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Green Your New Year’s Eve

With Christmas a few days behind us, fab new eco-products in our closets, kitchens and garages, and New Year’s Eve just ahead, here are our recommendations for a Green New Year’s Eve:

If you’re throwing your own party:

1. Use glassware instead of plastic. No one likes to drink out of plastic anyway. Inexpensive glasses can be picked up at your local Goodwill, Salvation Army or Saint Vincent de Paul‘s, or new from Crate and Barrel (who is having an up to 50% of winter clearance sale), Williams Sonoma or Sur la Table. Store these glasses with your Holiday decorations and pull them out each year when you throw a big party – reusable and beautiful!

2. Cloth napkins instead of paper. Again, these can be purchased just about anywhere that carries household items, or if you’re really crafty and have oodles of time on your hands you can make your own. If you’re Martha Stewart material, you could even personalize them for each of your guests. Me, I just use white linen. If you have to go paper, use 100% post consumer, non bleached paper products.

3. Use LED lights when you’re decorating.

4. Set up a carpool or hire a van to ferry guests to and from.

5. When you’re ready to clean up, use eco-friendly soap like Biokleen, Method or Seventh Generation and compost all your food, paper and biodegradble garbage.

If you’re going out:

1. Use public transportation or carpool to your event.

2. Drink locally made wines or liquor.

3. Eat at a local, family owned restaurant and order organic.

4. Skip the plastic water bottle – bring your own reusable, or if you have to get a plastic cup from the bartender, hold onto it for the night.

5. Encourage just one other person to do the same!

Have a safe and happy new year’s eve!

-Jocelyn Broyles

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San Jose, CA, Bans Single Use Bags, Including Paper! Read The Treehugger Article Here!

Wow. San Jose doesn’t usually strike most of us here in the Bay Area as forward thinking. (I’m allowed to say that, as I grew up in Almaden Valley.) But San Jose has just put every other plastic-bag-using city to shame with their new and exceptionally strict legislation.

Bags in San Diego from the Christian Science Monitor http://www.csmonitor.com

Going into effect January 1, 2012, stores in San Jose will no longer be able to give away bags; plastic or paper, with exception of some restaurants and thrift stores. San Jose is the largest city in the nation to ban plastic bags.

For all the great details, read Treehugger‘s, The Mercury News‘s, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal‘s or The Contra Costa Times‘s take on the ban.

So do your part this Christmas and take your own bags to the stores.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Green Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaning – Some Facts, Do It Less, and Go With a Green Cleaner Instead

1. You know that sort of chemical smell or dry smell on your clothes after they’ve been dry cleaned? That’s perchloroethylene (perc) and it’s a known carcinogen.

2. All those clothes that say “Dry Clean Only”? Not so. Polyester is plastic. So is rayon. Silk is the oldest material out there. (Do you think the Chinese were dry cleaning silk during the Ming Dynasty?) Wool is infinitely hand-washable. Wash all of the above, by hand, in cold water with a very little soap. Don’t even think about putting in the dryer.

3. Dry cleaning isn’t really dry. In the perc method, your clothes are immersed in a chemical bath to clean them.

4. The new Green cleaners are not perfect, but they are better than the old dry perc cleaners; for you, for your kids, for your planet. They employ one of three other cleaning methods, using C02, silicone or hydrocarbons, as opposed to the aforementioned Perchloroethylene. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great step in the right direction.

For a more in depth analysis of conventional versus green cleaners, read this Wall Street Journal article by Gwendolyn Bounds.

No time for the whole article? Check out Gwendolyn’s recommendation for finding green cleaners in your neighborhood: “For now, the Web is the best bet for consumers hunting for a non-perc cleaner in their neighborhood. CO2 cleaners are listed at findco2.com, wet-cleaners at professionalwetcleaning.com and GreenEarth cleaners at greenearthcleaning.com. There’s also nodryclean.com, which lists various cleaners by method, and igreenclean.org.”

