby is easier on the environment and your bank account!


Organic Clothing – from NYCrochet

















Not only can residual chemicals found in non organic fabric irritate a child’s sensitive skin, the chemicals used in the processing of the fibers pollute the air and surface waters. Choosing organic clothing is one more way you can keep chemicals out of your home and environment.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Interview with MovetheNeedle

Part of an ongoing interview series profiling EtsyVeg members.
Interview presentation by Kylie of
SilentLotus

Meet Anna of Etsy's MovetheNeedle
http://mythreadofthought.blogspot.com




Q. What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

I sell paper crafts such as journals, greeting cards, boxes and photo frames.

Q. What are your creative inspirations?

Seeing other people's art definitely inspires me, whether it's music, a painting or other crafts. I usually get inspired when I'm shopping for new decorative paper, and I'll get a bunch of ideas for new items.

I wanted to open a craft shop online, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to sell. I experimented with all sorts of crafts and found I like bookbinding the best. I taught myself more about making books and paper crafts by reading online tutorials and books.


Q. What other artistic tendencies do you have? Do you have other crafty/artsy skills that you already do or would like to try?

I love doing all types of art. I'm taking a painting class right now that is a lot of fun. I've also gotten into photography more recently. There're all sorts of crafty and artsy projects I'd like to try.

Q. What would you like to try to make, that you haven't already? What is your dream project?

I've always wanted to try sewing my own clothes. I think it's really inspiring to see people selling or wearing clothes they designed themselves. As far as paper crafts, I'd love to learn new stitches in bookbinding. I usually do pretty basic stitches, but there're some pretty complicated ones that'd be fun to learn. I've also seen all types of creative books – in different shapes, pop out ones, etc. – so it'd be fun to experiment with that.

Q. Do you have any other hobbies/interests/passions?

Besides crafting, I love cooking, listening to music, writing, watching movies, running and reading.

Q. How long have you been on Etsy, and are you an Etsy addict? :)

I've been on Etsy for a little over a year, and I'd say I'm pretty much an Etsy addict. I was really addicted when I first got into it, but since I'm in college, I've learned how to balance schoolwork and the rest of my life with Etsy.


Q. Is etsy a large part of your business? How else do you market your work?

I sell mainly on Etsy, but I'm trying to get my work in other shops and on a couple of other sites. I also did my first craft show this summer, so I want to get more in to that.

Q. What are your future plans for your shop/business?


I just want to keep creating and developing items. I'd like to do craft shows more and try to get more exposure for my shop.

Q. How long have you been vegan/vegetarian? How does being veg play into the rest of your life?

I've been a vegetarian for about 8 years. I think being a vegetarian allows me to be more compassionate in other areas in my life. It has also led me to new opportunities. Since I became vegetarian, I developed a passion for cooking and love making my own food. I'm also living in a special interest house in my college this year called the Vegetarian House. I'm living with 3 other girls who are vegetarian, and we're trying to help support other students who are vegetarian or vegan on campus.

Q. What is the last recipe you made? What are your food vices or cravings?

I made tacos with mashed potatoes in them called Tacos Mon. They are so good. I love potatoes and Italian foods such as pasta and pizza. I'm also a chocolate addict.

Q. What is your favorite vegan/vegetarian store/restaurant/blog/website?

I usually shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. There's a local grocery shop in the town my college is called Market House that I volunteer at. They sell all organic and local food. I love listening to the
CompassionateCooks.com podcast. There is also a vegetarian community on LiveJournal I like to read.



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

May this time come soon ....

"The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men."
~Leonardo da Vinci

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009: CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS EFFECT ON THE EARTH

From the blog of Maggie of magglepie.

We’ve all heard about global warming. That pesky little business that tells us the earth is getting warmer, animals and plant species are suffering and the environment is getting severely impacted for the negative. Already, we can see the changes in places like Alaska, where Spruce Beetles are living longer and have killed off a section of forest the size of Connecticut (that’s pretty big; read some more about that here) and in some ski resorts on the East Coast closing months early because of the snow melting due to much warmer temperatures.

Ski Resorts closing early and the loss of huge amounts of forest land are minimal compared to the other things that can happen and are happening around the world and in our own countries. For example, the World Conservation Union says that a minimum of 40 percent of the world’s species are being threatened, mostly thanks to Global Warming. Also, many species of animals are becoming more and more aggressive, or are already disappearing. Polar bears, for example, are losing their main food supply, and as a result are more likely to start eating each other. In the Western Antarctic Peninsula, there are only 9 breeding pairs of Emperor Penguins where there were once 300. And according to the article "Post-Human Earth: How the Planet will Recover from Us," by Bob Holmes, if something doesn’t change, and quick, we will very likely be facing a mass extinction which will, this time, include the human race.