Home For The Holidays: California-Made Vodka, Gin, Rum and Whiskey To Help Make It Go Down Smoothly

 

So you’re home for the holidays and you’re trying to go green (and stay sane) during all the hoopla. In an effort to help you along with both of those goals at the same time, I have compiled a list of California-made vodka, gin, rum and whiskey. So next time you need to take someone a hostess gift or find yourself wondering what to order in a bar (or what to put in your flask for the trip to aunt Caroline’s), go green and ask for one of these locally-made spirits:

VODKA:
1. Roth California Vodka, by Roth Distilleries
2. Hangar One, by St. George Spirits
3. Charbay by Charbay

GIN:
1. No. 209 by Distillery No. 209 – The story here is intriguing, take a break and read it.
2. Junipero by Anchor Steam

RUM:
1. Charbay by Charbay
2. Agua Libre by St. George Spirits
3. Eurydice by St. George Spirits and exclusive to San Francisco’s Smuggler’s Cove
4. Sergeant Classic by Essential Spirits Alambic Distillery of Mountain View

WHISKEY:
1. St. George’s Single Malt Whiskey by St. George Spirits
2. Old Potrero by Anchor Distilling, the makers of Anchor Steam beer
3. Charbay by Charbay

And to answer your next question: All scotches, bourbons and whisk(e)ys are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are scotches or bourbons. Are you feeling like you’re in a gray area the color of charcoal? Never fear, I’ll explain it here so that you can actually remember (or at least have somewhere to go look it up and sound smart next time someone asks you the difference). First off, the spelling thing. Whisky is from Scotland only. WhiskEy is from anywhere else. Whiskey (since I’m American, I’m going to spell it with an “e”) is a spirit made from distilled, grain mash, usually barley, rye wheat or corn. Scotch whisky comes only from, you guessed it, Scotland, and Kentucky and Tennessee whiskeys from their respective states. Bourbon whiskey has to be made from at least 51 percent (and no more than 79 percent) corn, must be no more than 160 proof and must be aged for at least two years (most are aged for at least four years) in a charred oak barrel. That’s it. Simple as pie. There are myriad differences in each type of whiskey, based on proof, age, malt and type of barrel, mix of grains, etc. If you’re interested, Wikipedia has the most comprehensive article on the differences between Scotch and Whiskey and Bourbon I found.

Now that you know what kind of booze to order, what drink should you put it in?

GIMLET RECIPE:

“A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else,” declairs Terry Lennox in Raymond Chandler‘s The Long Goodbye. Today, the standard is 3:1 – three parts gin to one part Rose’s Lime.

HOT BUTTERED RUM RECIPE:

Three measures dark rum, two measures spiced light rum, 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie seasoning, 1 lemon twist, 1 cinnamon stick. Boil water. Into a glass mug, pour rums and spices. Stir. Add six measures hot water, a tab of butter and the cinnamon stick.

MARTINI RECIPE:

a la James Bond in Ian Flemming‘s Casino Royale:
“Three measures of Gordon’s [gin], one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.
Got it?”

HOT TODDY RECIPE: Six ounces organic apple cider, two ounces whiskey. Heat the cider, pour into glass mug with handle, add whiskey.

If you’re looking for another type of green drink, you might have a good time at San Francisco’s Green Drinks, a monthly meeting of green-minded folks who come together in a social setting to talk about cool green stuff. Order yourself a gimlet with No. 209 and start a trend, or at least do Marlowe proud.


Green Gifts That Keep on Giving and Don’t Need to be Manufactured or Wrapped

Ahhhh, The Holidays. Most of us love them for various reasons, though the more aware we are, the harder it is to go to the mall (or if you live up here by Stanford, the Shopping Center) and brave the crowd. And if you’re like me, the sheer amount of products; the billions spent on marketing; and the damage done to human laborers, tested-on animals and the environment, from making all that stuff, rather takes the Holiday spirit right out of you.

From bobbypinblog. blogspot.com

But, I have found one utterly fabulous solution to the problem of masses, malls and mistreatment this Holiday season. The National Resources Defense Fund (NRDC), founded by John Adams who just received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, has an entire website dedicated to Green Gifts of the sort that help those who can’t help themselves, generally due to lack of opposable thumbs.

1. The list includes something I’ve always wanted to do: adopt a wolf in Yellowstone.

2. Something we all should contribute to no matter what time of the year it is: stop the construction of more coal-burning power plants.

3. Something I had no idea was going on: the hazing and slaughtering of baby buffalo (bison) by government officials when the babies get outside of Yellowstone’s protective park. (Really, whatkind of person does this?) Keep baby buffalo safe from hazing.

4. And something we all know about: Polar bears are dying. They need your support so the NRDC can fight in court to save polar bears from global warming, Arctic oil development and trophy hunting. If we’re not careful, they could be extinct by 2050. That’s in our lifetime.