However, despite the rather daunting news that our climate is in big trouble, there are some things that we humans can do to help lessen our environmental impact, and hopefully spare the earth a little bit of damage and despair. Some of the many things you can do are:

• Recycle
• Reuse anything that isn’t recyclable
• Walk, bike, use public transportation or carpool
• Go Vegetarian or Vegan

Recycling is a huge deal. There are so many things that can be recycled, like newspapers, magazines and other types of paper, plastic and glass bottles, containers and bags and aluminum cans. Look for bins in your local stores, universities or other area businesses, or
get some bins yourself and set them out on your cities recyclable pick up day and save out on creating even more garbage.

If you have a bunch of stuff that isn’t recyclable, you can always reuse it to get a little more life out of it. You can hand down gently used clothes from one kid to the other or donate them to an organization for people in need. You can take old butter or margarine or Tofutti containers, wash them out and reuse them to store food, craft supplies or kid’s small toys or other items. You can take larger containers and use them as something really creative like a planter for flowers, or edging around your garden. If you do things like knit or sew, you can use clothes you won’t use anymore to make something new.

If you own a car and drive on a regular basis, try taking a couple days a week to walk or bike to where you need to go. If you live in a larger area, take public transportation to work or the store. You could also set up a carpool with some people at work so that only one of you has to drive each day instead of four or five people. The more cars we get off the road, the less gasoline we get in the air and the better on the environment we are.

Another huge thing that impacts the environment is how much meat people eat. Meat production has a hugely negative impact on the environment. It can take up to 16 lbs of grain to produce just 1 lb of meat. To give an example, let’s say that you go to the grocery store
and you buy a little container of 1 pound of ground beef. Number one, there’s no guarantee that that one pound of meat came from the same cow. It probably came from several cows and just ended up in the same package. Number two: to make that one pound of meat took 16 pounds of grain. Those 16 pounds of grain could have been used to make so many loaves of bread it would make a bagel junkie jealous. It could have been used to create cereal or any other number of items that use grain as a source.

An environmental magazine simply called E noted that in 2002, more than 1/3 of all fossil fuels produced in the USA were used to raise animals for food. That’s a huge impact, and one that could be reduced hugely if people omitted meat from even just a couple meals every week. These are just two huge reasons why going veg can have a huge impact on improving the environment. There are a multitude of other reasons that can be found at any of the following websites:

www.goveg.com
www.peta.org
www.vrg.org

Whatever you do to lessen your environmental impact, please make sure you do something. Any small step we can make is one more step in the right direction.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009- Vertical Farms: The "Ups" and "Downs"

From the Lotus Out Loud Blog

I've been reading quite a bit lately about urban agriculture and the concept of vertical farms, tall, sustainable buildings within cities that would house massive agricultural production of crops and animals raised for food. The vertical farm is being explored as a feasible alternative to current food production as modern farming practices, climate change, environmental degradation, and an ever-expanding world population form a dangerous cycle that is reducing the availability and productivity of land and promising devastating food shortages. It's extraordinary and space-age really (I picture The Jetsons), the idea that farms as we now conceive of them that spread across vast, fertile lands may someday be replaced by skyscrapers of orchards, towers of livestock, fields of corn caged cinder block. It's both compelling and terrifying.

"High rise farms" in cities could be a truly viable solution to worldwide concern about the dire consequences of what many see as inevitable and devastating climate change. These consequences include potential devastation of crops by new disease, pests, and vulnerability that may result from a rise in temperature and rain pattern changes. Add to this the continual reduction in amount of fertile land available for raising food due to the ravages of modern farming practices and soil depleted after trying to keep up with supplying nourishment to the world's ever-expanding population. Considering that traditional soil farming may thus become
unsustainable, the vertical farm holds much promise.

Growing crops in specially-engineered fortresses of agriculture that disappear into the clouds would address serious problems like massive food shortages and lack of fertile soil. Although hugely expensive to build, a 30-story farm tower could feed
50,000 people in a teeny,tiny fraction of the land it would take to do the same with modern farming, according to Dickson Despommier, the "father" of the vertical farm concept. Crops would be grown without soil using hydroponics and aeroponics, eliminating the need for dangerous pesticides and increasing food output, accessibility, and quality. Crops grown in climate-controlled spaces could be protected from pests, drought, and similar events related to the natural environment.

Urban farm structures could better meet the demands of the local food movement, while drastically reducing fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions from farm machinery, vehicles used in transport, and production. Farm lands would be free to recover from damage and to replenish. These urban skyscrapers would be llargely self-sustaining, recycling water over and over and using its waste for energy, heat, or fertilizer . Vertical farms could produce year round, and the influx of plants into cities could help cleanse the air of pollution and improve quality of life in cities. All of this while boosting agriculture and the economy mega-fold as production capacity soars. Sounds idyllic, yes? I find the concept is terrifying...

Of course we want to find solutions to ensure our viability and secure our future in the face of climate change's potentially disastrous effects. It's intelligent, wise, necessary, and hope-instilling. We'd be stupid not to invest in doing so. Then why have issue with technology that could resolve so many critical issues? The reasons span from the cultural significance of the traditional farmer and the importance of connection to Earth to the potential negative impact on the victims of factory farming- animals and people. The feeling at the forefront for me as I learn more about vertical farms is overwhelming, deep sadness that we've let it get to this point of do or die. Conceiving that Earth could become depleted and sick to the point that food must be grown in human-made constructs is impossible. But research into expansion of urban agriculture makes it very real. And I worry...


I worry about what food become without nourishment from the earth? Would the 'farmer' as we now know her become a mythical superhero in tall tales about working in tune with the planet to 'magically' create sustenance? Would the 'farm' become a cultural relic devoid of the rich history and meaning it currently has? Food grown in buildings reaching into the sky sounds void of meaning, empty of energy and life. The magic of growing food in the earth is feeling the soil in the hands, the feet grounding solidly on the land, and the connection to the cycle of life as we watch the sun, skies, and Earth make something from nothing to feed us. The magic of farming the land is the larger understanding of life that happens when we eat food grown from the ground, the joy that comes eating food fresh from its source of life. It's not... "natural."

Humans have become so disconnected from that life source, arrogantly taking it for granted as we plunder it at whim. Vertical farms will only exacerbate the shallow relationship between being and Earth, pulling us further and further "up" and away from understanding the environmental destruction we have caused and implementing action to stop and even reverse it. I fear that this growing disconnect will lead to more complacency about resolving climate change and make stronger the self-righteous idea that humans can manipulate the world and conquer nature- the planet and all of its beings.

I worry about the well-being of many of these beings, as the raising of animals for food is also being explored within the vertical farm concept, perpetuating their victimization by human arrogance and the factory farm. Some fans of the vertical farm dream of "a high-rise 'Pig City' 40-stories high where the pigs would spend their entire lives from conception to slaughter. A structure called an "Agropark" would house 100, 000 pigs on one floor! Movement toward a sustainable future should include a push toward more compassionate interaction with animals as well as the planet.

The modern factory farm inflicts terrible suffering from abuse and neglect on animals raised for food. Housing livestock in high-rises would bring a food source closer to urban residents and dramatically decrease the factory farm's enormous environmental footprint. However, it will multiply a thousand-fold the number of animals imprisoned in food production, sentenced to lives of pain and suffering without opportunity for healthy relationships, fresh air and movement, freedom, and peace.

I worry because I have yet to find an article on vertical farming that specifically mentions the strong connection between climate change and factory farming of animals along with increasing meat and dairy demand . Animals being raised for meat and dairy and the crops needed to feed them lead to widespread and undeniable destruction of land, water, and air while using available, fertile land to grow feed for animals robs billions of starving people of nourishing food. It would seem, then, that any modern discussion about a sustainable future in terms of food production should include talk of animal agriculture as one of the biggest contributors to climate change and of the positive impact wide-scale reduction in meat and dairy consumption would have.

It would seem that serious efforts and monies should be invested in an obvious, less costly, and more accessible tool in diverting climate change like implementing practices and legislation to decrease human reliance on animals for food. The successful marketing of and transition to a more meat-free diet seems quite preferable to the urban farm high-rises and the loss of the farm and farmer as a cultural icon and our connection to the land. The information I have read about vertical farms seem to accept current farming methods as fixed and focus on how to adapt the earth to meet our needs, rather than investigate changing the food industry to adapt to the needs of the planet.