The NRDC offers dozens of options to help, ranging from those above and more, to reviving oceans, educating kids and helping low-income communities.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Thanksgiving Recipes

I was talking to my mom on the phone yesterday and though I have a calendar and can keep decent track of hours, days and weeks, I was nevertheless surprised when my mother pointed out that Thanksgiving is, in fact, next Thursday.

So far be it from me to keep you all in the dark any longer! Next Thursday is Thanksgiving! Do you even know what your serving besides the turkey? Or, if you’re one of the lucky (like me) and are only bringing a side dish, do you know what it is?

Here are my takes on pumpkiny recipes, and of course, the ingredients are all-natural, free range, organic and in general raised just as gently as possible for them, me, you and the planet.

IsophenesShortPieCrust
PumpkinCupcakes
PumpkinPieRecipe
RoastedPumpkinSeeds

More recipes coming soon! I’m on the hook for pecan pie, stuffing and salad, but my husband is doing the turkey,so I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Green Your Health: Cow Milk’s Alternative – Hemp Milk!

Image courtesy iwearweed.com

For various and sundry reasons, I’ve been drinking soy milk, almond milk and rice milk to varying degrees of satisfaction. Soy was great, until we learned the truth about soy cultivation, processing and the detriments of soy to our systems and our ecosystems. Almond milk is quite good, but once I learned how easy it is to make it, I find it nearly impossible to buy it (and am somehow also too lazy to make it myself). Rice milk just never really took a liking to me. Horchata, now that’s another thing entirely and one of my favorite beverages, but not for making a beurre blanc sauce or a simple rue.

Then, lo and behold, just the other day I discovered hemp milk and it’s truly my new favorite cow’s milk alternative. It’s creamy, not grainy, not watery and has a full, unobtrusively nutty/grassy/natural flavor.

And, just in case you’re curious, hemp is not the same as marijuana – read more than you ever wanted to know about the two very different varieties of the same plant!

-Jocelyn Broyles

Organic Pumpkins, an Animal Farm and a Horse-Drawn Train

Photo courtesy thecheapgourmet.com

Along with Victorian gardens, a blacksmith shop, the original homestead and organic vegetables!

And all right on the other side of the bridge in Fremont (or, I suppose if you’re already in the East Bay, that would make it right on your side of the bridge – even better!)

The official name is Ardenwood Historic Farm and we probably all know exactly where this is, but just haven’t stopped in to see all the wonderful treats that await us right there on the corner.

Bring your kids, your parents, your whole family, (just not the dog).

-Jocelyn Broyles

And A Good Time Was Had By All

So we had our green thy Halloween party and it was a smashing success! We want to thank all of our sponsors again for their generous participation: Green Halloween for their support, information and ideas; Empire Vintage for their phenomenal fashion show and reusable goodie bag donation; Vino Locale for their organic, local wine provisions; Reclaim for their gift-card raffle prize; EO Products for their wonderful lotion samples and pretty gift basket raffle prize; Palo Alto Ace Hardware for their green gift basket; Autopia Biofuels for their discount coupons and for their gift-card raffle prize; The Willows Market for their generous contribution of reusable bags, organic and local beer, as well as non-alcoholic beverages; Luna Organics for their amazing, non-toxic, kid-friendly (fun for adults too!) face paint; O’Bon for their super fun, non-toxic pencils; Glee Gumfor their non-toxic, all-natural, great-tasting gum; Surf Sweets for their organic, all-natural gummy treats; Plum Organics for their goodie-bag coupons; Larabar for their generous donation of bite-sized, all-natural treats for kids and adults; Mama K’s for their really cool, non-toxic, all-natural play clay; Cascadian Farm for their very generous donation of kid’s healthy cereal and granola bars; Recycled Products very cool, non-toxic, all black recycled pencils for our gift bags; Glob for their non-toxic, all-natural crafting paint samples; Local-Foodworks for their generous donation of delicious vegetarian food for our event; Dr. Bronner’s for their sample soap for our gift bags; and Costume Bank for their generous running of our costume exchange.

Our event bennefitted greatly from every one of these participants and we thank them all!

ACE WINNER!

Well, it took us a while (we had a little Halloween Fete get in the way of all else for a couple of weeks) but we finally randomly drew our ACE Hardware gift certificate winner! And the prize goes to Jessi, who would like to see biobags for dogs in her ACE Hardware store. Jessi, we’ll see what we can do! Thank you all for your participation.